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Chris Hedges on Lies and Truths in a Democracy

A democracy survives when its citizens have access to trustworthy and impartial sources of information, when it can discern lies from truth, when civic discourse is grounded in verifiable fact. And with the decimation of reporting these sources of information are disappearing. The increasing fusion of news and entertainment, the rise of a class of celebrity journalists on television who define reporting by their access to the famous and the powerful, the retreat by many readers into the ideological ghettos of the Internet and the ruthless drive by corporations to destroy the traditional news business are leaving us deaf, dumb and blind. The relentless assault on the “liberal press” by right-wing propaganda outlets such as Fox News or by the Christian right is in fact an assault on a system of information grounded in verifiable fact. And once this bedrock of civil discourse is eradicated, people will be free, as many already are, to believe whatever they want to believe, to pick and choose what facts or opinions suit their world and what do not. In this new world lies will become true.

– Chris Hedges, “Lies Become Truths

(H/T: The Daily Doubter)


FURTHER READING: Fourteen Propaganda Techniques Fox “News” Uses to Brainwash Americans


17 thoughts on “Chris Hedges on Lies and Truths in a Democracy”

  1. I don’t believe in Chris Hedges since he wrote a book entitled I Don’t Believe In Atheists, but he’s right about this:

    “And once this bedrock of civil discourse is eradicated, people will be free, as many already are, to believe whatever they want to believe, to pick and choose what facts or opinions suit their world and what do not. In this new world lies will become true.”

    Then, as Suzan put it in a comment at my place:

    “we face a future of choices made for us and sold to us as moot and ours.”

    It’s not just right wing propaganda that’s doing it, though. What got all this rolling was greed, as the article she was commenting on says. It was about making news less effective in pursuit of greater profit.


  2. Don’t want to believe this, but I’m afraid I do.

    Don’t know if you can blame this on anyone in particular, though, because there seems to be more than enough blame to go around.

    As a 30 year teacher, I still believe that the Tea Party is the greatest condemnation of the American educational system — proof, positive that we failed to teach students how to think clearly.


    1. I think you were outgunned, Loren. Murdoch and Ailes, Right Wing think tanks, the rise of the Religious Right. The list just starts there. The money and resources dumped into creating a world where the Tea Party could take off probably dwarfed anything else like it in American history.


  3. I think the rise of the Internet to search for alternative sources of information makes it more likely we can ferret out the truth simply by comparing sources and over time deciding for ourselves which are most reliable. I don’t think traditional news sources were ever impartial. We just wanted to believe that they were, like the good old days of Walter Cronkite bringing the daily truth into our living rooms.


    1. Great observations, Squirrel! I think Hedges is right on at least two counts: A democracy depends on its citizens having access to reliable information, and that access is in danger today for various reasons. But, like you, I don’t buy into his notion that yesterday’s news sources were always without any significant bias.

      At the very least, the internet and the search engines have revolutionized the availability of both reliable information and crap. It’s hard to argue that it has not had its blessings for democracy.


  4. I think that the biggest lie in the West is democracy. One need only look to it’s birthplace in Greece to see the enormity of the gulf between rulers and ruled.

    We need to rest back power from the capitalists and start again.


    1. Right now, our side is down, Stephen. We’ve got the internet, but so do they. And they are currently better organized, better mobilized, have more resources, and greater resolve than we do. We’re largely disorganized, largely demobilized, impoverished, and we have not woken up as a community yet. Consequently, much more is going their way than our way. But I still think democracy can win out in the end. If we get off our butts and get behind it.


  5. I’m glad to see you’re a Chris Hedges fan. I found a lot of insight in EMPIRE OF ILLUSION and AMERICAN FASCISTS, and right now I’m reading WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING.

    This quote couldn’t be more timely. Much of the American media is providing bread and circuses instead of relevant information that people need to be informed citizens.


  6. I’d like to believe that this blurring between news and entertainment can’t last, that much of what is happening with the internet and the explosion of blogging is the result of smart people who hunger for the truth; that the tea party-type emotion-driven unthinking reactionists are a dying breed.

    I hope these thoughts are not merely a result of my wishful thinking.

    Excellent quote.


    1. We’re one in our mutual wishes, CD. But I think the age of bizarre reactionary movements is upon us. And those movements — movements like the Tea Party — are too well funded by folks like the Koch brothers to die out anytime soon. The only two options we have are to concede the world to them, or to fight back. Like you, I think grassroots bloggers have an amazing role to play in pushing back against the reactionaries.


  7. I am in concurrence with the other comments here and rant about the state of our country a lot. I also am as active as I can be, for now, in politics. I’ve already committed myself to work on the coming election. Yeah, I’ll doing data entry, sorting mail or whatever but it’s all essential work and I urge everyone to get involved and best of all, you meet a lot of interesting, committed people! I was just involved — albeit marginally — with the We Are Ohio campaign that successfully did a killer job on getting a referendum to repeal SB 7 — the union-busting bill! I hope it’s a sign to the rest of the country that we can prevail!


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