Like most people, I don't enjoy it when people lie to me, although lately it has been happening at a much higher rate than I remember in the past. It upsets me to some extent.
Yesterday, I came across Shadow Government Statistics, and that proved to me much of what I have seen in the American and World Economy, it becomes clear that most of the Administration (perhaps excluding the President, whose knowledge of modern situations appears to be questionable, at best), the Media, and some other very major players, are simply lying to us in order to complete some goal. I guess you could call this a conspiratorial diary, if you like.
How they succeed at lying
In order for 'truthiness' to succeed, there are many important factors that have to be in place. I would imagine that there are several intersections of the following items that could fulfill the goal of a populace ignorant enough, or complacent enough, to accept the lie as fact:
- a lack of standard education.
- a lack of critical thinking abilities.
- willing to blindly follow an ideal through faith.
- distrustful of alternative sources of information.
- blinded by pride and/or power (nationalism or fascism, to some extent).
- blinded by fear (this is very broad, including racism, and national identity).
I imagine that there are others, as there generally is, however, many of your Republican friends will probably fall under one of the above items. An inherent distrust of the government would fall under Libertarianism, and I have a feeling that they don't like being lied to either, but that is a discussion for another day.
Looking at lying as an unethical act, and to take discuss its ramifications, necessity, and to understand why these individuals are so interested in lying to us (once again I am assuming that they are lying to us), it is often wise to look back to back Kantian ethics and maxims. He believed that lying was unethical because it treated an individual as a means to an end, and not an end in themselves. Thus, I am interested in the end that has been concieved by the neocon right.
Whenever I think of the neocon belief system, I think of Ayn Rand, who espoused a pure market system often in her books. The concept of a free market system as a precursor to Utopia is a common one, and is often mentioned throughout basic education. When looked at historically, however, there are many times throughout history where this does not carry weight, but those could be discussed later.
This view of capitalism I think is the end goal. In order to make this reality, however, some lies need to be made, and some systems need to be bankrupted. Once again, the conspiracy theorist rises in me, and I ponder how this would be done, and the answer is simple. By eliminating the wealth redistributing portions of government, the possibility of creating this 'Utopia' can come into fruition.
The interest is not in success of the system for all involved. These would have to be the same individuals that believe in the concept of Social Evolution. Only with such a point of view could the individual ethos allow such an act to take place. By eliminating wealth redistribution, you have accepted that the wealthy have an inherited worth that is not deserved by the average individual. Of course, admitting this publicly or immediately creating policy that allows a state to devolve to this level could never be done, due to the fact that, as has happened historically, massive economic losses by the lower classes generally lead to revolution (Rome, France and ancient China come to mind immediately). Therefore the moment of loss must be blamed on something other than free market capitalism. They have already set up the systems that will be to blame: Social Security and Medicare (among other social systems in the United States, although to a lesser extent).
As many true economists know, when GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practice) is applied to the United States Federal Government, Social Security adds a multiple on top of the national debt. This is removed during the current accounting processes of the government, when explaining the debt to the citizenry. This is a lie towards a goal. Perhaps the goals of earlier Presidents was to ease the populace, but I honestly believe that the neocon take on all this is to create a system of absolute free market capitalism. As the entire economic system fails, and the dollar, stock market, and housing slide, they will have systems to blame.
A System Long in the Works
Our education has been lagging the rest of the world for some time, and this is all part of the goal. Not since the student uprisings in Los Angeles in the 50's and 60's has a public school seriously taught the Philosophy of Logic or Critical Thinking. If these were taught, they would undermine the lie, or more appropriately, the ability to accept the lie.
More modernly, we see the movement away from progressive lesson plans in exchange for difficult test taking, and as a result, a number of schools are failing. Because of this move, there is a general distrust of the public school systems ability to educate our children. Further, this causes a move away from science that is already happening, as science is not tested.
Because of this move away from science, children will understand less of the logic that is involved in science, and therefore will have an inherent distrust of it. Also, the unlearning process will be easier. Combine that with the modern works of Reed, Dobson and their ilk, and we have a very real problem with the education process in the United States. Therefore, we can check off the lack of education, critical thinking, and one of the alternative sources of information: science.
The True Oversight Organization
The media, throughout history, has been a general oversight group for a good many organizations, be they government, unions, religious, or any other group within or outside of the United States. Today, I think I barely need to discuss this. Both sides have painted the media as someone to be distrusted, and with the massive consolidations and interest in profits of the modern media, it should be distrusted. Interest in the common good and interest in profit are obviously two different things. Therefore, the second major source of information is no longer a trusted source, by either side. I think that it is important to mention again the believed (conspiratorial) goal of the neocon movement, pure capitalism through the destruction of social systems.
With a media that is on the guard, and working in the interest of the people, it would be noted that the current government application of accounting is not appropriate, but they are not interested in doing so because of profit of the very wealthy, who often (or nearly always) own our media outlets. This makes the lying more palatable. If they are included in the Rand's Utopia, then it might be worth it in the end.
Faith and Power
Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist Agnostic.
