Every Cretan is a liar. I am from Crete. — attributed to Epimenedes
Tell me lies.
Tell me sweet little lies.
— Fleetwood Mac
We live in an age of lies. We are fed daily Potemkin truth, a manicured version of reality intended to deceive, deny, and degrade. The trickster god Obama claimed that the truth needed to be “curated,” as sinister a phrase as I have heard. Now, it is.
Most media lies are unnoticed by most people. Some do notice but seem almost to enjoy it. For the rest of us, if we are good Cartesians, the reflexive instinct with any statement from the politico-media class which increasingly shapes our reality nowadays is or should be extreme skepticism. Sometimes the political lie is so brazen we are reminded of Hilaire Belloc’s Victorian poem “Matilda,” in which
Matilda told such awful lies
They made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes.
Matilda, much like the boy who cried wolf, was eventually burnt to ashes when no one responded to her cries for help during a fire, assuming her to be lying. We can but hope that the political liars of today meet a similar fate, and soon. Goebbels told us about the “big lie” which, repeated often enough, becomes the truth, and we know that lie will be halfway around the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on, whether or not it was Mark Twain who minted the phrase. Lying is the gasoline of the Western political system, deception its engine oil.
Political lying is hardly new. Perhaps the most famous justification of political untruth is Plato’s “noble myth” or “noble lie,” mentioned just twice in the Republic. Perhaps the reflective, elderly Plato of the Seventh Letter had become rueful concerning both his youthful authoritarianism and his later failure to bang anything of use into the skull of the moronic Dion of Syracuse when he mulled that “I was forced to say when praising true philosophy that it is by this that men are enabled to see what justice in public and private life really is.”
Plato implies that a major factor in achieving wisdom — being a philosopher — is to be able to recognize the duplicity inherent in the political class. His mentor Socrates showed up this fault line at his trial defense in the Apology.
My father was a great joker, and one of the first quips I remember him telling me was that you can tell when a politician is lying by when his lips are moving. It is now, as it was then, a serious breach of British parliamentary protocol for one Member of Parliament to call another a liar, and suspension from the House of Commons results from a failure to retract such a charge when it is unproven. Englanders of my generation were brought up to believe that one of the country’s defining characteristics — despite Orwell’s cynicism — was that of “fair play,” as exemplified by the game of cricket, in which cheating (a variant of lying) was held to be “not playing the game.” Now, British politicians are as corrupt as anywhere else this side of Nigeria; not always outright liars, but certainly guilty of what UK Cabinet Secretary Robert Armstrong in 1986 famously called being “economical with the truth.”
From a strong field, my pick for political lie of this year is Jen Psaki’s comment on immigration at a White House press conference. Before we get on to that, however, something has been bothering me about the Biden administration and its outliers, and I would like to share it with you. There is something Lovecraftian about some of them, for those of you familiar with the great man’s eerie fiction. Psaki looks strangely fishlike and bloodless, as though she hangs out with Dagon at the weekend and might have gills; Biden himself has more than a touch of re-animation about him; and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot looks like she is in the wrong job. She should be Mayor of Innsmouth. Perhaps the towns are twinned, but I digress.
Psaki was asked by FOX’s Peter Doocy — the only journo at these sham puppet shows who actually tries to speak truth to power — whether the recent influx of much-needed Haitian branch managers, civics lecturers, and epidemiologists at the Mexican border (news of which has been stifled of late, which is another type of lying) were being COVID-tested. Not necessarily, said the fish-totem, but then most of them won’t be staying. That’s right, folks. Thousands of Haitians are flying to Brazil or Chile, walking to Mexico (apparently bussed through my own adoptive country of Costa Rica, who want nothing to do with this zombie horde), and then wading into the United States because they want a Starbucks latte (they just don’t do the spiced pumpkin back in Port au Prince) before proceeding to Disneyland for the weekend. Then it’s back to the Third World (Haiti would be Fourth World, if there was one) for work on Monday, tired but happy. I wonder if Ms. Psaki would lend me her pocket mirror — in which I doubt she sees a reflection — so I can see where it says “asshole” on my forehead.
