Truly, truly, I say unto you, institutions are civilization. They've been deconstructed, and to what end?
Victor Hanson extends the argument, suggesting that the Noble Lie, one tactic of the Forever Concerned, isn't so noble, its French intellectual pedigree notwithstanding.
Fake news can become a means to advance supposedly noble ends of racial, gender, class, or environmental justice—such as the need for new sexual assault protocols on campuses. Those larger aims supersede bothersome and inconvenient factual details. The larger “truth” of fake news lives on even after its facts have been utterly debunked.Yes, and anyone can dissemble. Or, as David Ernst has it in The Federalist, "Trump Turns Postmodernism On Itself." It came to this, dear reader, the first time somebody who should have known better started putting truth in airquotes.
And indeed, the fake news mindset ultimately can be traced back to the campus. Academic postmodernism derides facts and absolutes, and insists that there are only narratives and interpretations that gain credence, depending on the power of the story-teller. In other words, white male establishment reactionaries have set up fictive rules of “absolute” truth and “unimpeachable” facts, and they have further consolidated their privilege by forcing the Other to buy into their biased and capricious notions of discriminating against one narrative over another.
The work of French postmodernists—such as Michael Foucault and Jacques Derrida that mesmerized academics in the 1980s with rehashed Nietzschean banalities about the absence of facts and the primacy of interpretation—has now been filtered by the media to a nationwide audience. If the mythical exclamation “hands up, don’t shoot” was useful in advancing a narrative of inordinate police attacks against African Americans, who cares whether he actually said it? And indeed, why privilege a particular set of elite investigatory methodologies to ascertain its veracity?
In sum, fake news is journalism’s popular version of the nihilism of campus postmodernism. To progressive journalists, advancing a leftwing political agenda is important enough to justify the creation of misleading narratives and outright falsehoods to deceive the public—to justify, in other words, the creation of fake but otherwise useful news.
Trump grasps our postmodern culture intuitively, and put it to use with devastating effect.That's not necessarily going to end well, but that's where we are. And thus does President Trump carry enough states to win.
If our opponents are going to accuse us of being evil-minded bigots, regardless of what we say or think, then what’s the point in bothering to convince them otherwise? Let’s play by their own rules of relativism and subjectivity, dismiss their baseless accusations, and hammer them mercilessly where it hurts them the most: their hypocrisy. After all, if there is no virtue greater than authenticity, and no vice worse than phoniness, then the purveyors of contrived PC outrage are distinctively vulnerable.
Democrats gleefully welcomed Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries with the expectation that they’d bury him in a pile of condescension for being a buffoon and scorn for being the next Hitler. Better yet, they figured that his astounding rise confirmed everything they had long assumed about half the country and were now free to say out loud: they are indeed a basket of irredeemable racist, sexist, homophobic deplorables. Mainstream Republicans would surely hop on board the progressive train rather than be associated with these creeps.Yes, and after the election, a lot of the nastiness on Facebook continues to be outrage and condescension and cliches and censoriousness, and it mostly gives normals stuff to mock.
None of this happened, of course. But why? Because what Trump’s enemies failed to grasp was that he wasn’t winning because of the crazy things he was saying, but because of the phony outrage and affected condescension it provoked. Many people empathized with Trump for enduring the contempt that he deliberately brought against himself. Trump kept playing the role of the antihero, and Clinton kept playing the role of the pearl-clutching fraud.
So I’m a scoundrel because I don’t pay income taxes? Maybe so, but it also makes me smart, just like all the other billionaires who are backing your campaign. So I’m a sexist because you found a video of me bragging about how my superstar status enables me to grab women by the p—y? Maybe it does, but allow me to publically introduce four of the women who have accused your husband of everything from indecent exposure to rape. So I’m a greedy businessman who stiffs my contractors? Fine. You’re a corrupt politician who sells out our national interest to line your own pockets.
Maybe everything they say about me is true, but at least I’m authentic, at least I’m real: you on the other hand, are a bloody, disgusting hypocrite.
All the same, Mr Marcus is worried about where the deconstruction of norms and normalcy might lead.
What many on all sides are feeling these days is that we are locked in an ugly struggle with no way out. Those who believe in biology and not a sliding scale of gender are tired of being called bigots. Those who oppose abortion are tired of being called sexists. Those who do not accept their privilege and guilt are tired of being called racists.Sometimes a kind answer might help change a person's mind, or at least induce an Aha! moment. Sometimes, though, the right and proper response, say, to the instinctive claim of an -ism or a -phobia might be, Yeah, and?
On the Left, a terrible fear is emerging, that the outsized and ugly rhetoric that has been their calling card is about to be used against them; and that their concerns about fairness and equality are going to be set back by Trump and his band of deplorables.
It is difficult not to despair of the current state of our political discourse. The President-elect has taken up the “us vs. them” attitude used for so long by the Left. He has embraced their abandonment of cultural norms and thrown it back in their face. On both sides people are digging in. It seems likely that our near political future will consist of snipes on Twitter between the President and Hollywood celebrities.
I leave to the reader to work out whether setting back the left on fairness and equality might actually lead to more fairness and more equality.