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The Mathematics of Political Lies -1984

Thursday, October 22, 2015 12:54
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Those involved in politics — the politicians, reporters and corporate lobbyists — are constantly lying. There is outright lying, which might be done in any number of ways including complete conjuration and complete elimination of information. Politicians and the lackey media, however, normally prefer more nuanced presentations to their lies. Mathematical and scientific approaches can assist in making sense of the nonsensical and unpredictable nature of such a politics. So here, like arithmetic, are the four basic types of political lies:

The first type of lie is the addition of information so as to distort the story to mean an entirely different thing.

The second type of lie is the subtraction of information. This type of lie removes a key component making the story mean an entirely different thing.

The third type of lie is multiplication of information. Exaggerations of situations connected with the story as well as exaggerations of extraneous information are included in the presentation.

The fourth type of lie is division of information. Disconnects are inserted into the presentation of information and the significance of information is divided and separated.

The powerbrokers of the political, corporate and major media elite execute these four types of lies all the time. There is no suggestive or wild conspiracy linking unordered dots to point out that those with the greatest amount of information are correspondingly the greatest liars. This is a rule of politics parallel with that of Lord Acton’s Rule: that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The idea is the same: that sources of information lie, and information from one absolute source lies absolutely.

In George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” animals are personified and write down their rules for all to see and follow. Eventually, through the addition of language, the messages are altered along with the entirety of their conditions, and thus utilized by some — the allegory is illustrated, of course, with pigs — to benefit themselves. The seven rules from “Animal Farm” clearly express this addition and subtraction of language, and the impact it has as “information”:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed (with sheets).
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol (to excess).
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal (without cause).
  7. All animals are equal (but some animals are more equal than others).

Following this, Orwell’s “1984″ demonstrates the way that language is shrinking, being effectively subtracted as a form of information. Winston Smith’s job is to eliminate contrary information and insert supportive information, while his coworkers are involved with creating the incredibly shrinking dictionary. I have extrapolated what I think is the most reasonable guess as to what the adages might have said before they were made redundant (my additions in parentheses):

War (on individuals) is peace (to institutions).

Freedom (to institutions) is slavery (for individuals).

Ignorance (among individuals) is strength (to institutions).

To conclude: The personas and representatives of our current political, financial and media institutions lie all the time, in one of the four ways. The greatest contemporary lies are only hinted at, suggested in whispers, and nearly always are related to institutions working over individuals. Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, for example, was a lie whose consequences we will continue to experience for decades. The major institutions — energy, banking, defense, you name it — are lying to us every day, leaving us feeling helpless to respond.

But perhaps, by understanding the arithmetic of these political lies, we will better understand the lies themselves.

About the author:

Ethan Indigo SmithActivist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

Ethan’s publications include:

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