The first thing to be said about our post-truth moment is that it is complete bullshit that we are having a post-truth moment. The idea that somehow, uniquely in the last year, American politicians and propagandists have started lying systematically, ignores the entirety of American history. The idea of ‘post-truth’ is generated from a completely scewball, neo-liberal view of American history – and, indeed, of world history – in which America was not the country that declared its independence because the British weren’t killing enough Indians, and that incorporated slavery in the constitution. It is not the nation of Jim Crow, the Sand River massacre, the long war between labor and capital in which unions were attacked by national guards as a regular thing. It is not the America that dropped two atom bombs and proceeded to test nuclear weapons above ground for more than a decade, with the official scientific community, colluding with the executive branch, lying through its teeth about the mortal dangers of fallout – which a scientific committee in 2006, hobbled by the congressional requirement that it only consider Iodine isotopes, decided was probably the cause of at least 200000 thyroid cancers. It is not the America of bogus drug laws, enforced with exemplary racism, that took back many of the promises of the Civil Rights era.
Instead, it is disneyland, where a perpetually cool tinkerbell, who knows the latest euphemisms, is a little burst of rainbow. In other words, post-truth analysis is based on a lie. The lie is called American exceptionalism, or various phrases of that type. Once you begin with a view of American history that can only be held by a member of the upper class (a class that is overwhelmingly white), who has distinct views about helping the “poor” (a sociological category that has its roots in charity) while despising the working class (which is a sociological category that has its roots in socio-economic struggle), you will quickly miss and misinterpret the American grain.
The post-truth meme was created in order to be scolded, and provide a soapbox for editorial lecturing. In reality, the lies of Trump are simply easier to spot. Trump has not bothered to find collaborators in the mainstream press, those willing volunteers who like to weave glamor around our monarchs – hence the awe evoked by so piddling a figue as George Bush. This is, I think, a huge mistake. But it isn’t some troubling new facet of our society. There is no post-truthiness, and its hour has not struck. I don’t want to use the occasion of clueless sex offender Trump to tell liberal seeming white lies about our country. That would be missing the moment.