1. On myself and "The Death
2. On Chris Hedges and "The Death of Truth"
3. What is
to be done?
I am still paying back my walk of almost three weeks ago, so I
am still not
feeling very well. (But it may be improving some.)
The last two days were on Henry Miller.
Today I return to the crisis and specifically to "The Death of Truth".
On myself and "The Death of Truth"
wrote a fairly long piece about Wikileaks and Julian Assange, whom he
visted in London, and while those are interesting subjects, I do not
want to write about them now, although I will quote Assange briefly.
However, Hedges' piece - or
one of his pieces - is called "The
Death of Truth", and that is a subject I have been concerned with
since 1977 in writing. For in that year I started to study philosophy,
and learned almost immediately that I was "a fascist", said to and
about me in public, because I said that I did not admire Marx as much as Peirce.
I know... it is long ago; I
wasn't even ill; and I had to stop studying after three months because
my grant was denied to me (not my fault), but even so I had made enough
points for the whole year, which meant that I could continue in
September 1978, when I did do so, in combinationn with psychology.
But then I fell ill after 4
months, and that was it, for since then I never got better though I did
And in 1977 I also was
first exposed to students who were in transition from Marxism to
postmodernism, though even that is probably praising them too much, and
published two pieces in Dutch, that were mostly about truth, logic and
my unhappiness with what I had been offered by the study of philosophy.
The point was that I had
then, for about the first time, heard that truth does not exist, and
that anybody who thinks it does, like I did and do, was difficult to
distinguish from insane persons.
Now the last part of the
claim was, at that time, probably mostly limited to students of
philosophy, but the notion that truth does not exist was widely popular
then, and indeed the next year, in 1978, the official and public
opening of the academic year was done by a speech in which professor
M.A. Brandt declared that "everybody knows that truth does not exist" -
literally, although in Dutch.
My ex and I who had visited
that opening were quite upset, but we were almost the only ones, and
indeed the very phrasing was a clever combination of a double lie that
has gotten extremely popular since then - for truth does exist,
and it is quite false that everybody knows this.
I will return to this, but
first will get to this year and this month - 36 years later - when
Chris Hedges published his piece.
Chris Hedges and "The Death of Truth"
As I said, the piece I am
quoting from is called "The
Death of Truth", and as I see it that happened in the middle and
late 1970ies and early 1980ies, at least in Holland, at the
University of Amsterdam.
Then again, Chris Hedges
article was published in the early days of May 2013, in truthdig.com,
and in fact it is mostly about Julian Assange,
Manning and Wikileaks,
and mostly based on a recent interview Hedges had with Assange.
I do want to pick one thing
from it, which is about the internet:
“The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation,” Assange
writes, “has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of
totalitarianism we have ever seen.”
Quite so. The same point
was made by me in my Christmas sermon:
Hypotheses about CF+SS, which few people seem to have liked,
but even so.
What I mainly wanted to
quote is this, again as also said by me in that appearenty little liked
Christmas piece of last year:
The world has been turned upside down. The pestilence of
corporate totalitarianism is spreading rapidly over the earth. The
criminals have seized power. It is not, in the end, simply Assange or
Manning they want. It is all who dare to defy the official narrative,
to expose the big lie of the global corporate state. The persecution of
Assange and Manning is the harbinger of what is to come, the rise of a
bitter world where criminals in Brooks Brothers suits and gangsters in
beribboned military uniforms—propped up by a vast internal and external
security apparatus, a compliant press and a morally bankrupt political
elite—monitor and crush those who dissent. Writers, artists, actors,
journalists, scientists, intellectuals and workers will be forced to
obey or thrown into bondage. I fear for Julian Assange. I fear for
Bradley Manning. I fear for us all.
I quite agree. Then again:
What is to be done?
wrote a book with the same title, but I do not know what is to
be done, not merely because I am 63 and have been ill for 35 years,
though both points enter, but because so very few seem to care, and
because the risks are large - and see my Why
are so many so apathetic? from
the beginning of this year, that is incidentally the sixth year
of crisis and of my crisis series.
Here is my summary of Why are so many so
education, stupefying media, and
especially 50 years of TV, natural languages poisoned by figures of speech, fallacies and rhetoric as
practised in public
advertisements , and the relativization of all values,
of all knowledge, and of all aspirations to what the democratic masses,
as manipulated by propaganda in the media, (are supposed to) approve.
It is this this that makes it
so difficult, and especially what I called then the fact of natural languages poisoned by figures of speech, fallacies and rhetoric as
practised in public
advertisements - which leads
me back to what I said in section 1, and something you
can do, if you are intelligent enough.
One of the main problems is that very much of public communication, in
the papers and on TV, is based on the trick that involve double lies
of the kind I illustrated above, that "everybody knows that truth does
That is, you are offered a lie in the context of a lie, of
which the second is often about beliefs, communication, or language,
while the inner one is a piece of propaganda:
that ... truth does not exist
And so on. Note this has been
practised outside the universities from the late eighties or early
nineties onwards, and that such statements are quite difficult to debate, especially if the debate is in terms of
we all know
... everything is relative
it is well-known
that ... social security is bad for
we all can agree
that ... 'ill' people are often not 'ill'
it is quite obvious that ... the government means the
A similar double lie, also practised outside the universities from the
late eighties or early nineties onwards, is to adopt the position and ideals
of those you oppose, but insist you want to introduce them by your
we want to make the poor
richer, by enriching the rich
we want to make life
easier for the poor, by making it harder for them
we want to liberate the
people, by taking their rights
we want to make
people free, by ruling their communications
And so on. Again this is difficult to oppose in debate, especially if
the debate is in terms of sound bytes.
Finally, note that both kinds of fallacies are quite widespread and are
not liimited to one side of the spectrum: The Third Way in
politics - Clinton and Obama in the US, Blair and Brown in Great
Britain, Kok and Samsom in Holland - in fact can be seen as based on
it. Then again, the American Republicans started it already in the
In any case... the least you can do, if you are intelligent enough, is
not to be tricked by such lies, and not to engage in them, and to say
"No, I do not believe it" to any statement in the media that you do not
fully consent to.
It's not much, but it is something.