In reading about the Sophists in Richard Tarnas's history of ideas, The Passion of the Western Mind, I encounter the following passage:
Despite the positive effects of their intellectual training and establishment of a liberal education as a basis for effective character formation, a radical skepticism toward all values led some to advocate an explicitly amoral opportunism. Students were instructed how to devise ostensibly plausible arguments supporting virtually any claim. More concretely disturbing was the concurrent deterioration of the political and ethical situation in Athens to the point of crisis--the democracy turning fickle and corrupt, the consequent takeover by a ruthless oligarchy, the Athenian leadership of Greece becoming tyrannical, wars begun in arrogance ending in disaster....in such critical circumstances, the philosophical denial of absolute values and sophistical commendation of stark opportunism seemed both to reflect and to exacerbate the problematic spirit of the times.
It gives one pause to wonder if the antithetical spirit of our time: i.e., the capitalist greed and blind lust for wealth and power, versus the progressivism and idealism which is perhaps making a comeback since its brief efflorescence in the 1960s, is not posited on the same shaky sophisticated foundation. Postmodernism tends to dismantle its own underpinnings, including the spiritual dimension, leaving the questing imagination with no metaphysical targets to shoot for. What is left is the eternal mundane, always there to comfort you with its relativistic nipple when all else fails.
Is it fair, then, to pin the excesses of the Greed Decade (the 80s, Reaganism, Gordon Gekko) down through the Iraq War in this post-Constitutional era, on the solipsistic and linguistically obtuse meanderings of "sophisticated" academics? Perhaps so. Every word that is uttered makes an impact on the whole universe. Truths can be denied, but Truth herself if spurned can be a vengeful lover, and bring a whole plague of apocalypses down on our silly heads!