Ethan Indigo Smith, Contributor
“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” ~ George Orwell
As with most societal dynamics, there are various approaches and thought-processes we can employ to help us make sense of the unpredictable nonsense that constitutes today’s politics and corporate spin.
There are four forms of political lies.
Those involved in politics – the politicians, reporters and corporate lobbyists – are constantly lying. We all know it, we just don’t all appreciate the scope of it. Of course, there is outright lying which might be done in any number of ways, including complete conjuration and outright elimination of important information. However corporate heads, politicians and their faithful media normally prefer more nuanced presentations to their lies — so it pays to understand just how they go about it.
Four Forms of Political Lies
There are four basic types of political lies, which immediately correlate to the four basic forms of arithmetic.
Like all effective lies, each type involves some nugget of truth.
For the sake of this discussion, let’s use as an example the political rhetoric surrounding the safety of nuclear energy:
Sure, this mixed up mathematics, irregular logic, circular reasoning and ill rhetoric is sometimes just due to a lack of information, combined with an unreasonable unwillingness to admit one doesn’t know everything. But institutional leaders and media do this constantly and intentionally. Given how commonly such twisted representations are embedded in modern politics, one can only assume that, more often than not, we are witnessing the cover-up of a web of implicit agendas which, given their secrecy, clearly run counter to the purposes of community governance and information dissemination.
There is no wild “conspiracy theory” here, just a matter of linking the dots. Those with the greatest access to information in our oligarchical society are correspondingly the greatest liars to our society. That is how oligarchies are built – not by gaining the explicit agreement of the people to an inequitable ‘pyramid’ society, but by the covert and gradual creation of illusions to which the people progressively succumb. Oligarchs employ the addition, subtraction, division and multiplication of information to influence the minds of its society, gain its ongoing “consent” to remain at the bottom of the illusory pyramid.
This is a rule of politics parallel with that of Lord Acton’s Rule; that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When it comes to the oligarchy, official sources of information tend to lie, and information channelled through one absolute source absolutely lies.
And the result of this corruption? Governments that were instilled to regulate commerce and protect the natural rights of people are now regulating people, and protecting the ‘rights’ of commercial operations. All the while the merging of corporate, media, church and state institutions continues through a deliberate program of deception, deflection, division and distraction. They conspire through their connections and influences to steer both social thinking and political policy toward less than benevolent motives — which all requires lying, in one way or another. Thus we find ourselves in a world of perpetual war, pollution, poverty and panic, separated from our true human nature and potential. And it’s no accident.
In today’s political arena, debate is dominated by polarized, dualistic thinking — the opposition of two competing ideas, two parties, left and right.
Is it so? Is it not so?
Is it good? Is it bad?
What if the truth was somewhere in the middle? Or elsewhere entirely?
In reality, to consider any information or situation comprehensively and in its entirety, questions must be posed in four ways, not just two.
Is it so? Is it not so? Is it both? Is it neither?
Is it good? Is it bad? Is it both? Is it neither?
The very inquiry into the origins of human thinking and being is typically posed through a limited, polarized mindset.
Are we the way we are because of nature? Or nurture?
Yet the best answer supersedes the singular polarity. Traditionally, it is philosophically viewed by the world’s “thinkers” as a trinity of options, the third option being the synthesis of one and the other, of thesis and antithesis, nature and nurture. But while the “both” option is often considered in this philosophy, the important fourth part missing – the nullesis.
Are we the way we are because of nature, or nurture? Or nurture? Or both? Or neither?
We humans are capable of questioning everything in these four dimensions. So one may wonder, why is this kind of thinking not used or taught more commonly?
The nullesis, or the “neither” option, indicates the infinite possibility of the unknown. It acknowledges the ever-present potential that the truth cannot be found in either known option or solution. It asks – “what are the other possibilities?” – “what other options are available?” And to those working in the sole pursuit of political and corporate agenda, such thinking in the wider public creates roadblocks. It empowers the people to question and to more accurately understand the words and deeds of government and corporate spin doctors, far beyond the scope of their (deliberately) polarizing rhetoric.
