Modernism, Post-Modernism and Post-Postmodernism

Modernism is a very old-fashioned concept, dating back to the nineteenth century. The concept passed through artists like Matisse, Gauguin and then Picasso and a whole school of thinkers. However, its culminating point – and also death – came only some fifty years ago in the 1960s, which itself culminated in the youth revolutions of 1968. ‘Modern’ meant anti-Victorian, the rejection of any kind of ‘old’ value, of anything ‘old-fashioned’, regardless of whether it was worthwhile or not. Typical of this culmination of Modernism were the Second Vatican Council, liberalism, feminism, divorce, drug-taking, alcoholism, pornography, abortion, and the collapse of marriage and stable family life. Most of its revolutionary and rebellious advocates have died from a way of life that was full of vice.

A decade later, after the culmination of Modernism, the rejection of any sort of tradition, good or bad, inevitably came the culmination of ‘Post-Modernism’, that is, cynicism, scepticism, disbelief and nihilistic ‘deconstruction’. Although Post-Modernism is also an old concept, its culminating-point could only come after the 1960s in the cynical destructiveness of the period between the 1970s and 1990s. Typical of Post-Modernism are the lack of belief in anything constructive, spiritual emptiness, depression, nothingness, ‘anything goes’, the mocking of heartfelt belief, irony, throwaway products, shallowness, cheapness, passing fads and fashions and superficiality. Most of its faithless and often bitter, disbelieving advocates are now ageing or else are already dead.

The question is, if Post-Modernism comes after Modernism, what comes after Post-Modernism? This is a question that intellectuals have debated for well over a decade and about which they still have not come to any conclusion. This is because of the faithless and spiritually empty nature of Post-Modernism. After a vacuum, anything is possible. And consensus on what makes an epoch cannot be achieved while that epoch is still in its early stages. On the one hand, it is possibly to continue to wallow in the negativism of Post-Modernism and make a cult or delusional consciousness out of it. On the other hand, it is equally possible to reject something as primitive and negative as Post-Modernism with something positive and constructive.

‘Something positive and constructive’. These are words which have little meaning in Western society, which alone has generated both Modernism and Post-Modernism. Interestingly, it may therefore be that the Western world will have to stop being ethnocentric and look outside its self-absorbed culture to find the qualities to regenerate itself. The fact is that ‘something positive and constructive’ can only be built on Faith, which is the very baby that was thrown out together with the bathwater in the Western Modernist 60s and Post-Modernist 70s and after. ‘Post-Postmodernism’ is an awkward name. ‘Metamodernism’ and ‘Trans-Modernism’ have been suggested. They too seem very awkward. Perhaps a single syllable, ‘Faith’, is what is really needed by this disbelieving Western world.