In The Moment: Episode 39

Ibram X. Kendi with ChrisTiana ObeySumner—How To Be An Antiracist

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Episode Transcript

Please note: This transcript was generated automatically, please excuse typos, errors, or confusing language. If you’d like to join our volunteer transcription team and help us make our transcript more accurate, please email communications@townhallseattle.org.

Hello and welcome to in the moment. I’m Jenny Palmer. It’s the beginning of our 2019 2020 season here at town hall Seattle, but the season’s opening is particularly special because we’re celebrating a month long homecoming festival and town halls 20th year of programming. Our festival started off with a bang on labor day and we welcomed Robert Reisch and Pramila Jayapal to our great hall stage and Alex Gallo Brown spoke to a full house in the forum. We live streamed rice and Jaya Paul, so you can watch this speak to a sold out crowd on our YouTube channel and you can hear both of their talks on our civics podcast series. It’s only the first few days of the festival and the energy inside her home has been truly awesome to witness. Our building is freshly renovated and we’ve got over 40 plus events for you during the September homecoming festival. So grab yourself a calendar of $5 ticket and prepare to learn, laugh than be part of the ever-growing community that is town hall.

All of this is to stay with the new season and a beautiful new building. We’re also freshening up the format of in the moment. Instead of two interviews each episode, you will hear one longer interview between a local Seattle correspondent and a speaker coming to town hall. This will give us an opportunity to really deep dive with someone coming to our stages and get to know their topic, personality and interests. And instead of releasing episodes every other week, I’ll be releasing one interview a week so you’ll get a more regular glimpse of who’s coming to town hall. Well, as much change as there is in the air, some good things stay the same. Our beloved Steve Cher is still our chief correspondent for in the moment and on this inaugural episode of season three, Steve talks with Soviet, born at British journalist Peter Pomeranz

the manipulation of information by people seeking to effect outcomes of Wars of business. Deals of elections is always going on, but something new and different is happening at the start of the 21st century. The scale of the dissemination of misinformation of lies and a fake news is destroying democracy around the world. Peter Pomerantz, if details this new style of author Attarian warfare in his book. This is not propaganda adventures and the war against reality. This inundation of lies creates uncertainty. The gives authoritarians power. Steve share spoke with Pomerantz of in a preview of his September 10th talk at town hall.

So it’s, it’s having its own challenges. Firstly. Um, there’s a whole plethora of kind of dodgy knee sites who do a mixture of anti-immigrant stuff pro the president and pro Russia. So the presidents, uh, you know, shaman is a kind of Trump like figure the swears a lot. He breaks all social norms. He’s misogynistic, he’s racist. Uh, but he’s about of the people. And so like people outside of Prague, but for him, um, the president’s has largely a, a kind of symbolic figure, but he still has some ways. And then the prime minister is this billionaire Babish who has no politics as such. He’s just into money, but he’s one of the richest men in the country in our kind of is the prime minister, which is kind of creepy as well.

How does the, uh, how does a country that has Vox, Vox love hovel as its, as its leader and its spiritual leader go from that to [inaudible]?

Yeah. Well, well, well well there was always a lot of opposition to huddle and people, the people who liked huddle kind of all seen as naive liberals nowadays they’re called have a Lloyd’s and the tease for being so naive and wooly and there was always another strain in Czech culture. But you know, sort of the habit traditional still does very well in the elections. They just come second. So it’s still that and prog votes for the kind of liberal party. But like a lot of places, um, you have this tactic of polarization that’s called in populists, divide the country and just scrape the elections as exactly as you see in America and Italy. You know, it’s it’s tactic that we see everywhere else.

Yeah. And that language of uh, you know, mocking liberals for their, for their Willie headed beliefs and, and is also part of it everywhere else, isn’t it?

