"How do postmodern issues differ from modern ones?
It’s ‘the vision thing’ as Bush the Elder put it so famously. But in order to undersetand what that means, progressives need to look in the mirror. Bush’s original phrasing betrayed his own lack in terms that were easy to mock; quoting was enough. But quoters got a way with implying, just by quoting, that, unlike Bush, they had authentic social vision—or at least understood what one was, the value of it. In fact, progressives have no such vision, none that is shared, none that links issues together reasonably, given some philosophy of human nature and analysis of history, none that implicates policies designed to advance that vision as a whole—nothing like classical liberalism, articulated and modified over centuries from Locke to Smith to Mill, or Marxism, spawning descendants in Bolshevism, anarcho-syndicalism, democratic socialism …
How quaint that all sounds today.
Call issues under those modern visions ‘grounded issues.’
Today’s issues are iconic. That means, above all, that they have no comprehensive basis, no foundation in principles rooted in serious thought about the human condition as opposed to blind dogma and one’s sense of self. Take a position on an iconic issue—immigration, abortion, gay marriage, minimum wage, whatever—and what are you doing? Expressing your identity and promoting the interests of the group you identify with—and so on, down the list of issues, the items bundled in accordance with the needs and tastes of whoever does the choosing.
But why did grounded issues evaporate into self-expressive or self-interested options?
Because, in an age of relentless and ubiquitous representation, the scarcest resource is attention.”
“This quality of rushed busyness expresses in action the absence of vision in thought, the absence of principles that establish coherence and priority. You have to deal with anything that comes up when nothing but political pressure can tell you what matters. So issues multiply listwise, as a function of multiplying interests and identities. They become iconic rather than grounded. There is no authentic vision in popular political culture for the same reason that high-culture postmodernists have given up on universalizing intellectual enterprises.”
————-THOMAS DE ZENGOTITA