Montag, Dezember 12, 2005

Culture of Deception - Part I

It's been quiet here not merely because I'm busy with work (which I am), but also because of some writing that is taking longer than I had hoped.

So I'm going to break this down into several parts.

There is a Culture of Deception in the West. Not only in the US, but in Europe - if anything vastly more so - as well.

What is the Culture of Deception?

It is the deliberate use of deception, of active deceiving, as a fundamental part of cultural life. Not only political culture - where it is perhaps the most destructive - but in virtually all aspects of cultural life.

Let's start with what deception is. It is the use of deceit, the fact or state of being deceived. It is a misleading falsehood, an illusory feat. Latin roots: de cipere, is, of course, an i-stem third conjugation verb which is rooted in capio, which means to take or capture, and the de- prefix means to remove. Now this sounds like a contradiction: that which is taken is removed. But that is exactly the point: what deception entails is the act of removing that which you think you are taking, much like the slapstick routine of having someone pull a package from under the arm of someone who has just received it. The poor sap is oblivious because he is being distracted and realizes that his package is missing far too late and ends up buying the package from the person who took it from him a second time, setting up the punch line of it being stolen one more time at the end of the skit.

Eytomology of the word besides, deception is of course closely related to the act of misleading; of ambush; of betrayal; of disloyalty; of boasting; of lying; of tricking; of pretense and of appearance (in the sense of camouflage). And one of the synonyms is sophism.

I think it should be clear now what I mean by deception: it is, as is so many english words, multivalent, i.e. has multiple meanings within a range of definitions that ultimately point to the same act.

Deceit, so closely related, is also relevant: it is deliberate and misleading concealment, false declaration, artifice, it has the quality of being fraudulent, a misleading falsehood. Deceit more often than not relies on collusion.

So what is the Culture of Deception? Culture is what now must be understood. The first definition that you run across is that it is the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, belief systems and all other products of human work or thought. That is not what I mean, since this is for the word culture alone, not in a compound word. It is rather the predominanting attitudes and behavior that charachterize a group or organization.

The Culture of Deception won't, here, have simply one meaning: there are too many aspects of this Culture that need to be analyzed.

First of all, there is a Culture of Deception deeply rooted in Marxism and its analysis of the world. Second, there is a Culture of Deception deeply rooted in political life. Third, there is a Culture of Deception deeply rooted in the Arts. Fourth, there is a Culture of Deception that we see today. This last Culture of Deception is the critical one, since it undermines and is actively destroying Western Culture, and we, like the frogs in the cooking pot, aren't aware of it until we're well on the way to being cooked.

This is the first part: the Culture of Deception deeply rooted in Marxism.

The core here is the Marxist "analysis" of false consciousness, of human delusion, basically, of people betraying their class by failing to understand the true nature of their existence. You can describe it this way: that material and institutional process delude the proletariat to the true nature of capitalism, driven largely by a commodity fetish: social relationships are reduced to value relations between things, i.e. that money and goods can have an inherent value unconnected to the people involved and that this results in the people involved - usually some nonsense about exploited workers and exploiters - are ignorant of their true relationships and therefore alienated from their actual social relationships.

I put that "analysis" in scare quotes because it really isn't analysis, but instead a blatant attempt to seperate reality from empirical experience. One of the core elements of Marxism is its belief that things are not as they appear, but rather people are kept enslaved by social conventions and outdated concepts like family and nation, and that reality is actively hidden from us, the downtrodden, by those interested in keeping power over us.

I'm not a Marxist, far, far from it, and have massive disagreements with this concept. But that's not the point.

The point is that Marxist thought is based on deception. First: that the proletariat is too stupid to know that they are being oppressed; second: that the revolutionary vanguard (OK, this is Leninism, but that's hairsplitting...) must need be deceive the bourgoisie from the true revolutionary goals of the vanguards' politics so as to be manouevered into positions where they lose their ability to withstand the revolutionary vanguard; third: the developing socialist society after the revolution may be deceived in the name of pursuing the goals of the revolution and fourth that deception and duplicity are not merely useful, but rather are fundamental tools of the revolutionary vanguard to achieve their goal, which is, of course, the attainment of complete and total power to be used ruthlessly to keep said power.

The Soviets were experts, if not masters, of the art of deception. One way to get some one to spy for you is to make him believe that he's not spying for you, but rather for someone else: false flagging in the jargon. False flagging was used extensively in Europe for agents of influence, and included many journalists who didn't think they were talking with trained KGB specialists, but rather Ivan from the Trade commission who is just trying to understand why we think the Soviets were so evil. But it wasn't simply about false flagging and misleading people to get them to do what you want them to do: the KGB were experts in betrayal.

Betrayal is a difficult theme. Betrayal, like Judas betraying Jesus, means not merely lying or telling the cops on someone. It is the deliberate negation of a loved one, be it a country or a person. When you betray someone, you know that you're doing wrong, but you have an overriding reason for doing so that reflects a deep, deep inner conflict that cannot be resolved. This is not merely true for people who betray their lovers, who betray their country in the West for money or misplaced ideology, but also for Soviet defectors to the West. I've known several during my days in DC (long story that one) and while they were convinced they were doing the right thing, it was really hard for them: betrayal is not undertaken lightly (not even betrayal of a loved one), but is a sign of how human we are, by choosing to negate something in order to save other values. Betrayal comes when an ethical situation comes up where the decision maker sees only zero-sum games ( i.e. things become black and white) and employs an ethical calculus, internalized and non-thematically, to resolve the inner conflict.

But it breaks with the past. A partner betrayed cannot trust the betrayer; a defector will ultimately not be trusted by those to whom he defects (see what happened to Philby after he absconded); a politician in abandoning a party and joining another one may not retrace his steps. Betrayal is not reversible.

The point here is one that I don't think too many will disagree on: the fundamental tool of Marxism in dealing with non-marxists is deception, of deliberately misleading outsiders as to the goals of Marxism. Not merely as a mean to an end, but as a reflection of the fundamental nature of Marxism in dealing with non-Marxists.

More soon...

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