I think what unites all these, this new wave of what we call populace is actually not policies cause they can have very different policies and then not really ideological in the classical sense. What unites them is tone and language. So if you look at Putin, Trump detects in the Philippines at Bolsa, Nora in Brazil, also at Boris Johnson, mitral Varage and in England and certainly Z-Man in Prague where I am now. They all have a sense of humor, which is based on telling kind of rude to BU, breaking jokes about, about genitalia, about sex, and about, um, um, about willies and, and grabbing women by the, you know, all these, all these things. And I, I didn’t, that’s an accident, you know, I don’t think that that’s an accident as well. Um, that’s the way I’ve kind of saying that of the people that tapping into, uh, you know, uh, the, the folk energy of like, you know, of the carnival, um, of the comedy club, which is great when it’s kind of an in comedy club.

But when the powerful do it, they kind of create this, this space of moral Calles where anything becomes possible and humor can take on a very kind of dark side when it’s used by the powerful to kind of strip away norms. Uh, you know, you start with humiliating jokes and you end up with humiliating populations generally. So that’s what unites them. It’s that, it’s that language that jokes in this ironic sense. You know, that very, very sarcastic. Um, which again, you know, that’s a good thing if it’s being used to oppose the powerful, but when the powerful starts to use it, it starts to kind of eat away a kind of a, an a, a culture where, you know, actually morality and seriousness is actually quite important.

Isn’t that interesting that you, you mentioned that about the powerful using it because that kinda runs through your, your writings, which is that in some ways the tactics of the pro-democracy movement, even if you will, the tactics of the comedians who punched up is turned on its head to punch down and to, and to, to manipulate.

Yeah, completely. I mean that, that, that, I mean, firstly that that’s happened at so many levels. I mean, in a way, I guess the big story is that, you know, at the end of the 20th century,

Hmm.

You know, I’m going to use kind of really like crude language. The bad guys lost the totalitarian dictatorships in the Soviet union, Nazi Germany, but also apart, you know, a South African apartheid and military dictatorships in South America, we forget, you know, the glorious years of 89 and the early nineties when all these author’s heritage Virginians crashed. But now I, they were kind of stiff and ideological and serious and the pro-democracy movements were fun and sort of street theater and, and, and youth rock and roll and root language to kind of punch up and I guess what they did, uh, the people who lost. And sometimes it’s literally the same people in the case of letting me a pizza. Um, sometimes it’s kind of like their grandchildren or their children as it is in the Philippines with the Mark [inaudible]. Uh, they kind of said, okay, well why can’t we adult these tactics?

So they kind of taken on the language, uh, the tactics of the pro-democracy movements. Um, I mean, Pete’s is very funny in Puson poses as a kind of dissidence in, you know, the world order of the great had you want a Comerica that’s kind of his pose. Look at me. I’m like, uh, you know, I might be [inaudible] of your authoritarian rights. Uh, I’m a bad boy, you know, doing naughty things. Um, and that’s part of his appeal, which is ridiculous cause at home he obviously quashes any discipline, but he plays like, you know, he’s, he’s, he’s the, a dissidence of the world order. Um, I know, I look, obviously you see this in, in Trump’s and Salvini, you know, they’re constantly saying that, that the rebels punching up against the, uh, soft authoritarianism of multiculturalism or something. Um, and, and, and they’ve done it very effectively. They’ve done it very effectively. So you have these kind of powerful people dressing up as the common man. Um, and they’ve done it very effectively.

I was reading a, uh, a statement, it was an article the other day and it was about how Trump’s supporters take him seriously, but not his words. And, and his opponents take his words seriously, but not him. And that seems to be a fundamental mistake on his opponent’s part.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s, yeah, I thought that as well. And that sounds pretty clever to me. Um, is there a button there? No, no. I want to develop it. I just want to build on it. And what does that mean? Is those two things connected? Yeah.

You know, the slipperiness of Trump’s language and the language of police him, um, is, is kind of very indicative because what they really do is through this kind of study, sarcastic, ironic and almost cloud-like language they use, they smuggle in a lot of other stuff that was considered to BU. So Trump, you know, in that crazy magic mix of his language, kind of like spirits in, um, you know, this very, very divisive nationalist rhetoric, which has been taboo in America for obvious historical reasons. Um, so I wonder whether that kind of the slipperiness of their language about that. They kind of, you know, they use irony essentially, you know, uh, where their was, don’t necessarily, you know, within an essentially that was then, it’s already mean what would that, what that meant to signify allows them to slide lot of stuff. And if you look at the new rights, you know, the far right, which was dressed up as the new rights in Europe and in America, they use irony a lot.

