On Democratic Truth

The assumption that the last 50 years or so have marked some unprecedented break with a previous age of truth reflects both an inattention to history and an attitude that might be labeled ‘pessimistic narcissism’...Against this backdrop, it is a relief to open Sophia Rosenfeld’s brilliantly lucid Democracy and Truth. Not only does she make short work of the ‘postmodernism is to blame’ argument; she provides the historical background necessary to understand our current truth crisis. That a crisis does indeed exist, Rosenfeld has no doubt. But it is not one that came upon the Western world from nowhere, like a meteor strike vaporizing a peaceful pastoral landscape. Instead, it broke along an epistemological fault line that has existed in modern democratic regimes since their founding: Who has the authority, in a democracy, to determine what counts as truth—an elite of the supposedly best, most intellectually capable citizens, or the people as a whole?

David Bell, “An Equal Say: Where Does Truth Fit into Democracy,” - thenation.com/article/david-bell-democracy-and-truth/