by Jeff Thomas, Sprott Money:
In the fifth century BC, Greek dramatist Aeschylus said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Quite so. Whenever national leaders decide to go on the warpath for the sake of their own ambition or self-aggrandizement, it’s the citizenry that will pay the bloody price for their aspirations. Since war is rarely desired by the citizenry, it has to be sold to them. Some form of deception, exaggeration or outright lies must be put forward to con the populace into getting on board with the idea.
War, after all, represents a monumental failure of national leaders to serve the rightful national objectives of a citizenry – peace and prosperity. Of course, in the case of an empire going to war, this represents a monumental failure on steroids – the outcome may well be world war in such a case.
Readers of this publication will no doubt be well-versed in the knowledge that, when an empire is nearing the end of its period of domination, war is almost always used by leaders as a last-ditch attempt to maintain order. (During wartime, a populace tends to focus more on the war than the failure of its leaders. In addition, they’re likely to tolerate the removal of freedoms by their leaders to be “patriotic”.)
This being the case, we might surmise that an empire in decline would be likely to display similar symptoms to a country at war. One of those symptoms might well be the loss of truth, not just as relates to warfare, but as relates to the society as a whole. A nation in decline might even welcome the disappearance of truth, as it would allow the people to continue to feel good about themselves at a time when a truthful outlook would be too unpleasant to be tolerable. Further, the closer to collapse the country may be (economically, politically and socially), the more extreme the self-created loss of truth would be likely to be.
Let’s have a look at a few cultural examples and see if that premise seems viable.
Silver Versus Chocolate
As I described in January on “Running Out of Candy,” Californian Mark Dice stood on a street corner offering passers-by either a free ten-ounce bar of silver or a free bar of Hershey’s chocolate. Without fail, each one chose the chocolate. Even though Mister Dice was standing in front of a coin shop where the silver bar could be redeemed, they rejected the silver which they knew had to have greater value.
Only twenty years ago, people would have been far less likely to deny truth in favour of a falsehood that was more palatable – the instant gratification of candy. In effect, this is the abandonment of basic truth in favour of whatever perception is more pleasant.
Kim Jong-Un on Dancing with the Stars
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel recently asked people on the street if they had seen Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on the popular television show, Dancing with the Stars. Clearly they had not, as the idea was absurd, yet many answered yes, then went on to describe their appraisal of his performance as though they’d seen it. (Some went into depth, expounding on the artistry and social value of the non-existent performance.) The interviewer went on to remind the interviewees that Kim Jong-Un is in fact a dictator and asked whether they thought it was in good taste for him to have pointed a machine gun at the audience. In spite of the now blatant absurdity, interviewees continued to pretend they had actually witnessed the performance, offering their opinions on how well he had performed. They responded in accordance with what appeared to be expected of them , rather than choose the less-pleasant option of saying, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t see it.”
Now, the video was clearly offered by Jimmy Kimmel to show his audience “how dumb people can be,” but it demonstrates something more. It shows us that a significant segment of the population is quite prepared to simply abandon reality by, first, pretending to have witnessed something they have not and, second, offering firm and even complex opinions on something that did not occur.
Certainly, political hopefuls have always had a reputation for being less than truthful and any responsible voter would be advised to look at every candidate with a jaundiced eye. But what if voters choose to lie tothemselves in order to validate candidates?
Back when the US became the unquestioned empire in the world (just after World War II), Americans took a great deal of pride in truth and honour. A candidate might be suspected of personal immoral behaviour and/or corruption and still be elected, but if it were blatant, he would not.
Today the liberal media regularly refer to the record of presidential candidate Donald Trump, highlighting the companies that have gone bust and people who have financially ruined as a result of his dealings. They also highlight his ever-changing political viewpoints, his arrogance and distain for virtually everyone but himself. Yet supporters of Mister Trump virtually block out the repeated reports, focusing only on their enjoyment of his bombast toward the establishment.
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