We’ve Lived Long in a Post-Truth World

Richard SeymourWe live, supposedly, in an age of “fake news” and “post-truth politics.” This is a misunderstanding. “Pre-post-truth politics” includes the era of the “war on terror” and its deceptions, and the orthodoxies and falsehoods which led to the elite debacle of the credit crunch. It is technique, not truth, which has been found wanting. That is, the idea of a “fact” as an objective measurement of reality, is losing ground in the post-credit crunch era.

“Post-truth politics” is what, until now, we have been living under: technocracy, in a word. The “monstrous worship of facts,” as Wilde called it, is nothing other than an avoidance of the question of truth. The category of “fake news” describes a fusion of infotainment, propaganda, public relations and churnalism which has been long in the making, now accelerated by online advertising revenues. The moral panic which blames “fake news” for the rise of fascism and right-wing populism misses the point that these degraded ecologies of information have triumphed in the vacuum of political possibilities produced by the post-Cold War consensus.

What the moral panic also obscures, by displacing it, is the fact that “fake news” is just one symptom of the breakdown of the near ideological monopoly previously enjoyed by large commercial and state media outlets.

–Richard Seymour
After the Catastrophe: Resistance and the Post-Truth Era

3 thoughts on “We’ve Lived Long in a Post-Truth World

      • For a large portion of the population now, stringing more than 140 characters together = pretentious. “Laid-back” people communicate with emojis and links. Part of this, no doubt, is that reading essays has taken on a class cachet. It’s like listening to the coolest new podcasts; it’s something people with enormous free time at a desk job get to do.

        My youngest brother is adamant that antisocial media has made people more literate, not less; he points to all the co-workers he knows who read long essays on the future of innovation robots and such. This TED Talks bullshit is a way to signal that you belong in the upper middle class, much the way an unopened copy of Stephen Hawking used to be.

        So I don’t blame the youngun for associating a complex argument like Mr. Seymour’s with pretension; most thinkpieces are written by snobs, for snobs. It’s too bad, because good writers are still doing good work which is plainly written and highly illuminating, even if it’s in a format whose audience is mostly arrogant jerks. Just because most shoppers at the farmers’ market are yuppie scum doesn’t mean the vegetables aren’t good! I’d avoid the artisanal honey, though. It’s only good for catching flies, and shit works even better.

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