Why tell the truth in politics and society when a lie will do nicely, thank you.

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Photo by Joe Keating on Unsplash

You’ve just paid for the petrol in your car, but as you leave the attendant calls you back. You’ve failed to pay he says. You protest and show him your receipt. Still doesn’t cut it. He calls the police. They arrive promptly and begin to ask you about the non-payment. You protest vigorously and show the receipt, at which point the policemen throws you down onto the bonnet of the car for assaulting him with a deadly weapon.

“What the hell, Officer. I don’t have anything on me”. That protest gets you nowhere. The officer head butts you, you scream and then he tells you you’re faking it.

Meanwhile at your home, two men turn up to claim it’s theirs. It’s the most absurd thing your spouse is hearing. But the men are serious. They introduce themselves as members of the local council. And nothing you do, including calling the police, whose first action is to uphold the claim and place you the caller in handcuffs, will do. Elsewhere anarchy reigns. Truth is but a concept designed to make you subservient to bad logic, is the theme.

If this sounds something out of an absurdist poem, or f***ed fantasy, it’s the equivalent of what’s being perpetuated at the highest levels of government in what were once beacons of enlightenment and democracy. Hell, now, why tell the truth when a lie gets you what you want, and institutions meant to protect you don’t. It’s B.R.O.K.E.N.

Truth has been usurped for self interest, seizing power and money, no matter the costs. In the UK, Brexit, fundamentally wrapped up in the fear of foreigners including the EU’s perceived unfettered powers, requires cessation by any means. If 350 million pounds is the price to win and it’s a blatant lie, why when you walk into your groceries isn’t the shop assistant allowed to just take one look at you, fall to the floor violently and claim damages of 350,000 pounds for assault. Yes it’s absurd, but that’s where we are. In the US this from the 45th president accused of more than 3000 lies, untruths or falsehoods.

Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.

Does it bear discussing? Others e.g. MSNBC have done that job, but if a narrative makes your point at the expense of civility and anything remotely resembling truth, why not? 45s reasons mimic surrealism, but with bite when he offers a journalist an explanation: accuse the media of fakery enough times and the public don’t know what to expect as truth.

It’s the equivalent of that fable from classical Greek (8th century) onward of, in modern translation, the boy who cried wolf. Tell the audience enough times a lie and they’ll never know when you’re telling the truth.

This indeed was the world of story and journalism before the 17th Century Renaissance. Truth was not expected in stories. Now we can imagine how those citizens felt, except the difference now is modern recipients can’t pretend three hundred years of experiential truth never happened. Meanwhile, public institutions and bodies meant to protect societies from these grave ills, stand by and do nothing.

Just in case this theatre of the absurd sounds jibberish, In 2014 British documentary maker Adam Curtis produced a film that hinted at our new Earth II.

Curtis points to one of Putin’s closest advisors Vladislav Surkov whom as a former avant-garde artist has helped redefine Russian’s public perception. In part he’s achieved this by deliberately sowing confusion so truth and facts are porous. What is truth? Surkov, not only funded disparate opposing groups, but let it be known he did placing groups in a miasma of bewilderment. We’ve seen this many times before in the conceptual art world in which Surkov studied.

Given people are stupid enough to be manipulated, according to the father of PR, Edward Bernays, you can literally get away with murder. Otherwise Daniel Kanheman’s Thinking Fast and Slow documents an endless array of skills for duping the mind — from the pernicious use of statistics to false equivalences and biases.

The other is to flatly deny what appears as truth at all. It’s your word alongside another. Until relatively recently in British courts, the idea someone in uniform could tell a lie was generally manifestly not entertained. The Stephen Lawrence Enquiry is evidence of that.

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With Surkov blame intellectualism and art if you want, or even common sense or lack of. Hence, Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe) is held up as an example of the bleeding obvious.

Of course this spectacle isn’t a pipe. Bursting out is Magritte’s’ ideology of meta language. To the artist and the convincing argument, this is a picture of a pipe. Perhaps with no coincidence to our times, this surreal artefact takes hold around 1929, a vibrant time for Science, Art and Learning post WWI, which many scholars e.g. Robert Stam liken to what’s happening now in social terms.

Similarly American-French painter Marcel Duchamp who famously said:

I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste

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The logic can be ascribed to the following: if Britain purports to pay 350 Million to the EU and it is no longer a member, it has that money to spend on the NHS.

Boris Johnson MP, the UK’s foreign Secretary who was behind the 350 million pledged, it’s reported jocularly accosts civil servants and department heads asking if they’ve seen the 350 million.

Perhaps all of this could be dismissed, but the alt narrative which has come to frame discourses on the news, recycled for consumption, warped by commentators leads further and further into ruins.

And bar of the odd news outlet, this theatre is treated as just that, a conveyer belt of the absurd that feeds cycles allowing journalists to chuckle and you to feed you social news habits. News has never had it so good, except by the time this experiment filters into the DNA of subsequent generations, we clearly might need a new renaissance to undo this mess. By nature renaissance come at their own costs. Heaven help it’s not artificial intelligence as the panacea.

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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