You know, that’s that kind of way of like, you know, they just about, um, they joke about being racist or they joke about, um, uh, being antisemitic and, and, and that kind of allows them to sort of bring it, bring in this Rudy doc stuff, uh, reached out and live, uh, who was the editor in chief of the daily stoma, which is, uh, a Neo Nazi American website, kind of even writes about this. What do you use the language of the incident, the language of irony to read. Just summarize our ideas. But irony is a very interesting thing. It’s a, you know, it’s this kind of, it’s a very weird, it’s a very unique form of speech where what you say is and what you mean, which has lots of positive things, uh, but, but can also be a way of bringing in a lot of dark stuff. Um, yeah.

Well it’s interesting isn’t it? Because I remember watching Fox news try to do a comedy show to compete with the daily show and its popularity and they couldn’t do it. And yet these people, this next iteration have figured it out how to be funny and at the same time drive home their points and gather their supporters.

Oh, th I mean, if there was one guy who I would like to be more on in America at the moment is Jesse Waters. You know, he’s the saw, he’s a Fox news presenter, but he’s all about sarcasm, irony. He does everything with this kind of, with this, with this really sarcastic grant. And he comes from a very liberal family. And apparently, again, I don’t want to spread fake news as you relatives are appalled of what he’s become, but he’s like a muster all of this, uh, um, uh, of using irony to kind of like, you know, make the unaccept and acceptable. But all of Fox has got a little bit of a review show feel to it doesn’t it calls in as a role, you know, like, you know, that, you know, that, that, that, that go-forward way, he stares into the camera. Uh, you know, there’s something I remember at one point looking at Fox and the analysis of this evening thing and it was like, uh, it was, it was, it was like a comedy portrayal of, of, of the all male American family.

You started off with bill O’Reilly, the kind of like, you know, they’re kind of sarcastic all knowing uncle. Um, then you go, Clara, who’s off the bed. It was tuck a call. So they kind of, the son who’s already like sort of fire and full of passion and bit confused the well and then shown how to see the drunk that comes home, often Miller play. And just start shouting, screaming and run saying, and it was just as almost like a comedy take on the kind of American masculinity, but since then O’Reilly’s gone. But it really was like the uncle, the son, and then like, you know, the father, uh, and it was a little bit tongue in cheek. The Russians are greater. That’s Russian propaganda is deeply sarcastic and very aware of how of its own kind of like, um, uh, of it. So the fact that it’s propaganda that kind of playing with the, with the, um, with the viewer and you know, because Fox and Russian propaganda, it’s become quite often quite comedic in a sophisticated way. You have stuff like, you know, the cold bash show and John Oliver has to become really, really serious. Then I’d like that. I like the serious Poe faced, uh, uphold as of morals in society.

So let’s talk a little about how it started and, and how it started for you. How did, how did the story of your parents, you tell the story of your, of your father on the beach being arrested? What w what were his crimes? You know, his crimes and crimes in Soviet union.

Exactly. So, so, so, so, um, so the book starts with my father going for a swim in DESA in 1976 and coming out and there’s two men standing over his clothes and left from the KGB and they tell him to get dressed. Uh, they take him to the KGB station. He is charged with, um, again, it’s hard to get your head around this today. Um, distributing, um, illegal literature, which was in that, in his case, uh, glad to be in the book of the author of Lolita. And it wasn’t even for the details for a book called invitation to be heading and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn school like occupy logo, which is a kind of grand novel about the Soviet prison system. Um, I know it’s crazy, isn’t it? I mean, it’s, even though it sounds crazy that you would be arrested for giving friends books and uh, and basically they, they cool the next two years, they hold it around sort of 16 of his friends and relatives to get them to that.

