Postmodernism has presented a significant challenge to the assumptions behind both modernism and modernity for some decades now, although its high point as a cultural phenomenon was during the 1980s and 1990s, when it became a very trendy term to use in both the media and everyday discourse.1 Postmodernists attacked the authoritarian aspect of modernity as a cultural system, arguing that it suppressed dissenting views in favour of defending its overall grand narrative of economic, technological and political progress. This grand narrative was no less in operation in the communist bloc than in the Western democracies (both of whom claimed to have found the ideal political system destined to overcome all others), and postmodernists were concerned to reveal how repressive this had become across all areas of our lives, promoting conformity of belief and curbing dissidence wherever it appeared. Postmodern theorists felt that such all- encompassing grand narratives were beginning to break down in the later stages of the twentieth century, and events such as the collapse of the Soviet empire in the 1980s and the move towards a capitalist style of economic system in China seemed to provide solid evidence for their claims: Marxist theory, at least, was losing its hold. Change was well under way, and it was to be greeted with enthusiasm.
It seemed that totalitarianism was no longer a sustainable political position, and the line taken was that we were entering a