chapter  3
23 Pages

Prophecies of Post-truth

ByJohan Farkas, Jannick Schou

This chapter kicks off the analysis of contemporary post-truth worlds. It looks into the new democratic discourses that have come to dominate public spheres for the past number of years, particularly in the Western world. The chapter starts examining these discourses by focusing on how they have constructed the current democratic crisis. First, the chapter traces the modern history of concepts like “fake news” and “post-truth,” zooming in on the specific ideas about democracy that have underpinned these. It showcases how a deeply depoliticized vocabulary has been at the core of current discourses: ideas from the world of medicine, linking post-truth to viral infections, diseases and sickness of the democratic body, have served as a foundation for this. Second, the chapter traces the different (supposed) causes behind the post-truth crisis, including the role occupied by social media, journalists, politicians and the democratic masses. It highlights how each of these actors has, in various ways, been blamed for the current democratic predicament. Taken together, the chapter provides a first step in laying bare the discursive constitution of contemporary post-truth worlds. It demonstrates how these have been based around core tropes such as reason, evidence and rationalism.