Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?

Or, how authoritarians use your fear of authoritarianism to get you to hate anti-authoritarians

Anna Mercury
9 min readMay 3


Photo by Jan Krivec on Unsplash

What up. I’m Anna. I’m here to chew bubblegum and rant about the stupidity of American socio-political discourse and I am perfectly capable of talking while I chew.

You see, I am what Jordan Peterson might call a “postmodern neo-Marxist.” That I’m an anarchist and more of a Bookchinite than a Karl stan seems irrelevant to that label, as does the part where Marxism emerged during the early Modernist era so a “postmodern Marxism” is inherently a “neo-Marxism” and the label is needlessly redundant.

This is the label Jordan Peterson et al. like to apply to, I guess, anyone who thinks trans people are real. Within the American psyche, “postmodern neo-Marxism” lives in a cute little Venn diagram along with other terms such as “social justice warrior,” “wokeist,” and “radical Leftist.”

This rant isn’t about Jordan Peterson, but about how authoritarians leverage their labels and their propaganda to play on your fears so you’ll support authoritarians.

Sticking with the first label for now, “postmodern neo-Marxism” has two words in it that really seem to freak people out, depending on the person’s particular anxieties: Marxism and Postmodernism. (Thanks to Keanu, we’re all more or less cool with Neo.)

The anxieties around Marxism are obvious in the American context: we are the country that spun an ideological “fight against communism” into decades of violent coups and proxy wars, backing up our militarized imperialism with the notion that “fighting communism” granted us some kind of moral superiority. We fight the scourge of, y’know, workers’ rights.

To escape the reality that we were, in fact, just a power-hungry military empire with no noticeable morality to speak of, we churned out an all-encompassing, sophisticated propaganda machine that got Americans to equate Marxism, a 19th century economic philosophy, with brutal dictatorship, and American capitalism with the only bulwark against it. Overthrowing democratically-elected Left-wing administrations and installing brutal dictators in their stead was our all-American brand of stopping the spread of brutal dictators.