Untruthing: Rewriting reality for the electorate
Throw enough mud and we will lose track. An ancient PR strategy being used by the President
Where did the Untruth Culture come from? And when did we accept it?
This is an old comedy routine. “Did you do X?” A pause. The accused obviously does X. “There! You just did X!” The accused looks outraged, and does X again. “No I didn’t!” And so it continues, the ludicrous hyperbolic denial building to the punchline. Monty Python, Shakespeare and even The Office played on it. And now, so are our populist overlords.
Except that now it isn’t funny. There was a time when lying could mean the end of your career (Clinton,Bill) (Nixon, Richard) (Blair, Tony). It once disgusted voters that someone they trusted to act in their best interests could twist the truth before their own eyes. A fireable offence. Now, its a free for all.
Did you colude with the Russians? Just fire the FBI and CIA. Did you lie to the British populace about the 350m for the NHS? Just burble some buzzwords and insinuate a coup. Did you molest a 14 year old girl? March around with a drum saying JFK had an affair with a 19 year old.
The lies are not just twisted versions of reality such as “I did not have sexual intercourse with that woman” but full blown falsehoods. Ridiculous ones. Meetings that never happened. Imaginary numbers of people and funding. Invented terror attacks. Falsified back stories. Black PR campaigns centred on absurd conspiracies. All absolutely jaw droppingly brazen.
For a while I was a bit curious about where all this had come from. I hadn’t seen it before, in any of my hoverings over newspapers and radios. Then, while researching propaganda semiotics in the USSR, it grabbed my by the neo cortex and shook me. I’d seen this before. I’d seen this for years.
I’d been laughing about this since GCSE History.
Stalin, Trotsky, Lenin and Beria all did the exact same thing. Almost a carbon copy. If you lie enough, brazenly enough, continuously enough, people stop bothering to expect the truth. The agenda is whatever you say it is. Reality is whatever you put in print. People become immune to the horror that they are being lied to. Reality and Fiction blur.
You want 40,000 posters proclaiming the huge harvest? Yes Comrade. You want your millions of followers to believe that hundreds of thousands turned up for your inauguration speech? Yes President.
The bemusement at the lies becomes confusion. It can’t all be a lie. Or how much of it is? Or who is lying or why? And they can’t possibly lie to us so brazenly. Right? Right?
How distinctly Russian. Well done, Putin. Played well.