If There’s No Truth

/ by Srđan Srdić

It’s been about ten years since an interview was published in a local newspaper in Kikinda, with the then local leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, former party of the late Slobodan Milošević. Former, because this political party today is devoid of any mark of identity which would differentiate it from the ruling party in Serbia, the Serbian Progressive Party, which doesn’t suffer too much from identity parameters, either. I cannot be clearer than this: There’s a name and it’s something behind which nothing parasitizes. Except greed and suchlike.

 

So, the aforementioned local mogul struggled to explain all benefits for cheerful citizens of his party’s return to the positions of the municipal authorities. Asked by a local journalist who was responsible for the catastrophic state of the local economy, the local Socialist leader said: “Responsible are those who ruled in the 90s.” All kinds of things crossed my mind then. I thought it was a printing error. Or I was losing my eyesight. Or I was losing my mind. Still, it said what it said – the local journalist didn’t think (or dare) to ask the only possible, logical and meaningful question: “But, weren’t those people you?”

 

It was about nine or ten years ago. I roamed about, retelling this to people known and unknown. As far as I recall, absolutely nobody found this case worth talking about. While I was unambiguously shocked by what I’d read, the others looked at this situation as a mixture of the flagrant immorality of those who claimed to play in politics and the cowardly dullness of a media representative. As if nobody had even thought that we were faced with an option that the last months of global political activities showed its demonic tentacles, and so intensely that it became the target of theoretical reflections of the highest possible rank. That’s right, I’m talking about “post-truth,” brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

The trouble with post-truth and its definition begins at the moment we realize it isn’t a lie with regard to facts, but a lie with regard to logic, as well as the verification of a new ontological order with extremely arbitrary coordinates. The “good” man – the local politician – didn’t actually lie: Gang-like parapolitical formations he belonged to had certainly eliminated any trace of economic life in Serbia, and not only in Serbia, over and above swooping down, like tireless vultures, on decency, human dignity and civil order as such. There’s no doubt about this, and we should congratulate him on the admission, if what he said was an admission at all. In order for a new state of affairs to come into being, the journalist needed to do what he did – to do nothing whatsoever.

 

Thus, we learn about “those who ruled in the 90s” with an unavoidable deficiency: They have a name and it’s something behind which nothing parasitizes, or rather nobody, even anybody. Talking about facts in the post-truth world is devoid of facts. It does not refer, or it introduces “alternative facts” as anti-facts into the field of observation, a possibility of talking with no responsibility towards the consensual truth clause on which, until recently, human society was based.

 

And Ivan Karamazov put it nicely: “If there’s no god, anything is allowed,” playing the role of the founder of the central nihilistic consequence for the benefit of Mr. Dostoyevsky. Today, defection from truth, one of the eternal human specialities, resembles surrender and withdrawal, wandering about the paths of least resistance. Now I’m writing about the horrors of complicity; in order for a post-truth world to be established (this sounds like contradictio in adjecto, I know…don’t you worry), an accomplice, in this case a journalist, avoids asking the question: “But, weren’t those people you?” thus giving his cordial contribution to the suspension of a logical pattern.

 

And the journalist isn’t the only one, after him come the readers who, each one individually, as many as they may have been, had an opportunity to react by at least sobering up the original culprits, preferably both of them at the same time, with a slap in the face. As this didn’t happen, here come merry populist hordes that, hour after hour (that’s right, hour after hour, brothers and sisters in Christ), rename the world, which only yesterday they presented as the best of all possible worlds, by renouncing any value premises for the benefit of the provisional nonchalance of their minds and souls afflicted by laziness and meanness: Mexico is an enemy, refugees will be the end of us, Serbia has never been in a better historical position.

 

Well, what shall we do if there’s no truth, my friends? Nothing. In fact, we’ll wish for something, but the exhumation will take long. If there’s no truth, the only thing that remains is Nothing. Nothing good, brothers and sisters, nothing we will get rid of easily. Nothing to look forward to.

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Srđan Srdić

is a novelist, short-story writer, editor, essayist and creative reading/writing teacher. He has published two novels, two short story collections and a book of essays. From 2008 to 2011 he served as the editor of the international short story festival Kikinda Short. He returned to this position in September 2015.


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