now you have no doubt heard about the Orwellian Office
of Strategic Influence, a new layer of federal bureaucracy within
the Pentagon which is charged with the task of placing false news
items with foreign news organizations. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld has since claimed, "Government officials, the Department
of Defense, this secretary and the people that work with me tell
the American people and the people of the world the truth."
really, Mr. Rumsfeld? So when you told the American people and the
people of the world, "I can't imagine there's been a conflict
in history in which there has been less collateral damage, less
unintended consequences," you were telling the truth. I can
see that your use of the word "imagine" gives you plausible
deniability (one of the all-time great euphemisms). If you canít
imagine otherwise, then it must indeed be the cleanest military
conflict in history. Never mind that an estimated 4050
innocents have been killed by the U.S. governmentís bomb-fest
in Afghanistan. Of course, according to you, these numbers are blatantly
false, coming as they do from unreliable foreign sources and left-wing
academics that are hopelessly mired in the fog of war.
plan to distribute false stories to the foreign press has come under
a firestorm of criticism in recent days, sparking denials of sorts
from the Pentagon. Talking out of both side of his mouth, as politicians
tend to do, Rumsfeld maintained that a Pentagon
campaign to influence global opinion will not include lies to
the public, but might employ "tactical" deception to confuse
an enemy for battlefield advantage. He then also admitted that the
new officeís mission was still "under discussion." In
other words, he hasnít ruled out anything. All options, including
deliberate lying to the foreign press which, thanks to the miracle
of the Internet, will always make its way back to American eyes
and ears are on the table. After all, donít you know everything
has changed since 9/11?
everything except the inevitability of government deception, obfuscation
and outright lies. The very essence of public "service"
forces the functionaries and apologists for the State to lie and
deceive. To mask the fact that the State holds a monopoly on the
legal use of force and plunder (engaging with impunity in activities
that would land you or me in the slammer) requires the deployment
of spokesmen within the government and especially within the complaisant
mainstream media to convince the sheeple of the munificence of our
a constant parade of lies, half-truths and spin-doctoring, how could
people believe that the government is winning the war on drugs,
the war on poverty and the war on terrorism? Why would anyone believe
that the Enron collapse proves the evils of capitalism when the
truth is that the free market burst the bubble of shady accounting
procedures, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stood
are so many people so willing to accept the lies of the State? Is
it simply "ignorance is bliss"? Or is it the inevitable
result of 150 years of compulsory government prisons for kids aged
5-18, also known as public schools? If youíre like me, you probably
learned in government school that Abe Lincoln freed the slaves and
saved the Constitution; that FDR pulled America from the depths
of the Depression with his New Deal; that the Japanese perpetrated
a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor; that if Truman hadnít dropped the
Big One on Japan Ė twice! Ė the war would have lasted several more
years and hundreds of thousands more American soldiers would have
claim that government officials donít lie is so transparently a
lie itself as to induce uncontrollable laughter. Perhaps I could
laugh if the record of government lies wasnít so damaging.
this small collection of whoppers:
Wilson won reelection with the prevaricating slogan, "He
kept us out of the war." (Well, at least he did until after
the election. Typical politician).
my lips: no new taxes." (Well, maybe just a few).
Reagan knew nothing of the Iran-Contra shenanigans. (The Teflon
experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didnít like
it, and didnít inhale and never tried it again." (Do you
know anyone who tried it but didnít like it?)
did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
("Hey, I just sat there; she did all the relating herself.")
Foster committed suicide (how convenient).
am not a crook." ("I shall resign the presidency effective
at noon tomorrow.")
has no medicinal benefits. (Tell Peter McWilliamsí survivors
are being molested in a compound in Waco (to protect them, we
must kill them).
Roll." Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania because heroic
passengers thwarted the hijackers. (That the U.S. Air Force
shot down Flight 93 seems far more likely).
- We must
take the war on terrorism to Afghanistan because the Taliban
are harboring Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks
(never mind that the U.S. government had already planned to
invade Afghanistan long before 9/11).
can probably come up with dozens more yourself. But my list, albeit
short, illustrates that the term "government lie" is a
redundancy of the highest order. As Lew Rockwell points out in
Free Market, "The State is a lie at its very root,
so much so that it must change the very meaning of termsÖ. Instead
of committing murder, it is waging war, and instead of robbing people,
it is redistributing wealth or raising revenueÖ. Orwell didnít invent
the idea of "Newspeak"; he was merely giving a name for
what governments have always done: turned reality upside down with
a duplicitous use of language."
when Rumsfeld boldly asserts that those in government donít lie,
we should understand that agents of the State could no more forego
lying than a bear could forego hibernation. And why is this? As
F.A. Hayek explains in The
Road to Serfdom in a chapter entitled "Why the Worst
Get on Top," those who seek power and dominion over others,
i.e., those who wish to use legal plunder to reward their friends
and punish their enemies, are most likely to seek positions that
make that power possible:
as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life
will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming
dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian
leader would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary
morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous
are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward
"(The leader) must gain the support of the docile and gullible,
who have no strong convictions of their own but are ready to
accept a ready-made system of values if it is only drummed into
their ears sufficiently loudly and frequently. It will be those
whose vague and imperfectly formed ideas are easily swayed and
whose passions and emotions are readily aroused who will thus
swell the ranks of the totalitarian party."
lies will continue as long as we have a system that perversely encourages
the worst among us to rise to positions of power. As long as the
government monopoly on education continues, the lies of the State
will continue to be drilled into the soft, mushy heads of our nationís
youth. No tactic will be considered verboten as long as it seeks
legitimacy among the "docile and gullible."
wisest course of action for the independent thinker is to constantly
question authority, to assume that anything he hears from the mouth
of a politician or bureaucrat is unadulterated bullshit, and to
recognize that the worst will always make it to the top. And because
the worst among us always believe the ends justify the means, lying
will always be a hallmark of their modus operandi.
Gee (send him mail) is
a freelance writer residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also authors
a monthly column "On Liberty" for The
© 2002 LewRockwell.com
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