What can we do about the great American lie?

Wizard of Oz

Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain, sucker! Photo: acidemic.blogspot.com

I. F. Stone told us many years ago that All Governments Lie.

Daniel Ellsberg, in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, told us why governments, including presidents, always lie, and must continue to lie about what they know to be true, but about which they cannot talk under constraints of “national security.”

Here at home, the lies place an impermeable barrier between those who know and those who cannot be told, a barrier that trickles down hill forever, separating the citizenry of the US from their government.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Today, the lies continue, as they must, though journalists, bloggers and other malcontents desperately chip away at the facade.

For example, the raid into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden is revealed to have been not a one-off military adventure, but part of an ongoing campaign of covert military intervention in 120 countries around the world on the part of a highly organized and secretly funded cadre of 15,000 specially trained soldiers let loose on the world. There was never any intent to capture bin Laden alive. The goal of the raid was to kill this living embarrassment to the US government and remove any chance that he might say something awkward or revealing before he died on his own of kidney failure.

It’s not just the president who’s foisting lies on the public. Politicians of all stripes meet in smoke-filled back rooms with corporate lobbyists and industry representatives, barely deigning to conceal the bribes slipped under the table into their grasping clutches. Nudge nudge, wink wink. The press is summarily dismissed from these gatherings, as politicos hide their faces from the peering eye of the Internet, pretending we do not see.

Case in point: recent meetings of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive corporate front-group that drafts pro-business legislation that pliant members of Congress often submit word-for-word as their own bills. The backslapping and glad handing continue safely within the confines of the Marriott, where laws are crafted far from the public eye. Would that they were only making sausage.

People? What “people?” Oh, corporations — those “people”

What do we do in the face of a government corrupt to the core — a government that professes to be “of the people, by the people and for the people”, yet continues to do the bidding of unaccountable corporate lobbyists, revolving door public-private political appointees, and an overweening military technology industry?

Do we continue to vote for new fodder for the corporate grist mill, aka Congress? Do we demand legislation that will stop the Congressional gravy train from those who are lined up at the front of the station platform? Do we demand a president to lead us out of the wilderness that is scheduled to be clear-cut for the corporate profits of his own big supporters?

If the people would lead, the leaders would follow

The central authoritarian government doesn’t have the answer, as it is the central problem.

Jeffersonian Republicans knew what they were doing when they opposed Alexander Hamilton’s Federalists at the turn of the 19th Century. They foresaw the coming excesses of centralized authority in a world dominated by capitalist greed. They viewed the Federalist agenda as anti-revolutionary, a continuance of the economic system that had strangled the North American British colonies until the Revolution tore them free.

The Anti-Federalists argued for small government, democracy, mutual aid, self-reliance and self-government. As foreseen, Hamilton’s paternalistic state has fostered a populace that cannot take care of itself, let alone serve as a beacon of democracy and freedom in an increasingly privatized world.

There’s only one path open to those few willing and aware US citizens: abruptly turn around and take a new step forward. We can’t solve the problem of corrupt government by appealing to the corrupt government. Jefferson was fond of the concept of public dissent and rebellion: “Every generation needs a new revolution.”

It’s time for our generation to expose the lies and foster a new revolution, a revolution that starts between the ears, and works outward through our families, neighborhoods, communities and bioregions. Not a violent revolution like the one that spawned this country, but a quiet revolution over backyard fences, neighborhood meetings in living rooms, public gatherings with local representatives, the anonymity of the polling booth.

By the time the central authority recognizes the revolution, it will be too late, a fait accompli, a done deal.

The challenge at present is to penetrate the fog of lies and mindless distractions of popular culture sufficiently to foster such a revolution.

Down with lies; Say “peak oil”

The solution is simple: we tell the truth.

The Orwellian bumper sticker tells us: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

Whenever we encounter a lie, we respond with the truth. From local neighborhoods to the White House, in the coffee shop or city council chambers, we never let a lie pass unchallenged. This accomplishes two goals: we raise the consciousness of all within reach, and we challenge those who lie to us and expect to get away with it.

Thus the revolution begins.

–Michael A. Lewis, Transition Voice

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  1. Matt says

    From one general curmudgeon to another. Your post is great and a good first start on a call to action. Therein lies the problem. As a peak oiler since the early 90’s and producer of my own fuels and energy, most people do not believe what is right in front of them.

    In general to paraphrase an infamous movie line, “The truth, you can’t handle the TRUTH”. We Americans have been lied to for so long that we wouldn’t know what the truth was. Besides unless it comes out of the TV or movie screen or some other source of mental masturbation, it can’t be the truth. We will trust and believe some hack actor before we will believe a scientist who has devoted their lives to their field of study. I do honestly believe that in general it is far too late for America to pull itself back from the brink, we are already seeing the police setting up martial law and gunning people down as terrorists. We need to prepare for the food lines like back in the 30’s, that is those unfortunate ones that survive the economic collapse, and resulting societal collapse.

  2. al krauss says

    Every so often, some spell check program waylays a good writer. In the present instance, the article has “fostered a populous that cannot take care of itself”. Obviously, the word “populous” was supposed to be “populace”. Not a nitpick, just a little pothole that distracts, causes (maybe) an interruption in the flow of inner concentration, as the poor little semantic checker says “Huh?”

    As we come up on this big 9/11 broo haha, with Ukiah’s paper pleading for group think on the poor dear nation’s terrible, terrible experience of “terrorism” in the heart of consumer land, it is good to ponder the depth and stubbornness of official deceit.

  3. Auntiegrav says

    Along with the official deceit is the self deception of thought itself. Marketers have known for decades that the human mind is a plaything; a toy which can be wound up and sent on its programmed way, following a clockwork path around any difficult obstacle and directly to comfort and gratification.
    The concept of human intentions as the guiding force of our lives is the biggest lie. We are random creatures at heart, adapting to the randomness of nature. Any society that doesn’t first have the goal of allowing us to change our own paths at random will not adapt to nature over the long term; instead trying to conquer both natural forces and human nature while competing with other societies.
    The result is the boom and bust cycle, reflected currently in economics, but historically in empires.
    The future of the human race may or may not include survival, but if it does, we all must first learn to stop lying to ourselves about what humanness really is.
    It is nothing but another minor adaptation that got blown out of proportion by temporary circumstances; such as the saber teeth of the prehistoric cat or the bushy tail of a squirrel. We are not better than those animals unless we use our adaptation to contribute to our future circumstances by making them more stable and renewable/dependable. So far, we are doing the opposite: government or not.

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