Post-Categorical Politics: Definition In The Age Of Fluidity

22/09/2016 11:48

In 1962, philosopher Thomas Kuhn published his seminal narrative history of science that would change the nature of knowledge - scientific and non - for good. Arguments laid out in 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' to this day remain hotly contested and largely unsolved.

For those unfamiliar with Kuhn's pièce de résistance, he essentially argued that science, as a knowledge-creating mechanism, never moves closer to absolute truth and instead, moves laterally through what Kuhn calls "paradigm shifts." Ultimately a kind of collective thinking cap, Kuhn argues that "normal" science operates under a dogmatic concept - whether that be Newton's Gravitation or phrenology - before "revolutionary" science leads to a violent shift in dogma, under which all the old data and evidence is then retroactively fitted.

As prominent in the all spheres of epistemology today as it was in 1962, an important part of Kuhn's scientific revolutions was the violence and immediacy of the shift in paradigm - think Newton's vs. Einstein's theory of general relativity - meaning that it was very much 'out with the old and in with the new.'

Now if one were to transpose these epistemic phenomena onto the world of subjective, ontological experience, the same could be said throughout the generations of Homo sapiens when it came to politics, society, and normative behaviours.

Why is it then that we constantly try to retrofit our present societies into ancient categories and archaic pigeon holes - whether that be the duopoly of the British political system, or the incessant need to identify the 'dividing line' between the 52 and 48 post-Brexit?

We have never lived in a society whereby identity is so fluid and yet, we still try to label and stereotype. We still try to operate under a paradigm that, in my eyes, is long gone. A paradigm that existed only within the society that bred it, a society that has evolved and changed to no end since.

And here I would argue, comes the biggest danger of this kind of operation. For if the paradigm under which the people sit does not represent the world in which they live, tensions boil, tensions bubble, and tensions spill over. One only needs to look at the far right resurgence around the globe - and indeed that of the far/centre left too - to see that the people are crying out for a new paradigm.

But how can it happen? And who controls the shift?

In the eyes of Thomas Kuhn, it was the work of a handful of bold and maverick revolutionary scientists, who would notice the "anomalies" within the existing framework, judge that a "crisis" exists, and then proceed to change the proverbial playing field. Einstein, Copernicus, Darwin etc.

So who is today's desperately needed maverick?

Many whom I know would argue a certain Mr Jeremy Corbyn, which, although a nice idea, is fatally flawed for a number of reasons. Firstly, this man had existed in parliament for decades, quietly ruffling feathers on the controversial back benches - the epitomy of a "normal" politician if you will. Developing-by-accumulation and happily being a pragmatic leftie, offending and challenging, but only so much as to not offend and truly challenge himself out of a comfortable wage.

Secondly, the fact that Corbyn (many of his followers included) is still attempting to operate under what is arguably a defunct political movement - aka. The Labour Party - leaves one to wonder whether this is the man to lead a shift in paradigmatic politics. Or will he, as many predict, lead an uprising that will do nothing but further break an already broken and struggling political party.

The left is no longer what it used to be. It's more than just students and labourers, more than just Marxists and Socialists. Like the rest of humanity, identity within the political party spectrum has never been so fluid. Why is it then that we continue under the paradigm of a duopoly of archaic political parties?

Where the shift will come from - your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it will be with Jeremy Corbyn. Or maybe with the new Progressive Alliance. Or maybe something entirely unfathomable.

All I do know is that we need it now because the stagnation of an already crippled economy, society, and political system, will do nothing but cause further divides. And in doing so, breed further tensions resulting no doubt, with an imminent and ever-looming "crisis" for better, or for worse.