When Narrative Trumps Truth

In post-modernist thought, there is no true or false, no black or white. It’s all about the narrative.

Ronen Shoval
Ronen Shoval
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Ronen Shoval
Ronen Shoval

The political philosophy of the far left wing has its roots in post-modernist thought.

That is the basis for the claim of some new historians who say history is not what actually happened, but what is believed to have happened. In other words, there is no absolute truth. There is only the narrative that partially represents the truth.

These historians assert that the events of the past have no objective existence. Rather, such events continue to exist only in documents, or in the memories of human beings. Since memories can be shaped by controlling the foci of power, the past is whatever those in power wish it to be. There is no objective truth, no objective past. There is only narrative. Nakba or independence? It depends on whom you ask.

The classic victim of post-modernism is the Holocaust. Physics professor Nadav Minrav points out that in the years immediately after the Holocaust, the event was seen as a horrific massacre of millions of Jews perpetrated by the Germans for no reason. Many countries drew the political conclusion that since the Jewish nation had been critically wounded, it deserved an independent state.

Assimilation and other factors that are chip away at a nation were considered in a negative light. But, Minrav claims, according to values of post-modernism, it is no longer possible to say that the murder of Jews was perpetrated unjustly. After all, truth and justice are concepts that depend on narrative, and the Nazi regime truly believed that the Jews were dangerous to the security of the Third Reich, and who can judge its narrative?

It is not truth and justice, but games of language, that post-modernists hold sacred.

They have chosen to attribute the evil done by the Nazis to one thing: racism. Doing so supposedly creates equivalency between a Nazi who murdered Jews and a Jew who rejects a non-Jewish woman as a potential marriage partner. Both are racist.

The post-modernist basis for subverting the concept of truth did more than just subvert history (and archaeology). It also pulled the rug out from under the unity of language. The mischief that the left wing has done to language has gone so far as to call ethnic cleaning “disengagement,” and hundreds of people who were murdered “victims of peace.” They called giving out weapons and importing murderers from Tunis “the peace process” and even got the Nobel Peace Prize for it.

Post-modernism has slaughtered every sacred cow, every fundamental social value. And when these values are held in contempt, the populist demand not to meddle in one another’s affairs arises, since every person has his own truth. This is why a journalist can report on any news item, even if doing so puts the country at risk, in the name of the public’s right to know. This is why it is imperative that “enlightened” musicians play the works of Richard Wagner even if doing so causes pain to Holocaust survivors. This is why conceptual art fills museums with junk. This is what happens when we lose the basic ability to judge between good and evil, between truth and justice and between beauty and ugliness.

This is the basis of the religion of doubt, relativism and falsehood that rejects the concept of truth and recognizes only discourse. In the language games, all wars are judged on a moral basis and every ideal expresses, by necessity, the oppression of a particular political group.

Post-modernists can say that black is white even as the facts stare them in the face. But the real significance of doing so is not in their making such an absurd claim, but rather in their honest ability to believe such nonsense. At the very same time, they are capable of forgetting that in the past, people believed that the opposite was true. Therefore, the past must be constantly changed.

Post-modernism uses logic as a weapon against logic. It denies morality – since, after all, truth does not exist – even as it claims to be the epitome of morality. This is an amazing feat of mental acrobatics. It is not only the breakdown of discourse, but also the demand to grasp the stick at both ends, as if to say: We will take discourse apart and put it together while trampling on the concept of truth, and we also will not allow different narratives to exist.

The real meaning of post-modern “enlightenment” is the power to hold two opposing views simultaneously. It is the ability to tell complete lies while honestly believing them, to forget all inconvenient facts, to rewrite history as much as necessary and deny the existence of objective reality.

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