Truth, false narratives and our only hope

Mark Twain is reputed to have said that whenever a politician opens his mouth a lie jumps out, and whenever he closes it he cuts one in half.

I’ve never been able to track down that quotation to the great American satirist and wit, but it sounds good enough to my ears to use as an introduction to this particular rambling, which is about the truth that emanates from respectable mainstays of journalism—the New York Times and the Washington Post—and authoritative governmental representatives like James Clapper—the same Mr. Clapper who was caught out in a very big lie while testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2013 but thanks no doubt to the quality of mercy escaped charges of perjury.

Most recently, Director of National Intelligence Clapper released a report allegedly providing proof of covert Russian attempts to influence the presidential election via hacking and propaganda. The report, alas, offers no direct evidence, and anyone wishing to while away a few minutes simply to confirm the obvious may see what investigative journalist Robert Parry and others have to say about these allegations. Oh, and while I’m at it, if you were as sceptical as I when the Post ran an alarming story about Russian penetration of the national electrical grid via—yes, once again, hacking!—into a Vermont utility, then you would have found Glenn Greenwald’s expose of the Post’s journalistic malfeasance nothing new. The story was completely and utterly false.

And before I leave this specific issue of accusations against Russia for disrupting and subverting good old American democracy, the article by Ray McGovern and William Binney sums up the hypocritical essence rather nicely thus:

“With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on “circumstantial evidence,” when it has NSA’s vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA’s capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking.”

This campaign against Russia, where accusation after accusation is leveled and a narrative develops force and cogency regardless of evidence for or against, goes right to the heart of something immeasurably profound, about which there are two aspects.

First, it goes without saying not only that everything coming out of the mouths of authorities must be questioned, but it must be questioned vigorously and always. In fact, I think it’s far more efficient to consider what we are told a lie until proved otherwise—in the same way that ordinary Soviet citizens reading Pravda (translation: Truth) were unanimous in regarding the contents of this state publication as utter bull.

Second, we must begin to understand that our very own notion of what is real and truthful, of so-called reality itself, has been conditioned, altered, undermined and subverted, continually, by the weight and force of the deceptive narratives practiced upon us, narratives that have overwhelmed us like massive waves relentlessly battering against our own perceptions—narratives exemplified by the Warren Report on the assassination of JFK, the Gulf of Tonkin, 9/11, Iraq weapons of mass destruction, to name but a very few. We are, in short, being “gaslighted“: what’s real, what’s true, what’s not . . . are we insane?

And all of this is now occurring while the two unstoppable pincers of climate change and nuclear war move closer and closer. These are the issues that might unite a struggling humanity, might rally the forces of compassion and beneficence—not the mutually assured destruction of false narrative, denial and belligerence.

Either we become goose-stepping sleepwalkers, swallowing the lies foisted upon us whole and in part, or we recognise the gravity of these deceptions and use every bit of our wit and talent to protest and to rebuff.

It’s no coincidence that artists have led the way in the fight against the perversely hypocritical pressure of Power. But we will need more than art to make our way out of this oppressive humanly constructed mess.

The energetic scepticism of uncorrupted youth, ever-inquisitive and ever-alive, must be combined with some kind of effective organisational process that begins by saying ‘no’ to war and ‘yes’ to preserving human rights and a healthy environment.

But don’t take my word for it or for anything else: keep questioning, endlessly, as a matter of habit: it’s the necessary first step on the long hard road ahead that represents our hope.

Dr. Garcia is an American-born writer and physician who resides in New Zealand.

One Response to Truth, false narratives and our only hope

  1. It’s a necessary piece!

    And that is one of the best things I can say about it!

    Not only well-written, but necessary to ponder the truths Dr. Garcia has expressed here: the necessity to question and doubt; and the necessity to sustain hope. The necessity to seriously consider the real dangers we face now!

    It’s a keeper!