Every credit has its debit, every positive its negative. So for every secret there must be a lie, and every lie must be kept secret.
This is the currency of power today. Fiat truth.
We are not allowed to have any secrets any more. And yet those who insist they must know the truth about us, who spy upon us to extract our secrets, tell us in return, only lies.
It is a dangerous, corroding imbalance of power, because lies, like debts, compound.
Living the lie
We all know the famous Goebbels quote,
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
From Sadam’s weapons of mass destruction and missiles that could hit us in just 40 minutes of sexed up bullshit, to the stress tests that show us every bank is perfectly solvent and however many billions they launder they are never guilty and no one goes to gaol because they are too big to fail and too connected to even question.
But who does the all seeing eye, that sits atop the pyramid of power on the mighty dollar bill, work for now? Is it really you and me? That is what we are told to believe. But is it true? I think there are too many secrets but few of them are yours and mine.
The private dealings of the ordinary citizen are considered suspect and must, we are told, be rooted out. The secrets and outright lies of the corporate and governmental worlds, however – they are confidential. They are protected – behind razor-wire threats of legal action and closed door tribunals of hand picked experts.
A few weeks ago I sat and listened to the former leader of the Conservative party, now an elder statesman of British politics, Michael Howard, tell an audience that governments need to lie. He is a clever man. He quoted Goebbels and then gave this carefully chosen example.
Imagine, he said, that a Chancellor knew that he was going to have to devalue the currency. The evening before the appointed hour, he is asked by a journalist if he is going to devalue. If he tells the truth and says yes, there will be a run on the currency and great damage will be done. So he lies. “No”, he says, “I have absolutely no plans to devalue at all.” And then next morning he devalues as he had planned.
“Was this not”, Mr Howard asked, “the right thing, the only thing to do?” And all agreed it was. The unspoken lesson that everyone seemed to accept was stability is more important than the truth.
I find this a very frightening notion.
But Mr Howard presented his lie well. He went on to quote the next, less well known line from the Goebbels quote.
The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.
And this, he said smiling at us, is what protects you. The chancellor’s lie only needed to last a few hours. The nation only lived inside his lie overnight.
But now think of the lies we have been told since 2008. Our banking system and the banks in it, we were told, were basically sound just suffering from a shortage of liquidity. And yet, in reality, it was not a problem of liquidity, it was insolvency.
The liquidity lie had to be rolled over and the interest on it, paid. So another lie, that bank assets were not worthless just ‘impaired’, had to be told and maintained. And to do that the truth had to be hidden, off balance sheet, in mark to model and offshore.
Our governments have spent trillions maintaining their lies and have forced us to live those lies for five years now. But there are costs. Living a lie is morally and politically corrosive, not to mention expensive. Just this week, as reported in the FT, the Italian Treasury ‘uncovered’ a nest of lies. It appears that the Italian government, in the run up to joining the euro, paid at least one of the big banks to help it hide the true extent of its debts by agreeing derivative swaps. Greece used similar swaps to massage its debts. The now infamous Titlos agreement with Goldman Sachs being the best known.
The Italian agreements – there were several amounting to around €36 billion in value – would have been known to Mario Draghi who was at the time of some of the agreements at least (1998-9) Secretary of the Treasury. Shortly after this (2002) he left the government and joined Goldman.
It now turns out the terms of the agreements were such that the Italian tax payer could face billions in losses. Of course those who will be forced to pay, were never consulted, not even told of the agreements. They were …confidential of course. Commercially sensitive and politically secret – so often bedfellows aren’t they? Kept secret from those who would be required to pay the bill when it came due.
Our leaders, our liars, haven’t bothered to protect us from the consequences of the lies at all. Too expensive. So austerity, disparity and stagnation are everywhere around us. Forced on us by those who suffer none of them, insulated as they are by wealth and power and privilege. Consequences are for little people, not their Betters.
Our ‘Betters’ have found Goebbels was wrong. You don’t have to protect the people from the consequences of the lies you tell them, as long as you can blame those consequences on someone else. On unforeseen global economic forces, on conniving foreigners who devalue their currency, or terrorists or whistleblowers. Or even the people themselves for taking on debts they couldn’t afford or on ‘necessity’ and ‘precedent’ – the bond holders cannot be made to pay – it goes against international precedent.
We, the people, need to strike back at the secret deals done between the elites of the political and financial revolving door, and make it clear that we will not pay for anything about which we were not told.
Once the cry was, “No taxation without representation”. Today the cry must be, “No debt without consultation.”
Suppressing the Truth
What Mr Howard did not quote is the next line from Goebbels.
It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
But again Goebbels has been superceded. Repression is so last century. Why repress when you can simply drown it out. All it takes is for the media outlets to be owned by a few powerful and like- minded friends. A few media moguls and corporate giants, whose plastic pundits raise their voices while the dolly bird presenters flash their thighs. It’s all so full throttle and frantic, and charged with desire and greed.
Anyone who disagrees is a conspiracy theorist. Anyone who breaks ranks is a whistleblower and whistleblowers are domestic terrorists, dysfunctional loners with personality problems and axes to grind.
When the truth is vilified, hunted, gagged and goaled, then the State has chosen to go to war with the nation.
We are at war.