Post-Truth Politics or Post-Political Journalism?


First published in Le Monde Diplomatique. Translated by David Broder.

A system that has veteran TV journalist Christine Ockrent commenting on Trump’s election on France Culture and Bernard-Henri Lévy interviewed about it by pundit-commentator Jean-Michel Aphatie two days later is just as absurd as a problem that claims to provide the solutions. But more than that, it is a dead system.

We should not be surprised that the theme of the living-dead is enjoying such a resurgence in TV series and films. They are representations of our era, and perhaps it is indeed the confused sentiment of this era, both dead-already and still-alive, that is secretly working away at our sensibilities, making the zombie appear as the figure that best expresses the present moment.

The living dead

Doubtless some will object that the living dead are in fact those who return after already having passed away, whereas the present era has not finished dying yet, even though all the life has gone out of it. The political institutions, the parties in general — and particularly the Socialist Party — the media, the whole system of managing which opinions are allowed, seems to have been struck by a neutron bomb. The insides having been been totally destroyed — or rather, flesh having been turned into an indistinct gloop — only the walls of the buildings are still standing, through a simple material-inertia effect. In truth, this decomposition has long been underway. But here we are dealing with a particular kind of system that ignores its own system-error messages. The alarm ought to have spread after 21 April 2002 [when Jean-Marie Le Pen reached the second round of the presidential election]. But this system, which teaches us all about the constant obligation "to change," is itself granite-like in its immobility. It says it all, or almost, that Libération — organ of the intransitively modern — has had pundit-commentator Alain Duhamel writing his columns for what seems like a century. The [French ‘No’ vote on] the European Constitutional Treaty in 2005, the successive stages of the Front National’s rise, Brexit in the UK, Trump in the USA, all logically followed on from 2002; and everyone senses that 2017 promises to be a great vintage. So across these fifteen years, disconcerted by each fresh slap — each one experienced as an incomprehensible display of ingratitude — the system of advisers-prescribers has made some noise with the mouth, proclaiming that if this is how things are then then "everything has to change." And it does so with the firm intention of doing nothing, radically incapable of thinking up anything different.

But over time agony’s work begins to bite, and the system now feels itself falling prey to dark troubles. Is it even starting to reach some confused awareness that it is under accusation — and perhaps even under threat? Without doubt its different parts will react in different ways. The Socialist Party is like a bulb reduced to the texture of béchamel. We can get a very precise idea of its vitality from its secretary’s appeals after Trump’s election, calling on the Socialists to rally around Hollande (and indeed from the plans to replace him with [former prime minister] Manuel Valls).

It is the "media" part of this system, perhaps the most exposed, that expresses the onset of a terminal anguish. But as with its response to the spanking it took with the European Constitutional Treaty vote in 2005 — when it reacted with an enormous belch of hostility against the imbecile population 1 — the repeated series of slaps since then does seem to have had some effect. Eventually being roused, the media begin to write that they themselves may have had some responsibility in all this. However, a particularity of the living dead — still standing, and yet lifeless — is that nothing can bring them completely back to life. So as soon as the question is posed, instantly there follow answers that confirm that this is only the simulacrum of a residual vitality, and that its extinction is indeed really underway. So are the media somehow responsible? "Yes, but even so, no."

The media’s sociological protests

The system that insists that everyone must change does not itself have any capacity to change. This is a failing that moreover signals the quasi-evolutionary certainty that it will disappear. And thus it moves to pose the question in the form that puts itself under question as little as possible. "No, we are not 'out of touch' and we do not live differently to other people; yes, we have done our job, and the proof is that we have fact-checked everything perfectly." For example, in a move as sincerely scandalised as it was touching in its candour, Thomas Legrand protested on France Inter that a press "populated with freelancers and the precarious" could hardly be "out of touch."2 You really must be at the end of the line if you have no other recourse than to transform vice into virtue in this manner, making the organised proletarianisation of the dogsbodies into a defensive rampart, a providential sociological guarantee answering any accusations of being "out of touch." But that is what things have got to. Hipsters made precarious down to the core serve as a human shield for the reheated columnists who — now alien to all rules of decency — do not hesitate from invoking these workers’ conditions as an argument.

