Are we now in a post-truth Australia?


With a heated election now over, it is very important coolly mirror upon what it tells us about ourselves as a nation.

One of the most important questions we ought to ask is, “are we now in a post-truth Australia?”

In two methods the 2019 federal election was just like the 2016 Brexit referendum and US presidential race that heralded post-truth politics.

The election has brought to the fore long-festering divisions. Photo Elesa Kurtz

The election has delivered to the fore long-festering divisions. Photo Elesa Kurtz

First, the polls have been improper. Of course, they’re solely ever estimates, so the issue just isn’t a lot their accuracy, however fairly our reliance upon them. Nowadays politicians flip to polls to find out insurance policies, messaging and leaders. And many people in the media and in the general public fixate on them in the identical approach that a playing addict fixates over sports activities odds with out ever appreciating the standard of the gamers, pitch or recreation.

Secondly, the election has delivered to the fore long-festering divisions. Now it’s as if serving to a Queenslander means harming a Victorian and visa versa. The similar might be stated of the zero-sum relationship between inside versus outer suburbs, cities versus the areas, previous versus younger, and particularly believers in coal versus local weather change. In the ACT there are indicators that the “Great Wall of Hindmarsh” is rising with two-party most popular swings going to the Liberal get together in the deep south whereas the inside north moved ever extra in the direction of the Greens and Labor.

These divisions aren’t so deep and resentful as to generate the type of disparate realities that exist in the UK and US.

However, they’ve made for a extra poisonous and nasty marketing campaign and will warning us to keep away from spiraling down into a post-truth funk.

Much of the issue pertains to the echo chambers that many people occupy and which are a function of post-truth politics. They don’t a lot insulate all sound, however quite discredit different voices out of hand. Under the totalitarianism and propaganda that marred the 20th century, just one fact reigned. In the post-truth 21st century the noisy presence of many contesting truths makes us cling extra tightly to our personal. Thus, social media feeds generally supply us a buffet of political and cultural dishes, but we nonetheless return to the identical consolation meals.

The unhealthy impact of this in the UK and US signifies that it’s exhausting to conceive of an end result to the Brexit course of or 2020 US presidential election that might not generate extra disgruntlement with the political system and extra mistrust amongst divided communities.

So how can we keep away from this state of affairs? In extra constructive phrases, how can we higher talk about, decide and share our truths?

In the post-truth 21st century the noisy presence of many contesting truths makes us cling extra tightly to our personal.

In a 2017 Meanjin essay with the subheading, “Reflections on Truth and Truthfulness,” thinker Raimond Gaita offered some helpful recommendations on how we can converse and pay attention to at least one one other with a view to enlivening public life and enhancing our private relationships.

First, as an alternative of fixed polling, we can decide and assess truths by way of a “call to seriousness”. To say, “Get serious will ya!” or ask, “Seriously?” is to not be snide or dismiss somebody as “a joke”. Nor is it purely reality checking. Rather it means partaking in good religion and strong conversations about widespread problems with substance. This may imply asking, “On what authorities are our claims based? Have we considered the best possible information sources? Are we speaking with humility and confidence about things we know well, or are we bullshitting? Do we need to place a check on our interests and emotions?”

But for me a name to seriousness additionally means relating to others in the identical approach that Trump supporters regard their president. A CNN reporter famously stated that Trump’s critics took him actually however not significantly, whereas for his supporters it was the opposite means round. In supporting individuals in our lives, it’s worthwhile to take them significantly, however not all the time actually.

During the election one among my Vietnam-born relations got here throughout a United Australia Party commercial warning of the Chinese Communist Party’s “takeover of our country”. He had additionally been watching a collection of shock movies asserting that China had taken management of not solely the South-China Sea (what many Vietnamese name the “Eastern Ocean”) but in addition Vietnam itself.

“The Chinese are invading again!” he exclaimed, earlier than asserting that Vietnam was the primary to fall, and that Australia and the Asia-Pacific would quickly comply with.

Illustration: Ron Tandberg

Illustration: Ron Tandberg

It was comparatively straightforward for me to level out the falsities of those claims and a few of the pursuits at work behind them (the retired air pressure pilot in the UAP video can also be Clive Palmer’s nephew and labored at Queensland Nickel which owes its former staff tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars).

What was tougher and essential was to think about the historical past of experiences and vulnerabilities that my relative was genuinely experiencing.

In our calls to seriousness, rigorous conversations about fact must be buttressed by an empathy that nourishes additional interplay and deeper consciousness. The goal is to not name out others and excommunicate them from our civic group, however quite to name them in.

Secondly, it helps to pay attention with what Gaita refers to as an “ear for tone”. In modern Australia this implies recognising that overblown outrage typically signifies somebody elevating their very own ego and pursuits over the pursuits of others. It means taking note of the small print and nuances of political life relatively than be swayed by sensational, scary and simplistic messages. In politics and life, good listening is the precursor for and rather more vital than good speech.

Taking each other significantly and listening with an ear for tone fosters a greater and higher conservational area in which we recognise conflicting concepts and agendas whereas reconciling them with a shared dedication to fact and love of nation.

  • Kim Huynh was a candidate for Ginninderra in the 2016 ACT election. He teaches at ANU and authored this text in conjunction together with his political philosophy class.





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