Is postmodernism to blame for the rise of the post-truth era? At first glance that seems very hard to believe. When we see Kellyanne Conway talking about “alternative facts” or Rudy Giuliani saying “truth isn’t truth,” we don’t immediately assume they’ve been busy reading Jacques Derrida.
This is a pretty terrible time to be a fan of truth. Politicians have always lied, of course, but few have dared to deny the verifiably obvious, such as the size of an inauguration crowd. Few have perpetuated conspiracy theories, such as the one about Obama’s place of birth.
Is postmodernism to blame for the current state of American politics, as philosopher Daniel Dennett claims? Or has disrespect for the distinction between truth and lies been around since before postmodernism? Should we instead be thanking postmodernism for giving us frameworks and vocabularies to make sense of current politics?