The Winners

It was during the invasion of Iraq that we saw the evolution of the lie into temporary truth and potential opportunity.

If today is Tuesday, then the value of the lie on the stock market continues to rise. Few have given the inventor of the word “post-truth,” chosen by the Oxford English Dictionary as its word of the year, his due. Its inventor is a man named Steve Tesich, a brilliant scriptwriter of Yugoslav origin, who, alongside his family at the age of nine, sought refuge in a United States whose leaders at the time still recognized the arrival of foreigners as a form of national enrichment.

Tesich first drew upon the expression “post-truth” in a 1992 article in The Nation in reference to his belief that American society preferred to turn its back on bad news and real life and to instead insulate itself with a protective layer of glass. It was during the invasion of Iraq that we saw the evolution of the lie into temporary truth and potential opportunity. To this day we continue to pay the price for having given those who lied to us on a massive scale for their own benefit such an easy ride. Given this, it is depressing that some are now discovering the true power of the lie. It was at Oxford University where Boris Johnson, the intellectual force behind Brexit, studied and so it will have been easy for him to have gotten to the root of this new piece of vocabulary; “post-truth,” a word which sounds so good that I fear it will contribute to, as so often happens, the tendency to avoid calling a spade a spade. Judging by the preventative measures being taken by the French and German governments in the run-up to their respective elections, both countries are well aware that online Russian interference could lose Angela Merkel the election and boost Marine Le Pen’s chances of victory. What remains for debate is not whether people can be influenced, but rather just how this is accomplished.

Last week, an armed man burst into a pizzeria because of nothing more than baseless rumors linking the restaurant with an alleged Mafia pedophile ring led by Hillary Clinton. We also see how even the most barefaced lies go unchallenged by a press that is content to serve as a mouthpiece for false facts and embellished biographies while offering only cursory alterations.

On Google, slander is posted ahead of rigorously researched information; “Such is mathematics,” someone will tell you. Democracies have already agreed to compete with one hand tied behind their backs; workers’ rights, competition laws and fiscal transparency are now considered dispensable in the business of defeating totalitarian ambitions. In much the same way, democratic elections unquestioningly accept candidates who spout lies and falsehoods. Under these conditions, it is easy to predict who will ultimately emerge victorious.

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