There are no necessary truths any more. Everything is contingent. And those contingencies are the consequence not of what happens in the real world, but of the derangement in our own minds. Some will insist it was ever thus. Well, if so, it’s never been more evident.
Take just two examples. We will never know the truth of the Kavanaugh case unless one of the two principal actors ’fesses up — and even then I wouldn’t be too sure. If the case went to court and Christine Blasey Ford were a reliable witness, and several of her contemporaries gave evidence that they witnessed the attempted rape and all Brett Kavanaugh did was mumble his repetitive idiocies, the right would still be insisting that it was a politically motivated put-up job. The jury would vote on political lines. The judge would hear the case addled by his or her own blend of confirmation bias. We would be none the wiser.
Similarly, even if Mrs Blasey Ford suddenly announced that she might have got it wrong, that maybe her memory was playing tricks and that nothing happened at all, there would still be leftist mentals shrieking that Kavanaugh Must Go and that the retraction of the allegations was a consequence of still more sexist bullying by a patriarchal state and right-wing media. If you are on the left, Blasey Ford must be believed, and therefore Kavanaugh is guilty. If you are on the right you are prepared to ignore one of the most serious allegations that can be brought against a person, and then to vilify the accuser, simply because she does not share your politics, whereas the guilty party does.
Of course if it were a liberal Democrat accused of such offences, you would be demanding his head on a plate. And shrieking. Just as you shrieked first at Bill Clinton and later at Hillary for her supposed involvement in covering up her husband’s sexual shenanigans — suddenly very happy, on this occasion, to believe the accuser. (Although maybe not shrieking as loud as some of those left-wing protestors were shrieking. Boy, can those chicks scream. There is a video on the internet of one of them going doolally at a right-wing reporter. ‘Mentally ill’ is the kindest description I can bestow.) But again, even if Kavanaugh confessed, the right would insist that it was a terribly long time ago and the bloke was only 17.
Then there’s Tommy Robinson. He turned up outside a court in Yorkshire to harangue the defendants in a sex-grooming case. By doing this he was a) in contempt of court, having been warned against doing so at an earlier hearing, and b) potentially jeopardising the trial of those accused. He was, quite rightly, arrested. And after he was arrested, subjected to a grotesque infraction of his human rights and his right to a fair hearing. Banged up peremptorily without recourse even to his own solicitor and held for the duration of his sentence in virtual isolation. This was patently evident to me at the time, but the commentariat was united in its belief that Robinson had got exactly what he deserved. Amnesty International showed no interest — of course not, they’re lefties. Amnesty’s truths are totally contingent upon the infantile political outlook of its bosses. An appellate court later released Robinson on bail. In his written judgment, Lord Burnett said: ‘We are satisfied that the finding of contempt made in Leeds following a fundamentally flawed process, in what we recognise were difficult and unusual circumstances, cannot stand.’
All of that — the ‘fundamentally flawed process’ — was evident immediately and yet virtually nobody in the mainstream media was prepared to say so. It didn’t matter, because it was Tommy Robinson, and he’s a nasty piece of work. Or more to the point, because of their political bias they did not even recognise that the process was flawed, despite the fact that it was patently clear even to a moron. By the same token, those on the right had no time for the suggestion that Robinson had behaved stupidly and illegally. He was, they averred, a political prisoner, and there’s an end to it. His initial treatment simply confirmed this belief.
It’s hard to explain this new blindness and intransigence, this Manichean divide where necessary truths have no place at all. Some blame the internet, and it is probably true that this has been an enabling factor in the New Stupidity, if not its cause. A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that people using that most egregious device of the self-aggrandising imbecile, Twitter, much prefer fake news to real news. They are 70 per cent more likely to disseminate a lie on Twitter than they are a truth — but only if it is a lie which accords with their political disposition. In other words, you will be prepared to believe anything and everything of a person if he or she is politically opposed to you, the more slanderous and imagined the better, and the reality simply never intrudes. All the lies are grist to the mill. And this is probably true even when the people spouting them know, or suspect, that they are downright lies. It is winning the argument that matters. Who cares what the truth is?
But it may also be that the big political divide today is less about abstract stuff like taxation or nationalisation, but stuff which is visceral and personal: gender identity, sexual abuse, race, religion and so on. But even those more abstract issues which were once an argument between two competing schools of thought are no longer that. If you are in favour of what, misguidedly, we have christened austerity (how about ‘saving money’ or ‘economising’) you are not simply wrong, you are actually evil. You are Tory scum and you are killing people. Probably deliberately, while grinning. Good vs evil, black vs white and we all, mainly, sign up to it.
The argument continues online.