There is a problem with people who do not understand postmodernism as a stage. Perhaps this is better stated as people who are locked in the past of authoritarian standards. That was a stage also. Maybe that is the most accurate explanation of what has happened leaving us foundering on a sea of lies masquerading as alternative truths. We are all very much aware of the complete disregard for truth that someone such as Trump represents but he is a mentally challenged creature who is not representative of normal people. That is a complication we didn’t need at this point in time but that played very well into the hands of those who, for whatever reasons, are dedicated to destruction as a way of building their power. There is an immature part of us all that relishes the explosion and the collapse; who build the sandcastle just to kick it over. Most people move past that as they begin to build lives with work and families. Even simple work can be satisfying if the value is recognized by others or if find the value in it yourself.
Unfortunately we tend to fall prey to the very people who represent the immaturity that contains the worst of our tendencies. These are, perhaps, those who never learn to enjoy simple accomplishments in life? Or people in mindless jobs with no options that destroy any hope of satisfaction without someone else’s destruction? Perhaps these people have simply been taught to hate and fear someone else’s happiness because that happiness is stolen? But that is another topic. My point here is the inability to identify the problem of modernity as a complex flux that forces us to find ethical standards in constant change. To have confidence in our ability to understand truth and good from bad without authoritarian blinders that prevent us from appreciating the growing diversity is blocking our movement into what may be a new and better age. For people historically who loose an authoritarian definition of truth the tendency is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And the rise of pseudo or neo fascists peddling hate and fear to a significant segment of our population is, I think, the result of that part of the population finally realizing that truth is relative in our world. But they learned it in the worst way as the result of manipulation rather than education. But there is certainly enough blame for that to go around.
The thing these people have not yet understood is that truth is a process of stages as perspectives and not fixed systems. Just to be clear I’m dealing with this from the perspective of history although this can be traced through any system of thought or discipline in the twentieth century. It is how we are coming to deal with rapid and broad change in our reality as we watch that reality split into many realities with divergent perspectives on truth requiring active choice at any given moment. You must select the most appropriate perspective on truth but that does not mean that any lie can be called true. It didn’t use to be that way although this has been an active and growing process for the last four hundred years depending on where you are looking and what part of society you are trying to understand.
Through all of the twentieth century we had the rise of the new as revolutionary and shocking. This is the old cliche of authenticity requiring audacity in order to move beyond cliche and kitsch. This was fought out in the arts from Impressionism to surrealism to abstraction for visual arts and in the loss of standard western harmony and melody in serious as opposed to popular music. And then it worked through popular music from ragtime to jazz and multiple stages with names to numerous to list. The very process itself became a cliche by the end of the century. For that matter everything became a cliche with authenticity remaining authentic for the proverbial (kitsch) fifteen minutes of fame. This is nicely outlined in an essay by Roger Scruton that got me thinking about this from that perspective.
A cult of fakery has taken over what's left of high culture - Roger Scruton | Aeon Essays
A high culture is the self-consciousness of a society. It contains the works of art, literature, scholarship and…
Just as situational ethics is the application of clear ethical standards in the context of many possible situations some of which are not as obvious as others, truth is valid within a particular perspective but must be compliant with multiple perspectives. Just as Roger Scruton is concerned with fake high culture we need to work to determine that a truth is not fake from the majority of perspectives. While this could lead to truth by majority of instances that may well be how it works. But I suspect that it is more limited than that and, much like the scientific method, one confirmed disproof of a basic tenant destroys a theory, a proven instance of a claimed truth being a lie from any perspective throws the claim to factual validity into doubt. But this, of course, requires work and is not gauranteed and immediately determined.
So the folks who have created the very problematic Trump regime as ruler of the most powerful nation on the planet did so because they tossed truth out when they were finally forced to face the reality that truth is generally relative. But they didn’t learn the skills they needed to determine the variations of perspective that have links to common validity that is the real structure of truth in a relative world. Lies are easy but truth is hard.