Truth or Consequences
They dreamed that Americans would break
the traditional link between the religious impulse,
the impulse to stand in awe of something greater than oneself,
and the infantile need for security,
the childish hope of escaping from time and chance.
--Achieving our Country:
Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America,
The concept of "truth" frequently pops into my mind and it seems passe and frivolous to discuss the topic. If lies are the basis of our democracy, then obviously, democracy is a lie.
How have we come to such a condition that our politicians and leaders can lie to us and we accept this as the natural course of events? This by the way is a criticism of our way of life as well as our political situation.
Everything in our society is based upon the Big Lie. Read the small print very carefully. It's not that our leaders lie but rather that we expect them to lie. We are uncomfortable and disengaged from the truth. Factually, the truth is past the point that we can even recognize it.
We lie to ourselves which is worse than lying to others. Is it any wonder that conspiracy theories are abundant and popular? If we believe the small lies then we'll swallow the big ones.
Propaganda and demagoguery require this crossover. It often crosses my mind that if a person can believe the bible then you can feed them any bit of drivel. The bible is the basis of all conspiracy theories.
We are in the age of insincerity and self-doubt in the centers of democracy. Self doubt is healthy if conducted with the goal of improvement but is destructive if bound over to insincerity.
Machiavelli's work "The Prince" clearly expects the Prince to lie and be deceitful but that was 500 years before we had Constitutions and coded agreements. The Reformation and Enlightenment supposedly ushered in a search for truth and benign leadership.
English common law was based on codes that theoretically protected the citizenry from verbal maneuverings by the "Prince". But now we once again allow and expect the Prince to lie, We have come full circle.
In the age of Machiavelli the world was ruled by fear. We do the same thing now except we electrify the fear and call it "Twitter", and call the lies "fake news".
What have we benefited by the last 500 years if our political thought remains dominated by fear that is based upon lies?
[pt. II tomorrow]