As we in the West struggle to understand the upheavals and violence taking place in the Middle East and elsewhere, I am reminded of this prescient quote from one of the very best books on postmodernism (which I loaned to someone and was not returned — if you have this book of mine, please send it back!):
The postmodern condition, we are told repeatedly, manifests itself in the multiplication of centres of power and activity and the dissolution of every kind of totalizing narrative which claims to govern the whole complex field of social activity and representation. The waning of the cultural authority of the West and its political and intellectual traditions, along with the opening up of the world political scene to cultural and ethnic differences, is another symptom of the modulation of hierarchy into heterarchy, or differences organized into a unified pattern of domination and subordination, as opposed to differences existing alongside each other but without any principle of commonality or order.
 Steven Connor, Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 8.