In his text on the post-truth era, Matthew d’Ancona sums up post-truth politics as “the triumph of the visceral over the rational, the deceptively simple over the honestly complex”. It’s a sage and timely piece, reflecting primarily on Brexit and the rise of Trump, but also the movement’s historical background, psychology, and how we can combat it.
Throughout the well-researched and compelling text were little tidbits that really tickled me, such as the fact that George Washington never actually said “I cannot tell a lie” – this was an invention by biographer Mason Weems, who in turn claimed to be the rector of a fictitious church(!). Less tickling but just as surprising was the revelation that in China, “state-sponsored commenters – millions of them – fabricate about 448 social media posts a year.” That really put some perspective on fake news for me.
As other reviews have noted, journalist d’Ancona gives the press an easy ride in their role in this new political landscape. There were places, I’ll admit – especially amongst the historical philosophising – that it started to go a bit over my head. Still, Post-Truth is an interesting, if not easily-digestible, read, and provides a worthy overview.
[Read from 14-23 June 2017]