The ideology of truth?

The ideological right, in its various stripes, likes to tell itself that whereas the left sees the world as we wish it could be, the right sees the world as it really is. This is the spirit behind the infamous “facts don’t care about your feelings.”

The claim isn’t entirely preposterous. Libertarians, conservatives, and militarists of the right do all see true things that the opposite end of the ideological spectrum tries to downplay, politely ignore, or explain away.

That’s not to say that truth is the exclusive property of the right. Certainly not! There’s a joke that truth always seems to have a left-leaning bias (eg on climate change), and there are many examples that support this.

However, there is still a certain steely-eyed realism to be found in the mindset of the right. In places where the left might say, accept yourself as you are and if the world doesn’t like you that’s the world’s problem, the right is far more likely to say, it will take hard work but you can change yourself in order to succeed and thrive in the world we live in. This is not always a helpful position, but it very often can be.

For a set of ideological positions that prides itself on its realism and acceptance of the truth, the right has done a lot to champion a strange relativism.

The right of late frequently appears incapable of imagining, say, news reporters, or scientists, who are motivated by any desire for truth. Everything is pure information warfare. Everything is propaganda.

Much of the right doesn’t even try to claim that its news sources are in any way unbiased or oriented to truth. You’d think this might bother them, but the simple justification is that all news is presented ideologically and if you don’t read right-wing news then you’re going to get left-wing news, and at least right wing news is honest about its bias.

The right, with all its pride in its realism and blunt honesty, is actively working to reduce everyone to life in a world without truth, a world of inescapable perspectivalism. By producing and promoting sources of information that do not aim at dispassionate investigation of truth, as if it were the highest we can hope for, they are contributing to the situation of nihilism in which we increasingly find ourselves. If we think that’s okay or appropriate or praiseworthy, then we are already the victims of such efforts, if not perpetrators as well.

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