“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”Voltaire
The United States is a troubled nation currently; no one doubts that. But how often do our troubles begin with the acceptance of lies—nationally and personally?
It’s always taken brave individuals to stand up to lies, to point out that the emperor has no clothes or that that the herd is rushing toward a cliff rather than the forecast utopia. It’s certain that mobs cannot be counted on to right themselves, at least not before hurting a lot of people and breaking a lot of things. We should be worried when we find ourselves giving our assent to things that don’t really make sense to us or that are inconsistent with our values. But how often have we just not wanted to rock the boat or let other social considerations propel us to ignore our own nagging consciences?
In a perfect world, we might hope that everyone would simply resist lies because it’s the right thing to do—to remain honest. Unfortunately, our long history of mass delusion suggests that humans, across cultures, are more apt to run in herds and seldom against them.
Cancer couldn’t do noticeable harm to our bodies without metastasis, and lies might also go unnoticed if they didn’t compound themselves—often rapidly. We probably learned the basic concept as children: that little lies become much bigger lies as we go on having to cover up the first one. We could say that, even as adults, this is still an excellent reason to remain honest. On a personal level, it can be difficult enough to banish dishonesty, especially if we’ve habituated it, but it’s more complicated still when we move into the political realm.
Starting with an extreme example, Adolf Hitler wouldn’t have been able to eventually stand before adoring audiences of thousands or command the armies of a nation if a few individuals and then small groups hadn’t affirmed his lies of racial superiority. It would have been relatively easy to resist at the outset or simply to walk away, but progressively less easy as a whole people became enthralled with his narrative and leadership. When the original lies were allowed to persist, Hitler and his emerging Nazi party could stack on additional lies concerning Jews, other minorities, and Western capitalists, lies that would have been too much perhaps at the outset, but that seemed to follow logically once the most foundational lies concerning the origins and greatness of the Aryan people had been swallowed.
So, it’s an extreme example and Hitler was pure evil, unlike our leaders today, right? Still though, how often are we asked, sometimes during childhood, to accept lies?
- We are told in almost all movies that the rich capitalists are up to no good while those with good hearts and love of their fellow man are the heroes.
- We are told that the state of earth’s environment is continually in decline at the hands of man.
- We’re told that relying more on capitalism, less on social assistance programs, to alleviate poverty will only enrich the rich.
- Our history lessons have taught us, all too often, that white men have done little for the world, but have mainly preoccupied themselves with enslaving and impoverishing the southern hemisphere.
- We’re told, ad nauseum, that man’s industry is primarily responsible for the warming of a planet that has been warming for thousands of years.
- About a year and a half ago, we were told—by generally the same people who’ve been telling us all of the above—that a new kind of virus (novel!) unlike anything seen before, was beginning to rampage through the world population, with an almost unprecedented potential to kill.
Maybe we could call all of the above primary lies. The secondary lie is that some office of the government or some determined new leader has the solution to the problem they’ve invented. It will certainly be a scheme that involves financial contributions from you and I, but there’s not a lot of resistance because the lies have been told for so long and affirmed by so many smart people featured in the complicit media that you’re an outlier—and perhaps even “science denier”—if you don’t get with the program. This seems to be among the primary mechanisms of the Washington power game, but it’s been adapted from tyrannies throughout history. If there weren’t dire, “existential” threats afoot, there’d be little need to contribute our wealth to mitigation efforts and little need for the great men and women who are always ready to conscript us into their perfect solutions.
All of which brings us to the final and universal lie I’ll take time for: that solutions can be had free of unforeseen consequences. I prefer the term “unforeseeable consequences” though, because it’s simply more accurate. We can’t know the full range of consequences set in motion by legislation or creation of new bureaucracies within a complex civilization.
So many of society’s current problems can be traced directly to government’s efforts to mitigate other problems.
When we take time to study this history, many of us are led to wonder whether we’d have been better off had we never involved government in the first place. At the very least, we would have been able to keep more of our own money.
In the realm of COVID, I don’t think we’re close to seeing the full destruction wrought by governments the world over, but here are a few areas of unintended consequence to keep an eye on:
- Have we weakened the immune systems of all those complying with mask mandates simply by depriving them of exposure to normal air-borne pathogens?
- Have the injections themselves served to weaken the immune systems of millions?
- What kind of impact has the lack of socialization had on children?
- What about the effects of lack of education for a year or more?
- How much additional waste—plastic, chemical, and otherwise—has been created by the use of more disposable products to maintain new sanitary standards?
- How many small businesses have closed or have yet to close due to lost revenue of perhaps an entire year or more?
- How much have we benefited the super corporations who had the resources to “take the hit”—or lobby for exemptions—while small businesses perished?
- Have we set the stage for a new era of health care by directive, by arbitrary mandate?
- How much harm has been done to the next generation of Americans by demonstrating that when the government says to put on a mask, you mask up; when they close businesses, that’s the final word; or when they close every other table at McDonald’s, you can’t sit there?
A more compliant populace is good for no one but tyrants and liars.
“Live not by lies.”Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn