How I Became Post-Post-Political
These days, everyone in politics wants to be post-something.
The most recognizable example of this are the post-liberals, who believe that classical liberalism has fallen away and that something else must inevitably take its place. Others sigh about a post-Christian West; Fareed Zakaria charts the waters of a post-American world. We were supposed to be post-racial for a while, though that didn’t exactly work out. Nationalism was supposed to blossom post-liberalism, except now there are those who think we’re post-nationalist too. Some conservatives say they’re post-fusionist while others are somehow already post-Trump. There are centrist wonks who boast of being post-political altogether; there’s the post-left and the post-right. There’s also the post I want to club my own head with whenever I try to keep track of all this.
Some of this posting is a reflection of the fact that our politics is in flux, that old assumptions are giving way to new ones (or to even older ones). But some of it also strikes me as the usual goth-kid online eye-rolling. We’re so over all that, man. Which makes me not want to be post-anything anymore. Even post-COVID is losing its appeal. I want to be pre-, or better yet, ante-.
Going post-al can be exhilarating, since it implies a void in which something new can be built. But at some point, you do have to get around to the building—and not just building another meme, really building. To that end, maybe it’s time to go post-post, to acknowledge that the past isn’t as easily transcended as we like to think, that it will inevitably inform what we seek to do in the present. And maybe instead of rejecting it, we should study it, respect it, try to improve on it for the sake of our children.