Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post-Factual

During the past US election campaign I learned a new German word: postfaktisch. In 2010 the term was coined by David Roberts, a blogger, in the context of post-truth politics describing a debate that is based on passion and emotion rather than reason and evidence. In fact, the word post-truth is clearer than the construct post-factual.

Der Sonntag, Freiburg. Photo©AFP
The post-factual concept is multilayered and should not be confused with "simple" lies. Fact is, facts play no longer a principal role in political debates for "facts" derive from a Lügenpresse (lying press). It no longer matters whether a candidate for political office tells the truth as long as he sticks to statements his followers like to hear and will swallow. When the press is no longer the main source of information social media take over where everybody (even bots) can write what he/she likes and thus influence the vox populi.

The die is cast. This morning I was watching television. At 8:29 a.m. Donald J. Trump was still missing one electoral delegate, at 8:30 a.m. the Wisconsin result came in, and: Habeamus principem! One US journalist expressed his hope: Our system of checks and balances will save the American democracy. Franz von Papen made a similar statement in 1933.

As I stressed in my previous blog, the similarities between Germany's past and America's present are depressing. This morning Bill Clinton's slogan, It's the economy, stupid, hit back, when Trump announced his victory. I will double America's economic growth, he said. I will not only renew our infrastructure but make it better. I will be fair to our allies and friends, but America first. In his statement he left out the wall for, according to him, the Mexicans will build it and this without creating new jobs in the States. Anyway, the march of angry Republicans on Washington is no longer necessary and therefore cancelled.

This morning Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Donald Trump, appealing to the old and venerable American democracy while the European political establishment keeps its fingers crossed. On the other hand, American experts said on television that with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress not only the Supreme Court justice to be appointed will be conservative but with the political change government officials in Washington will be replaced by Republican-minded staff down to the last clerk.

How will domestic economical growth go along with the creation of jobs? In 1933 following the Machtergreifung (Nazi takeover) Reichsbankpräsident Hjalmar Schacht prohibited the foreign exchange of the Reichsmark and started printing money for the construction of autobahns and above all for German re-armament. These actions more than halved unemployment in the Weimar Republic, i.e., from 5.7 million in 1932 to 2.1 million in 1936. Financing government expenses by loans? With majorities in both houses of Congress it will be easy for a Republican president to have the the US debt ceiling raised.

Will America honor its climate goals? Donald Trump does not believe in climate change.
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