It would take a very charitable observer — a fool, or more or less anyone from the Western media — to claim that the blatant lies the political class toss out to us like scraps of old meat to feral dogs are intended to improve the lot of the masses. There is nothing Platonically noble about these lies. They are solely designed to shield the politico-media class and their paymasters from criticism. And, as an accelerant, the vitriolic level at which America’s internal enemies despise it has reversed the cultural polarity from patriotism to what the late Sir Roger Scruton called oikophobia, a hatred of home.
Truth is withheld — and an apparatus of lies known as “the narrative” assembled in its place — by the politico-media class from a deep hatred of their own countries and the idea of the nation-state in general. The instituted lying the media practice also gives us an awareness that a cordon sanitaire has been thrown up around certain concepts, facts, and even apparently innocent questions. Let us glance at a British example on the micro level.
An English sports commentator and ex-soccer player named Trevor Sinclair is in the process of professional defenestration simply for asking a question on air. Six top-level European soccer players have collapsed on the pitch in the last six months, an unprecedented amount. Two spectators had heart attacks watching different English Premier League matches on the same evening two weeks ago. An Egyptian manager collapsed and died on the pitch while I was writing this. Sinclair wondered aloud on TV if there could be any connection with COVID vaccination. That was that. Just as they immediately cut him off, so too he is in the process of having the plug pulled on his career. Not only can you not tell the truth now — truth that is not state-mandated –, you cannot even approach it. If you are a YouTube viewer, you will note that anyone even going near unsanctioned truth is taken down very quickly, what I call “mayfly content,” as it often comes down on the same day. Big Tech — which reminds me of Mek-Quake from Britain’s great comic 2000AD, the huge robot that ate other dead or bad robots — now decides and defines what is and is not a lie.
But what is a lie? The British government has just refused to reply to a Freedom of Information request (to which it is legally required to respond, in theory) to release the number of known potential terror threats now in the UK among the Afghan refugees left stateless after Biden’s sub-Saigon standard withdrawal on the grounds that the information is not in the public interest. In what sense could it not interest the British public to know the chances of fanatical and ruthlessly violent killers walking among them? It translates simply, of course, into the fact that it is not in the interest of the ruling class, and Britain has a ruling class just as much as it always has. You used to be able to tell by the clothes, but it is a little more difficult nowadays. Now, they wear the virtual livery of democracy, another form of lying. Nietzsche writes, if not as his motto (that would be amor fati) then at least as a device on his coat of arms, larvatus prodeo; “I advance wearing my mask.”
Globalist governments also now welcome new allies, with Big Tech as their provisional wing. The media can take care of its self-censoring self, ironing out any conservatism prior to mass consumption, and is reliably globalist. And now, Big Tech can be left to harass the bad boys and girls just like the stooges gangs used to do the rough stuff. Say what you like about Hitler and Stalin, they kept surveillance and censorship and the suppression of truth in-house; no reaching out to the private sector for Adolf or Uncle Joe. Although I don’t think Goebbels would have hired Zuckerberg, for obvious reasons.
But let us take a different approach from that of Pontius Pilate, who famously asked, “What is truth?” and then chose not to wait for a reply, and ask instead, what is a lie? Let us be Devil’s advocate — one of Satan’s aliases is “the father of lies,” after all — and ask whether all lies really are lies, whether lying is wrong per se or graded by seriousness. To do that, we should respect the Aristotelean/Kantian tendency to categorize. Are all lies the same, or do they too — as the rest of us now must — practice diversity?
The first type of lie is familiar to all: a strict denial of the obvious truth. “Did you ride my bike?” “No.” “Well, why is the tire punctured?” “I don’t know.” “Why did my friend tell me she saw you riding it?” “She didn’t.” “You are the only one apart from me who knows the lock combination.” “I don’t know why your stupid tire is punctured.” These lies usually fold under questioning, at least at the backyard level. On the political level? Think again.
