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The lie as a resource politician


Published in

El Diario Montañés and Diario de Navarra

Gerardo Castillo

Lecturer at School of Education and Psychology. University of Navarra

Lies are becoming more and more prominent in political debates. Opponents are called liars, without the latter complaining of being wronged. The same is not true outside Parliament, where it is considered a serious insult. It seems that in politics, as in war, anything goes. This is a symptom that lying is becoming trivialized and normalized in political life . It is a very worrying status , both because of its moral permissiveness and because it undermines democracy. It contrasts sharply with the importance given to sincerity in primitive peoples: whoever lied had "language split", so it was considered unreliable person. To systematically use lies as a political weapon and tool denotes, at the very least, a lack of imagination and arguments.

An example of lying as a political resource is the one carried out by Donald Trump's campaign manager, who justified the entrance barrier to the United States for Muslim citizens. According to her, two Muslims had been involved in the Bowling Green massacre, but this fact has never existed. The lie is an expression contrary to what is thought. For St. Augustine, lying consists of "telling falsehood with the intention of deceiving". The value 'truth' favors human relations, while the anti-value 'lie' deteriorates coexistence.

In some environments, truth and sincerity are no longer considered values. There is talk of the 'culture of lies' in which lies are used as a political strategy and tool . This is a reflection of a society in which it is more important to appear than to be, and where it is easy to find people who Withdrawal their convictions in order to get a good position.

There are many reasons for lying in politics. Among them are the following: to obtain a benefit, not to accept a responsibility, to avoid a task, not to assume a truth, to have notoriety. Behind the lie lies the compulsion to stand out.

There is an 'emotional lie' called post-truth that is gaining more and more social and political presence every day. In 2016, the Oxford dictionary recognized that term as the word of the year, due to the wide use it was being given in the political arena. Post-truth is the distortion of a reality in which objective facts weigh less than the appeal to personal emotions. Many people say "I feel" instead of "I think"; also "I feel that is true". For some authors, what best characterizes post-truth is the disregard for truth. It creates a vacuum that is doomed to be filled with fables.

To counteract the power of lies in social and political life, we usually resort to positive skepticism: Who does this information serve? What is the quality and reliability of the sources? It is very important to foster a love of truth from an early age, because without it we will not be free, nor will we know how to distinguish the true from the false, nor will our life have coherence and meaning.

The love of truth brings with it the desire to know and to learn. This love can spring from a child's natural curiosity. Those who love the truth search for it with enthusiasm and perseverance; moreover, they aim high and are not satisfied with the initial absence of answers. Even if sometimes the search time takes a long time, it is not a time lost, but a time of learning. The child archer who aimed at the moon with his arrows never reached it, but he was the one who went the farthest. It is very important the source to which we approach to drink, but we must not underestimate the ability to search for it. Socrates said that, when the human being's natural tendency towards knowledge is annulled, he is enslaved in the worst prison, that of mental darkness, ignorance. He added that the most serious form of ignorance is not that of the one who does not know, but that of the one who lacks interest in learning. I suggest inscribing these words in the portico of all parliaments. He who loves the truth will be repulsed by lies.