The political sphere, charged with the ordering of human affairs, has always been an immense machinery of lies, but thanks to the contemporary explosion of sophisticated communication technology, the lie has now become a veritable institution, a virtual pandemic of structurally embedded mendacity. Truth also exists, of course, but it is now routinely denounced as mis-dis-mal-information and either rigorously censored or, as we see, consistently misnamed as something it is not.
The phenomenon is clearly prominent in American cultural and political life, where the spirit of justice, of legislating on the basis of discoverable truth and acting in good faith, seems a quaint vestige of the foundational past. “Nearly every facet of our American institutions,” writes Sharyl Atkisson in a brief but incendiary survey, “has been infiltrated by activists, corporate and political propagandists,” including institutions such as public health and national intel agencies, Congress and the Executive Branch, the education establishment, sports, corporations, and, of course, the media. The integrity of the information we receive has been degraded almost beyond recognition.
Dennis Prager similarly defines our time as the Age of the Absurd, as committed to the propagation of manifest fantasies and flagrant injustices. But the Absurd flows directly from the cathexis of the Lie, the need to reconfigure reality in order to subsidize an illusion and achieve pre-eminence in so doing. (“Space is no longer the final frontier — reality is,” writes Linda Goutsmit in The Collapsing American Family: From Bonding to Bondage.) As many have pointed out, Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” is no longer a conceit drawn from dystopian fiction. It has now become a universal seminary of guile, fraud, sophistry, and manifest injustice, populated by a vast camarilla of professional liars.
We recall Martin Luther King’s celebrated conviction, expressed in an address titled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution“, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” — a phrase Barack Obama was fond of insincerely repeating and misquoting. The phrase has a history, deriving from a sermon delivered in 1853 by the transcendentalist preacher Theodore Parker, who confessed, “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one…And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”
Regrettably, the arc of justice may or may not bend, but it is certainly bent if not broken by considerations of convenience, expedience, exigency, avarice, and raw power. We can see, for example, how injustice, how a blanket ecosystem of lies, has been installed everywhere in the public and administrative life of the nation. Here is a short catalogue, which partly overlaps with Atkisson’s prevarication list and Prager’s instances of absurdity, familiar to almost everyone:
- Concerned parents are “domestic terrorists.”
- Transgendered biological males are women.
- The embryo developing in the womb is merely a clump of protoplasm.
- Women are subjected to something called “the Patriarchy.”
- White people are all supremacists.
- The climate is heating up to catastrophic levels.
- Green technology is clean and viable.
- COVID-19, with a survival rate of approximately 99%, is a lethal pandemic.
- An mRNA vector nanolipid is a “vaccine.”
- Masks are protective devices.
- The unvaccinated are superspreaders.
- Men can get pregnant.
- Diversity is strength.
- One needs to be a biologist to know what a woman is.
- Election integrity is a form of racism.
- Meritocracy is a Western plot to suppress minorities.
- The concept of mathematics being purely objective is false and a form of white supremacy.
- Fewer police equals less crime.
- America was founded in an act of slavery.
- The First Amendment entails “clearly dangerous content” and must be limited.
- Jesus was black.
- Excessive spending “costs zero dollars.”
And so on, ad nauseam. There is no moral universe to be found here. As Vince Everett Ellison writes from the perspective of a black patriot in his blockbuster exposé 25 Lies, “This evil is present in smaller proportions throughout society” but is observable in boundless proportions in the “cruelty, avarice and pride … of the Democrat Party [whose] entire legislative agenda can be characterized by the acronym SEM (sex, envy, murder).”
Perhaps the most monumental lie of all concerns the 2020 presidential election, as every discerning person knows despite the plethora of partisan-Left fact-checkers clutching their pearls; as strongly implied by vote recounts in five swing states; as demonstrated by an amicus brief filed by Texas and 18 states protesting an “illegitimate” election, ludicrously dismissed as having no standing; as attested in a literally impossible 81 million votes cast for Joe Biden, who could barely fill a small parking lot for a campaign rally; as revealed in the infamous Time article claiming the need to “fortify”—that is, to rig—an election; as suggested by the possibility of tampering with vote tabulator components in electronic voting machines; and as confirmed by Dinesh D’Souza’s devastating documentary 2000 Mules.
D’Souza has found that enough fraudulent ballots were deposited in mail-in drop boxes to change the outcome of the election. “Never before in history has a presidential election,” says D’Souza at the end of the film, “been as thoroughly corrupted by coordinated fraud across multiple states as we now know took place in 2020.” Whether the FBI will step in to interview and prosecute is another question entirely and does not inspire much confidence.
The travesty gives no indication of abating. Biden’s newly established Disinformation Governance Board — again, as every sentient person knows — is an apparatus intended to suppress any glimmer of political truth and reinforce the spread of actual disinformation. It is in blatant violation of John Milton’s great 1644 tract against censorship and licensing ordinances (at least pre-preprinting) the Areopagitica, which is the informing principle of the First Amendment. As Milton wrote, “If it come to prohibiting, there is aught more likely to be prohibited than truth itself.”
The current governing administration, the legacy press, the Big Tech platforms, and the digital media in general have filled the infosphere with a massive viral load of pure duplicity. They have taken out a patent on deception. The culture is sick with lies—indeed, not only in America but throughout the Western world—as if almost every particle of public speech—political, medical, juridical, editorial—were misfolded and toxic. If Theodore Parker could survey the contemporary scene, he would have to admit that the arc of the moral universe has been shattered, perhaps beyond repair. Or, to adapt the biblical image from which the trope obviously derives, the arc of the rainbow is neither a sign nor a harbinger of fruitfulness. It does not bend toward a pot of gold.
As Saint Augustine essentially argued in his greatest work City of God, the arc of the moral universe bends toward another world.
Dean Grodzins’ American Heretic: Theodore Parker and Transcendentalism tells the fascinating story of Parker’s life, the American Transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, and other major figures, a volume I cannot recommend highly enough.