Anti-truth mottoes of this millennium which are treated as received wisdom by the media include: “Islam” means “peace” in Arabic; something called “systemic white racism” is responsible for black underachievement; COVID is much more dangerous than influenza; immigration benefits the recipient nation; white supremacists represent the greatest threat to the United States; conservative viewpoints are not being heavily censored online; money can be introduced via quantitative easing into an already deeply indebted economy with no liquefiable reserve, and this will have no inflationary side-effects; and many more. You can make your own list. All of these warped, fortune-cookie, Christmas-cracker falsehoods are gospel to the BBC and CNN.
Then there is lying by omission. The UK media instructs its sub-editing teams not to mention the ethnicity of alleged criminals. Information received via the BBC — which costs you three quid a week, if you are in the old country — is pre-filtered. This is exemplified (and this is a random sample from myriad) by recent BBC coverage of a demonstration in London by a splinter-group of a Leftist-favored British outfit called Extinction Rebellion. The demo attracted a few hundred people. A mile away, tens of thousands of people gathered to protest vaccination and lockdown laws. No mention of this was made by what is sinisterly and regularly referred to as “Britain’s state broadcaster.”
The representational lie is rather subtler. I am sure you have played the game of Googling such phrases as “white couple” or “white inventors” and seen the resulting parade of mixed-race couples and jolly-looking, suited, and bespectacled black gentlemen who, it is claimed, invented everything from the plow to the Large Hadron Collider. The BBC recently aired a historical drama about one of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn. The lead actress was, as my grandmother would have said, as black as your hat. This is lying by presentation, or misrepresentation.
Then there is the lie of false equivalence. CNN, for example, is pushing the line that ex-anchor Chris Cuomo was “just acting like any brother would” in his illicit attempts to influence the outcome of the scandal involving his brother, Andrew, the disgraced ex-Governor of New York City. What a guy. Hey, bro.
As it happens, my own brother just sent me money by Western Union because my incompetent English bank –who know I have been in Central America for the last six years — sent a replacement debit card (unasked for and unnecessary) to my mother’s address in England. Helpfully, they also blocked the card I have here, leaving me penniless and with a bank account I can’t access. My brother is also forwarding the card. CNN’s inductive opinion is that my brother and Chris Cuomo (that’s “Fredo” to you, although CNN merely fired him rather than whacking him out) are the same type of person because they were both acting like brothers. My brother, of course, broke no laws, nor did he brazenly disregard professional ethics by seeing me through, but cuddly Chris is somehow just the same.
Next, and crucially, we have lying by distraction. It is a standard technique used in stage magic, where it is called misdirection. Put simply, you persuade your audience to look at the movements of one hand while it is the other hand they should be watching. That’s where the coin is. Great current distractors in the mainstream media include climate change and its spokesman, Mongoloid doom pixie Greta Thunberg; COVID and Fauci (whose eyes are way too close together for you ever to trust the man); and Prince Harry and his runtish wife. The more the mainstream media’s column inches and rolling news time is spent on these, the less the great unwashed will be able to investigate the truth of immigration, inflation, black crime, and its attendant hoaxes — see below — and the fact that malevolent political actors such as Biden, Johnson, Merkel, and Macron despise their respective countries, a truth which is, as we say in England, as plain as a pikestaff.
Our next type of lie is perfectly exemplified by the ongoing trial of Jussie Smollett: the hoax. A hoax is, if you like, a dramatized lie (a trait it shares with the advertisement), but the “hate crime” hoax has an additional feature in that the truth doesn’t matter as long as the hoax serves to highlight an underlying — usually race-based — agenda. The Duke Lacrosse team, Bubba Wallace and his door-pull-cum-noose, Smollett and his Nigerian chums acting white and telling him that Chicago was “MAGA country” (despite 85% of its voters helping put Biden in the White House) — all of these were seen as unfortunate in that they were not true (as with many other similar hoaxes), but nevertheless essential to keeping the tribal drumbeat of imaginary racism sounding across the cultural veldt. The demand for racial hate crimes far exceeds supply.
