There is a small section of Plato’s Republic that has stuck with me through the smog of passing years. In it, Plato describes civil unrest in Athens, and makes the observation that language has changed. He uses the example of the word “brave”: normally a compliment, but now is an insult, the word laden with irony and dripping with sarcasm. “Don’t be brave”.
The way Donald Trump speaks has been written about and documented for eighteen months now. What has not been explored is what potential impact this has on his presidency and administration. Mainly, the coming administration’s extension of his campaign’s weaponization of ineloquence.
The mark of a true bullshit artist is not lying. A liar has some connection with the truth: making you, the listener, believe what is untrue. No, the bullshit artist excels at shamelessly mixing fact and fiction to suit their needs. They are at their most powerful when completely unbounded by facts. In short, the liar’s focus is specific, while the bullshit artist’s focus is panoramic.
But what happens when this practice becomes the only method of communication with the press, or the American people? What happens when one of the prime directives of the administration is to actively obfuscate any criticism of the administration?
We should distrust any administration that will only allow their chosen publications to cover them, any that try to deny what we know is true as a matter of record, and any that refuses to operate in rational discourse. As author E.C. Fiori once wrote, facts should not be a fashion statement. Politicians are notorious for their manipulation of the truth in naked self interest- but we must prepare for the daunting Trump years: the crushing weight of an avalanche of bullshit.