He given them these dangerous books and in the end, one person broken and said he had committed this heinous crime. Um, and, and some of the books, thoughts with that and that I talked to the president where I live in a world where Rudy’s censorship, even in countries like Russia and China, I mean is incomparably less to what it was before. You know, in that sense, we won that war in the 20th century. Um, you know, we live in a time of information abundance and yet it hasn’t equals better societies in that kind of direct way that we thought it would. And so I kind of start with that problem.

You call it censorship through noise.

What do you mean? I mean, that’s, yeah, that’s, well that’s what sensors do. I mean, at the site there’s actually good academic research on how this thoughts who rush certain in, in sort of the early 2000 tens. Um, so basically they realized that the Russians, basically the Russian government realizes when God, we have these protest movements on, I mean, we can send to the moon a little bit online, but you know, someone would be very effective. I’ve said, they basically decided to create troll farms that flood the internet. So much does inflammation so much rumor and conspiracy that they confuse the protesters and start to divide them. They can look at the maps of the Russian, the Russian internet, um, in the early two thousands, tens, and it’s just like, you know, incredible dialogue among different people and blogs. They’re all talking to each other and creating this vibrant civil society online, which then spills out some streets and then you look at it now and it’s cuts and divided and polarized and broken up into little bits and that, and that was a strategy.

So you, you flood the zone. Uh, and then when you know, democratic, you know, democratic activists say, hold on, you know, this is a form of censorship. And the government goes, no, it’s not. It’s freedom of expression. And actually, you know, go prove that these profiles are our actual phones. These are just, you know, these are Patrick businessman, uh, concerned citizens who are stating their opinion, uh, you guys and what was fought for freedom of expression and inheritance. How do you like, that’s a great, those I didn’t know if they went through with it. It was the Russian troll farm, um, sued Facebook at one point, uh, for taking down some of that fake news sites saying, hold on, this is against our first amendment rights. Um, I think that itself was a sort of a piece of trolling. I don’t know if they went through with it, but, but they definitely had to raise the issue.

Did you read or, or, uh, the Muller report or any of the reports leading up to the Muller report and their focus on the Russian efforts to, uh, affect the American elections?

Of course. Yeah. I mean, it’s part of my job. I run a thing time for the NSC that looks at 21st century propaganda. So I’ve been a, I read bits of the Mueller report and it’s, this is a field, you know, we do similar sorts of analysis for elections in Europe.

Yeah. So do you, did you, did you look at that and I, you know, I’m not surprised here it is in, in happening in the U S because Putin and, and two of the less to another extent, Trump understand the, uh, the way to manipulate populations or seem to anyways understand ways to mitigate populations.

I mean it was still amazing for me. The fact that they went and did this in the U S I mean that was always, that must have been a big policy decision in the cabinet. Cause that’s a big step to do that kind of mess. Very provocative and do it in a way that you’re always going to get cool. You’re going to get cool if you did it like this. So it’s almost as if they were kind of, you know, let me get, yeah, let me, can you still, I mean, it was amazing to see that they decided to do this in us as almost as if they wanted to get courts. And that may have been part of the point because having looked at known how propaganda had developed through Russia in the 90s and two thousands going back to this guy, so cold that I talked about who was the head of pro domestic propaganda in Russia and the two thousands.

So his methodology was to reach out into every narrative, you know, the dissidents, the pro liberal networks here and your fascist narrative and kind of put his own people inside of that and show everybody almost how he was manipulating each of these narratives from inside and crushed them against each other. You know, he’d support, um, what not festivals that were incredibly provocative and the same time he’d support these ultra conservative groups who would come and attack them, whatnot. Festivals are being far to, you know, answered engines and he’d be feeding both these groups. So he was both reaching inside and polarizing, um, with the Kremlin, the sense of Goodwill, but letting people know that he was doing this as part of his power as a way of saying, look, I’m everywhere. Don’t invest with me. And in a way that’s exactly what the Kremlin has done inside America. You know, it’s reached out into different narratives, far left far right activists, um, uh, racist groups, uh, crude inside of them, uh, you know, further polarization, but done it in such a way where they must have known they’d get caught, uh, through really quite a cheap operation given the sense of the criminal is everywhere and all powerful and it’s now it’s on the front pages of the New York times every other week. So, um, you know, it’s almost as if they taken the tricks that they developed domestically, the Russians and exported them

to, to what end is this? I mean, what’s the end game for creating this kind of chaos and lack of a population’s ability to trust what they think they know?

