Monday, December 13, 2010

How the Right Shapes US ‘Reality’

By Lawrence Davidson, Consortium News, December 11, 2010

Editor’s Note: In modern American politics, the Right and the neoconservatives have invested heavily in — and proven to be very adept at — shaping how large segments of the population understand reality, a concept sometimes called “perception management.”

This sophisticated propaganda now influences everything from why Americans distrust global-warming science to when they go to war, as professor Lawrence Davidson describes in this guest essay:

There is a postmodern position that states “reality is a social construct.” In other words, individuals and groups have their own realities and, according to the postmodernists, one reality is as true as another.
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Certainly there is more than one way to interpret things. It is because individuals see the world differently and, at least in the American cultural milieu, have such trouble reconciling those views, that U.S. divorce rates run at about 50 percent.

Then there is the inescapable fact that nation states and rival ethnic communities periodically slaughter each other (and persistently try to repress one another) in an effort to disprove the postmodernist assertion that all realities are equal.

Thus we see the competition among groups to assert the reality of the powerful as triumphantly more real than the reality of all rivals.

It is hard to argue with the notion that there are many social, cultural and political “constructs,” each a product of its place and time. However, the notion that all realities are equal can quickly take us into a kind of theater of the absurd.

If you want to see what this looks like just take a close look at present-day American politics.

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