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Simon Critchley on election-eve "Brexistential dread"


Writing for The Stone, the philosophy blog of the New York Times, Simon Critchley coins the phrase “Brexistential dread” to described the anxious mood felt the world over in advance of the US presidential election tomorrow. No matter how many polls we consult or how much voter data we crunch, we can’t know the outcome of the close contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and the recent Brexit vote shows how foolish it is to assume that “reason” will prevail. This terrible uncertainty, writes Critchley, is the same species of dread that Sarte and Camus spoke of. Here’s an excerpt from Critchley’s piece:

The Brexistentialist dread that we are feeling is not an accident. The world is a chaotic, violent place that seems out of joint, confusing and fake. Our blind, simple-minded faith in the power of social media and the allegedly liberating force of the internet has produced a news cycle that cycles ever more bewilderingly out of control. We are endlessly confused by what is going on and disorientated and disgusted by the flood of data that assails us. The distinctions between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood seem quaint and impossible to parse. Reality has become unreal.

It is this unreal reality that Trump has managed so masterfully — controlling the news cycle, with the media following along limply picking up crumbs from his Twitter feed; constantly changing the message; disorienting the population by pushing them this way and that with endless revelations; dissolving the fragile bonds of trust between citizens; creating a reality where everything is a conspiracy, everything is rigged, nowhere and no one is safe. Fear everyone.

Image via NY Times.