Postmodern Ethos | A Challenge to the West

“We have an individualism without rules, manifested in family indebtedness, families without parents, parents without families, illiteracy, the homeless, ghettos, refugees, marginal people, drugs, violence, delinquency, exploitation, white-collar crimes, political and economic corruption, the unscrupulous grasping of power, genetic engineering, experimentation on human beings, etc.”

Synopsis Introduction
Postmodernism Religion and Postmodernism


(a) Political:
Drawbacks of democracy
Majority rules
Public Opinion

(b) Social:
Individual Freedom
Society Chaos
Moral Debacle

(c) Economic:
Shopper Economy

In today’s world, the guidelines for development and progress are drawn up by the West. In order to modernize and spruce up, all the world nations try to follow the footprints of the West that has entered the era of postmodernism in almost all domains of life be it the social or economic or even political. Due to established democratic values, the West has been enjoying the benefits of industrialization. But, on the other hand majority of the world population is suffering from economic insecurity as well as political and social mayhem. So the whole world in general, and developing and less developed countries in particular, look towards West. They start to blindly follow the Western models of development without considering the drawbacks that have made the West what it is today.

There was a time when the West was under the clutches of backwardness and dejection. But it went through the ages of Reformation and Enlightenment which illuminated the Western societies with the inextinguishable light of knowledge and awareness. The process of achieving modernism took a long struggle and then the West realized that there should be a strong check on hierarchy; be it the clergy or the absolute monarchs.

Postmodernism as a concept has influenced almost every discipline and every field. It opened a window to an era that was beyond modernism.

If we look at postmodernism from philosophical aspect, it negates the concept of absolute truth. That’s why the religion is a mere opinion in the postmodernist world. It is not incumbent on people to stay away, in any religion, from what divine authority has prohibited for them. Postmodernism is based on logic and rationality.

At times what is wrong for one person can be right for the other. For example, lying for benefit, maximization of profit and sex liberties fall into the domain of current argument.

Today, this struggle has completely eliminated the role of religion from individual’s life. Moreover, political decisions are also affected due to the use of majority rule in established democracies. For more understanding, the topic can be divided into two parts i.e. political challenges, and social challenges, in order to analyze that how modernism in both domains took western societies on the verge of ethical and moral chaos.

According to the Western model of democracy, majority rules; this idea seems very appealing but it is undeniable that in many countries it has caused the destruction and devastation of morals and individual as well as societal level. It was a challenge to the Christian clergy when population of France in particular used their right of majority and gained homosexual freedom after massive protests in 2005. This freedom was against the laws of any religion be it the Christianity or the Judaism.

Therefore, many scholars further classified democracies into two: popular democracy and guided democracy. Countries can be distinguished with this classification. There are countries where people gain rights on several issues under the principle of “majority rules”. In fact, public opinion matters a lot in those countries. However, in some other countries, like the US, public opinion sometimes is not a matter of concern for the rulers, as was the case when public opinion was hugely against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, on social issues front, the US has not legalized homosexuality in most of its states, and holds it as a social taboo like the Asian societies.

Socrates in his last speech criticized this particular right in the hand of a layman when majority voted for his death penalty, where most of them were unaware of the reality and Socrates’ belief in God. In the light of this case, it is easily discernible that voting right in the hand of general masses can be very devastating to the wellbeing of a society; clear examples of it are homosexuality, ‘go topless’ campaigns of feminists, slut rights, etc.

Every person has a right to do whatever he or she wills to do until he or she is not posing any harm to anyone else or to the government. This has posed serious ethical challenge to the Western society. People acquired horrific looks in love with any particular thing or animal; for example Erik Sprague a.k.a. The Lizardman, who is known for his body modification, including his sharpened teeth, full-body tattoo of green scales, bifurcated tongue, subdermal implants and green-inked lips, is one of the most contemporary examples of this phenomenon; others include The Enigma and Tom Leppard.

The bar of ethic that endorses a few obligations to control independence without forbidding the same is required. The postmodern good concern does not express values rather there is resentment in it against impediments on flexibility. There is an exertion to deny everything that could curtail individual rights. That is the reason why the new profound quality coincides with purchaser using joy; the individual quest for private satisfaction. It’s an effortless, ethical quality where anything goes, yet where unconditional obligations and present are dead. Postmodernism has abandoned both moralism and anti-moralism creating a confused atmosphere.

Postmodern ethics are not focused around widespread or perpetual standards. Christians, Jews and Muslims grasp moral codes of good as guided by God while on the other hand, the Secular Humanists, Marxists, and Postmodernists ground their moral frameworks in irreligious, naturalism, and advancement. Regardless of springing from the same roots, in any case, postmodern ethics contrast essentially from Secular Humanist and Marxist morals.

In this light, ethical codes are strict about various issues and in those domains, individuals will be subjected to reward or punishment for their deeds without considering whether they have posed any threat or harm to anyone else. While according to the current concept of ethics and morality under postmodernism, anything that pleases without harming others is legitimate. In contemporary era of epistemological social structure, every individual is bestowed with the right to autonomy, happiness and individual fulfilment. Therefore, a postmodernist society also teaches about moral code of conduct along with strict law and order framework which do not interfere in individual freedom. While in all religious teachings, absolute individualism is always hindered with the concept of Day of Judgement.

In such a case, postmodernism has left behind ethical values and moral codes in its traditional meaning while transforming the concept of ethics completely. Raul Kerbs in his worth reading article “Ethics in Postmodernism” has elaborated individualism which has both good and bad forces. According to him:

“We have an individualism without rules, manifested in family indebtedness, families without parents, parents without families, illiteracy, the homeless, ghettos, refugees, marginal people, drugs, violence, delinquency, exploitation, white-collar crimes, political and economic corruption, the unscrupulous grasping of power, genetic engineering, experimentation on human beings, etc.”

In the Postmodern world, moral principles are chosen by both intimidation and accord. Profound quality is not associated with God, therefore, there is a supremacy crisis also found in postmodern societies. The crisis shows itself in a few ways: A general public which loves youth, a society where riches are the indication of achievement and bliss. A shopper economy where “to be” is to purchase, expend, utilize and discard. In postmodern world, new standards of idealism have been generated which are not certainly based on knowledge or moral conduct while what is more in the limelight and highlighted in the mainstream media is the most popular, appreciated and idealized. Moral frameworks are built inside social orders. Each society, in this way, has its own set of good principles emerging from the different impacts inside every specific gathering. In addition, ethical quality is not stagnant; it changes, adjusts, and is always advancing as indicated by the wishes and will of masses.

However, postmodernism, in actual, does not propose moral turmoil but instead redirects moral concerns through a frail, short-term, effortless duty to values that don’t interfere with the individual liberty.

By:Munazza Khan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *