“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
I came across this famous quote from Goebbels today and immediately thought of Mitt Romney‘s recent claim that it was the government who caused the banking crisis by ‘forcing’ the banks to lend to the sub-prime market. This is so far from the truth it’s audaciousness is almost admirable. You’ve certainly got to wonder at Romney ‘faith’ in neoliberal markets despite ALL THE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY. I would argue that the benefits of neoliberal economic policies is one of Goebbell’s lies that is big enough and has been endlessly repeating, until people (well, Americans anyway) eventually came to believe it. What is amazing is that the Neoliberals are currently maintaining the lie despite the fact that the State can no longer shield the people from the political and economic consequences of the lie.
But then this Goebellesque Nazification (I think I’ve invented 2 new words there) of Anglo/American politics since 1979 has been profoundly disturbing. As citizens we have been consistently lied to over long periods and many have come to believe the lies – and those who point out the lies are portrayed as unpatriotic enemies of the state.
We went into the Iraq war on the basis of the Bush/Blair lies about Weapons Of Mass destruction. 3 years after 9/11 I was in Texas and everyday heard presenters on the radio repeat the lie that the U.S. had invaded Iraq because Al Qaeda were based there. Yet everyone in Europe knew that this was nonsense. Indeed, the reality was that Saddam Hussain hated Al Qaeda as much as the Americans because they were a threat to his absolute power.
And this illustrates an incoherence in U.S. right wing thought. On the one hand right wing Americans are enemies of the State, which they portray as at best an obstacle to freedom and at worst an enemy of freedom. On the other hand they are uncritically patriotic supporters of the U.S. military and the military’s adventures all over the globe. But the flag that every American child salutes every morning is a symbol of the American State – the very thing that the right-wing hate so much. No wonder so many of them are gun-tottingly angry, they are actually defenders of the thing they hate more than anything. Poor bastards. One would feel sorry for them if they didn’t keep going all round the world slaughtering hundreds of thousands of non-American civilians and then withdrawing to America leaving chaos and civil war in their wake.