Friday, May 17, 2024

Big Lies

Big Lies. When I was growing up it seemed obvious that it was 'the other lot', the people trapped within authoritarian, ideologically oversaturated, basically insane societies that had to negotiate their way around these.

And yet when I made my first trips behind the Iron Curtain (never to North Korea to be sure) what I actually came across was more like ossified misinformation and people who seemed to both simultaneously believe and disbelieve depending on circumstances and things like fear and chauvinistic impulses. 

Today when I look at the leading exponents of the illiberal way, like China for example, I see extreme spin, propaganda, enveloping the actions and intentions of the CCP, but otherwise a practical and basically rational approach to most matters. 
In contrast it is the soup of US life that has become overloaded with the dumplings of untruth. Biden stole the 2020 election, Israel is committing genocide, Pizzagate, an individual who went through puberty as a male is a woman if he says so etc.

Big lies all of them, but don't waste your time arguing with the people that insist on believing them. These and others could each be debunked using a short memo, let alone an essay, but that's not the point. Believing them and helping to propagate them have become badges of belonging, functioning much like the Big Lies of religion. 

You will never talk any of their champions out of them, for their lives have come to depend upon them, and this is true even of the associated massed ranks of individuals whose credence is based more on personal and professional convenience.

I came across nothing similar in the USSR. perhaps because the religious mentality had been suppressed there for decades.

Anyway, I am increasingly wondering whether the Big Lies are the real problem. If you don't believe them, you're fine, right? Except you may not be, because the Big Lies have been clearing a pathway for a host of smaller, sometimes more state-of-the-art lies and the people pushing these are often individuals who would otherwise seem far more worthy of our trust than someone wearing a MAGA hat or waving a Jihadi flag.

The Big Lies are perhaps a bit like Russia's 'meat-grinder' battalions, softening up defences and locating weaknesses that can be exploited by better-prepared, more sophisticated units later on. Defenders gleefully mow them down and become complacent.

Let us not forget too that 'the other lot' are playing a role in this. They might not be foisting Big Lies on their own populations, but they have clearly seen the value in financing and otherwise promoting the 'grass roots' mendacity that has formed within western democracies.

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