There’s less than a week to go now and, what seemed like a distant slagging match between rival siblings determined to bring up all the skeletons of eachothers’ pasts now feels scarily real and imminent.
It’s not funny anymore.
What felt like the promise of a new era 8 years ago will soon be forgotten as a shockingly tasteless and pathetic election race boils over and leaves a lot of people ‘pissed’. Of course, the Obama administration is far from perfect and has fallen far short of the hope it promised in a disappointing portrait of the dysfunctional nature of American politics. Aside from a few token gestures on public health and gun crime, America is still the isolated crackpot it was prior to Obama’s administration and the wider world is a far uglier beast. But looming in the near future is an even more confusing and dangerous world that makes even less sense to any questioning thinker. What I’m talking about is the death of truth.
Any avid follower of Adam Curtis’ brilliantly constructed films on the subjects of global power will have heard the name of Vladislav Surkov. The man suspected of being the driving force behind Vladimir Putin’s hold on Russian political power supposedly brought abstract concepts from the avant-garde art world and applied them to political strategy. Creating a political stage show of contradictory actions and messages, fake political movements and the audacity to make these actions clear for all to see creates a society in which nobody ever really knows what is going on. While a facade of confusing public politics keeps the electorate and political opponents constantly second guessing in a state of fear and confusion, contemporary politicians are increasingly retreating into the shadows to conduct their shady business. This recent BBC article demonstrates how widespread political distrust is amongst the Russian people.
Evidence of this frightening political practice can be witnessed throughout the previous 6 years of David Cameron’s tenure but what is even more frightening is the manner in which the politics of dishonesty have defined this bitter US election race. While many are gripped by the “what will he say next?” or “when will she go to prison” newsfeeds, few seem to stop and take check of the vast scale on which dishonesty, deception and contradiction have been used as tactics through this race. A constant stream of contradictory statements, blatant lies, fabricated data and bullish aggression have left me in a total state of confusion, completely uncertain of the intentions, integrity and beliefs of either candidate. Lying beneath this confusion is the acute fear that this situation is entirely constructed for exactly that purpose.
So, if the future political forecast for arguably the two most powerful nations on earth – Russia and America – is one of constant confusion, fear and deception then what kind of a world is going to be left behind?
Most importantly, what can WE as designers do to affect that world?