The New Truth

Jacob Siegel in Tablet:

There are distinct and deep-rooted traditions of rational empiricism and religious sermonizing in American history. But these two modes seem to have become fused together in a new form of argumentation that is validated by elite institutions like the universities, The New York Times, Gracie Mansion, and especially on the new technology platforms where battles over the discourse are now waged. The new mode is argument by commandment: It borrows the form to game the discourse of rational argumentation in order to issue moral commandments. No official doctrine yet exists for this syncretic belief system but its features have been on display in all of the major debates over political morality of the past decade. Marrying the technical nomenclature of rational proof to the soaring eschatology of the sermon, it releases adherents from the normal bounds of reason. The arguer-commander is animated by a vision of secular hell—unremitting racial oppression that never improves despite myths about progress; society as a ceaseless subjection to rape and sexual assault; Trump himself, arriving to inaugurate a Luciferean reign of torture. Those in possession of this vision do not offer the possibility of redemption or transcendence, they come to deliver justice. In possession of justice, the arguer-commander is free at any moment to throw off the cloak of reason and proclaim you a bigot—racist, sexist, transphobe—who must be fired from your job and socially shunned.

More here.