The politics of postmodernity
in Unstable universalities
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This chapter outlines some of the characteristics of the ‘postmodern condition’ as defined by Jean-François Lyotard. The cultural condition of postmodernity, which emerges with late capitalism, has led to a dislocation of our accepted political reality. Instead of the universal discourses and ‘metanarratives’ of the past, which were founded on the rational certainties of the Enlightenment, there is a severing of the social bond and a general sense of fragmentation in the fields of knowledge, culture, and social relations. This chapter examines the two main responses to the decline of the metanarrative: the ‘foundationalist’ approach, exemplified by Jürgen Habermas, and the anti-foundationalist or broadly termed ‘poststructuralist’ strategy, which seeks to question these foundations. It also examines nihilism, poststructuralism, universality and the role it plays in radical politics.

Unstable universalities

Poststructuralism and radical politics

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