Wanting to show all the signs of the best reflective spirit, they concede that they can and must do better in order to know what is agitating the real population. They thus promise on-the-ground investigation, proximity, immersion — in short, zoology. We might ask ourselves if this nonsense results from chance cunning or unfathomable stupidity. For if Trump’s election revealed "a problem with the media," it was not only the utterly superficial fact that "the media did not see it coming." No: it is that they contributed to bringing it about! The stupidity hypothesis is unmistakably consistent with the cries of injustice that one unhappy France Info presenter bleated on Twitter: "Stop saying it’s a failure of the press; more than anything it’s a failure of politics! It isn’t the press that drags people down." Or indeed "It’s mad just to focus on the media. The deindustrialisation of the Rust Belt wasn’t caused by the papers." Cutting in form, powerful analysis — what a time.

"It’s mad just to focus on the media"

It’s all there, including the fact that "the press" does not recognise itself as at all responsible in the ideological consolidation of neoliberalism’s structures over these last twenty years. It is as if it had never reserved its platform only to those who sung neoliberalism’s praises, and as if it had never assimilated to the far Right everything on the Left trying to point out some of neoliberalism’s problems or the possibility of breaking out of it. As if it had never made the idea of questioning the generalised free-market into a sort of moral monstrosity, or the idea of criticising the euro into a return to the 1930s. As if it had never taught us that we have to flexibilise everything, first of all the labour market. In sum, it is as if it had never forbidden any expression of a real alternative — in the name of "modernity" and the combination of "realism" and "pragmatism" — or absolutely blocked off the political horizon by assuming that the present state of things is unsurpassable. (Yes, that’s the same present state of things that has been producing Rust Belts in all developed countries across the last two decades, and will inevitably produce more Trumps, too.) No, of course not — the press never did all that.

The little chap on France Info must not be listening to his own channel. On economic matters its editorial line is a hair’s breath from BFM Business [a right-wing channel], and indeed the same is true of all the other broadcasters, too. That is another reason why this poor chap has become totally incapable of even imagining anything different — of intuiting that there might be something beyond all this. From this point of view, we can go as far as you like in sending battalions of precarious freelancers out into the wild with the roadmap "back into the field," but it is hard to see how sending them out like this will produce serious editorial changes. Such changes are already long-overdue — and indeed, they will never arrive, in any case. We get something more than intuition with Le Monde’s director’s phenomenal declaration of intent, announcing that he has set up a "task force" ready to be released in search of "the France of anger and discontent" 3. From now on we will be able to measure the effect that the inquiries thus ordered will have in shifting their commander’s thinking. It is true that he did not hesitate in fraternally offering his own past experience to an "American media confronted with their own 21 April [date of the FN breakthrough in the 2002 French election]. We also had the 2005 referendum. We learned to be more vigilant." It didn’t escape anyone’s notice.

Intuition turns into near-experiential certainty when, the day after a disaster like the US election, we can read that Hillary Clinton "had the only solid and realisable programme" (Jérôme Fenoglio, Le Monde), that "the identitarian reaction to globalisation feeds the demagogy of those who want to close the borders" (Laurent Joffrin, Libération), that "the press’s choice [so ultimately it did make one?] was the sad choice of rationality as against fantasy" (Thomas Legrand, France Inter), or that "globalisation is not the only thing in question, [since] the technological revolution [could anyone be against it?] is just as responsible for the dismantling of the old centres of employment, if not more so. That is what leads to work being relocated, far more than ideology [sic]" (Le Monde). These are timeless old saws that we have read over and over again since 2005 [the European Constitution referendum], trapped in the antinomy between globalisation or the Fourth Reich. They come off the assembly line, bashed out on the column-writers’ anvils. And the irony lies in the fact that the propagandists of flexibility are themselves so rigid. For we can take it for granted that having lost all capacity for cognitive revision, they will keep heading onward, mechanically marching on, arms out in front of them.

