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May 15, 2013
Crisis: On "The Death of Truth" 
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Sections

Introduction   
1. On myself and "The Death of Truth"
2. On Chris Hedges and "The Death of Truth"
3.
What is to be done?
About ME/CFS


Introduction:

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".

1. On myself and "The Death of Truth"

Chris Hedges 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 get worse.

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.

2. On 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, Bradley 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:

3. What is to be done?

Lenin 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 apathetic?:
Bad education, stupefying media, and especially 50 years of TV, natural languages poisoned by figures of speech, fallacies and rhetoric as practised in public relations and 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 relations and 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 not exist".

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:
everybody knows that    ...  truth does not exist
we all know that           ...  everything is relative
it is well-known that      ...  social security is bad for you
we all can agree that     ...  'ill' people are often not 'ill'
it is quite obvious that   ...  the government means the best
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 soundbytes.

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 policies:

          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 1980ies.

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.

---------------------------------

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)


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