Our minds are wired to question, but we have been trained to ask limited questions. By design, our government-steered ‘education’ system teaches our children the value of remembering and recalling and replicating, and discourages or punishes those curious children who naturally stray beyond existing thinking and expectations. By teaching the practice of limited thinking to our children, institutional government is working to ensure that subsequent generations, like the people of 1984’s Oceania, are so embedded in this limited way of thinking that they can no longer see “what is in front of one’s nose”.
1984 Was Not Meant To Be An Instruction Manual
George Orwell’s ground-breaking works Animal Farm and 1984 inspired the understanding of four types of political lies. The seven rules from Animal Farm and the three adages (below), which are now familiar axioms from 1984, clearly demonstrate how the addition and subtraction of language is used to alter the spirit of law.
In Animal Farm, a burgeoning society of animals (personified) write down their rules for all to see and follow. However eventually, through the manipulation of language, the society’s self-appointed leaders (the allegorical “they”, illustrated as pigs of course) alter the messages entirely, along with the conditions of entirety, and use them to benefit themselves. Overtime, new language is surreptitiously added to the original rules, altering them in word, spirit, and application.
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed (with sheets).
5. No animal shall drink alcohol (to excess).
6. No animal shall kill any other animal (without cause).
7. All animals are equal (but some animals are more equal than others).
~ From Animal Farm
Ultimately, just the axioms of inequity within their society (“all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”) and without (“four legs good, two legs better”) remained.
In 1984 there are three main adages that are used as similar dogma on the farm. In 1984, the official language is shrinking, being subtracted, effectively eliminating whole concepts from the vocabulary; concepts which of course are challenging to the status quo. The character Winston Smith’s job within “The Ministry Of Truth” is to eliminate information that is contrary to the official line, and to insert “information” that supports it, while many of his coworkers are involved with creating the incredibly shrinking (and linguistically twisted) dictionary.
In 1984, “doublethink” describes simultaneously accepting or advocating two contradictory beliefs as correct, with each belief typically applicable to different social contexts.
One of the slogans of The Party is “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength” is a perfect example. Though clearly contradictory by definition, it is accepted as truth by the citizens of Oceania.
Because “war is peace”, Oceania remains in a constant state of war while its people go on behaving like there is peace, believing that peace can only be achieved through war. Irrationally, they switch from one emotion to the other, just as they are conditioned to do. Just as we do today. Supporting that conditioning is the belief that “ignorance is strength”; that it is gainful to avoid information, other than that which The Party itself provides, and to accept The Party line as fact, without rational consideration. Just as we see today, where the twisting of language sees phrases like “conspiracy theory” immediately triggering the conditioned “tin foil hat” response – again, without rational consideration of any genuine conspiracy or collusion.
Although the story of 1984 begins in a time when these twisted slogans are already embedded in the fictional society of Oceania, I have extrapolated what I think is the most reasonable guess as to what these adages might have once said – what societal ideals they once represented – before being manipulated to suit the agenda of the ruling party.
War (on individuals) is peace (to institutions).
Freedom (to institutions) is slavery (for individuals).
Ignorance (among individuals) is strength (to institutions).
In reality, this kind of manipulation is rife within governmental, legal and commercial institutions. The theatre of polarity politics and the insanely complex language of the legal system (“legalese”) excludes most average folks from understanding the law, much less influencing it, and thus small but important changes are more easily slipped into legislation by the institutional elite, without regard for the original intent or spirit of law.
That is how we find ourselves so far ‘off track’ today. It is no accident. Twisting the word of law to deliberately mislead an entire society takes careful and incremental manipulation of its psyche, and its boundaries. One political lie is slowly embedded – through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – and once accepted, that lie it becomes the baseline on which the next falsehood is constructed.
But 1984 was not meant to be an instruction manual — not for the ruling elite, and not for the people.
The best mathematical lesson I ever learned taught me to question the deductions and answers of “authority” of all kinds. The arithmetic is simple — Where authority exists, so too does an imbalance of power. From that place of imbalance, the truth is easily corrupted.
Ignorance among individuals is strength to institutions.
You do the math.
About the Author
Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.
Ethan’s publications include:
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