The combination of Faith and Power (although not all citizens view them equally), is seen throughout American history. Manifest Destiny is the clearest example of this, but today, it is also extremely prevalent. Faith in God and Country is common, although faith in God or County (fascism) is all that is often necessary to fulfill the acceptance of the lie. Due to the distrust of so many sources of information, there are few left, and often (especially due to the lack of information because of poor spread of high speed internet infrastructure) this is only the government (I will include Fox News in this group) and a religious center, particularly in Red America. Not to say that all religious individuals fall to the lie, however, this association can clearly be seen.
As far as worship of the country is concerned, this is implanted in us since youth. The pledge of allegiance is being forced upon us in school (but hell if you can get a good understanding of evolution there). The concept of the 'Greatest Country on Earth' is often espoused in various media formats. When dealing with religion in the concept of fascism, it must be noted that the association of America and Christianity is often made. This makes the lies of the government extremely palatable to many people.
There are also those who simply wish to be strong. The Reptilian response to opposition (be large and powerful) is common in the United States, once again, I believe, due to the lack of Critical Thinking and Philosophy studies in the United States. The Reptilian response is also associated, scientifically, with bad vehicle design and buying habits (Hummers and SUV's for instance). However many times I've tried to argue the Reptilian mind with individuals I know, the lack in critical thinking, or a distrust of science, is often their turning point. Once science is mentioned, then my arguments are often nullified.
Due to this will to be large, strong, or powerful, so many will that the United States be the ultimate military power in the United States. This is understandible, and expected in a poorly educated populace. I understand that many people can still be critical thinkers without this education, but President Bush still has a 35% or so approval rating. Either these people are interested in the neocon point of view (whatever that is), or they are simply accepting the lie.
The Use of Fear
Need I even mention this? It can be simply stated that fear has been a major player since the attacks on 9/11, not that they didn't exist before. Xenophobia is often used. Mentioning those of African, Mexican (as I am myself, 1/2 Mestizo, 1/4 German, 1/4 Norwegian), Indian, or anyone of non-anglo origin often results in a bevy of emotional and mental responses, as we have been trained to do because of our heritage. Militarism and Racism result. This is key in the Ayn Rand world view.
Ultimately, the goal for any individual or society is simple, as stated before: Utopia. There are two problems with reaching Utopia that are of note. First, Utopia is undefined. The second issue of Utopia is finding a method to reach it.
Utopia is simple once a selected portion of the population is considered worthy of it. For instance, throughout most of the world, being middle class in the United States would be like living the ultimate life style. For those that are middle class in America, perfection is being rich. For the Super Rich in America (a segment that is already getting a larger supply of the wealth year by year), they most likely have a massively skewed version of living in Utopia that we can't even imagine. Imagine living in the clouds, care free, while minions slave away at your every need.
Saying that causes me some grief, because it isn't far off from how many of us live today. The middle class in America buys goods off the backs of children in sweat shops on a regular basis. We buy cheap oil, accepting the fate of women in the middle east, living a life akin to slavery. We buy diamonds over the dead bodies of very real human beings in Africa (my wife does not have a diamond ring). They are our minions, the result of free market capitalism throughout the world, and there are too many examples to list here.
That very well could be Utopia. The problem with such a view of the world is that it fails. As inevitably as communism on a large scale, due to corruption, it will fail. The minions will revolt, and banning the fear that I will be hated for saying it, 9/11 was the result of corruption allowed by the United States. Saudi Arabia, in actions similar to our own, practices the same actions of religious activism, but by force of law. I imagine the the result (9/11) was not expected or anticipated. The despotic rulers of Saudi Arabia want us as their friends, and for a minute there, I'll bet someone in the Royal Family was browning a pair of jockeys. But due to the fact that the neocons, who also want their Utopia, were in power, a serious look at Saudi Arabia never occured. This is because a cheap source of power will be necessary to make this Utopia feasible, and for now, that is oil.
How is the Progressive Point of View Different
When dealing with the goal of utopia from a progressive point of view (and I believe that Utopia, like infinity, is not real) and from an ethical point of view, the people must never be a means to the end, and must instead be the end in itself. This is done through social design in association with capitalism and wealth redistribution. Unfortunately, the true progressive is mocked today, while the neocon gets closer to their goal of limited Utopia (if it can be fairly called that). They do this by breaking the Kantian Maxims that do not allow you to use a human as a means to an end. Those in power have designed it this way for some time, because power corrupts. The system wishes to maintain power, and will do anything to do so.
What is the solution to undoing the damage of the neocon system? I do not know, and I will not suggest. I believe that everyone acts in their own self- interest, and that it is difficult to prove otherwise, but that people need to know that encouraging equality (economically and socially) is in their own best interest. My fear and hope is that the downfall of the American economy will bring about something completely unexpected by the establishment, and by neocons in general; something closer to true democracy. However, this can lead to problems of its own, including the dictatorship of the majority, or again the concentration of power; and I know that I am not immune from corruption, therefore I always fear concentration of power, no matter whose hands it is in. That is why Daily Kos is so great, because we all get a little love here.
[Update] Yellow Canary caught me in the comments. In the last paragraph, I originally stated: I believe that everyone acts in their own best interest. I meant self-interest, and it has been updated.