Without being myopic or self-obsessed the case can be made that 2016 was the year of the Alt Right. This is a contestable proposition like all things political and before the year was through it was being challenged with the view that 2016 was the year of post-truth politics. Once the proper meaning of post-truth is understood it is apparent these are not mutually exclusive and denote the same concept viewed differently.
The hip, young, and presumably problem-haired lexicographers at Oxford Dictionaries — entirely dissimilar to the fogey prescriptivists of yesteryear — concur that these words defined 2016 having shortlisted “Alt Right” and selecting “post-truth” as their Word of the Year. Post-truth is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
What has been termed “fake news” would be understood as post-truth on this definition, but not everything that is post-truth is fake news. Trump giving a speech on voter fraud is labelled by the established media as an instance of post-truth but a small conservative blog detailing the same is denounced as fake news.
To combat this rise in socially irresponsible chicanery the media has started to fact check every statement made by a right-wing populist. Our task is not to counter-fact check but to uncover the common features of this cleansing ritual.
Fact checking betrays the media’s self-conception. The idea that the media are the fourth estate, and thus an organic and necessary component of society, speaking truth to power would appear inoffensively quaint if it weren’t so far from the truth. The media are the gatekeepers of liberal orthodoxy and fact checking is their latest attempt at retaining this position. They no longer believe, if they ever did, that truth is arrived at through debate instead believing that an utterance’s truth-value is equal to its suitability as a blunt instrument to beat the masses into conformity. For them the political is not contestable but has been decided long ago by their class.
To use a particular example, Trump’s rhetorical device of claiming Obama founded ISIS cannot be viewed as an analogy for the consequences of his Middle Eastern foreign policy by these gatekeepers. Instead they mock Trump, and by extension Middle American Radicals, for the strawman of believing Obama literally created ISIS. To seriously engage with this point is to endanger the managerial revolution by technocrats as it forces them to reanimate the corpse that is the normative understanding of our institutions ordinary people share (hence the increasing distrust in institutions as the real does not match the ideal). It is to be open to doubt on leftist positions, which would invite further examination of the core tenets of their beliefs. A gatekeeper cannot allow this to stand so they attack any inconvenient fact or position as post-truth/fake news.
Post-truth is then code for anti-liberal. Liberalism has outlasted fascism and communism as alternatives for political organisation, and in the near thirty years since communism posed an existential threat to liberalism it has forgotten how to justify itself and the satus quo. All the media need to do to keep the frog boiling in the pot is investigate a supposed fake news item once in a while and put people’s minds at ease. The possibility that they are wrong isn’t what holds them back, it’s conceding this much ground and therefore power that makes them balk.
The Left’s primary concern is power. The contemporary Left cut their teeth at universities where they imbibed relativism about the truth. They hold to no objective standards about truth, they are highly subjective and therefore insular people, remember, they do not know anyone who voted for Brexit, Trump, or the Coalition. The Alt Right is the biggest anti-liberal force in decades to arise directly challenging the pieties liberals take for granted. So they gnash their teeth and wail about democracy and the threat posed to it by the Alt Right (and related groups) with its post-truth.
Too little too late.
Ordinary people are slowly waking up to the fact liberal elites inhabit a reality separate to theirs. The everyman is now Roddy Piper in They Live seeing the liberal utopia as the dystopia it really is. A recent global survey has charted this collapsing faith in institutions, where Australia has gone down from 49 to 42 per cent this year from last. Adding insult to injury trust in government in the US has gone up which we can only assume is linked with Trump’s victory, whereas distrust in the media remains the same as the previous year.
The media based their strategy of calling their detractors post-truth/fake news on the erroneous assumption that liberalism is still all hegemonic. The Right won this round having turned the liberals’ guns against them, calling them out for fake news, so much so that they wish to retire the term! The important thing to note here is that they have not given up on the notion of post-truth, to do so would be tantamount to admitting defeat.
With the chinks in their armour beginning to show the Left are becoming increasingly desperate and taking on the temperament to match. We knew that the events of 2016 had upset the Left that its furthest fringes would become more violent this year, but what we couldn’t have predicted was the ease with which notionally moderate progressives have acclimatised to the idea of political violence. Not only are the tumblristas happy to rationalise thuggery but the legacy media have descended to the gutter also.
Such a serious turn this early into the year closes off one chapter and opens another in the fight for our people and homelands. We will have to further our fourth generation warfare and do as we did with fake news: turn their guns! Force their moderates to disavow their radicals and when they do not — for they cannot — it will be further testament to normal, decent folk that the Left despise them and all that they stand for.