Trust, facts, truth and utter foolishness

When Richard Nixon was a target for lampooning, a cartoonist image of him (his actual face) bore the caption: Would you buy a used car from this man? This is because he said he wasn’t a thief. Which meant of course he was. Point is he wasn’t trustworthy, and if you can’t trust your president, who can you trust?

There’s a lot of corporations that want us to trust them. We know this because they say, you can trust us. They say it right out front. They must know that a lot of corporations are untrustworthy, or why would they say it? There wouldn’t be a point if all of them were honest.

It’s clear our trust must be very valuable. Corporations know that money follows trust. Yeah, they’re not just making friends. And they’re not in the fact business. Not when fiction works so well.

Take a look at the mail. When it says “Urgent” on the outside, straight in the garbage can. When it says “Pre-approved”, right in. And for this they pay less per mail piece than a common person. If you make it past the envelope stage and the first word is “Congratulations”, stop reading, ball it up and toss.

It’s all fiction and it’s all legal. Maybe just this side of legal. You know, they have lawyers. The radical economist, Michael Hudson, talks about the false economic recovery in that the working class is left out of it. The gains have gone almost totally to the FIRE sector. That’s finance, insurance, and real estate. That’s Wall Street and it’s protected territory. Wall Street’s mission is to insure that 95% of the population are indebted to the other 5%.

Ralph Nader says there’s street crime and there’s suite crime. Street crime is retail and illegal, while suite crime is wholesale and legal. There’s said to be ‘honor among thieves’. This is never said about the cutthroat latter.

Close to trust and facts but not enjoying their solidity is truth. That is to say, the concept of truth may be used in a way that is not solid. Not rigid. The epitome of this is the search for absolute truth. If we don’t quickly see the inherent limitation, we may think the attainment is inevitable.

This brings us to the incompatibility of religious truth and scientific truth. Neither is a “truth” in an absolute sense. We instinctively know this. That’s why they carry the qualifying adjective. Science begins with “why”. Religion stops there. Religious truth can mean nothing more than religious belief, and a belief explains nothing. Neither does it attempt to.

By scientific truth is meant that a proposition does not contradict a pre-set ordering system, like rules in a game. These rules are freely chosen with success at ordering our sense impressions as the determining factor. It is the rigidity of the system that makes this possible. Truth outside of this system, or method, is incomprehensible.

Washington is about as far outside of a scientific ordering system as you can get. This is another way of saying it’s not in the truth business. No government or large corporation feels the obligation to be truthful. But, don’t worry, we will receive our daily dose of propaganda.

Fortunately, today we have found a way around this scientific limitation with convenient truths being manufactured by the hour. The fact is …, the truth is …, when it begins like this you know you are getting the lowdown. QAnon adherents don’t have a monopoly on this, but they’ve made a good start.

You would be right in thinking this utter foolishness. Surely those so easily fooled have a porous belief system. However, in order to be consistent, we must be prepared to examine our own most cherished beliefs, including one which leads to blindness. That of patriotism.

We’re taught from the earliest age that you’re not to form your own opinion about patriotism. Just follow the crowd and be thankful to live in the greatest country on Earth, God’s favorite country.

The “greatest country” meme is contradicted by the historical record, and it’s not just the obliteration of America’s indigenous people, legal slavery, and theft of Mexican land. This past has never left us. There’s scarcely a place on the world map we haven’t marched on. Make that bombed. We dropped two atomic bombs on large, civilian populations when the question of Japanese surrender was no longer in doubt.

We emerged from that war as the only industrialized country surviving intact. From there the capitalists knew just what to do, and we became a full-blown imperialism. Sole superpower. World hegemon. If this is a measure of our greatness, then, yes, we can claim it.

This greatness is what made possible the invasion and murder of Iraq, broadcast live worldwide by CNN. What other country could put together such an extravaganza? And to make it even more wonderful, we didn’t lose a soul when the missiles lit up the sky over Baghdad that night.

“America First”, so say the blinded. Poor, put-upon America. No more easy targets to bomb. If you’ve been keeping count, you know America is first in overseas military bases, first in military invasions, first in military interventions, first in economic sabotage, first in democracy suppression, first in regime change push, first in targeted assassinations, and first in support of right wing military and police states.

Is it ungrateful to harshly criticize a country that allows so much freedom, including the freedom to criticize it? In many other countries, a citizen cannot openly express dissent without risking jail or worse. It’s not the dissent that’s bad. It’s the repression. A government’s job is to control its people. In practice, this involves controlling the lower classes for the benefit of the upper class. Because we are relatively free from repression of dissent, there is responsibility to express it.

Coming up on the July 4th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and with a very special irony, on the indices that measure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the world’s countries, we are far from first.

James Rothenberg, of North Chatham, writes on U.S. social and foreign policy.

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