This dazzling Le Monde editorial writer should, however, be wary of his own analyses — part of which may end up proving well-founded. For we know already what he is going to write in late April-early May 2017 [during the French presidential elections]. We could already write them for him now. Such simplicity inevitably raises a yearning for automisation — yes, that famous technology, again. Unless, that is, we get a monkey to draw out the sentence constructions by lot, pulling them out of a bag we fill with blocks marked with the words "protest," "populism," "anger," "change everything," "withdrawing into the nation," "lack of education," "Europe, our opportunity" and "more reform." Admittedly, that’s taking things down a notch technologically speaking. But whether he’s replaced by an expert system or a monkey, in either case the Le Monde editorial-writer’s job will not have fallen victim — to use his own words — to "ideology."

"Post-truth politics" (the poverty of the columnists’ thinking)

We end up almost having to ask whether the poverty of these reactions does not condemn this system even more surely than a total lack of reaction would. Having so long forgotten how to think, any attempt at rethinking that comes from within the machine is desperately empty, in the image of the philosophy of "fact-checking" and "post-truth." This is the Raft of the Medusa for a sinking journalism. The invocation of a new historical age — the so-called "post-truth" era — is thus one of these heights that only the columnists can reach. They warn us (we haven’t seen it) that a new breed of politicians (and voters) are debasing the truth. From the Brexiteers to Trump, the politicians are lying to an unprecedented extent (not only little fibs like "I’m an enemy of finance") and the voters believe their whoppers. So we can say just anything, like never before, and politics becomes radically alien to the rules of the truth. This is a new politics. And through a gigantic conceptual effort we get the idea of "post-truth politics." This "post-truth politics" is sustained by social media, propagating all sorts of fantasies. Clearly it is these social media who are really to blame, as the press has clearly understood.

We don’t say it enough, but journalism is fighting against post-truth politics with all its strength: after all, it fact-checks. No one can say journalism failed faced with Trump: it ceaselessly consulted the statistics and went back to the documentary evidence. Indeed, didn’t it establish that it’s false to say that all Mexicans are rapists or that Obama isn’t American? But post-truth is a gigantic wave, a tsunami carrying everything away, even the methodical seawall of fact-checking and rational journalism. The populations foaming with anger are prepared to believe anything and anyone. But why are they so foaming with anger? Affected by what causes, and for instance what economic transformations, have they reached the point of surrendering to the worst lies? That is the question that fact-checking journalism does not even momentarily think of asking.

It has, in any case, set off on the wrong foot for understanding what’s going on — judging, that is, by the thinking of its internal intellectuals such as the Guardian columnist Katharine Viner. It is to her that we owe the formidable philosophical bases of "post-truth." First of all, in arming the conceptual breakthrough with state-of-the-art technological knowledge: social media, Viner tells us, are the site par excellence of post-truth, because they enclose their members in "filter bubbles," algorithms that only offer them what they want to consume and never provide them with any contrary idea. They thus organise a vegetative stagnation in sameness, the undisturbed self-reinforcement of their thinking. And yet here we might think that we are instead reading a description of the mainstream press, which does not seem to understand that it has itself never been anything other than a gigantic "filter bubble." Having thus set off on such an excellent basis in getting to the heart of the matter, Katharine Viner logically comes to conclude that Trump "is actually a symptom of the mass media’s growing weakness, especially in controlling the limits of what it is acceptable to say" 4. Surprise, surprise: the columnists’ philosophising over "post-truth" reaches the conclusion that they should exercise a moral tutelage over public discourse — and particularly that of the people and "populists." Understanding what drives the bad habits of such speech, or opposing something to it other than the postures of fact-checking-assisted virtue (for instance, by taking some action over these causes) does not even momentarily enter the head of the columnist-of-truth. For she confusedly understands that since the "causes" belong to this world, and the hypothesis of changing anything serious about this world must be ruled out on principle, the question must not be posed.

