The wonderful world of the post-modern intellectual Left
In What’s Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way, Nick Cohen lays bare the hypocrisy of individuals like Noam Chomsky, Harold Pinter, Tariq Ali and Vanessa Redgrave. He reminds us how the British government, then led by John Major permitted genocide in Bosnia. And he tears into ‘the obfuscations and murkiness of post-modern specialists in “theory”—feminist theory, postcolonial theory, ‘other theory’, critical race theory, queer theory, communicative action theory, structuration theory, neo-Marxian theory…any kind of theory, every kind of theory’.
Alan Sokal, a New York University physics professor, showed that the experts in the field of ‘theory’ beat them all: they believed unnecessarily convoluted writing that was also rubbish. He strung together bizarre claims from Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray and many other star of the humanities departments into a gibbering argument that reality was a bourgeois illusion. (Irigaray was my favourite. She denounced Einstein’s E=mc2 as a sexist equation which ‘privileges the speed of light’ over more feminine speeds ‘which are vitally necessary to us’. Presumably light may have appeased her if it had shown its feminine side by slowing down to 30 m.p.h in built-up areas.)
Sokal stacked up the idiocies and then concluded that the laws of mathematics were instruments of capitalist repression. He sent his spoof to the editors of Social Text, a leading post-modernist journal, which published it in a special edition that promised to ‘uncover the gender-laden and racist assumptions built into the Euro-American scientific method’.[Nick Cohen/What’s Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way]
One little bit from the book concerns Arundhati Roy. She, along with Chomsky, Tariq Ali and Harold Pinter, wrote an open letter to the editor of Ordfront, a Swedish magazine, in support of Diana Johnstone. Johnstone had defended Slobodan Milosevic and argued that there had been no genocide at Srebrenica.