Skepticism -- to Cynicism -- to Postmodernism: What Alex and I Got Wrong and What We Can Do To Get America Right

Skepticism -- to Cynicism -- to Postmodernism: What Alex and I Got Wrong and What We Can Do To Get America Right

Alex of Amatopia and Zigmund of AllMySmallThoughts  -- me -- recently gave our takes, thoughts, and ideas about skepticism.

But here’s the thing: we arguably both missed the larger point -- and I’m not sure either one of really got done to the root of the problem with “skepticism” (although we may have came close).

The real problem with Skepticism is this: most people are so skeptical -- meaning they refuse to make judgements or choices about life (a point I think Alex did in fact get right) -- and this begets a second problem: cynicism.

How then does skepticism beget cynicism?  Well if you refuse to make a judgement (if you’re truly skeptical), you probably doubt that others can make judgements (which is the cynicism mentioned above.).  

And it’s this cynicism that is the problem in today’s society.  If you can’t trust yourself or other people, then anything goes -- or doesn’t go.  Today’s modern skeptic/cynic wouldn’t care either way.

Now here’s the real kicker: people today are acting like this skeptical/cynical attitude is “trendy” “cool” and totally “groundbreak”.  But it really isn’t.

In fact it is very similar to what the original Greek Cynics were doing.

For instance the Greek Cynics considered themselves to be seeking to “living in Accord with Nature and Opposing Conventions”.

Sounds familiar -- even “postmodern” --right?  I mean how many pictures have you probably seen of folks posing out in nature?

Similarly you’ve probably seen those same people wearing “unconventional” clothes and accessories -- tie die shirts, piercings, rainbow colored make-up, and the entire works.

Now consider how the Greek Cynic Diogenes used to behave:

Diogenes uses his body to upend the conventional association of decorum with the good. He breaks etiquette by publicly carrying out activities an Athenian would typically perform in private. For example, he eats, drinks, and masturbates in the marketplace”

Now I won’t say there has been a mass movement focused on “masturbating” in public within our society -- but the point is this -- Cynics were focused on defying norms, much in the same way people in the 60s and 70s were with their rampant drug use, crime, and fighting against the proverbial “man”.

So now that we’ve established the connection between cynicism and today’s postmodern world we’re no left with a few major question: what’s next? What can we do to get “beyond” the “postmodern” attitude?

We can begin by RESPECTING LIFE. Otherwise we’ll end up like the Cynics -- who are at best described as fun filled and norm-defying jokesters who lacked a “true culture” since they fundamentally opposed “culture” and it’s restrictive norms.  

Which would certainly be less than ideal for us Americans -- too many people died in wars, were mutilated in battle, and slaughtered by a dangerous disregard for humanity to throw our nation’s history away for cynical humor.

Or, in other words, America is no joke and it’s best if you not try to laugh our nation out of existence.

Thanks for your thoughtful consideration,
Zigmund E. Reichenbach