The old regime rested on an information system that was top-down and “authoritative”—meaning, “I talk, you listen.” The digital age has ripped off the bandage and exposed what Marx might have called our “real relations” to the truth. We can’t avoid seeing that it’s partial, temporary, local. As we gaze into the abyss of our own ignorance, social and institutional bonds have begun to melt into thin air, and something akin to a cosmic panic has gripped large numbers of otherwise normal people. For the public, it’s the horror of a vacuum and the old craving for wholeness. For the elites, who are now distrusted and dethroned, it’s the desire to regain control.
That urge explains much about our moment. Media "fact-checkers" are not concerned with checking facts but with regaining epistemic control. The politics of climate change are not about the climate but about generating a crisis atmosphere to abort contrary opinions. The obsession with race and sex is not about oppressed victims but about silencing dissent by the application of moralistic pressure. The fever dream to return to a simulation of the 20th century, with the right people once again in charge—yet, plainly, this isn't a cure but another symptom of the sickness of truth in our time.
-Martin Gurri, from this essay