The New Clarity: Awakening in the Post-Truth Era

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2023 Number 109

The New Clarity: Awakening in the Post-Truth Era
Jan Overwijk, Daniël de Zeeuw pages 129-146
DOI: 10.3898/NEWF:109.09.2023


Abstract: In the wake of Trump and  Brexit, the late 2010s gave rise to an ambient sense of a post-truth crisis. It signals the social media fuelled breakdown of liberal democracy and its ‘fourth estate’ into fragmented and mutually antagonising epistemic media bubbles. Yet at the same time, the new online political movements driving this crisis became enthralled with the radical sense of waking up from a false reality to absolute Truth, ranging from new (con)spiritual fascinations with mystical clarity to far-right ideas about a Great Awakening and red-pilling. This article tries to make sense of this strange resurgence of ‘awakening’ and the experience of radical epistemic clarity from within post-truth culture. We argue that what we refer to as the New Clarity represents the bleeding edge of our current post-truth predicament, which at once intensifies ‘postmodern’ sentiments of cynicism, irony and play and breaks with them in the form of new political-epistemic radicalisms. To draw out this paradoxical relationship between post-truth and the New Clarity, we survey three historical dimensions of postmodernism as theorised by Lyotard and others at the closing of the 20th century, namely: cynicism and the crisis of critique, new spiritualities and authoritarian conspiracism, and the spiralling dialectic between neoliberalism and populism. Breaking down these dimensions to understand the New Clarity, we take the QAnon conspiracy movement as embodying its paradoxical logic. Doing so we offer a critical heuristic for charting the rise of new conspiratorial and spiritual Awakenings today.

Download Full Text PDF

To cite this article
Jan Overwijk, Daniël de Zeeuw (2023) The New Clarity: Awakening in the Post-Truth Era, New Formations, 2023(109), 129-146. 10.3898/NEWF:109.09.2023

Share this