The Death of Truth

Published December 9, 2018

A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and former New York Times chief book critic Michiko Kakutani entitled The Death of Truth: Notes On Falsehood in the Age of Trump (Tim Duggan Books, 2018) is a finely crafted diamond of an argument that efficiently uncovers the marrow if our current political predicament. Clearly inspired by Hannah Arendt’s much longer 1973 classic The Origins of Totalitarianism,┬áKakutani here correctly diagnoses the causes of our current post-truth predicament as traceable to the postmodernist movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This fact explains why both the extreme left and extreme right wings of the political spectrum are equally susceptible to the contagion. The presidency of Donald Trump is only the current symptom of the problem.

Her finely crafted analyses and explains the parallels between today’s events the fascisms of Mussolini, Hitler and Lenin in the 1930s but also with Nigel Farage in England, Marine Le Pen in France, Jaroslaw Kaszinski in Poland, and Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. In my view, the same dangers are also inherent in the more outrageous environmental propaganda of both the Green Party and the extreme Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. What is required to preserve democracy is a well-educated electorate. A well-educated electorate requires unfettered access to evidence and the critical capacity to apply the gift of reason. As Ms. Kakutani observes more succinctly when she quotes President Madison in her closing chapter “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both.”