Postmodernism time is over – interview with Lilia Shevtsova

Postmodernism time is over – interview with Lilia Shevtsova

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election has put a number of questions, which politicians and political scientists are now trying to answer. How will the USA relations with other countries develop after this unusual President took the office? What is Trumpism, what inspires it and how can it change the world? These questions are discussed with the publicist, Doctor of Historical Sciences Lilia Shevtsova.

Obama and postmodernism

“Obama came to the White House at the end of postmodernism – the whole stage in the world history, which was the time of relativity, political eclecticism and rejection of the principles both within liberal democracies and in the international arena […] He was forced to watch the European Union fall into a stupor. He saw vacuum emerging in the world instead of a general atmosphere of friendship and harmony he had dreamed about, and aggressive “Night Wolves” like Russia, China and Iran trying to fill this vacuum”.

End of American messianism

“But instead of trying to find an alternative to postmodern unscrupulousness, Obama chose a different path – he decided to hide from the world’s problems, leading America away from the international arena and limiting its global responsibility. In fact, Obama became the US leader who gave up the American tradition of messianism and leadership. He became a pragmatist disguised under idealistic rhetoric”.

Fiasco of irresponsibility

“Any new US president, whether it is Clinton or anyone else, would be faced with the problem of postmodern crisis. With the effects of globalization, political correctness, lack of ideological orientation and a wave of national-populism – as a reaction to the eclecticism. Trump’s victory is largely an accident, but this accident is also a reflection of the existing laws”.

“But there is a paradox. Trump, who became a reaction to the eclecticism, is a grotesque symbol of postmodernism, rejecting all the principles and norms. He became the epitome of reality created by consciousness, which is sometimes painful. Therefore, his very arrival shall only intensify the crisis of the American establishment and the American system”.

“The important thing is that Trump and his team are unlikely to withdraw America and the West out of the ideological crisis. But through intensifying it, they can facilitate the arrival of a new leader who will think about the new historic mission of America, and its responsibility as the pillar of the world order”.


Interregnum, liquid modernity and the post-truth world

“Undoubtedly, Trump is a reflection of the mood of our times. Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci might call this time an “interregnum.” Another definition of this time was given by Polish-British sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. He defined our time as a liquid modernity,” where everything has become precarious and there are no boundaries between the principles and norms. There is neither enemy nor friend, neither peace nor war, neither law nor lawlessness: everything has been mixed in one glass. Indeed, this is the post-truth time, when the truth does not exist, because the reality is produced by our consciousness and there is even no need for fact-checking.”

Liberal civilization no longer needs to justify itself and it is confident of the serene motion to success and prosperity without any ideals. Chirac and Sarkozy, Berlusconi and Schroeder – all of them are leaders of “fluidity” that does not require any adherence to principles”.

The “Minsk agreements” aimed at resolving the war in Donbass, where Russia is both a participant in the confrontation, moderator and arbitrator are the superexample of postmodernism.

But the fact is that history itself has planted a ticking time-bomb. Abandonment of standards or adherence to double standards has hindered both the formation of a strategy and a response to many challenges of the western society itself. What is “Brexit?” This is a rebellion against postmodern eclecticism and an attempt of the British to return to modernity, that is, to the old traditional values, which have always been defended by the state. The growing popularity of the extreme left and the extreme right in Europe is both the reaction to postmodernism and the European society’s aspiration to find a fulcrum in returning to the age-old benchmarks of the defence of state interests and traditional morality.

How it is used by Russia

“I think that Putin’s Kremlin is really very successful in using mass paralysis worldwide and disorientating the West when achieving its internal and external goals. If an alien civilization is confused and loses its vector, why not use a chance? So, the Kremlin is using its chances! The Russian campaigns for discrediting Western standards to which the West does not always adhere, for supporting left-right-wing malcontents in the Western society and for undermining Western unity may seem successful. Indeed, 37% of supporters of the Republicans in the United States, the most anti-Russian party, are sympathizing with Putin now. Is this not an achievement?! And how actively the Mediterranean countries, together with Austria, call for the abolition of sanctions against Russia. It is a real “fifth column” within Europe. And see how flexible Paris is. Actually, the French have always leant toward the game with Moscow to annoy Washington. Gaullism, you know!”

 What comes next?

“The Kremlin managed to take advantage of the West’s weakness. However, that mere fact made the law of unintended consequences work. The Russian attack made the Western society consolidate to deter the Kremlin from the new victories.”

“Of course, the supporters of the containment of Russia as well as the supporters of “engagement” of Moscow in a dialogue will compete for Trump and for the influence on his policy. This will result in inconsistency of his policy and new “swings” […] These “swings” found vent in the search for balance between containment and cooperation with Russia.”