Schools Beyond Regions and Borders
Empowering young people against hate speech
From lies to post-truth. How have extremist narratives changed over the last century? A historical perspective
Prof. Steven Forti

Falsehoods and lies have always circulated. History is full of examples of this type. During the contemporary age, propaganda has often made use of lies or disinformation for political purposes, often going so far as to present the adversary, or the enemy in war contexts, as a hateful figure. Just think of the First World War, the period of totalitarian regimes or anti-Semitism: the sadly famous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are the most clear and dramatic example. That said, a lot has changed in the last few decades. New technologies (the Internet, social networks, now AI) have radically transformed the situation. At the same time, from a political point of view, a new radical right has arisen both in the United States and in Europe. This new far right uses culture wars as one of its main strategies, of which the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories, peppered with hate speech, denigration of adversaries, delegitimization of institutions and experts, are a crucial element. In this conference, thanks to a historical perspective, we will show how things have changed in the last century. On the one hand, we will explain how we moved from the “classic” lie to what various specialists have called post-truth. On the other hand, we will show how many current extremist narratives have very deep historical roots.