Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ September 29, 2020
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. For generations in America, this was a famous component of every mother’s wisdom. I’m not sure it is known now. I should ask my daughters if it rings any bells.
Having this wisdom recited to you usually followed a teacher’s note describing some self-aggrandizing dishonesty at school. I remember it sinking in on the first occasion that I witnessed a classmate, already known for a loose definition of truth and a healthy dislike of paying the price, caught forgetting the exact lie they had told.
Who knows, maybe it was me, but I remembered being shocked at how easy it was to screw up your fabricated story in a tight situation at the hands of an experienced teacher. Years of police procedurals on TV reinforced this with the downfall of many crooks who couldn’t keep their stories straight.
The message of that classic meme was that if you start down the road of fabricating things, you had better keep good notes. More explicitly, no matter how great your notes, the grandiosity of your constructions will eventually catch up with you, and the consequences will escalate far beyond messages sent home to your mother.
Those consequences having triggered the downfall of empires is one of those annoying facts of history. That is, I’m now confident, a significant reason for the dislike of history in American culture. We’ve solved the whole problem over the last fifty years by eliminating deceit as a category of evil. If you judge lies only on effectiveness in achieving an objective, any story can work. Just keep telling it over and over again. The loss of truth as a concept became just the cost of doing business.
The Big Lie, identified by Adolph Hitler in 1925, elaborated by Goebbels during the short-lived Thousand Year Reich, made this an official political tool of the 20th century. In the decades following the end of the Third Reich, the Big Lie became a universal tool for avoiding reality and justifying whatever you wanted it to explain. The evolution of modern materialist and capitalist economics is an endless variation of the Big Lie as an all-purpose tool. Moral unacceptability became maximally flexible, meaning unwanted damage only to people useful to your goals, later elaborated in Russia as ‘useful idiots.’
The Big Lies of Hitler, Goebbels, Stalin, Mao, and, finally, Trump lead to the death of millions. But those numbers represent only notches on the handles of their political weapons. Deaths from the smaller lies of advertising don’t count as capitalism is taught to be an act of nature, so no moral wrong is even possible.
Lies as tools to achieve objectives now seems to be reaching its end as it has become too involved with lies so weak they are pathetic. It took a while, but the adage holds. The tangled web of deceit destroyed the signposts of truth. When facts are gone, deception is just another word. The benefit of lies disappears when there is no truth. All that is left is the rule of power to coerce.
Wait. Haven’t we been here before? Didn’t we spend two bloody centuries creating nation-states that were governed with authority and in the interest of their people? Finally, we realize that it was based on a lie. The US Constitution was an early marketing document built on pretense.
The US Constitution not start as a complete pretense, but the structure resulted from numerous compromises that quickly proved to be cancerous lies. The original intent doesn’t matter because the transitions from the 18th century European Enlightenment colonial-capitalist realm to a mid-21st-century post-American collapse leaves no continuity. We’ve shifted through too many worlds to even recognize the language of the first.
The ubiquitous denial of fact leaves no common ground on which to stand. The evolving capitalist materialist economy tied to greed as the only virtue in Capitalist Realism of the late 20th century is now complete. We are what we can buy but can never own. There can be no consumption in an age that must have an endless desire for things.
The tiny elite owns everything with a sizeable working precariat class hoping to one day retire. The rest suffer for failing to carry enough debt, are punished for missing a payment, or are beaten and murdered by police to enforce class distinctions. The failures of brute power demanding endless consumption create constant anxiety leading to insanity as the planetary climate crisis consumes us as we are forced to consume in an unending cycle of destruction.
A narcissistic psychopath becomes the symbol of power for those who have no truth and fear losing anything more. The characteristic of those with the most tenuous hold on reality is to claim their assertions as absolute without the slightest empirical proof. That is the hold used by ancient myth based religions that once opened doors of spiritual knowledge but now slam them shut in the name of fear.
All meanings are flexible and for the chosen ignorance is knowledge, weakness is strength, and hatred is pride. The synergy of denial with hate, greed, and ignorance is a virtue, and you can watch it on TV as a political spectacle in America the Pathetic.