Yeah, that’s fantastic question. I mean, I think in a, in a world of uncertainty and lack of trust, two things happen. One

you, the little guy or me, the little guy has a sense that we can’t change because we’re surrounded by this uncertain world where the truth is unknowable, which is full of conspiracies. Can Spencer conspiracy that always go hand in hand with this kind of discourse and this kind of a propaganda and you’re surrounded with this crazy dark, Whoa full of forces you can barely see. And in this dark, dark world, of course you need a Trump or a pizza to guide you. Um, so it’s quite interesting living in Russia and like save you a propaganda, which should tell you that everything was great in the Soviet union. People would know it’s rubbish. Kremlin propaganda today has channels like NTV which say everything is terrible in rushers, but of criminals and dangerous elements and Western plots. So therefore you need a strong who tend to kind of help you through this world. So you know, this kind of propaganda defeats your sense that you can do anything. Your sense that you have any kind of agency and it makes you young horse strong hub now. I think that’s how it was essentially that’s his essence. Um, what the game plan is strategically in terms of uh, ju politics. Um, I think if you just create a world of chaos then multilateral rooms, um, and kind of any kind of moments of framework fall away and what back in a world where mice has rights.

I was thinking about, uh, your story about what happened in the, in the Philippines with Duterte and how they, they set up or his, his intern, his marketing experts set up these Facebook groups and when he got enough people then he would start posting a crime story and he would, he would boost the crime story and get comments from his staff linked to these crime stories and link it to drugs as a way of sort of getting drugs to be the key election topic. That do I take could Duterte could, could focus on, well, do you think that same thing is happening? Have you looked enough? Does the same thing happening with immigration stories in America online and, and raising its profile for Trump.

Um, I think that’s definitely been happening in Europe and I would be amazed if it wasn’t happening in America. There’s two things here. One is, you know, in a certain way newspapers always used to do this or TV channels used to do this. Um, if they were kind of owned by various various business forces who wanted certain political results, what’s new social media is that it creeps into your personal world. What was interesting with in the Philippines that it wasn’t just fake news sites, it was Facebook groups. We should really already intimate where people will be posting things about their families and what’s going on in town and insidiously climbing into that space. What people have much less of a defense. You know, I think when we watch TV, if you’re watching Fox and you go for it, you’re making a pretty conscious choice that you’re adopting a certain worldview.

Um, when it’s, you know, Facebook fee is just something else. It’s just this really cooling crawling inside. What, when you’re in a place where your defenses are down. So, um, I would be amazed if it isn’t happening in the U S and also, you know, look, we have an election approaching in the U S very, very soon. And the fact that we’re even asking this question, the fact that we don’t know the fact that we don’t understand how the information environments online is shaped. We understand who’s behind various websites. We don’t know why we see something in our Facebook feed is actually now becoming a crisis. I mean, I’m already seeing stories about how Google is promoting the Democrats. What happened. We have to be able to affirm the stat and how the consent environment is being shaped for us to have a healthy democracy. Um, even if it isn’t happening, if that was speculating about it, I can’t answer.

It is already a huge problem. So I really, really hope that we are gonna see regulation again, today’s not regulating content, which I think is almost impossible, especially in America, but making the internet radically transparent. So we do understand why algorithms pick one bit of content them and not another who is behind all the information that we see in our Facebook feed. Um, I think we’re moving towards that kind of regulation in Europe and, and hope people get it in the U S as well. And I think we need it fast before the next election. Um, because the fact that we don’t know is, is just disastrous. I mean, newspapers, TV, we should romanticize it. They would deeply, deeply, you know, populism, but at least we could understand who was behind different things so we can analyze it and criticize it, engage with it. But now we’re just like, you know, we’re just surrounded by these information forces that, you know, we, we have no idea how that created.

