The American people have been "trained" to accept being lied to. The prevailing cliché of lying politicians is so universally accepted, that ... well, it's universally accepted, so much so that you can probably get nine out of ten Americans to agree that, yes politicians lie. By making "lying politicians" an indisputable truth, it becomes like army food in the old days...
"In psychological warfare, the Colonel of Truth is always
outranked by the General Lie."
-- Swami Beyondananda
Back in the Vietnam
era, there was a popular joke about Lyndon Johnson. How can you tell when LBJ is lying? When he scratches his head, he is
telling the truth. When his nose
twitches, he is telling the truth. When he wiggles his ear, he is telling the truth. But when he opens his mouth ... he's
Like so many
political jokes, that one has been re-purposed many times to apply to the lying
politician du jour. Even the lies
are the same. If you haven't done
so already, go rent Norman Solomon's movie, War Made Easy. There, you will see and hear Robert McNamara and LBJ
justifying the Vietnam War -- and the Bush team and their media lackeys saying
almost the exact same words to justify our invasion of Iraq 35 years
How can they
continue to get away with it?
Well, because the American people have been "trained" to accept being
lied to. The prevailing cliché of
lying politicians is so universally accepted, that ... well, it's universally
accepted, so much so that you can probably get nine out of ten Americans to
agree that, yes politicians lie.
By making "lying politicians" an indisputable truth, it becomes like
army food in the old days:
something we are encouraged to complain about, but are powerless to
To understand how
we have been collectively mentally manipulated to accept and embrace lies and
liars, go check out Edward Bernaysand Leo Strauss.They shared the belief that the masses are meant to be
manipulated by the elites, and their ideas have spawned the techniques and
technologies that keep the American people enslaved under the illusion of
freedom. And when dissatisfaction
does well up, the channels are in place for the heat of anger to be expressed,
while the light of insight remains hidden.
How Lie-ability Has Become An Asset
To understand how
lie-ability becomes an asset, let's take a look at two liars -- your liar, and
my liar. Your liar is the liar I
love to hate, whose lies I believe should be transparent to everyone -- which
is why he or she drives me crazy.
For progressives, Glenn Beck fits that description perfectly. As the "ideal" purveyor of toxic
disinformation, Beck builds credibility by beginning with "common sense" truths
that seem indisputable. Into this
mix, however, he inserts an IED (Intentionally Explosive Disinformation) that
causes progressives to explode with rage, to the glee of his faithful audience.
Ready for Beck's
favorite IED? George W. Bush was a
progressive. Yes, according to Glenn Beck, because the Bush
Administration grew big government to run the Iraq War, it makes him a
"progressive." Does it make
sense? Well, to conservatives who
have learned that "progressives hate America and love big government," it makes
a sort of half sense -- but who needs logic when you have fervent belief and an
all-purpose straw man enemy? This
is a recycled McCarthyist tactic that worked back when the enemy was
communism. Now it's socialism, or
Because of the
absurd outrageousness of this claim, it draws progressive fire: "Come on baby, fight my liar!" And, it gives so-called conservatives
something to rally around. (I
remember the first peace march I went to in New York back in the 60s, where I
found myself face-to-face with a counter-demonstrator shouting,
"Communist! Communist! Communist!" I calmly walked up to him, put my face close to his and
asked, "Excuse me, can you tell me what a communist is?" He got a blank look on his face for a
moment, and then he answered my question.
"YOU! YOU! You're a communist!")
OK. So that's their liar. What about ours?
Strung Out On Hopium?
Last month, more
than 500 concerned progressives attended an event at the University of San
Francisco sponsored by the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Convened by Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine, the
one-day event focused on how the progressive wing of the Democratic Party could
influence President Obama to be the Obama the people voted for.
In addition to
providing comic relief as the Swami, I was also given a panel spot to address
the war in Afghanistan. I used
that platform to suggest that the war is a symptom of the disease that has had
America in a stranglehold for more than 60 years -- a Military Industrial
Complex in support of the American Empire. Earlier, a military veteran had commented that in his experience,
the President had limited power to make any real change, and that the Military
Industrial Complex held the real power.
Another individual suggested that until we address the very questionable
"official 9/11 story," we would unable to fundamentally change American foreign
I was disappointed
-- but not surprised -- as the gathered progressives rejected the opportunity
to step outside the political matrix.
None of the other panelists who spoke would address either the forces
that hold the President in check, or the horrific notion that our own
government might have had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. It was reminiscent of the classic Holy
Fool story, where the Fool is down on his knees in a parking light one evening. A friend asks him what he is doing.
"I'm looking for my
car keys," is the reply.
"Oh," says the
friend, "you lost your car keys in the parking lot?"
"No, I lost them in
the bushes over there."
"Well then, why are
you looking here?"
"Because there is
more light in the parking lot."
