Every year, the Oxford Dictionary chooses a Word Of The Year. At the end of 2016 they announced, "After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is 'post-truth' – an adjective 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’". They continued, "The concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade, but Oxford Dictionaries has seen a spike in frequency this year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States. It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase 'post-truth politics.'"
In our current series, we've been highlighting exactly how our society became post-truth. During the Modern Era (1650-1967) we pursued Truth believing it would create Utopia. However, people soon began fighting over what the Truth was. By 1967, after many wars over competing truth claims, people became so exasperated that we had a cultural revolution and decided to abandon the pursuit of Truth entirely. In the new Postmodern Era (1967 - present day), we decided that we didn't need or want Truth anymore. All we now needed was Love. In other words, we rejected the Hard Right Conservative virtues, and decided to pursue the Soft Left Liberal virtues instead.
This is the simple reason why we now live in a post-truth society. This is why presently, as the Oxford Dictionary puts it, "objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’." As our culture becomes more Liberal - increasingly driven by the heart than the head - we increasingly are shaped by emotion rather than objective facts. Indeed, we increasingly hate the truth for its divisive nature. We call it 'hate speech'. We call people who speak it, "bigots".
For example, if someone now speaks the truth that transgenderism is a psychiatric disorder, the Liberal will shut him down. If someone speaks the truth that homosexuality is an unnatural and unhealthy perversion, the Liberal will shut him down. If someone speaks the truth that Islam is a dangerous ideology, the Liberal will shut him down. Because it's not loving to say it, you see? The Leftist ideology dictates that if the truth offends, the truth must be silenced. The truth doesn't matter so much as how people feel about that truth.
In other words, it was Liberalism that decided that facts shouldn't matter. It was Liberalism that prioritised emotions over facts and created this Post-Truth society. Extreme Liberalism is the problem here.
Now Liberals themselves haven't grasped this. And consequently they don't really understand what 'post-truth' means. It's a buzzword they've heard levelled against them and they feel like they should have the opportunity to sling it back at Conservatives too. So they throw it around with abandon, assuming that it just means something like, 'a statement I happen to disagree with.' For example, if Donald Trump says something they don't like they'll shout, "That's lies! It's post-truth politics!" When a Brexiteer makes a statement about leaving the EU they'll shout, "That's lies! This is post-truth politics!"
That's not what it means though. Post-truth is something else than mere lies. It's something else than just statements we happen to disagree with. Post-truth means deliberately ignoring reason, rationale, facts, science, knowledge and statistics to follow an emotionally driven agenda. It means shutting down the truth in case it hurts someone's feelings. It means silencing truth-speakers in case the facts cause offence. In short, it means unfettered Liberalism. Extreme Liberalism is responsible for creating the post-truth society - nothing else. Probably the best way of illustrating that is by looking at the issue of homosexuality:
See how being post-truth works then? The facts all say homosexuality is damaging, but because it would hurt some feelings to say it, Liberalism dictates that truth should never be uttered. The same goes for transgenderism, and Islam, and a host of other issues.
Now if we can all agree that the truth should start mattering again, then there's only one way forward - abandon extreme Liberalism. Start structuring society on facts once again. Even facts that hurt feelings. That means no gay marriage. That means treating transgendered individuals as ill rather than as heroes. That means confronting the darkness of the Islamic ideology and refusing to give up any more ground to it. And it means a lot more besides. Until we agree that facts matter more than how people feel about them, there will be no way back from the post-truth quagmire.