What would that look like on the internet if we had those sorts of regulations, what would the page shut? That’s the discussion that we’re in at the moment and about the people who think about regulations. So I think stalls, I mean, I would start with the rights of a person online. When you go online, you should understand whether what you see is, I’m certified organic, by the way. I didn’t think we should get rid of anonymity. I think I’m number two is fine. We should just know why someone is being anonymous. It’s fine for someone. Say, look, I’m being anonymous because it would, you know, I need to preserve my safety. That’s actually fine. But you know, that should just be stated, uh, much from to understand if something is organic or Aptify campaign, if something is a bottle or human beings. So just to understand what we’re interacting with.

But I think even more than that, I think every time we see a political ad or any kind of issue based ad, we should understand who put it there. I don’t feel why to being targeted at me. Yeah. And who are these people targeting other ads ads? Oh, they the same ads. You know, there’s Trump campaign or people allies. The Trump campaign targets can be with one message and my neighbor with another one, I should be able to instantly see that I should have the press of a button. They should be able to open up the backstage of internet production. But I think we have to go farther than that. I think companies like Facebook and Google have to submit regular reports about that algorithm choices, whether the algorithms of being games and how that tries to thoughtful about basically, you know, there is obviously a question of that kind of commercial, uh, priorities, but I’m sure there’s a way around that. Uh, but overall we have to open up the black box of the algorithms as well. It’s a sensitive process. It’s not an easy process, but we have to move towards that. And the, the, the other question is just disastrous. Well, we just, democracy is kind of just, we can’t see how it’s working.

You mentioned the commercial aspect, but this is fundamental to how it’s being manipulated, isn’t it? You, you’re, you wrote a, the more we express ourselves online, the less power we have. Is part of that then coming from the ability of not just the Cambridge analytics but the companies themselves too, to know so much about our

patterns of behavior. I mean if there’s one kind of crisis in my book, one drama, it’s that. So, so as, as we mentioned, some of the book starts with my father being arrested for reading, but he’s also a writer. Um, and read the battle of for freedom of expression, which also is like to read, but also the freedom to express yourself was a huge part. The battle of the 20th century, uh, against the authoritarian regimes and freedom of expression was seen as kind of a guarantee of self-empowerment. The more you can express yourself, the more power you are, the more rights you have. And here in this new paradigm, everything’s been totaled. His head, the more you say about yourself on social media, the more you reveal about yourself, the more the social media companies can learn about you. And then what you can be targeted by political propaganda in ways that you might not, even though we didn’t know exactly what the technology is with like psychographics, but the principle is that right?

And that is a huge turnaround that we haven’t really got aheads around because we still think in terms of freedom of expression equals more power to the individual. But what if it doesn’t cool? What if it means the opposite? Um, that process at the moment is completely transparent. So we should completely, every piece of content that is then sort of talks at, at us. We should know at the very least why it’s being talked to that us, we’re already aware of it when we go somewhere and write something to our friends on WhatsApp and then we’d get like, you know, some sort of like, yeah, you know, I’d work for a chat. I mean, we kind of joke about it world wildly free, taught about it and joke and joke about it, but, but actually if you translate that to the political sphere, then, then it gets that very alarming propaganda as a part of life. There will always be people trying to influence us, but the individual has to have the right to be, to understand how and why he’s being manipulated so we can respond to it. Um, and at the moment the whole playing field was great.

I, uh, I teach a class at the university of Washington. It’s a communications class and, um, uh, it’s about interviewing. It’s about talking to people of course. And, and much of, much of the, the way information is disseminated is often through interviews. So I want people to understand that about their, about the prospect that I, I’ve been starting the class lately by asking them are there some things that are true? And um, these young, I guess we could call them postmodernists, uh, uniformly say no. And even when I say is the earth round and I do not get, you know, a hundred hands going up saying, yes, the earth is round. Yeah. I mean they just are so unwilling to see something as being fact based. I mean, we sit in a building and I say, did a scientist, you know, did somebody have to build this building? Did they have to follow certain procedures in order to make sure the walls don’t collapse? And yet that idea doesn’t quite sink in because for them, truth is situational. Is that part of the problem?

