I just listened to an interesting article on Radio 4 with historian Timothy Snyder discussing the Impeachment of Donald Trump for inciting political insurrection.
Snyder had an interesting ‘grand historical perspective’ on why the Impeachment was necessary – the insurrection, led by overt White Supremacists was the moment that post-truth started to manifest as fascism.
The Impeachment was important because ‘institutions’ had to make a statement that a group of people with radical views can not just come together in violence and overthrow the democratic will of the people.
He also made an interesting point about the void that’s been created by the death of local news outlets – he described the USA as a ‘news desert’ – you’ve only got the mainstream news which more people increasingly distrust, as demonstrated by the reporting of the recent election results.
Trump was one of these people, believing the mainstream media was his enemy and that the election results were a fraud, a view widely dismissed in most of the media, but popular in various alternative media outlets.
So Trump went with the ‘election rigged’ view, pushed this narrative on Twitter, and this an other right wing social media circles amplified this view, largely in isolation from what was going on in the mainstream.
Hence the Capitol Hill riots were based on a President spinning a narrative of ‘fake election’ not corroborated by mainstream news, but spread on social media, and the view kind of verified by ‘mob agreement’ rather than objective fact-checking.
That is pretty much was post-truth is – people united by narratives which have no easily verifiable basis. That’s not necessarily bad, but then when one such person who is spinning one of these post-truth narratives manages to make manifest a political insurrection, that’s the basis for Fascism right there.
Relevance to A-level sociology
It’s a tough one to understand this event, but certainly there are links to:
- Theory and Methods – this is a very uncertain, polarised, post-truth event – truly the downside of the postmodern – a real event based on a fictional narrative of a stolen election!
- Crime and Deviance and the Media – complex causes of crime -both are bound up.
- The rising power of social media – both as a cause, and the consequent banning of Donald Trump.
- Also Global Development – NOT a peaceful election, further supporting the view that America is a less developed country!
Sources/ find our more
Timothy Snyder – On Tryanny