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Spain and the Old Regime of Post-truth

Freedom of Speech, Ritualised Politics, and Postmemory on Social Media

Raquel Campos Valverde

The Spanish legal framework inherited from the Franco dictatorship (1939‒75) and its recent development foster political dynamics that ordain it as an old regime of post-truth, where denialism of fascist history is the official truth. Through digital ethnography I demonstrate that this kind of post-truth is further amplified through digital platforms, although there is also room for countercultural practices of antifascist truth-making in Spanish digital media. The lack of freedom of speech and the ritualisation of political discussion can hinder democratic truth-making practices, but postmemory forms of engagement with digital media also offset the impact of denialist post-truth. The conclusion questions whether the democratic liminality of the Spanish public sphere online and offline provide a breeding ground for post-truth.

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A Post-Truth Campaign?

The Alternative for Germany in the 2019 European Parliament Elections

Maximilian Conrad

A growing literature strongly suggests that the phenomenon often labeled as “post-truth politics” is one of the most important challenges facing liberal democracy today. 1 At the same time, the concept is highly contested as regards its novelty

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Epistocracy and Democratic Participation in a Post-Truth World

Peter Standbrink

This article investigates civic-political and cognitive participation as they play out in democratic theory. Its core purpose is to develop a conceptual-normative critique of the presupposition in liberal democratic theory that these logics are mutually reinforcing and complementary. This misunderstanding of a theoretical ambivalence contributes to inhibiting constructive assessment of epistocratic*technocratic frameworks of democratic interpretation and theory. I demonstrate that these logics circulate contrasting views of democratic power and legitimacy and should be disentangled to make sense of liberal democratic theoretical and political spaces. This critique is then fed into a political-epistemological interrogation of post-truth and alt-facts rhetorical registers in contemporary liberal democratic life, concluding that neither logic of participation can harbor this unanticipated and fundamentally nonaligned way of doing liberal democratic democracy.

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Jablonka’s History

Literature and the Search for Truth

Sarah Fishman

Post-Truth Era” grapples with the critical set of issues raised by the election of Trump. While only one of many such articles to have appeared after the election, Kirsch’s article is of particular interest because he, like Jablonka, focuses on

Open access

Witnessing: Virtual Conversations

Asale Angel-Ajani, Carolyn J. Dean, and Meg McLagan

contemporary world – particularly given a digitally saturated, politically polarized, ‘post-truth’ milieu? CD: It's hard to assess. … Social media requires a rethinking of witnessing as a new form of performance, either by victims or experts. Here, it helps

Open access

Introduction

Liana Chua and Omri Grinberg

lines between these points have always been fuzzy, growing increasingly so in digitally saturated ‘post-truth’-scapes, where witnessing enactments are exponentially diffused, contested and (re)mediated (e.g. Çaylı, Douglas-Jones, Grinberg, this issue

Free access

Editorial

Jean-Paul Gagnon and Mark Chou

This issue begins with Peter Strandbrink’s argument that “standard liberal democratic theory should be pressed significantly harder to recognize the lexical and conceptual fact that civic political and cognitive participation in mass liberal democracies belong to different theoretical species.” It is by conflating both of these theoretical species, which Strandbrink sees as the dominant tendency in contemporary democratic theory, that we inhibit our ability to critically evaluate “epistocratic theoretical registers.” Further unsettling is Stranbrink’s view that, once separated from each other, neither the theories of civic political or cognitive participation offer much help in dealing with the rise of “alt-facts” or “post-truth” in liberal democratic societies today.

Open access

Special Issue: Digital Truth-making

Anthropological Perspectives on Right-wing Politics and Social Media in “Post-truth” Societies

Christoph Bareither, Alexander Harder, and Dennis Eckhardt

How do users of social media platforms produce, shape and share truths online? In this introduction, we outline our understanding of digital truth-making as a process that builds on the affordances of digital infrastructures to entangle information with social, cultural and emotional dynamics in a way that co-constitutes beliefs and convictions about the world. The contributions to the special issue illuminate how different variations of this process can be illuminated with the help of digital ethnography and additional empirical methods. In doing so, they exemplify how digital anthropology can contribute to ongoing debates about populism and right-wing politics in “post-truth” digital societies.

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Interview

Propaganda’s Role in Liberal Democratic Societies

Jason Stanley and John B. Min

Stanley and Min discuss how propaganda works in liberal democratic societies. Stanley observes that the inability to address the crisis of liberal democracies can be partially explained by contemporary political philosophy’s penchant for idealized theorizing about norms of justice over transitions from injustice to justice. Whereas ancient and modern political philosophers took seriously propaganda and demagoguery of the elites and populists, contemporary political philosophers have tended to theorize about the idealized structures of justice. This leads to a lack of theoretical constructs and explanatory tools by which we can theorize about real-life political problems, such as mass incarceration. Starting with this premise, Stanley provides an explanation of how propaganda works and the mechanisms that enable propaganda. Stanley further theorizes the pernicious effects that elitism, populism, authoritarianism, and “post-truth” have on democratic politics.

Open access

Digital Truth-making Among the New Chinese Online Fandom Nationalists

Between Online Popular Culture and Political Participation

Chenyang Song

In recent years, the rise of digital populist and/or nationalist movement and the post-truth phenomenon have affected the political landscapes of many countries, including China. This article focuses on how pop-cultural practices and practices of political participation intertwine in the digital truth-making process of Chinese online “fandom nationalists”. Using over one year of ethnographic mixed-methods data analysis following relevant hashtags and chat groups, I illustrate the truth-making practices of these online users and their clear preference for information with ideological affinities. I argue that the social media affordances allow Chinese online fandom nationalists to create various forms of strong synergies between pop-/fandom-cultural and political practices that provide an ideal ground for the propagation of certain political truths while simultaneously suppressing/hiding the truths of others.