Post-political journalism

The journalism "combatting" post-truth thus seems radically incapable of seeing that it is itself much worse: a post-political journalism, or rather the fantasy of it. This is the journalism that definitively freezes the fundamental choices, categorically delimits the boundaries of things, and ultimately acts as a guard-dog for the existing order. The frenzy for fact-checking is itself the belated derivative — albeit the most highly representative product — of the post-political journalism that has in fact long reigned. In this journalism there is no longer anything to discuss except factual truths. The spontaneous philosophy of fact-checking is that the world is just a collection of facts. It says not only that, like the land, the facts do not lie, but that they make up the totality of what there is to say about the world 5.

The problem is that this post-political truth, as opposed to post-truth politics, is itself entirely false. Correctly established facts will never be the be-all and end-all of politics, but barely its beginning, because facts have never said anything by themselves. Nothing! Facts are only ordered by way of a labour of mediations, which is not internal to these facts themselves. They only make sense when they are grasped from the outside by beliefs, ideas, interpretative schemas — in short, when there is politics, ideology.

The spasm of disgust that the word "ideology" invariably provokes is the most characteristic symptom of post-political journalism. Like "reform" and "modern," the term "going beyond ideology" is itself an index of cretinism. And it is no surprise that the post-political cretin is an admirer of "reality" — systematically opposed to any idea of doing things differently. Obviously the two are intimately linked, and they go together with fact-checking (at arm’s length). The complete purging of ideology finally allows for the appearance of a "reality" that it itself imperishable. For there is no longer anything left to be done but rationally fact-check the conformity of post-political utterances to the "facts" of this reality.

It is worth seeing the stunned, bovine faces of those confronted with the idea that the "end of ideologies" and the "rejection of ideologies" are, unknowingly, the height of ideology. This helps us get a more precise idea of the intellectual decay from which there simultaneously emerged "reality" as an argument made to shut down all discussion, evidently meaning the negation of any politics that represents a possible alternative; the column-writing submerged in the categories of "realism" and "pragmatism"; the choice place the media give to their fact-checking sections; the certainty of being on top of one’s political duties once one has fact-checked everything; the sincere distress over the fact that populations are not themselves bending to the truth of the correct facts; and perseverance in the project of submitting all politics to the realm of fact-checking, making it the shop window of a modern press that very tellingly pushes its Décodeurs and its Désintox [fact-checkers for Le Monde and Libération respectively] onto front of stage.

But without knowing it, the décodeurs are re-coding things. And as is always the case with the unconscious, that means that they are doing it in the worst way there is. They re-code politics in the code of post-politics, the code of "reality." And the désintoxiqueurs are in fact spreading intoxication, just like the other abyss of journalistic thought that is "deciphering." Following its nonsense categories, "deciphering" most often means veiling things in the thickest of fogs. Aghast, fact-checking asks with a cry of protest whether we "really prefer lies to truth." Without doubt, the argument here has nothing to do with the fundamental need to establish the facts correctly, but instead the media’s overwhelming post-Trump symptom of self-justification, to which end they almost entirely fall back on the fact of having fulfilled their fact-checking duties. Trump lied, we checked, so we are above reproach. Sadly not. The thing is, a Trump can indeed crop up in the landscape that you are responsible for. You are to blame for a Trump arriving when the organs of post-politics went too far in believing they could keep the lid on the political pressure cooker. 

