This chapter identifies current post-factual politics as a result of the way references to emotions have been placed outside truth production in modern science and politics. As such, they have created a powerful binary of factual knowledge and emotions, which dominates the public discourse on truth. The frequent assertion that we find ourselves in post-factual times implies that at some point in the past there was a time when truth could easily be distinguished from a lie, and a time when it was clear that governing institutions held the truth. This chapter challenges such a view by citing the historical example of the Viennese obstetrician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, who made himself unpopular in his day because of his discovery of the origins of childbed fever. While Semmelweis has been often portrayed as a tragic hero who could not achieve his aim because he was ‘too emotional’, viewing this historical anecdote in light of the development of the modern notion of truth as a fact-based and unemotional knowledge enables us to problematize further how truth breaks with accepted path-dependencies and institutional responsibilities and how it becomes negotiated. This paradoxical character of truth – as solid knowledge, while being revolutionary – calls for a subtler analysis of truth’s scenography.
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Partisanship, the second characteristics of truth’s scenography, is a strategy to undermine both truth and science. It has been made possible by the language of neutralization, which has developed as the leading discursive register of science and expertise. Portrayed as detached from emotions, scientists have coproduced a public discourse on science as a neutral enterprise without socio-political consequences. Because of their embrace of this idolatry of neutral science, modern governments - in their efforts to promote debates on facts and data - have referenced emotions as synonymous to partisanship and thus as corrupting to scientific inquiry. However, all knowledge is partisan to the extent that it becomes necessarily embedded in the socio-political order it reacts to, and it coproduces through the knowledge it delivers. The chapter discusses the conflict around the scientists’ participation in the March for Science and focuses on narratives and discourses through which partisanship is placed in the public discourse on science.
This closing chapter suggests paying attention to the particular ways in which emotions are referenced when science and expertise are discussed. Moving from what emotions are, toward what emotions mean in particular discussions, and understanding how they might conceal particular interests, are fundamental in understanding the success of post-factual politics. Referencing emotions as either ‘good’ and ‘useful’, or ‘disturbing’ and ‘irrelevant’, reveals a larger socio-political order that legitimizes some emotions while rejecting others; it also qualifies actors as relevant on the basis of their emotionality. In order to challenge post-factual attacks on science and expertise, we must rehabilitate the role of emotions within science; indeed, saving science from post-factualism might require us to politicize our scientific selves.
This chapter analyses the first characteristic of truth’s scenography: vexatious knowledge. Breaking with previously accepted knowledge, scientific discoveries make the new knowledge irritating, or even threatening, which raises an emotional dynamic that is nevertheless downplayed by the public presentation of truth. While the public performance of truth by scientists taking part in the March for Science demonstrates such detachment from emotional dynamics, an examination of the irritants and threats surrounding the discovery of AIDS or, once again, the Semmelweis case, shows how this neglect of the role of emotion in truth production disguises the socio-political interdependencies lying behind the alleged truth assertions, and makes it impossible to distinguish actual scientific breakthrough from a fraud that is only staged as such a breakthrough. It thus suggests that, in order to deal with post-factual politics, we need to pay more attention to how emotional appeals to facts are used and mobilized in the public discourse on truth and science.
Edited by Jens Bartelson, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell
From their establishment in the nineteenth century, international (intergovernmental) organizations (IOs) have been intimately linked to both international and domestic aspects of state making. This chapter examines non-European IO membership in the nineteenth century and argues that joining an IO could strengthen a state’s claim to statehood in two ways. First, IOs provided an arena of international politics where non-European states could participate on the basis of formal sovereign equality with the European great powers. Second, joining IOs and implementing their agreements on postal services, telegraphs, intellectual property, and other new technologies and government services, further offered a way for non-European states to prove that they were doing what ‘modern’ states were supposed to do. IO membership thus offered the possibility for non-European states both to gain international recognition as sovereign equals, and a means for them to display their progress in extending their domestic jurisdiction within their territories. The chapter problematizes the Westphalian unilinear view of state making, as well as the English school expansion thesis, by examining the agency of non-European entities and how their decisions to join IOs both strengthened individual states’ claims to statehood, and contributed to changes in international society.
Jens Bartelson and Jan Teorell
In this concluding chapter, we first provide a thematic summary of the contributions to this volume from the perspective of their temporal and geographical de-centering. We then explore in more depth how they address three key challenges in the literature on state making: how to (1) conceptualize the state; (2) theorize state making; and (3) how to bridge comparative and international perspectives. We conclude by sketching the contours of a new emerging agenda for research on states and their making. In brief, we argue for the need to conceptualize the state as both a materialist and ideational variable; not only to theorize war-centric but also other drivers of state making; and for taking a historical perspective.
If traditional accounts of the origins of the state and state system have put a European path to state formation and international society at their center, accounts that de-center state making from ‘Westphalia’ and ‘Europe’ rewrite global pasts and presents. However, as this contribution argues, the de-centering move is paradoxically enabled by an ontological recentering of the state and the state system. While explorations of contingencies and varieties in historical state formation tend to presuppose the international state system, investigations of the spread of international society and the acquisition of sovereign status tend to presuppose individual states. By thus holding on to the forms of the state and the state system, but to some extent liberating them from the Weberian straitjacket and entrenched Eurocentric hierarchies, the de- and recentering opens up a critical space between the narrow state-centric constraints of traditional approaches and attempts to escape the state tout court.