ABSTRACT

I document the contemporary war on truth by authoritarian leaders and regimes, focusing on its distinctive sites, scope, and tactics. In this context, I explain both the pressing need to defend pluralism and the ways pluralism has been co-opted for antidemocratic goals. This defense of pluralism includes an epistemic creed and, flowing from this creed, four strategies for action to counter the war on truth: change of government leadership through the electoral process (and the resources this involves and the institutions this assumes); countertactics to the new authoritarian communication techniques (and all the vigilance and energy this involves); creation of individual habits enabled by the skills of effective inquiry, communication, and imagination (through educational processes that include but are not limited to the schools); and, adequate resources, freedom, and public commitment to institutions that produce truth and accept different truths—research and education, the press and media, and the courts and judicial system. I claim that collectively these four responses are the only possibly effective ones—and thus that they all are necessary. Whether or not they are sufficient is an issue that rests with melioristic action and, thus, can be judged only after and by the consequences of that action.

You do not currently have access to this content.