The description of political life today can easily be summed up as an accurate idea of what post-truth is. The narrative that post-truth itself sells is the supremacy of outright false claims in a political atmosphere in general. There exists the lack of regard for truth, and beliefs and/or emotions often take the spotlight away from the factual truth. But what does post-truth really represent? Is it a fight between the good and the evil? Or is it some way of political psychological warfare taking place in the form of severe gaslighting being done irrespective of the grave outcomes that come from it?
To understand post-truth, the primary understanding is that it is anything but the truth, a break from the real embodiment of truth. Post-truth is not “after” truth, it is what came after legendary gatekeepers of truth and ethics had long gone. In the age of this post-truth politics, democracy suddenly seems challenging. After all, democracy is the accumulation of factually correct history that shape the present and future into something transparent, eradicating all the confusion at it’s bay. In 2004, Keyes defined post-truth as “the blurring of boundaries between lying and truth-telling, and the fact and fiction.” But years later, Mair in 2016 shined the spotlight on this philosophy again by stating that post-truth is “qualitatively new dishonesty on the part of the politicians.” This was motivated from a series of events that went down in 2016 itself, namely: Brexit and in November of the same year, Trump’s presidency. In recent times, we witnessed the 2020 US Elections, and with that we witnessed Trump’s downfall, but he was not going down without a fight. The election week, his impromptu speeches and Twitter rants were full of made-up facts to make the Republicans believe that he was winning and that the whole election was rigged, and it worked. His motive the entire time was to halt the election and stop the counting of online votes, which could not have been ignored since the election took place in the middle of a pandemic. His broad agenda to win presented itself in scary ways-including Republicans standing outside the poll booths armed with guns, and lest we forget, the Capitol storming in 2021. What should be noted, however, is the fact that today, Trump wanted to create his own reality, one in which he was the President once again, or maybe after observing his tantrums, one can say that he had already created his own reality stating himself, “if I lose this election, I don’t know what I’m going to do, you will never see me again.” However, between this spectacle, the fact was that Biden was winning, Trump and other Republicans, in their own reality, just simply chose to opt this truth out. “Truth is simply a matter of assertion”, and for brief moments throughout the election, the reign was in the hands of the one who asserted their truth more strongly.
India, a developing state, has been obsessed with its GDP since a while now, post 2014, GDP garnered the interests of this country, but it was Modi and his supporters that exaggerated how good India was doing economically, this was, once again, a bluff when in 2020 the numbers rolled in and India’s GDP was set to be the worst performer in South Asia, presently contracting. The “promising infrastructure” of India is just an echo when we see teacher-less and infrastructure-less schools in rural India or be it the demonetization drive that was done against the instructions of the Central Bank. What matters most in a “post-truth society” is the communication of it all. Thus, the importance is placed on the news and politicians, which in this case, are both false in nature. Post truth society feeds off unregulated social media, corrupt politicians and substandard journalism. Rational discourse takes the back seat, and the wheel is taken by beliefs and emotions, and thus post-truth suddenly becomes escapist fiction, something with its own reality.
In many ways, we are all part of post-truth society. But we should no longer possess the privilege of “ignorance is a bliss” in important circumstances. We need science more than ever, today. In a world stricken with a pandemic, WhatsApp forwards are clearly not a way to go treating ourselves, the real news in out there, after all the post-truth communicators need the real facts to later manipulate it, just to confuse us. In the midst of it all, we need to find our way back to a reality that is true to it’s form, the kind that doesn’t propagate violence or put fuel to the fire the world is quite literally burning in today. A claim is not simply true if people believe in it, it is false because they choose to believe in it. If this isn’t a fight against the good or the evil, this surely is a fight for choice and rightful truth.
Keyes, R. (2004). The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press
Mair, J. (2017). Post-truth Anthropology. Anthropology Today, 33(3), 3-4.
Suiter, J. (2016). Post-truth Politics. Political Insight, 7(3), 25-27.