The Post-Truth Society


– My name is Francis Fukuyama. I’m a Senor Fellow at Stanford and Director of the Center
on Democracy Development and the Rule of Law and
a Political Scientist. Someone mentioned this concept that I had not heard of previously called a post-truth society. In which it’s possible to assert things that have no factual basis. People will criticize it. Fact checkers and it makes
no difference what-so-ever that people will keep asserting it and then other large numbers of people will keep believing it
even if it’s not true. And that’s an effect that’s going to last way beyond the election, unfortunately. I think that once you sort
of breach these norms, you’re in this undefined
territory where anything can go. And I don’t think we’ve plumbed the depths
of that unfortunately. I think that a post-truth society, it’s a reflection of something deeper which is the basic lack of authority or the decline of
authority of institutions across the board. And this is not just in the United States. This is in Europe and
other places as well. So if you think about the
things that defined our society, they were corporations, labor unions, the family, churches, political parties. These are the things that structured our social and political life. Every single one of those, if you look at polling data
over the last 40, 50 years, every single one of those institutions has seen a decline in the number of people saying they trust those institutions. The causes of this, I think
are kind of complicated. I think actually technology plays a role because a lot of these institutions have actually become much,
much more transparent. And when people actually see the way that they function in reality, they don’t like it even though there’s actually been no change. So for example, I suspect if you actually
look at police shootings over time, it’s been declining
along with the crime rate over the last 30 years. But now that you’ve got body cameras and people with smart phones, it’s much more visible
because ordinary citizens can take videos of things
that have been happening for the last couple of generations. So I think that’s something
that’s been going on across the board that’s
led to this steady erosion in the confidence in public institutions.

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