Differences and preferences

For that’s the whole point: post-politics is a fantasy. It is the deep desire of the integrated system of governmental politics and mainstream media to declare the age of ideology — the time of choices — foreclosed. Meaning, to put an end to all these absurd discussions that know nothing of "reality," which, we are enjoined to understand, is not going to change. But that is this system’s desire, and its alone. Given its woes the obtuse population continues to think that there are still things to be discussed. And when all the established institutions of post-politics refuse to accede to this elementary desire for politics, the people is ready to seize on no matter what proposal — even the worst — so long as it is different 6. All the fact-checking in the world will never take away from the fact that politics is the exercise of difference, while fact-checking, for its part, is the quiet announcement that difference is over: it is what is left when it has been decided that there should be no more differences. It is the empty and insignificant reign of "facts," all the better to leave unquestioned the master-signifier in the background: that the world is what it is.

Thus there is only one line left for mainstream journalism to fall back on. Meaning, the post-political journalism that believes itself to be truthful journalism. And that is to concede that there is indeed something different, but this alternative — the only alternative — is so hideous that anything is preferable to it. And here "anything" should properly be understood as the set of sacrifices that must, "alas," be made to "reality." Maintaining this configuration of the post-political problematic — not admitting that anything exists outside of it except the unspeakable politics of the far-Right — requires a radical denial that there is something else different, on the Left. If this left-wing alternative does ever begin to make any headway, it must be mercilessly combatted.

Indeed, this is the point where this system allows its own preferences — the hatreds that it is so ashamed to admit — to shine through. Let’s put it frankly: it would rather take the risk of a far-Right alternative than a left-wing one. And it must already have a sense that its own derisorily ineffective efforts will not long suffice to block the advent of this far-Right alternative. And so, at the end of its failure to block anything, it ends up impotent. And if we have to go through the experience of the far-Right, then so be it!  It will be so ignoble that it will at least have the merit of remonetising the discourse on virtue, and "reality" will soon be restored in office.

There will indeed be some within the great post-political party who notice that the far Right’s relations with "reality" are in fact far from being as distended as fact-checking might have us believe. Marine Le Pen will not quit the euro, Trump has already let us know that he will preserve financial deregulation, and Brexit Britain will not exactly be an anti-capitalist hell. Certainly it will be migrants, foreigners, and in France all those who are not oozing with pure French blood, who will feel the pain. But an authoritarian republicanism armoured with Islamophobia can perfectly well accommodate this. And a moral post-politics will mask its joy at so easily getting its cherry back — the last hope for sales of Libération, Le Monde and L’Obs is indeed the Front National.

Denying homogeneity (poor Décodeurs)

From "reality’s" point of view the choice is between good and a lesser evil — which is instead portrayed as height of evil. But it is necessary at all costs to stand in the way of the true evil, albeit without being able to say that this is what we consider it to be. And that evil is the evil of another alternative. It is the evil that does not believe in this "reality," the evil which thinks that the implicit definitions of "reality" are always lies, at least through omission, and that they systematically hide where their frameworks came from, who put them in place, the fact that they were not always there, and thus the fact that it is possible to invent others. This evil, to be fought without mercy, is the alternative on the Left.

We should not be surprised to read a powerful critique of lémédia [the suggestion that all media is the same] written by one half-clever decoder 7, considering this notion unjust in reducing such a glimmeringly diverse landscape to mere uniformity. " and hunting magazine Le Chasseur Français" do not tell us the same thing, the thinker-decoder teaches us, just as "Arte is not the same as Sud Radio." As profound as it is pertinent. "The present-day social reality is not presented identically in Communist L’Humanité and in the far-right Valeurs Actuelles", he continues, having set off so well — and indeed, isn’t this totally true? We immediately think what Gilles Deleuze said: "we know imbecilic thinking, imbecilic discourse, that is entirely made up of truths." The poverty of fact-checker thinking.

Sticking to his own register, and not shaking him up too much, we might ask our decoder how many times a year he hears L’Humanité, Politis or Le Monde Diplomatique [all left-wing publications] quoted in the France Inter press review, or indeed how many times he has seen their representatives appearing on TV or the radio. Would he be so kind as to tot up this sort of tally? (We’ll mention for his benefit that [press watchdog] Acrimed has been doing this for him for some two decades, and equally no Acrimed article is cited across all the multi-coloured lémédia).