In my view, mainstream
progressives are unwilling to confront the darkness at the heart of the
American empire. They rail at the
manipulators over at Faux News, as they fail to recognize a very inconvenient
truth: they are lying to
themselves. Now let me clarify
what I mean by the "darkness" at the heart of the American empire. I don't believe America or Americans
are "evil." Very likely the vast
majority of our public servants, even those who serve in high office, are
largely well-intentioned. However,
by ignoring the proverbial elephant in the living room, they empower the
sociopathogens who thrive in darkness.
After World War II,
the American public entered into a "don't ask, don't tell" agreement with our
government. We the people promised
not to ask what our government is doing to "protect" us, and the government
promised not to tell us. In the
60+ years that have followed, we have empowered a secret government with a
"black budget," with no accountability whatever. If there is one universal law of political science worth
remembering, it's Lord Acton'snotion that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts
Fathers understood this more than a century before Lord Acton uttered those
words. That's why the Constitution
provides for balance of powers.
But when you empower a power that has no accountability, and no
counterbalance, you are essentially writing a blank check to tyranny. Global climate change notwithstanding,
THIS is the hugely inconvenient truth that so few "progressives" are willing to
face. Why? Because facing it would require
inordinate courage and spiritual fortitude.
progressives accept the taboos against talking about fixed elections or the
mysterious collapse of Building Seven. Just recently, the Huffington Post very quickly pulled a
post by Jesse Venturathat questioned the official 9/11 story.Where was the protest? Nowhere, that's where.
With the exception of three notable progressive journalists -- Mark
Crispin Miller, Rob Kall of OpEd Newsand Peter Phillips of Project Censored, the rest of progressive journalism prefers the comfort of
calling these inconvenient possibilities "conspiracy theories." My definition of conspiracy theory is,
"something which, were it true, you would be unable to deal with it."
Hence, we have
mainstream progressives searching for the keys to change in a well-lit parking
lot, instead of the dark and thorny shrubbery. They may find ways to temporarily feel better, but
ultimately they will continue to hold the current dysfunction in place, while
continuing to hold on to the "moral superiority" of believing in change, while
not being willing to do what it really takes to have that change.
I'm sorry if that
But true transformation
comes from confronting the lies we tell ourselves, rather than on our outrage
over the lies the other guy is telling.
We have very little power of the latter, and a world of power over the
And Now ... For the Good News: The Law of 75
The good news can
be found in a story my friend and colleague Patricia Suntold me a number of years ago. She was scheduled to speak at a "new age" bookstore, and
when she arrived she found four fundamentalist Christians picketing outside the
store. Patricia told the
storeowner she was going to speak to them.
storeowner said, "you can't talk with those people. Don't waste your time."
went out to converse with the picketers.
After ten minutes, three of the four put down their signs, hugged
Patricia, and said, "You're saying just what Jesus said!"
The fourth one
continued holding his sign.
From this simple,
transformational incident I extracted "the Law of 75." When faced with loving and respectful
communication, three out of four of people will put aside the beliefs in their
head for the love in their heart.
Of course, this is an untested premise, more of an intuitive suspicion
than an actual "law." But I'm sure
those working with the tools of Non-violent Communication and other techniques
for holding connection in the face of conflict have similar stories.
So perhaps the key
to breakthrough and transformation is not to get sucked into fighting the other
guy's liar, but instead gathering around a higher, more compelling truth. If you think this is pie-in-the-sky
hopium smoke I am blowing, check out what's happening in Reno, Nevada, where
Richard Flyer's Conscious Community Networkis bringing together traditionally religious folks, along
with the spiritual-but-not-religious, secular humanists and ethical atheists
around "virtues and values" the vast majority of us share in common.
Maybe this is the
time to emerge from the dueling dualities and bi-polar political dysfunction,
and have the courage to face the unknown together, using our "positions" as
jumping off points, not platforms.
What if we brought together the Tea Parties, the Coffee Parties -- heck,
the Pot Parties, if need be -- and brought the light of love, sanity, and
coherence across the artificial political divide, and focused on the greater
truths we share in common?
We already have the
communications tools to do this.
Now we need the will and the focus.
There are some who
say we are facing an imminent apocalypse.
Others say that evolution is calling us forth. I'm inclined to agree with both. Remember, the original definition of apocalypse is "lifting
the veils." As with any recovery
program, the first step is telling the truth -- lifting the veils both on the
true powers we have as human beings, and the forces that have kept us from
seeing and using that power.
Before we can totally embrace our powers as co-creators, we must see clearly
where we are and how we got here.
It won't be
pretty. But by cultivating and
growing the field of love that at least 75% of us are capable of, we will have
what we need to metabolize those political toxins. As we strengthen the bonds of love and mutual-respect, we
will generate both the field and the wisdom to find emergent solutions to
entrenched problems. Together, we
can become generators of our own light.
And only together can we bring that light to the endarkened corridors of
Steve Bhaerman is a writer, humorist and uncommontator who's been posing as cosmic comic Swami Beyondananda for the past 20 years. He is the author of seven books including Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There From Here, co-written with Bruce Lipton, and Reuniting America, A Toolkit for Changing the Political Game, with co-author Joseph McCormick.