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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Post Truth



Marcuse

It is bizarre to see so many on the Left now accusing Donald Trump of a “post truth” attitude. And as if this is some new and terrible thing.

That is and was the "post-modern turn": that truth is subjective, that there is no absolute or objective truth, that truth is "socially constructed." As PBS sums it up, "Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality."

Lies no longer exist once you embrace postmodernism.

Rely on “impartial fact-checkers” to guard against “fake news”? Not going to work, once the journalism profession itself has embraced postmodernism. If truth is relative, neither facts, nor mathematics, nor logic, settle anything. Some feminists now argue that mathematics, science, and logic are "tools of the patriarchy." Ethics is now subject to "cultural relativism" rather than appeal to any first principles like Kant’s categorical imperative. As Marcuse wrote, “moral commands and prohibitions are no longer relevant." Postmodernism explicitly rejects scientific truth.

Derrida" self-proclaimed Marxist, denounced "logocentrism."

Where did all this come from? Certainly, it was not Trump’s innovation, It has been the core teaching of the New Left for the past sixty or more years. It is from Marcuse and the Frankfurt School. Marcuse's ideal society was, wrote Kołakowski, “to be ruled despotically by an enlightened group [who] have realized in themselves the unity of Logos and Eros, and thrown off the vexatious authority of logic, mathematics, and the empirical sciences.” Marcuse, it turn, was heavily influenced here by Heidegger, who was influenced by Nietzsche.

"Even the ears have walls," they wrote on the walls during the Paris uprising. From this font, for example, feminism comes, along with the newer emphasis on “gender rights”: the idea that “male” and “female” are purely social constructs. Scientific facts like chromosomes and human anatomy are now irrelevant.

Having pushed this idea for a good fifty or sixty years, it is funny to hear some on the left now complain that Donald Trump is supposedly embracing it. It is laughable to hear them suddenly troubled by “fake news,” when “fake news” has become the stock in trade of the establishment press.

Not that he is. As far as I can tell, he has not, as have the members of the New Left, ever expressly reserved the right to make up his own truths. You say he sometimes says things that are not true? And you assert this is a new thing for politicians?

How’s that one for a made-up truth?

Heidegger

Perhaps it is not hypocrisy. If you follow the wonderland logic of postmodernism and the New Left, that truth is whatever I want it to be, then I guess it follows that anyone who disagrees with me is either lying or simply denying reality. Any news I do not like is, by definition, “fake.” There can be no question here of others having equal rights. Unless I choose to allow it. There is left only one way, of course, to settle disputes: might makes right. Whoever is in power gets to do as they like.

You will note that Heidegger embraced the Nazis in their day, who in turn embraced Nietzsche. There is an obvious sympathy of attitudes.

Still, the accusation seems pretty ironic. Because a big part of Trump's appeal to his many supporters is that, unlike the usual politicians, he tells it straight. He speaks the truth.

One example is his taunt of Clinton, or Obama, to just once call Islamic terrorism Islamic terrorism. Or how about hearing the Democratic candidates all publicly disown the statement that "all lives matter"? Trump took the flak for saying, sensibly, that he reserved the right to challenge the election results if they looked bogus. He could have taken the easy political path of insisting he would not, like Hillary Clinton. Who then, of course, when she lost, challenged the election results.

Political correctness, itself a part of the New Left/postmodernist turn, at its base holds that saying a thing is so matters more than whether it is so.

That is a good definition of lying.

The revolt against political correctness has been the very core of Trump's appeal.




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