The Postmodern Condition: I. A World of Paradox, Contradiction and Change

The Postmodern Condition: I. A World of Paradox, Contradiction and Change

We are increasingly successful in saying a few things that are universal for all people. Walter Anderson suggests a list of “ordinary ideas” that are held by most people in the world. The commonality arises in part from shared experiences, which in turn are the product of the electronically-mediated global community of which Marshall McLuhan spoke prophetically many years ago. We can create world-encompassing computer-based models that predict the flow of resources, the growth of population and the decay of our ecology with frightening accuracy. Similarly we can now trace worldwide trends in fashion, movies and other expressions of popular culture. This point is vividly confirmed seeing a young man in China or a young woman in Iraq, wearing a I-Shirt with a picture of an American sports hero or comic character, trying to either defy or defend a culture that is radically different from our own. We now have global life styles and intersect cultures that readily cross and borrow from many different societies and social values. The bohemian, international society of Paris  during the  1920s is now replicated  in many urban settings, ranging from Hong Kong and Singapore to London and even Moscow.

At a much deeper level, there is even the possibility (or is it only a hope?) that countries with differing levels of economic development are drawing closer. On the one hand, there is a growing awareness in at least some Western countries that non-European, non­ Western cultures must be met by means other than conquest or domination.  In the non-Western world on the other hand, there is growing recognition that issues of ecology and the environment are not just capitalistic or imperialistic artifacts, nor primarily a matter of politics. There is a deepening sense that the ecological perspective itself offers a penetrating critique of the modem way of life which the developing world both wants and does not want to embrace.

Localization  is also ‘Alive and Well’!

The picture gets more complex—and fragmented. New ways to divide the world are springing up. Robert Barnett is developing a cult following both among “the flags” (generals) and C-SPAN viewers, the crowd who gets its news “straight” and doesn’t like what they perceive as the spin of other channels. Barnett sees the world breaking into “core” and “gap” countries, the first being largely democratic and not warring with each other, and the second representing countries with lower levels of education, GDP, women’s rights and overall political participation. Are these two groups inevitably fated to collide in a “war of civilizations,” as Barnett asserts and Samuel Huntington prophesied before 9/11?

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About the Author

William Bergquist

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: www.psychology.edu) offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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