The truth isn’t useful

The important thing about truth is the underlying sentiment, which is its only utility. If any given truth gets in the way of a grander one, it may, in keeping with best praxis, be overlooked, contested or outright denied.

Take the April 2017 chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. “I suppose the sarin attacks could be real,” wrote Paste Magazine’s Shane Ryan of the attacks, the guilt of the Syrian regime since confirmed by the United Nations, but it wouldn’t be useful, in terms of agitating against U.S. President Donald Trump’s airstrike on empty airbase that was launched in response.

So the article never delved into what we actually knew, based on eyewitness testimony and samples tested by chemical weapons experts, but rather speculated on what made “sense.” Testimony and expertise aside, what made sense, at that time, to that writer, was raising the prospect of a “false flag” by rebels hoping, after their 420th allegedly staged production, that “the U.S. would intervene on their behalf.”

When the UN debunked this narrative, squarely placing blame on the regime, the writer for Paste proclaimed innocence: they had, after all, been seeking to stop a drive to war, so even if they were wrong, empirically, one had to admire their motivation, which was superior (these answers were later deleted, because really who cares). Those who were right, by contrast those who believed the MSM accounts that set us on a path to regime change: isn’t that suspect?

One has to wonder why.

The author, accordingly, declined to alert their fans to the existence of the new information undermining what was and is the objectively more admirable posture: not believing the government or the mainstream media.

Similarly, the Democrats would agree to basically neuter their own opposition to Republicans’ health care in exchange for some more sanctions against big bad scary Russia; we know this because the bumbling Democrats lost 1,000 seats and always prefer foreign wars to fighting for the working class. Hillary Clinton would argue against breaking up the banks by saying it won’t end racism; we know this because neoliberals exploit identity for capitalism. And she’d regime-change Bashar al-Assad for Israel, because, let’s be real: wouldn’t she?

These are things we know to be true, in general, so again we must ask of the pedants who were right with respect to these specific claims, which were wrong: Do you want to be the kind of person who wouldn’t believe the bad thing?

One, again, has to wonder why.

But serial dishonesty (or chronic intellectual sloth) takes its toll. If yours is the political faction that claims to have the most right answers on all of the issues facing humanity in 2017, that claim will be challenged by those who observe a certain infidelity in the matter of facts. That case against war, which hinges on a dictator who’s killed tens of thousands not being as blithely ruthless as claimed by his victims, will be discarded by those one wishes to persuade is that what we’re doing?  when it’s shown to hinge on a fundamental error.

Little white lies don’t serve grand ends when the means are perceived as an expression of one’s true politics. When delivered with smug flare, they do keep those who aren’t alienated in high spirits, however, and the clicks on news that is fake, left media criticism teaches us, always exceed clicks on the (enemy) analysis that corrects. That ensures a steady stream of digital red meat, misleading content and algorithmic takes garnering more donations to the Patreon in the bio and so on and so forth until we all log off for the very last time.

Many will think these creators of content are sloppy or cynical, but the thing is: they won’t be subscribers. The future is socialism in one social media cluster, sending notifications to your cellphone  forever, bitch.

About Charles Davis

A writer and producer with whose work has aired on television and radio and been published by outlets such as Al Jazeera, The Intercept, The Nation and The New Republic.
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