My wife Jenny and I took an Architecture River Cruise in Chicago last Friday. It was a very enjoyable, informative experience and I highly recommend it. The guide used the term Postmodern to describe a lot of Chicago buildings. Postmodern architecture is a rejection of “Modernism”, which is the pursuit of ideal perfection, attempted harmony of form and function and dismissal of “frivolous ornament”. Modernism is the ‘less is more’ view of art and buildings. Postmodernist architecture on the other hand favors personal preference and variety over objective ultimate truth. Shake it up! That’s cool for art and architecture, not so much for law.
Postmodernist ideas have permeated all aspects of human culture and thought. It’s a refreshing change of pace when it comes to art and music but problematic and dangerous when it comes to law. Shaking up the current social order is a threat, unless you’re on the bottom or a radical. “Critical Legal Theory” is a movement from leftist legal scholars seeking to use law to pursue political goals. It’s troublesome because it erodes the stability and certainty of law. It fragments law, making it subjective and geared to immediate consequences and less with consistency and continuity. Selective enforcement of immigration law is one example.
Postmodern economics are even more menacing. It sees human beings as social constructs not as rational selves. Our current capitalist economic system is criticized as oppressive and outmoded because it is based on a white male dominated society. Progressives believe this system must be dismantled. People with power will not voluntarily give up what they have, so government must intervene to ensure “economic justice”. Socialism, or a state-planned economy, is such an intervention. Despite the dismal failure of socialism every time it’s been tried, a small handful of politicians still pursue socialist agendas.
Postmodern rejection of the original foundation of art and architecture is good. Viewing our economic system as a social construct legitimizing bias towards the wealthy and privileged is bad. Current, well established law protects your wealth from discontent social radicals. Your War Chest rests securely on the solid bedrock of constitutional private property law; safe from malcontent, whiney intellectuals.