THE POLITICS OF TRUTH

Truth is neither ideologically left nor right. The only associates of truth are reality and reason. The new liberalism is allowing people to interpret truth and to make it an issue of social emancipation and compromise. Governments want truth to be nothing more than mutable social fashion, rather than an absolute. A rigid moral and ethic yardstick is something that a government could be measured against. Therefore, truth (any truth) should be flexible and amoebic; an entity which only the state and the popular media are in positions to define. 

Truth is not only the first casualty of war, but also becomes a victim during elections and in civic campaigns. In this respect, activist and advocacies are as guilty as the government they are trying to move or influence. Problems for a government arise, when truth is interfering with its policies and actions. Based on its constitutional duties and pledges, it is obliged to provide moral leadership to its constituency. If truth is being ignored for political expediency, the administration looses legitimacy and will fail to function convincingly as ethical cornerstone and moral reference to the society it aims to represent. The truth is often annoying to the powerful – like a nagging constant companion – but comes in handy to discredit or clobber an opponent whenever opportune. However, truth has a soul; it will haunt those who betray it.

Anyhow, governments were never much concerned with genuine changes and progress, but rather more with perceptions. Politicians know that how we vote depends on our perception of their programs and performances. Their pubic relations departments (PR) work sometimes so well, that it gives the electorate the impression of an effective administration. The key for them is to guess correctly the concerns and aspirations which are moving the “man on the street” at a given period of time. Of course, the people’s minds can be tricky to read and so-called opinion polls are usually wrong. They are reflecting a person’s emotion and only at the time of questioning; if someone just got his pockets picked in the subway, he will call for more security on the transport systems. However, emotions are reliable indicators; they come from “the guts” and have a higher retention and recall rating. Therefore, the elections issues which will be selected by the party leaders and incumbents, are usually of emotional nature (as opposed to intellectual subjects) so that everyone gets to participate; everyone has a gut – but not everyone got a “brain”. It is like in the classic ballad of Bobby McGee: “…feeling good is good enough for me…”

It is unethical, if something is not true but is knowingly being sold as the truth. Such is supposedly the “reality” of politics and we are being expected to second-guess the lies. We are supposed to know that there can be no truth in politics; and the fact that we know should make it right. If we accept this premise, we become accomplice and enabler of the system and its deceptive processes. Honesty and truth is no more a yardstick in politics and the honest candidate looks weak, becomes vulnerable and exposes himself to destruction. As long as they are successful, the liars and cheaters look more “human”, more identifiable with one’s self. However, they are often also more effective because they know how to use the system; and so the circle remains unbroken. In any case, people have always been more fascinated by evil rather than by good.

Besides electing governments, the masses are supplying the prevalent opinions, which in turn originate mostly from the media in a pre-packaged format; Just like their breakfast cereals. Once commonly adopted, the media will be reporting it back as “news”; as if it was a freshly detected shift in society.

To the politicians society is made up of “the masses” and the “individual”, but they forget that the smallest minority is the individual. The masses are mostly wrong, because they are manipulated. So, what makes the individual? It is his effort and ability to reason, to establish his principles and to remain truly independent with the capability to think on his own. Through personal experiences and rational mind, the individual establishes his own system of values and ethics which guide him against the daily influences of manipulations and the deceptions of politics and commerce. He has the means and education to draw from many sources and to study history in search of causes.

Do not confuse an “intellectual” with the “individual”. Intellectuals are prone to follow the masses as well. In fact, they sometimes are so tempted by potential fame and status that they lend their minds to popular causes and put themselves up as intellectual leaders of popular opinions.
At the end they often realize, that they became nothing else but political prostitutes. We must “unlearn” the instinctive tendency to trust the majority. The majority is always a political body. However, truth is not a function of democracy; it is not always represented by majority – in fact, it rarely is!

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