As his army blatantly annexed Crimea, Vladimir Putin went on TV and, with a smirk, told the world there were no Russian soldiers in Ukraine. He wasn’t lying so much as saying the truth doesn’t matter. And when Donald Trump makes up facts on a whim, claims that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the Twin Towers coming down, or that the Mexican government purposefully sends ‘bad’ immigrants to the US, when fact-checking agencies rate 78% of his statements untrue but he still becomes a US Presidential candidate – then it appears that facts no longer matter much in the land of the free. When the Brexit campaign announces "Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week" and, on winning the referendum, the claim is shrugged off as a "mistake" by one Brexit leader while another explains it as "an aspiration," then it’s clear we are living in a "post-fact" or "post-truth" world. Not merely a world where politicians and media lie – they have always lied – but one where they don’t care whether they tell the truth or not.
Maurizio Ferraris, one of the founders of the New Realism movement and one of postmodernism’s most persuasive critics, argues that we are seeing the culmination of over two centuries of thinking. The Enlightenment’s original motive was to make analysis of the world possible by tearing the right to define reality away from divine authority to individual reason. Descartes’ "I think therefore I am" moved the seat of knowledge into the human mind. But if the only thing you can know is your mind, then, as Schopenhauer put it, "the world is my representation." [And a product of your "will" - GAP]. In the late twentieth century postmodernists went further, claiming that there is "nothing outside the text," and that all our ideas about the world are inferred from the power models enforced upon us. This has led to a syllogism which Ferraris sums up as: "all reality is constructed by knowledge, knowledge is constructed by power, and ergo all reality is constructed by power. Thus . . . reality turns out to be a construction of power, which makes it both detestable (if by “power” we mean the Power that dominates us) and malleable (if by 'power' we mean 'in our power')."