This last variant of willful deception brings us to Islam, always well ahead of the kufr West when it comes to lying. For Muslims, lying is famously known as taqiyya, sanctioned by the Koran — which is available at all major bookstores, unlike many conservative and less violent books — and is admissible as long as it serves the religion of the Prophet. For Smollett, the collective ummah he was hoping to further is some absurd and impossible notion of black solidarity. Truth is supposed to be the first casualty of war; it’s just that this time, it looks like being first man down in a race war. Once the truth is devalued, the chaos tends to begin. And that is where we move from the outright lie — “pork pie” in Cockney rhyming slang, if you’re interested — to epistemology and the truth itself.
Peter Oborne is a veteran British political journalist whose seminal book The Triumph of the Political Class I reviewed at Counter-Currents. He also wrote The Rise of Political Lying, a serviceable history of deceit at the highest level of state, and containing a snippet of a quote which got my attention. Tony Blair, Oborne writes, may have told some whoppers, but it is Boris Johnson’s habitual lying that has created “a new epistemological universe.” I have written about this before, but when the elites begin to tamper not with what is true, but what is allowed to be true, then there will be a dreadful sea-change in what we see as the “real” world.
Language has been micro-engineered in the service of lying. We have known, for example, the effective meaning and parameters of “science” since at least Sir Karl Popper, who took Hume’s idea of the impossibility of certainty and laid down that science is always only hypothesis, and reserves the possibility of being falsified. But you will note that the political and media class no longer talks about “science,” instead preferring “the science.” This goes back at least to Obama, who would parrot that “the science is settled,” whereas in fact whatever is settled is not science and whatever is scientific can never be settled. There is science, but not “the science.” This is a lie.
Lying is not mere deception, but the emblem of a contempt for the truth itself. It is not so much lies qua lies which pollute the political ecosphere, but the acceptance of lying as a first resort rather than the last, creating an atmosphere whose base elements and gases are those of deceit, deception, and subterfuge. Stefan Molyneux writes in On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion that “[r]ecognizing the power of truth — and using that power to reinforce lies — is abominably corrupt.” And this brings us to the most serious aspect of the lie writ large: the damage it does. As Henry Rollins mused in the Rollins Band song “Liar,” “Now I see the destructive power of a lie.” Then, his lying persona in the song takes over again and he roars with diabolic laughter. Habitual liars, particularly powerful ones, enjoy their work.
Of course, I could not call myself a real Nietzschean if I failed to consult that writer’s essay “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense” (also translated as “Non-Moral Sense”), where we read the following;
Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself — in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity — is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them.
Even though it did, the truth itself is now used as a pawn in the lying game, deployed by the politico-media class when required, and only then. As Machiavelli wrote, “[I]f indeed sometimes I do happen to tell the truth, I hide it among so many lies that it is hard to find.”
The great English essayist and all-round charming human being, Theodore Dalrymple, has visited many Communist countries, and what he has to say about the lies on which their creed relies should be becoming apparent to us now: “In my study of Communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of Communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate . . .”
And it is humiliating to be lied to, particularly when we can see — if we wish to, and are allowed to look — the coin in the magician’s other hand. Political liars and their media standard-bearers lie not just from motives of expediency, but from sheer pleasure.
We will leave the last word to Anacharsis, a pre-Socratic philosopher with no extant works except for the fragments of Diogenes Laertius, and who made a slight but telling contribution on the subject of truth and lies. Anacharsis was a great admirer of the Scythian people, particularly their attitude to public speech, which he found so uniquely free that he called free speech “Scythian speech.” Perhaps, in a year or two, when neither myself or anyone reading this will be able to refer to “free speech” by name, we can use the phrase “Scythian speech” to avoid the attentions of the police, whose employers by then will probably be Big Tech. Anacharsis also beautifully captured the hypocrisy of the powerful liar: “Why do they tell us we must tell the truth, and yet lie to us from their vintner’s?”
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