The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie — a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days — but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.
The outstanding negative quality of the totalitarian elite is that it never stops to think about the world as it really is and never compares the lies with reality."The Origins of Totalitarianism"
Because we are lied to all the time, in ways so routine they are beneath conscious notice, even the most direct lies are losing their power to shock us.
Before the US invaded Iraq, when the President was talking about mushroom clouds and the Secretary of State delivered a PowerPoint about bio-weapons to the United Nations, I gave our leaders the benefit of the doubt.
Surely the military, the CIA, the NSA, the NRO, and the President must have secret information they cannot share with the public to justify the horrors of war.
Turns out I was wrong. It was a pack of lies, half-truths and poorly-substantiated rumors to justify a predetermined agenda.
After the 2007-2008 financial meltdown, when the President and the Secretary of the Treasury threatened the end of the world as we know it if the richest corporations aren't given direct cash infusions, I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Surely our elected officials would never directly transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to the richest of the rich unless the alternative was truly grave.
Turns out I was wrong. It was a pack of lies, half-truths and poorly-substantiated rumors to transfer wealth from working people to the ownership class on an unprecedented scale.
So when the President stands before us today and speaks for 45 minutes without saying anything of consequence, without providing any evidence that the threat is so dire, so imminent, so cataclysmic that we must relinquish our freedoms to preserve our freedoms, I can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.
No more vague threats. No more fear. No more intimidation. No more secrecy. These are fatal to a political system that relies on an informed citizenry.
All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. [..] But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
When daily life requires turning a blind eye to the falsity of countless things we’re told, it weakens the power of language to sort truth from fiction.
Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.