Editorial to Geostrategic Pulse 232 - What could there exist in post-truth era?

What could there exist in post-truth era?
Corneliu PIVARIU

“The truth wins no matter the fate of those it served”
(G.I. Brătianu –Romanian politician)

The Munich Security Conference, considered the most important security conference globally, with a tradition of over 5 decades (its first edition took place in 1963), came to a close a few time ago (17-18 February, 2017). Before its official opening, the Munich Security Report (MSR 2017) was issued, a document at its third edition under the coordination of Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger – the chairman of the Conference.

The title of the Report “Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?” (current world order o.n.). A question the authors try to find an answer to along the almost 70 pages of the Report, that is insufficient indeed for an all-inclusive approach of such a topic.

The most serious situation seems to me to be the possibility of a “post-truth” era. What could exist there in that era if truth vanishes? Lie – appears as a first answer, but a considerate analysis reveals a much more complex and dangerous situation.

Post-truth is considered the 2016 Word of the Year by Oxford dictionaries and one of its fittest definition I found in the article Art of the Lie published by The Economist on September 10th 2016: “a period of time or a situation in which objective facts become less important than the emotional persuasion”.  In Oxford dictionaries, post-truth is an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief ”. The same source mentions that frequency of word use increased in 2016 by 2,000% as compared to the previous year. The same Oxford dictionaries mention that post-truth term was used for the first time in 1992 by the Serbian-American author Steve Tesich in an article about Iran-Contra scandal and the Gulf War.

MSR 2015 underlines that populists are experts in propaganda policy and they are creating an ”axis of fear” in the West which exploits the insecurity situations and the shortages felt by the electorate most often by mystfying facts or events or spreading simplistic lies which address their supporters’ preconceived ideas. The current media landscape is characterized by numerous challenges for the quality journalism and in many countries it is fragmented, polarized and politicized. Russia’s recently demonstrated abilities can be seen in this context which is aimed at exploiting the weaknesses of democratic societies for reaching its strategic objectives and for inoculating incertitude towards democratic institutions. An opinion poll carried out in Germany in August 2016 showed that 30% of the Alternative for Germany’s backers and 31% of the left voters are more trustful  in Vladimir Putin than in Angela Merkel.

The danger that the citizens’ trust in media and politicians be more and more eroded is increasingly outlined and that is a danger for liberal democracy. This evolution is encouraged by the gradual abatement of states’ support and attention paid to education, culture and to promoting humanity’s real values.  Here we have the evolution of cultural institutes in the world between 2004 and 2015:  British Council from around 250 to approx. 180; Goethe Institut kept its numbers quite constant to around 150. During the same period we notice a spectacular upsurge of China’s Confucius Institute from zero to around 450 and Russkyi Mir emerged in 2008 (the year Russia began to unveil the intentions of reconquering the lost positions by triggering the war in Georgia) and reached a little more than 100 in 2015.

We think that preventing the emergence of a global post-truth era in which “nothing is true and everything is possible”, should be a concern of the societry as a whole. Russia’s army of trolls and other similar forces cannot win if there is an exemplary mobilisation of the democratic forces, something we didn’t notice during the last years, and the Syrian conflict is the most telling example. “The fundamental truths remain the same for all times” – the renowned historian A.D. Xenopol said, but under the current circumstances trusting such a truth without acting is certainly an error.

Read the whole material
back Published in 2017-03-05 Print Download up