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Manufacturing post truth

Dernière mise à jour : 27 janv. 2021

In 1988, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky published Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. They developed an analysis on the media system in the United State, showing how it is an instrument serving a dominant ideology, to the service of liberalism and legitimising US political decisions. For them it doesn't constitute a counter power, but conveys a propaganda, following a model that they summarised in 5 main "distortion filters", or biases:

- Size, ownership, and profit orientation:

- The advertising license to do business

- Sourcing mass media news

- Flak and the enforcers

- Anti-communism/war on terror


This analysis was published more than 30 years ago, and it is likely to have precursors. Its authors are far from being Trump activists.

I found the introduction to the call of Hertz - Disobedient Electronics, that describes the means of their approach problematic for several reasons.

First because they date Trump’s election as the beginning of a post truth era that they describe like an established fact. Did we live in an era of absolute truth before 2016? Is there really an absolute truth, or were medias, owned in the US by big corporations, as depicted by N.Chomsky, already contributing to serve a dominant thought? Populisms are growingly drawing a binary world, to their profit. I found the way that the call is written also feeds this perception.


Their five points of what they are aiming at:

1-”Building electronic objects can be an effective form of political protest.”

2-”(...)in some senses, populism can be seen as the rise of the DIY non-expert.”

This feels like a shortcut that could have many other meanings. The DIY culture could also be spreading because of a need for people to have tangible meaning to what they are doing, by pursuing very concrete work, by touching matter, for the pleasure of building physical objects…


3- “Critical and Speculative Design (Dunne & Raby) are worthwhile approaches within industrial design, but perhaps not adversarial enough to reply to contemporary populist right-wing movements (Brexit, Trump & Le Pen).“


4- “If we are living in a post-truth time, we should focus on trying to make progressive ar- guments and facts more legible and engaging to a wide and diverse audience.”

Post Truth is presented again as a given, irreversible fact.


5-”The fad of ‘Maker Culture’ is over. Arduinos and 3D printers are fascinating things, but the larger issues of what it means to be a human or a society needs to be directly confronted.”

Why should Maker Culture not be suitable to contribute to the debate of what humans or society needs?


It is understandable to lean toward a feeling of radicality, but I couldn’t read it without being disturbed. It is not so much about nuance in the meaning of not having a clear point of view and edulcoring it, but it is about building a complex radicality.


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