Perhaps since he is "decoding" for Le Monde, he will give us a quick fact-check on how much the paper welcomed Politis’s edifying inquiry on [Le Monde multi-millionaire co-owner] Xavier Niel’s managerial methods 8, where we learn a thing or two on what connects neoliberal violence to the fury gripping the wage-earning classes?

The Left, the inadmissible alternative

Even beyond this self-interested blindness, which takes the varying lengths of cherry stalks for ontological differences, lémédia [i.e. the media held to be all the same] does indeed exist, and we can even tell what its constitutive characteristic is. Namely, a common hatred of the Left, which, tellingly, they all similarly call the "far Left" or "radical Left," if not the risible "Left of the Left," in an involuntary confession that what they usually call "the Left" is indeed part of the Right. Unsuprisingly this hatred reaches its heights in the media of the left wing of the Right, where the cult of "reality" — the fundamental schema of right-wing thinking — has been so deeply internalised that even to recognise it would upset commitments (in service of "reality") made many decades ago. Worse still, it would upset heartfelt self-imaginaries and oh-so uncertain personal struggles, trying to believe that they’re "left-wing all the same."

To get an idea of where these media really stand we need only observe their relative textual, iconographic and political treatment of left-wing figures (ones on the real Left) and the personalities of the political centre, or even those that have flat-out set up shop on the Right. Take Libération’s piece on [defeated candidate in the presidential primaries for the Right] Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet — "NKM, la geek, c’est chic." Yes, it’s unbearably violent stuff. There are indeed places where there is a merciless hunt [to root out] the Left alternative — the one that thinks the present world is not "reality," because it has not always been like this, but rather has become like this through the effect of a series of forceful blows, most of which were accomplished politically by supposed "left-wing" governments and symbolically validated by "left-wing" media. And these places are, indeed, in lémédia, hunting down and eradicating this differentness.

Yet the systematic suffocation of the left-wing alternative — an alternative that would openly challenge liberal globalisation, one that would break down the euro’s barrier to any potential progressive policy, one that would challenge capital’s grip on all society, and one that would even question profit-seeking property’s rights over the means of production and juridically organise the producers’ political control of their activity — leaves open only the cellar-window that is the far Right. It brings Trumps to power, because his like come on the scene with much more run-up than the likes of Sanders, who lémédia did everything to stop troubling their beloved candidate Hillary 9. Just as they are doing everything to bring down Corbyn, to drag Mélenchon into the mud — all proper nouns that should instead be read as common nouns, as the generic names of the possibility of something different. Yes, lémédia does exist, the holy apostles of leaving behind ideology, who are nonetheless themselves beset by uncontrollable ideological hatred. Out of hatred of Sanders, they got Trump; out of hatred of Corbyn, they will keep May; they tacitly prefer Le Pen to Mélenchon — albeit, lest we forget, with grandiloquent editorials warning that "an earthquake has happened." And if by chance the desire for a Left alternative stopped banking on these figures — too institutional, often not exactly perfect — and seriously took to the streets, going beyond the student marches of memories past and threatening to have some consequences, lémédia would see nothing more than "hooligans." Just like during Nuit Debout when, once the moment of joyous citizen engagement had passed, the cortège de tête [militant section at the front of a demo] began to send the editorial staff into panic, taken aback by "such violence."


