Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Secret Life of the Lie

Dear George,

As a work of art, the lie is perfection personified. It is a polished gem of intellectual brilliance that transcends the mundane world of cause and effect.

Lies always trump truth because lies scream while truth stutters and gropes. Every lie files down the shards of complexity that stud the truth until only a smooth surface that reflects the lie's vacuity remains. Thus, the lie is the most democratic of utterances because it simplifies intricate issues so they may be easily digested by the proles.

The lie functions best when it has a label it can wield like a cudgel. It needs an “other” upon whom this label can be hung, a label so crafted that it turns the “other” into the personification of evil. For decades, “Communist” served this purpose only to be replaced by the multiple labels, “Terrorist” and “Islamofascist”. What the lie wishes to accomplish is not fear of the evil the label represents, but fear of having the label hung on oneself, or of being accused of aiding and abetting the label.

The lie is its own justification and needs neither rational argument nor reality to breathe. That infamous prophet of revelatory bullshit, E.A. Hayek, pointed to a succinct dingleberry when he wrote, “The issue of justification is indeed a red herring.”[i]

Without the lie, there would be no progress, for to proclaim all progress good is one of the central lies that have made the rise of Capital such an irresistible force. The simple fact is that all progress is suffering, be it the destitution of its victims or the moral decay of its beneficiaries. The myth of progress succeeds because it is so internalized and ingrained into our psyches that those who dare question it are dismissed as wild-eyed radicals. It ranks right up there with the superstitious belief in the “Invisible Hand of the Market”, that precious rationale for enriching the few while impoverishing the many.

The lie simplifies and paints in broad strokes of darkness and light. The lie soothes and comforts. Its certainty puts the mind at ease. Wrapped in mendacity’s security blanket the prole’s misery becomes bearable because his anger is misdirected away from those who caused his misery and is focused on those who are blamed for his misery.

The lie ultimately succeeds because while the public may pay lip service to the truth, the truth is that the truth is the last thing it wants. Truth is simply too uncomfortable.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

[i] E.A. Hayek. The Fatal Conceit: The Error of Socialism. Page 68.