This essay was written for the Retreat Conference 2016 organized at Athens, Greece, on September 24th, 2016.
The novelty of the 2010’s is the disdain of public figures for the truth. Michael Gove, quoted above, justified lying not by producing an excuse immediatly as Machiavelli advised, but by insulting people who said the truth. Not only is truth considered unimportant, it is clearly marked as a value defended by the “other”: it is an undesirable value.
Publishers and, with them, most journalists, do not work to serve the truth. They serve three possible and not mutually exclusive objectives: cater to the interests of a donor (which can be a public institution, a private one or an oligarch), sell attention to advertisers or sell content to customers. None of these objectives necessitate the production of factual truths. Let us look at these three objectives in details.
Phi Beta Iota: All of our institutions have failed. Morality, which Will and Ariel Durant defined in Lessons of History as a priceless strategic asset, has been set aside in favor of expediency for the benefit for the few who “pay to play” and own corrupt politicians not held accountable by the public.