A system signals its powerless at its moments of stupefaction, showing that it is all at sea, unable to comprehend situations that it has itself contributed to producing. We know that we are approaching such points when — as a necessary result of a ban on difference — confusion rises, fed by a media commentary that is itself ever more disoriented. Thus panic-stricken "left-wing" voters hurry to participate in the primary for the Right’s candidate; we seriously debate the legitimacy of their participation; we let a pure product of the system [centrist-neoliberal candidate Emmanuel Macron, until recently finance minister] characterise himself as anti-systemic, when such buffoonery ought to earn him universal ridicule; and we will soon be commenting on his book entitled Révolution. The safe-conduct accorded to this latter lexical imposture — eyelids unbatted — will indeed show the real essence of lémédia, and their collective collaboration in turning words’ meaning inside-out and in wiping away any prospect of the social transformation whose historical signifier — "revolution" — now serves as an adornment for [Macron’s measures] getting rid of the 35-hour week and "liberalising" coach services.

We ought to imagine how the "Revolution" of the likes of Macron would have been received in the 1970s, when lémédia had still not acquired the consistency it has today: a mix of outrage, laughter and head-scratching. Through a formidable telescope mechanism whereby a coincidence unintentionally expresses a whole inevitability, on the very day of Trump’s election L’Obs devoted its front page to none other than Macron. That is to say, Macron, the agent par excellence of the undifferentiated, the reign of non-difference, the fuel for the far-Right alternative.

When the official Left — the one that lémédia will accompany as far as the refuse yard — becomes as right wing as this, can anyone be surprised that a Right seeking to continue to have the aura of the Right — that is, to differentiate itself from the Left — has no other option but to go yet further to the Right? And that the whole landscape is thus pushed rightward in a single movement? But who is it pushed by, if not by this Left itself and its lémédia? Budget responsibility pacts, CICE [tax breaks for business], European Fiscal Compact, labour law reforms, strangling the AP-HP [Paris hospitals], the passively-observed social massacre in the postal service — all of these things are the painful yet incontestable commandments laid down by a "reality" that stands beyond fact-checking. And throughout this destruction, unfailingly Trumpising all societies, lémédia fights its exhaustion to support the "Left-that-faces-up-to-the-reality," this asylum of political resignation, this poverty for the floury heads who have found their last redoubt in this rubbish heap of thinking.

Rather the abyss than the true Left. This, ultimately, is the implicit, de facto choice that lémédia makes. It would reject such a charge with outraged protests: but however far individuals use words to cover up their acts, it is indeed their acts that betray their de facto preferences, their real preferences. After having done everything to deny all opportunity to the only alternative able to oppose the far-Right alternative, they say that Trump and Le Pen have come along… because the lowly people no longer believes in truth. That’s where lémédia’s thinking is at. Though of course it will have no responsibility for how things are, then any more than now.

A system that no longer has any restorative power, any internal regulation, any capacity coolly to guide the way through a real transition, deserves only to disappear. And it will. The particularity of such an ossified system, so hermetically sealed to whatever is outside it and incapable of registering what is taking place in society, is that it can only be "adjusted" through a rupture. And also that it takes very little time for this system to pass from being an all-crushing empire that blocks off the horizon, to being a set of ruins that leaves this horizon wholly open once more.


1. See ‘La procession des fulminants’, Acrimed, 17 June 2005.

2. Thomas Legrand, ‘La presse déconnectée ?’, L’édito politique, France Inter, 14 November 2016.

3. Jérôme Fenoglio, cited in ‘En France, les médias promettent de “réduire la distance avec les lecteurs”’, Libération, 19-20 November 2016.

4. Katharine Viner, ‘How technology disrupted the truth’, The Guardian, 12 July 2016, Katharine Viner is here building on a quotation from the Turkish sociologist Zeynep Tufekci.

5. ‘The Land Does Not Lie’ is an infamous song in homage to the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy régime of the 1940s

6. Or seems to have enough of the air of this…

7.  Samuel Laurent, of Le Monde’s Décodeurs, ‘La post-vérité, lémédia, le fact-checking et Donald Trump’, Medium France, 14 November 2016.

8. Erwann Manac’h and Sweeny Nadia, ‘Enquête sur le système Free’, Politis, 18 May 2016.

9. See Thomas Frank’s article in the December 2016 Le Monde diplomatique.