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The Big Lie

I love George Monbiot’s polemic at the end of his Guardian article

It ends:

Most of us recognise nonsense when we see it. Really? So how do we account for the fact that almost everyone in public life subscribes to the same set of preposterous beliefs? Let’s set aside the wild conspiracy theories of the far right, even though they’re now starting to infect the mainstream right. Let’s focus on the “acceptable” range of political opinion.

Nearly everyone who appears in the media, across almost the entire political spectrum, seems to accept that economic growth can and should continue indefinitely on a finite planet. Almost all believe that we should take action to protect life on Earth only when it is cost-effective. Even then, we should avoid compromising the profits of legacy industries. They appear to believe that something they call “the economy” takes priority over our life support systems.

They further believe that the unhindered acquisition of enormous wealth by a few people is somehow acceptable. They believe that taxes sufficient to break the cycle of accumulation and redistribute extreme wealth are unthinkable. They believe that permitting a handful of offshore billionaires to own the media, set the political agenda and tell us where our best interests lie is fine. They believe that we should pledge unquestioning allegiance to a system we call capitalism even though they are unable to define it, let alone predict where it might be heading.

No terror or torture is required to persuade people to fall into line with these crazy beliefs. Somehow our system of organised lying has created an entire class of politicians, officials, media commentators, cultural leaders, academics and intellectuals who nod along with them. Reading accounts of 20th-century terror, it sometimes seems to me that there was more dissent among intellectuals confronting totalitarian regimes than there is in our age of freedom and choice.

We have a truth crisis all right. But it is much deeper and wider than we care to admit. Perhaps the biggest lie of all is that the crisis is confined to the Kremlin’s falsehoods and the far right’s conspiracy theories. On the contrary, it is systemic and almost universal.