Radicalism after Postmodernism

The new rules of the radical

The word ‘radical’ has never been more in use and at the same time more ambiguous in its meaning. Old signifiers of radicalism such as anti-establishment and rejecting of tradition, no longer hold water. In fact, in an era in which to pose as anti-establishment has become the status quo, embodying old, conservative values, is what’s most radical.   


This is the era of radical politics. From terrorists being ‘radicalised’ online, radical leftists seeking to defund the police, or the radical right shipping refugees to Rwanda and repealing Roe vs Wade, two things are clear. One: the word radical has incredibly powerful connotations. Two: other than conferring profundity, the word radical is almost completely empty of meaning. And it certainly doesn’t belong to either side of the political spectrum, or any kind of action in particular.

In a way, this shouldn’t surprise us. It’s over a century since Ferdinand de Saussure defined his terms o

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