Dear friend, I am sure that by now you have heard or read the terms alt-right and post-truth numerous times. If you haven’t, do continue living in your balloon and stop reading. If you have, do go on reading.
When exactly rebranding the words “Nazism” and “lie” become a real thing? How come that the media and we, the people took this rebranding to heart and accepted its spread on-air, print and bytes? Did we forget our history lessons and the devastation events after the WWI caused to humanity? Where is our moral compass or moral has changed to something that doesn’t really need truth?
By now, you would probably think “Hold on, alt-right does not equal Nazism!” and, in the minor scheme of things, you would be right. Especially, when you read the first paragraph in the Wikipedia link above… But here is my perspective.
In the years, immediately after WWI, European nations turned inwards. Unbearable reparations were literally killing the Weimar Republic, and the Bolsheviks were trying to master the vast territory of the former Russian Empire. Post-truth, as we call emotional twist over facts now, was ruling the bigger part of Europe. It all started with ethnonationalism, antisemitism, homophobia, and far right (or left) populism. I can almost sense the appearance of alt-left, too. Camps for the opposition and the different ones were created and populated, entire classes were wiped out from the Earth’s face or sent to Konzentrationslager or GULAG.
These actions then were justified by “patriotism” and “in the name of the people”. Branding was created later. That same branding that symbolised the death of tens of millions and the displacement of almost just as much. It ruled the old continent officially until 1945 in the West and a few more decades in the East.
After the dissolution of the Third Reich, half of Europe schools started teaching a much different history depending on where they were situated. The West celebrates May 8, 1945, at the end of it all. The Soviets and respectively Russians mark the calendar on May 9, 1945. And this is just a minor difference in the pool of all differences.
I happened to be learning the history lessons of the latter ones. And although, I was never thought about GULAG, the beatings and killings during the state’s appropriation of private land, machinery and livestock, and many other acts “in the name of the party and people, I was taught how much exactly I should hate fascism and Nazism. I could easily say that my history lessons were based on “post-truths” because no historical fact makes sense without looking at both sides of the events.
And thus, semi-lies were created in the minds of millions like me. A sort of a grey area with a firm grip on personal beliefs. Emotions over facts, if you please. And as it happened, the West was just as much fed with post-truths about the East. My conversations with West Europeans in the late 90s and early 00s told me as much.
No wonder we are still so divided. In the past few years, the nations’ inward-turning and emotional discourse regardless of the facts has ramped up to a crescendo. The division of the society is so thick nowadays that one can almost touch it. History seems to repeat itself.
We seem to be back to late 1917 in the Russian Empire and early 1999 in the Weimar Republic. It is just that now we have different names for the very same things that made the world suffer then. The only difference now is that we have the Internet. As Howard Wolowitz put it in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” – “Everybody knows there is no truth on the Internet!”, now it is way easier to bet on people’s fears and dark sides.
The usage of words like post-truth and alt-right make it almost ok to be a nationalistic homophobe. These words sound nothing like the negatively branded extreme views of Nazis, Bolsheviks, Stalinists and Maoists. So, this seems to steer away from our history books and embedded morals. And it definitely shouldn’t be.
It is not ok to be on the alt-right’s side, as it is not ok to speak, write and use post-truths in any discourse. We all know where that brought us and how it all landed. And I pray you agree with me.
Rewrapping life’s shitty presents does not make them smell less foul. Shit is shit and that’s just about it.
PS. This letter is part of my irregular newsletter blast. If you are interested in reading more, you can subscribe here – tinyletter.com/borislavkiprin. I don’t plan to publish my letters on the web. Well, maybe just those that I see fit to show to the general public. I also will not share your email with anyone else.
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