Liars, Fakers, and the Seductive Texture Of Authoritarianism

18 December 2020. Updated 20 December 2020.

by Sean Walsh

In 1986 the philosopher Harry Frankfurt wrote an article called ‘On Bullshit‘ in which he pointed out that there is an epistemological and therefore morally significant difference between lying and faking. When you lie, he argued, you inadvertently disclose that you have some concern for the truth. To fake, on the other hand, is to reach for whatever bullshit you can spout in service of your desired end.

This lack of concern for truth is what makes the chancer worse than the liar. The faker, having lost any interest in separating the true from the false, will inevitably end up deceiving himself. He has no skin in the game. The liar is at least theoretically capable of being brought to book; the faker is beyond help. His world is fundamentally distorted.

The histrionic response to COVID-19 has shown that we are presided over by a Lockdown Sanhedrin, the High Priests of which are all fakers. These are not dispassionate and objective observers of “the science”, because science, properly done, eschews fakery. They are people trapped in the addiction of authoritarianism. And self-deception is a driver of that pathology. There is a bewildering disparity between the ‘data’ they offer us and the homily they compose from it. When you acquire the habit of lying to yourself you end up not being able to spot when you look ridiculous to other people.

And this is what’s happened.

How else would you explain the perplexing refusal of the governing class to even take seriously any opposing, non-Establishment, view? When Michael Yeadon points to the fragility of the SAGE assumption that ‘everyone’ is vulnerable to C-19, he is ignored. When Sunetra Gupta raises questions concerning the infection mortality rate, she is traduced. When Carl Heneghan urges scepticism about the timing and efficacy of ‘lockdown’ he is derided by our Health Secretary as an “outlier”.

Criticised by Matt Hancock; take a moment to let that sink in. Hancock, remember, is the expert who revealed on TalkRADIO that he thought the PCR false positive rate is a metric applicable to returned positive tests, rather than tests carried out overall.

I am a recovering alcoholic. I know a bit about addiction and the habits of dishonesty which can facilitate it. This current political class has become addicted to the imposition and relaxation of restrictions. Like the serial strangler who brings his victim back to life only to dispatch him a few hours later, the Government and its media facilitators have become addicted to the introduction and ‘relaxation’ of restrictions which serve no demonstrable purpose. Sometimes the imposition of that power takes the form of pretend mercy – measures are rescinded mainly because it allows the Gove types to have the delicious option of re-imposing them.

The Johnson Government is the barfly who really means it when she says that this is her last drink. Only one more lockdown and all will be fine. Except it won’t be. Because when you are addicted to something you will use any available mechanism to keep it going ad infinitum.

And as happens with all addicts, this Government is involving the blameless in its dysfunctionality. It is rolling out its fakery in a way intended to leech the rest of us. Like the junkie who will bilk you for your last £20 to buy his next fix, the Whitty-Vallance types will look at the £320 billion they have so far confiscated from my 11-year-old child and his generation and conclude that it’s not quite enough.

I was rescued from my own addiction by an intervention, which I suppose I can best describe now as a sort of deliberate exercise in humiliation. It worked. I suggest that for its own sake and to rescue it from its own culture of bullshit we all think of ways to inflict a condign humiliation of the people who presume to tell us how many of our children we are allowed to see at Christmas.

I suggest that we refuse to take seriously a single word they say. Until they have stopped bullshitting and at least have started to lie. That way, at least we will be able to hold them to account. From ‘fakery’ to ‘lying’ would be a step-up for this lot.

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