Noelle Molé Liston‘s The Truth Society seeks to understand how a period of Italian political spectacle, which regularly blurred fact and fiction, has shaped how people understand truth, mass-mediated information, scientific knowledge, and forms of governance. Liston scrutinizes Italy’s late twentieth-century political culture, particularly the impact of the former prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi. By doing so, she examines how this truth-bending political era made science, logic, and rationality into ideas that needed saving.
With the prevalence of fake news and our seeming lack of shared reality in the “post-truth” world, many people struggle to figure out where this new normal came from. Liston argues that seemingly disparate events and practices that have unfolded in Italy are historical reactions to mediatized political forms and particular, cultivated ways of knowing. Politics, then, is always sutured to how knowledge is structured, circulated, and processed. The Truth Society offers Italy as a case study for understanding the remaking of politics in an era of disinformation.