But perhaps the worst thing about the post-truth notion is the way it redefines politics. It makes politics like religion. Remainers, these complainers about post-truth politics, self-consciously elevate their worldview to the level of a transcendental truth. So anyone who criticises them is not simply disagreeing — he’s post-truth, he’s against the truth. This is the cry of the religious, not the political. It was traditionally the man of the cloth who would say there is a truth, existing, indisputable, and our choice is simply to embrace it and be saved or deny it and be damned.
The new elites claim to favour a simple evidence-based approach to politics, but their use of evidence is never neutral. It’s never simply information. It is information gathered in a particular way and then utilised in a particular way for the pursuit of certain political and moral goals. Whether it’s claims about climate change or statements on the EU, what are presented to us as straight-up, incontrovertible statements of fact are really highly moralised approaches to the organisation of society, the question of who rules, matters of economic growth, and so on. Yet in presenting this politics as ‘truth’, the new elites can elevate themselves above the realm of real politics, and shoot down as ‘deniers’ or ‘liars’ anyone who has a different view to theirs. It’s religious, it’s censorious, it’s anti-politics.
Politics is not true. Politics by its very nature is pre-truth. It is the process by which we struggle to discover what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, and what might be true.