Today’s revelation that Mike Flynn resigned from his post as National Security Advisor is another strong sign that the struggle between Truth and Politics is not a foregone conclusion. Indeed, we ought to actually celebrate the fact that when Flynn lied about speaking with the Russian ambassador, and the lie was made public, he was forced to resign. This victory notwithstanding, we still must be extremely vigilant against the Trump administration’s attack on Truth. For the administration apparently knew that he lied some time ago, and it was only with increased public scrutiny that Flynn submitted his resignation. Had that not come to light, the administration appears to have no compunction about employing liars.
In what follows, I will briefly argue that Hannah Arendt’s insights into Truth and Politics, as well as her understanding of power, authority, violence and persuasion are all key to helping us resist Trump and his acolytes. We are in a fragile time where the balance between freedom, reason, and truth may be overrun by domination, nonsense, and lies. We are on the precipice of what Arendt calls “organized lying,” where the community, or at least the governance structures and a portion of the community, seek to systematically erode any claims to factual or rational truths, and with that to unmoor the very foundations of our state.