The end of “the West as we know it”? The post-factual age and the “continuation of capitalism by other means”

As Germany celebrates the twenty-sixth anniversary of its unification tomorrow, i.e. the date when East Germany, at least “technically”, was being incorporated into “the West”, by joining the EU (then EC) and Nato, this “West” (if it has ever existed as such a monolithic bloc) might not be a valid concept anymore soon.

Donald Trump, the most prominent of the "post-factual" political actors. He was spot-on when he described the attitude of his followers: "I have the most loyal people. (...) I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters" (January 23rd, 2016)

Critics of “the West” and the neo-imperialist globalization it has, no doubt, been promoting over the last decades, might find this a development to be welcomed, and see this as a chance to argue for a more emancipatory, anti-colonial “post-Western” world order, yet, unfortunately, judging by recent and the current elections, events and political climate, the “alternatives” that are more likely to be popular among the broader populace, at least in most of Europe and the US, are not emancipatory, but regressive.

Disregarding any such more idealistic visions of an independent, “equal”, “fair”, “post-Western” “global” or at least overarching governance, realistically, the alternatives of governance within our political systems are, sadly, confined to “more of the same” or “regression”. Whereas the former (the “established” political classes) have, to put it mildly, on the whole failed to come up with answers to the (old and new) challenges of an increasingly unbounded world (dis)order, the latter (the (old) new regressives) have challenged them on this; not by delivering real alternatives, but by reverting back to less complex, yet more regressive, pseudo-“solutions”. In doing so, they have, as mentioned above, also managed to contrive a post-factual “ideology”, each according to the situation of their own country. What Friedrich Nietzsche has called „Die Umwertung aller Werte“ (the ”transvaluation of (all) values“)1 when speaking of the advent of nihilism replacing religion in the early modern era, could nowadays, in our post-postmodern (?) era be described as the “transvaluation of (all) facts”, a process where facts are increasingly being replaced by stereotypical counterfactuals, or to put it more bluntly, lies.

"Vote Leave" Poster in Omagh, Northern Ireland. The "fact" stated on this poster was later debunked as untrue. Firstly, the amount is closer to  £35 million.1 Secondly, the claim that EU money can, after Brexit, instead be spent on Britain's NHS just like that, is "misleading".2

In other words, one of the developments is the tendency that almost amalgamous, unitary, centrist governments or parties (normalcy in Austria and increasingly in Germany) are in power, without the above visions or ambitions, i.e. the normalization of grand coalitions comprising those, i.e. the “established“, parties, and the increasing absence of a real political culture of opposing, polarizing positions. The other one is that we are set, as early as 2017, to experience the advent into (official, not only hegemonic) power of (even more extreme) right-wing, proto-fascist or openly fascist governments, who are increasingly dominating the political sphere in the post-factual era, not only in smaller, but in major Western countries. They have already taken over in some Western or other countries, e.g. in Hungary, Poland and the Philippines. All of these regressive to fascist governments target different groups, according to the (perceived) “threat” they pose to the “values” of the respective country. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, has publicly likened himself to Hitler in his ambition to “happily slaughter” the “three million criminals” (referring to drug dealers and addicts) in his country. This is what he promotes as the very simple “solution” to the “drug problem” there. Poland's ruling Conservative PiS party of Prime Minister 
Beata Szydło is pushing for the country's already very restrictive abortion law to be toughened even more, which would mean a near-total ban on any termination of a pregnancy, i.e. the abolition of women's right to abortion, citing its Catholic family values as being incompatible with these basic rights of women. In Hungary a referendum is held today, officially about EU refugee quotas, but in which de facto the ultra-nationalist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban is seeking the approval by the electorate of its racist and xenophobic ideology, basically echoing the positions of the even more right-wing neo-nazi opposition party “Jobbik”; if it is valid and ends with a “Nem” (“no”) majority, is likely to increase Hungary's regression towards “splendid isolation”, which has been going on for more than half a decade now.2

But to be clear, the rise of post-factual pseudo-alternatives, again, is not a phenonemon of countries perceived as peripheral or “too small to matter” - and that's the backbone behind the “the end of the West as we know it” thesis. The post-factual political actors have taken over hegemony in many (or even most of the) major countries of the West. To wit, the majority of the electorate in the United Kingdom has, in what was probably the most momentous political decision, at least in Europe, this year, opted to leave the European Union, yet many of the politicians in favour of Brexit (Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and others) blurted out their (seemingly anti-systemic) message without delivering a clearly formulated plan for a future outside of the EU.