Messengers From The Stars – No. 4 (2019)
GUEST EDITORS: Danièle André & Christophe Becker
CO-EDITORS: Angélica Varandas & José Duarte
For this 2019 Messengers from the Stars issue, the focus will be on how lies and “alternative facts” – as coined by Counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway – can be both the basis for some to overthrow governments or remain in power, and for others a way to protect a society that would be torn by war or disaster if truth was to come out. Thus, the interest is in seeing how lies and alternative facts are used to deprive people of their power to decide for themselves for good or bad – the question of lifting the burden of moral condemnation on cannibalism is, for instance, central to Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green (1973) and leads us to wonder whether or not falsification can ever be justified. In our societies, in which lies in some forms or others are part and parcel of our daily lives, the question of truth and facts is to be questioned and we can wonder to what extent they could jeopardize our contemporary so-called democracies.
The papers here gathered study the tools used by fabricators and falsifiers in order to twist reality and minimize the truth (propaganda, political manipulation, storytelling and information warfare) as well as the effect an unmitigated resort to lies has on social structures. Thus, Ciarán Kavanagh shows how an author can imagine a narrative so complex (in the different levels of the diegesis) that it manipulates and tricks its readership without ever giving a final explanation.
In his analysis, Peter Kosanovich tackles the issue of the use by the media and history of propaganda to show how it alters the perception the people may have of historical events or of society. Jessica Ruth Austin also focuses on propaganda but with a view of questioning the assertion that there may really be good reasons for lying to the people and whether that can ever be justified regardless of the consequences. Lies are also at the core of Rebecca Lynne Fullan’s article. It shows how those in power remain so by manipulating history, and how, by silencing the minorities, they enable violence, misunderstanding and fear to dominate.
Rano Ringo and Jasmine Sharma underline how technological and social experiments conducted on poor people under false promises aim at not only making them become their own guards and torturers, but also at disempowering them. In their study Dorothea Boshoff and Deirdre C. Byrne show how fake news and propaganda are the tools used to disempower minorities, create an atmosphere of fear, subjugation and violence to silence opposition and enable a systemic oppression to persist.
Finally, Martin Simonson offers a story that ponders upon the need for human beings to get connected to the past. He explores the crave to understand and fathom anthropological data in order to be able to get a glimpse of life in foregone years and somehow relive it in order to be connected to those who were there before, whose fragile presence still lingers on with a godlike aura.