So there’s a lot of writing about, um, there’s a lot of writing about how postmodernism, um, and sort of this radical relativity, uh, relativeness, sorry, um, has, has kind of started to eats itself up. Um, the great paradox is a postmodernism started, you know, this kind of doubt about truths and relating I suppose. I suppose what they’re saying is, let me think out loud for a second. What they’re saying is, is that truth is a subset of power. Yeah. Yeah. That sort of thing itself is some sort of power as it’s a subset of power, uh, and power that was created, that means truth is always created. Yeah. So I suppose that, that’s what I say. Sure. So the question is how do we, how do we engage with that? Um, now I battled with that. Let me bring something back. Something very, very simple. I battle this problem in the form of writing. Yeah. So,

Oh,

I actually completely agree that writing rep will Taj from a gold side view, pretending I’m an objective observer, looking at things, you know, like a, uh, you know, like a, like a Tulsi. And the rater is actually untrue. I know. I mean, I declare I can with my advices and stuff, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So in my writing, what I’ve tried to do is introduce myself into the text to the point where all my biases are [inaudible]. And by doing that, I hope to get to a point where I can engage with the other posts because by exposing my biases and where I’m coming from, they can do the same thing. And we can start to engage with one and level. I suppose the rationale, let’s see, the truth will emerge in the ability to communicate with one another. You stop being able to communicate with one another. I think maybe even your students would have, not that it’s a problem. So maybe that sort of, that you know, that

no

truth will emerge in our ability to talk to one another. Um, but that actually means a very vulnerable subjectivity. Um, so I think there is a way to kind of actually be that yes, you know, objects. It was, here’s another form of subjectivity that yes, all discourse is a Ford by power, but that doesn’t mean we have to get caught into a trap where we can talk about anything in to each other anymore, which is sort of the place that we’ve got to. I don’t think we can go back to like, you know, a kind of like pretending that we are sort of impartial observers standing above the fray. But I don’t think we have to cut ourselves off from the possibility of interaction.

You, you talk about, um, the, the, I mean, what you’re talking about in and is empathy, right? To try to figure out how we are in another person’s shoes and then communicate that. And one of your, uh, ideas is that, or one of way you’re looking at it is that people who really read a lot and people who read fantastic things from speculative fiction and science fiction to, you know, to, to, to the magical realists are maybe more likely to imagine different realities is reading, is reading going to be one way out of this?

Yeah, that’s, so I didn’t want to over a month a size the idea of the artists, but certainly in my book, um, I have a kind of a competition set up quite hopefully it’s not too, um, ideologies, but it is that between propagandists who try to use information to break people, uh, and to use ideas and stories to subjugate people and a certain type of artists who in the book has been solidified by my father, uh, who see auth as a way of interacting with other people, uh, imagining different kinds of society who the power of imagination. So look, I think artists can be very evil sometimes. I think imagination can be, it usually uses, so I don’t think there’s an apriori morality. Um, actually there’s always great seating, sort of like these horrible dictators. And the Hulk show for example, and Albania with the great dictates in the 20th century was always questing, quoting, Proust.

So I said, you don’t think that if you read a bit of Joyce, you’re going to be a good person at school, but if you put that much into faculty to good use, then that’s the only thing that can actually compete with the propagandists propaganda is basically really art. You know, that’s what these people are. A good arts can set us free and certainly the ability to imagine can set us free and move the conversation forward. Um, so exactly. I don’t, I try to keep this very light touch in the book, but there are also still logical studies which show reading lots of creative literature in your, in your, as a kid then makes you more, um, likely to have kind of interesting ideas politically. So, so there is a relationship there. Um, but I think you’ve said something very, very important about your students and true.

