into cultural politics was, he suggests, connected better with anarchism and libertarianism than with traditional Marxism. But by embracing new social movements, abandoning its faith in the proletariat as agent for change, and leaving behind historical materialism, the New Left cut itself from its own ability to have a critical perspective on itself or on the social processes. It is not that the move was unfruitful, bringing to the fore questions of gender and race, politics of differences, politics of disability, problems wrought through colonisation, and an interest in aesthetics, but it, postmodernism, was also a mask for the deeper transformations in the culture of capitalism.
Postmodernism has been defined as an historical era corresponding to a new mode of production, post-fordism, and as an attitude, a way of presenting and experiencing, very modern – if rather developed – modes of production. If the mode of production has not significantly altered then it is pertinent to enquire whether it is possible to adopt a new attitude, to break from specific ways of thinking that bind, if the conditions of our social and political context remain the same. In this paper I shall be assuming that the conditions of modernity remain and that postmodernity does not signify a distinct mode of production or form of social organisation. Now if postmodernism derives its aesthetic from some kind of struggle, perhaps from the fact of fragmentation, then it is important to establish why such a fact has been part of the modern experience and why the intensity of the experience picked up since the 1970s (Harvey, 117). It is this tension in postmodernism, between what is expressed and its expression, between the latent and manifest, and its parallel in feminist theory, which interests me. It is my contention that feminist postmodernism, like any other system of thought, has internalised contradictions, heightened during the 1980s, that are now becoming self-evident.
The type of postmodern feminist theory that has blossomed, particularly within the UK, has presented distinct, and well-documented, challenges. It has destabilised previously secure categories, and encouraged theorists to analyse meaning and relationships of power in a way that has called into question unitary, universal concepts and radically opened discussions concerning