Politics in a Post-Truth Era: Identity, Knowledge, and Political Responsibility in an Age of "Alternative Facts"

Lecture | March 31 | 12-1 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Ilan Zvi Baron, School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University

 Institute of European Studies

The rise of populism, Donald Trump's election and the result of the EU referendum in the UK have been widely interpreted as a rejection of the post-war liberal order - the manifestation of a desire to undermine the political system that people feel has let them down. Yet mainstream politicians and analysts have been slow to grasp the changing situation, instead relying on a rhetoric of 'hard data' and narrow economic arguments while failing to properly engage with the politics of identity. Ilan Zvi Baron argues that the relationship between methodology and politics is now more important than ever - that politics, if it is anything, is about engaging with people's interpretations and narratives of the world in which they find themselves. He will explore the methodological underpinnings of post-truth claims, and suggest that a turn to more "scientific" evidence will by itself not solve anything, but may actually be counterproductive. Baron argues that politics in this new 'post-truth' era will require an appreciation that we live in an uncertain world of endless diversity and potential for change, and that post-truth politics functions by creating a narrative whereby people can divorce themselves from any political responsibility they might have.

Professor Ilan Zvi Baron holds a personal chair in International Political Theory in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, where he is also co-director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics. He has held visiting posts at the University of British Columbia, and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research is concerned with exploring how people experience international relations in their daily lives, by focusing on theoretical formulations of "everyday international relations." He has published on post-truth politics, Israeli cookbooks, the politics of violence, the Jewish Diaspora’s relationship with Israel, dual loyalty, and the ethics of war. His most recent books include, "How to Save Politics in a Post-Truth Era: Thinking Through Difficult Times" and "Obligation in Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique". He is currently working on a project about political responsibility and dystopian fiction.