C. Thi Nguyen in the Boston Review:
I would like to stage a fight between two different accounts of the current political landscape—what’s been called the “post-truth” era, the infodemic, the end of democracy, or perhaps most accurately, the total shitshow of the now.
According to one oft-told story, what’s going on is systemic polarization. Our once-peaceful society has been riven into polarized camps. Extremism and political separation are the core problems, and the fix is something like reconnection, intermingling, and friendship across party lines. (The sound of this story is somebody issuing a plea for civility “in these divisive times.”) According to a very different story, what’s going on is propaganda. Certain bad actors are generating false and misleading information for political purposes. To fix it, we need to fight those bad actors.