Um, I think that’s absolutely key. It is true. You know, all our favorite discourses. We’re actually in viewed with loads of biases. You know, if we keep up the ideal that we can communicate with each other and find sort of common ideas and a way to talk to each other, then that I think we can do that while remaining. Um, conscious of our own sort of limited subjectivity. I think a lot of this post-truth discourse is it Sloan, um, is actually connected to a larger crisis. So I think one way out of this is to look at sort of the larger framework, so facts and love themselves and not very pleasant and not always even, um, you know, something that people want to embrace, you know, fantasy as much as my, as much more pleasurable than the way. Um, but as you, as you say, we don’t have, uh, uh, post-truth Trump in discourse when it comes to building a bridge.

Yeah. The moment you give a blueprint for bridge, suddenly everyone’s talking about the facts because you’re talking about something that you have to construct and build, which needs evidence. I think evidence and evidence based discourse is very connected to that idea of a rational future enlightenment’s ideas of the future. Um, we’re very, very, you know, they also have this kind of like fact-driven discourse attached to them and in the 20th century, whether it’s sort of communism, which tries to say that it’s a scientific discourse, democratic capitalism, they both kind of use evidence to prove that that building is better society. But I think what’s happened now is, is that, you know, certain communism collapsed as an ideal late 20th century. That democratic capitalism took a real battering, um, off the 2008 crisis. Um, and say these kinds of discourses about the future and evidence that we were getting there kind of fell away.

And you have this, these sort of, this generation of politicians who don’t even try to be factual. They’re like, Hey, what do we need? Thoughts a little getting anywhere. That’s sort of, I mean to say sort of coincidence that Trump who to do Ted Tay Zeman oral nostalgist, you know, they don’t try to prove anything. Why would they need facts that bathing in, you know, the emotions of make America, Russia, China, the Czech Republic, right? Again, so one way of restoring facts and factuality in political discourse is by forcing a conversation about the future. So very practical way of doing that. I think it’s constructive, what’s known as constructive journalism, which, which has many interpretations. But the way I’m using it as a form of journalism that forces people to think about practical solutions. So instead of kind of rhetoric, you get like, okay, what are you going to do in this concrete situation?

So you force politicians into a framing where they have to talk about the facts because they will then be held accountable to them. So I think that’s one way forward. You know, we have to create discourses where facts are important. Um, there’s no point standing there screaming, you’re not being factual. You have to make facts useful again. So, so that’s the challenge for us in journalism. These are big challenges. I don’t think we can go back. We can’t put the genie back into the bottle. We’re going to have to [inaudible] people at uni. You’re going to have to really understand, well, how do we carry the ideals of a New York times or CBS or whatever into, into a digital age and into a social media age? I mean, what is public service broadcasting for social media rage? And honestly, I don’t think we’ve even started thinking that through a, but it probably will mean a lot more audience analysis and understanding the various online communities even more and trying to bring them together around, you know, common common areas and common EPS, the model GS that they can both share. Um, but together, if we just started this process, um, almost, it’s almost like, you know, birth of television where people sort of slowly works out that, Oh, maybe we should have some public service television or public service spirits and television to kind of counterbalance, uh, other things. So, so, uh, w w we’re really just at the start of the process of how we do that.

Peter Palmer ansif author of this is not propaganda adventures in the war against reality speaks within the moment. Chief correspondent, Steve Cher, and will be appearing at town hall September 10th at 6:00 PM to hear the complete conversation Steve had with Peter Palm Retsef. Listen to at length with Steve. Share wherever you find your passion.

thank you for listening to in the moment. Our theme music comes from Seattle based band, EBU, and Seattle’s own bar Souk records. If you’re a fan of town hall, consider becoming a member every month. You’ll receive a beautiful paper calendar in the mail. Get invites to special town hall receptions and events, and feel proud knowing you. Help keep ticket prices affordable so everyone can have access to programs, educate and connect community. To find out more, including a full lineup of our homecoming festival, go to our website at town hall, seattle.org on our next episode next week, social equity facilitator, Christiana obey Sumner. We’ll be in conversation with Ebro X Kendi about his book, how to be an anti-racist. Thank you for listening and thank you for joining us right here in the moment.

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