We all know those Hollywood blockbusters in which the bad guys (them) have somehow gotten their filthy mitts on a weapon of mass destruction, once the property of the good guys (us). Result? For 98 minutes all hell breaks loose in order to ensure that all hell does not break loose.
There is a clear moral line drawn throughout such movies. The bad guys are very much the bad guys for having the temerity to steal the aforementioned WMD. At no point does anyone question the morality of the good guys who had the temerity to create the WMD in the first place.
I say all of this because the WMD that is the post-truth era has, according to the Hollywood script, been stolen from the good guys and is being flaunted all over the planet by the baddest, scariest bad guy Hollywood’s elites can envisage; Donald Trump.
What do I mean by that? Well there is the Don playing fast and loose with the truth all over the place. As George from Seinfeld would have said “He’s be-bopping and scatting all over me Jerry, and I’m a losing it!”
And it’s true. People are “a losing it” all over the place at Trump’s insistence that the truth is not what others claim it to be. And I have to admit, he’s got a gall.
But no more gall than the crowd who are appalled by his gall. In fact they’re exactly in the same position as those Hollywood good guys who have had their WMD stolen and used against them. Simply put, the post-truth era was not created by the Don, he’s just a much better businessman at marketing it in the public square than we have seen to date.
Don’t believe all that nonsense about this being a new neo-con movement – it was birthed by liberal progressivism in the Humanities Departments of every Western university in the 60s through to the 90s. I know. I was there.
I well remember my three years at university and what a shock it was to the system, a shock I came to accept, but felt nonetheless. Truth was out. Post-truth was in. All that supposed “truth” was, was a mask to hide power. That’s what the good guys at the university told me. And the bad guys who shouldn’t be let within cooee of this WMD were the types like Trump. And me.
The problem is, of course, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, or indeed the gender. It’s a little problematic to go around crying that the very weapon you created in order to defang your foes is now being used by those same foes to defang you.
And I am writing this message to those of you under thirty, who somehow think Trump’s penchant for simply waving his hand at some perceived truth and talking it away, was his devilish idea. It’s not his devilish idea, it’s the devil’s devilish idea. And for three years I had to pay university fees to be taught it. (Actually that last bit is a lie. I got a free university education and it was delicious to do so).
But spare me this nonsense that the post-truth era has just come upon us. What has come upon us is the growing realisation that truth is not simply something you can throw around and throw away and scorn. Besides it wasn’t really a post-truth era back in the day at all. It was an era of deconstructing the Christian framework and Western worldview, as any Christian doing an Arts degree could have told you.
The faculty were most interested in the truth – just not that version of it. In fact their claim to be post-truth was simply a smokescreen to raze to the ground centuries of accepted truth and replace it with their own version.
But to be so blatant about it would have been suicidal. The first step was to question, then to deconstruct. But to deconstruct only in order to reconstruct a new world, a new age, a new truth that would better serve their own godless agenda.
They created a WMD that they were confident could – in the way only true progressives can be confident about the arc of history – sweep away the old narrative and progress towards a nirvana of their own imaginary. Post-truth was just base camp. The pinnacle was a new truth that would usher in a new world. It was a secular eschatology, a telos for those without a theology.
The problem of course is that post-truth is an unstable weapon, liable to go off at any time and certain to take no prisoners. And now that it’s been stolen by the bad guy you would think that it would give the progressive mind some pause for thought. You would think it would push them back to reconsider why they were so adamant that everything was relative for so many years. They’ve suddenly rediscovered their love of truth when it’s too late.
But don’t expect any humble mea culpa from the grandfathers and grandmothers of the post-truth era in the academy. That won’t happen. What will happen is that we’ll hear the term “post-truth” ad nauseam from the media for the next four years, and all the while Trump will airily wave his hand at a whole bunch of facts, and bebop and scat all over everyone.