Letter From the Editors: May 29 - June 4, 2017

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

Right You Are (If You Think So): Domestic and International Politics in a World of Post-Truth

This month marks a curious centenary: In June 1917, theater audiences in Milan first saw a ground-breaking play by the noted Luigi Pirandello called "Così è (se vi pare)." The Italian phrases literally mean "so it is (if it seems to you)," but the better-known English title is catchier: "Right You Are (If You Think So)." The drama centers around two characters, each of whom insists that the other is insane. We won’t give away the ending, but it reveals that the concept of "post-truth" goes back way further than the Donald Trump campaign.

The latest Russian "post-truth" drama centers around oppositionist Aleksei Navalny’s video expose of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s corrupt ties. Oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who was implicated in the film, sued Navalny for defamation. The court ruled against Navalny, demanding that he remove the controversial video from the Internet. But Navalny had the last laugh (sort of): The film found its way to a porn site under a new title that referred to a "Russian corrupted politician" being - well, treated roughly. Oleg Kashin notes with amusement that no one is complaining about the film’s reappearance, perhaps because of the title’s ambiguity: "To Navalny’s supporters, the fact that the film is now available on a porn Web site means that***the truth will always find its way out, no matter what you do. Navalny’s opponents are happy, too, because they believe [the title describes] what Usmanov did to Navalny in court, not the other way around. As a sign of the post-truth era, both sides are certain that they are right, and nothing else matters."

On the global stage, an ambiguity that’s been confounding political experts is how to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Minsk agreements list a number of steps to accomplish - ...

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