I am not trying to say that post-modernism has caused the increasing stack of conservative falsehoods or the acceptance of them. It is almost always impossible to say precisely how trends take root. Ideas often seem to percolate from multiple sources at the same time. But the postmodernistic idea that something is true only if it is true to the individual has escaped academia, entered the general air, and descended on many of us. Harry Frankfort, the philosopher of bullshit, maintains that cultural conditions and epistemological beliefs can help spread bullshit. It proliferates where it is denied that “we can have reliable access to an objective reality, and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things really are.” In other words, bullshit builds on pillars of postmodernism.
Of course, we get falsehoods on many different topics—often about personalities in popular culture, for example—and there is bullshit throughout the political spectrum. It is not bullshit, however, to believe that never before have we had a president who has provided so much bullshit so regularly. And perhaps we have never before had so many people not just willing to accept it, but to desire it.
What will this pervasive political falsehood and bullshit culture do to our country? For example, isn’t it likely that the proliferation of bullshit and its acceptance will also lead to more people believing that there is no reliable access to an objective reality and no way of knowing how things truly are? And if that happens, haven’t we entered a bullshit spiral from which we might never escape?
Gary Kasparov has said: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” (Quoted by Michiko Kakutani in The Death of Truth.) I doubt that Trumpism has that conscious goal. But it certainly can have that effect.