‘Post-Truth’ or ‘Meta-Modernism’? – Dr. Sam Browse

Sheffield Hallam University

“Journalists and academics have claimed that we’ve moved into a ‘post-truth’ political culture in which people value emotions and their sense of identity over facts and rational discussion. I think this way of talking about politics is unhelpful because:

1) At best it’s a misnomer. Arguably, people have turned away from the traditional arbiters of “truth” (journalists, politicians, experts etc.) because they’ve failed to accurately predict, explain or do anything about economic crises, stagnation and falling living standards. It’s not that people don’t care about the truth; it’s that official truths didn’t match lived realities.

2) At worst it prettifies the political and media institutions that are ultimately responsible for the multiple crises in which we find ourselves. For example, in the rush to condemn “fake news” and lying politicians, it’s often forgotten that lying about minority or disempowered groups is the historical norm in political life.

However, there has obviously been a shift in how politics is conducted. I think a better way of talking about that shift is in terms of ‘metamodernism’. This is a set of ideas that come from a way of thinking about art and culture. One of its key ideas is that ecological, social and economic crises have led to an emphasis on “depth” and authenticity in politics and culture. I’m particularly interested in how we can use these ideas to talk about the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn (who, even if you don’t share his politics, is clearly very popular in the Labour Party).”

– Dr. Sam Browse, Sheffield Hallam University