is a freelance writer based in Fremantle, Western Australia.
' The post-truth chatter is now at such a pitch, and the attendant anxieties now so widespread, that critical distance is imperative. Thisshould be kept in mind when considering the innumerable opinion articles, essays and books on fake news and post-truth published in the last two years especially. This is the interval in which the Brexit vote and Trump’s victory in the US election catalysed a searching discussion about the threat to authoritative information posed by the internet and social media, partisan news and populist politicians.'
If Howe’s primary target in ‘This Age of Conformity’ was the incipient neoconservative milieu, by the mid 1960s he had turned his attention to, and trained his guns on, the embryonic New Left. In his 1965 essay ‘New Styles in “Leftism”’, he isolates and analyses some emergent trends on the progressive side of politics, and finds little cause for celebration.
After reading The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, George Orwell was left ‘with the feeling that a considerable novelist was lost in this young working-man whom society could not bother to keep alive’. True enough, though I would add that this loss is felt not just in the absence of a second or third book but within the pages of the one we have.
Electorates are not enamoured of the idea that the nation state now has such limited power over its destiny. Democracies dependent on foreign creditors; massive multinational companies subject to few democratic controls; an international financial market with the power to decide the strength of currencies – these things sit uneasily with the idea that a nation should be able to determine its own fate and the fate of its people.