Fake news

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

To the editor,

Trumpistas cry “fake news” when they don’t like what’s printed. I think this intellectual sloppiness can be explained by Conservatives’ lazy and cynical reaction to the ascent of Structuralism as a philosophy. Since the Greeks, philosophers searched for

Since the Greeks, philosophers searched for reality in nature (the ‘ding an sich’). And they labeled this the truth. However over the last 50 years, Structuralists have stopped searching for some ideal ‘truth’ floating out there somewhere, and instead studied our culture, and especially our language to determine what we call the truth. That is, truth isn’t our best reflection of nature, but only our best reflection of ourselves. The names tied to this change include Wittgenstein, Dewey, Derrida, Sartre and Foucault….

A Structuralist approach to politics would requires new procedures. Structuralists call for close study of language, culture, our literature and further, Structuralists call for a willingness to simply keep the conversation going about what we are doing and how we are thinking. In other words, the new way requires a lot of hard work, scholarship and good faith.

But modern Conservatism doesn’t deal in these things, especially not good faith. Think of a young and callow Steve Bannon in college Philosophy 101 as the professor, after covering Socrates to Kant all semester, finishes the course the last day by saying, “And oh yeah there’s this new idea, the Structuralists don’t believe there is any truth like we’ve been speaking about this semester.” What would Bannon, as he moved up the Republican ultraright bureaucracy, do with this new intellectual tool for understanding our times? Would he advocate a full discussion with all parties including the left, and a full reading of all that literature offers, in order to arrive at a new understanding? I think not. For the right wing brain trust, it’s much easier to simply say that since there’s no truth, from now on we, the Right, will establish the facts as we need them. It’s not a far jump from this lazy practice to America’s sweetheart KellyAnne Conway talking of “alternative facts,” and to any other ordinary Joe or Mary who dislikes the news simply ignoring it as fake, and then flipping over to FOX.

One further point, and then a summary: One further point, Structuralists never claimed no existence for true facts or accurate news. Matter of fact everything they’ve written relies on both. And to summarize, the right lacked the good faith to develop the Structuralists’ complex ideas, and instead perverted them, landing us in our present intellectual mess where people can say with a straight face that Trump won the election.

Mark Lesniowski