Surviving the Post-Truth Society

by George Hatjoullis

If you are not sure what a post-truth society denotes then read my blog imaginatively titled, Post-Truth Society. The key to survival is thinking for yourself. You can no longer follow the crowd and parrot soundbites that you do not really understand. That is how you got into this mess. Every action and every utterance must now be deliberate and measured and the result of careful consideration. You must read everything and listen to all with a critical eye and ear. You must delve into statistics and ask whether they are valid. You must revisit past utterances and reconsider your views and, occasionally, bash your head against brick wall as a penance.

You have probably said at some point in your life ‘I don’t mind surveillance. I have nothing to hide’. The implication is that honest citizens never have anything to fear from the state. You have subsequently ignored intrusive legislation. Wrong. In a post-truth society you have everything to fear. Look across the water to President Trump. Would you feel safe in a surveillance-state, run by this man? Of course, if you are a peaceful law-abiding citizen why should you not feel safe? He may decide that it is in the ‘greater good’ that people ‘like you’ should be corralled , contained, spied on, excluded. Still feel safe.

The post-truth society is the construction of populists. Their objective is unconstrained power. They have no ideology or values. They just want power. They will use democracy to acquire it and legitimise it. Their use of power becomes the ‘will of the people’. The people may only represent 52% of the votes cast and a minority of the voting and total population but this is sufficient for the task. Democracy in this simplistic form allows tyranny by the (small) majority. Erdogan has used this to great effect in Turkey and was the subject of my earliest blog posts on this subject. At the time I contrasted Erdogan’s Turkey with the UK’s pluralist representative democracy. There are several dents in the wall near my desk. No democracy is safe from populism and tyranny (as I am reminded by Socrates).

I have previously used the example of left-handed people to illustrate. This example is quite real in that history reveals harsh treatment of left handed people. What if a referendum was held on whether to ‘reprogramme’ anyone born revealing left handed tendencies? Assume 51%, of those that bothered, voted to reprogramme. Is this ‘will of the people’ to be executed? Is this your understanding of pluralist representative democracy?

The world is about to face the persecution of many ‘other’ people by populist politicians. They will use words like ‘the people’, ‘the nation’, ‘patriotism’, ‘our way of life’, ‘conspiracy’ and so on.They have done so in the past with terrible consequences. You should consider carefully whether you support this persecution of ‘other’ people, whatever the alleged justification. You never know when you might become the ‘other’.