Sunday
25 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

A society where ‘historic record’ changed daily to spread ‘propaganda’

‘It is necessary to find interest groups or people who are gaining something through ‘culture of lies’ and post truth because they are major contributors of it’

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion not to his own facts but we are living in an era where opinions and beliefs have become more important than truth. It is a post-truth world where truth has secondary importance. The term post truth has become popular in recent years but the idea it implies has significant traces in history. In the 1984 book, written by George Orwell, he narrates a story of a society in which the ‘historic records’ are changed daily to spread propaganda.

“It is a society which is running on lies and deliberate propaganda campaigns by the government to divert people’s attention from real issues to imaginary threats and problems.” George Orwell used the concept of doublethink which has meaning closer to that of post truth. He writes in the book: “The Ministry of Truth is concerned with the lies …. the contradictions are a deliberate exercise in doublethink.” What the author writes as doublethink has salient features of post-truth as it is a distortion and misrepresentation of truth. It is the obscure use of language to confuse the masses.

In history and politics, wherever lies and propaganda is discussed, it somewhat reflects elements of what we today label as post truth attitude.

In her essay in The New Yorker, Hannah Arendt argues that lies in the pre-modern world were spoken to misguide the enemy and were directed at a specific group of people. Those lies were a tool to run the government and deal with external and internal threats. Also she argues that lies are not uncommon in politics, and they have always been a part of it. The problem with a modern lie is that it messes up with the fabric of factuality and truth of the whole society.

‘Talking about nature of truth, there is no single ‘truth’ rather there are different types of it, including historical truth, trivial truth, psychological truth, real truth, philosophical truth, hidden truth, self-evident truth, relevant truth, rational truth, mathematical truth, half-truth, absolute truth, and factual truth’

It is not limited to a group of people, rather it spreads a way faster and impacts the whole society. The modern lie does not harm the ‘enemy’ rather it ends up hurting the people of a given society and harms the fabric of truth. Talking about the nature of truth, there is no single ‘truth’ rather there are different types of it, including historical truth, trivial truth, psychological truth, real truth, philosophical truth, hidden truth, self-evident truth, relevant truth, rational truth, mathematical truth, half-truth, absolute truth, and factual truth.

For a democratic society to survive, the most important of these is factual truth. A factual truth is concerned with facts rather than the theories and personal interpretation. It involves people’s testimony, and public engagement to be established as true. Hannah Arendt argued that in modern societies, factual truth is under attack as it is fragile and continuously changing. History and philosophy are loaded with people who have tried to understand the nature and meaning of truth.

In his essay, German philosopher, prose poet, cultural critic, and philologist Friedrich Nietzsche inquiries that if truthfulness is important then it is equally vital to ask, ‘who is truth important to, and why is it important to them.’ This implies that those who are at advantage by the distortion of facts and irrelevance of truth are the ones who should be held accountable for it. A society should have clear categories to differentiate false claims and facts but the society should also analyze who benefits from the lies being propagated. It is necessary to find interest groups or people who are gaining something through the culture of lies and post truth because they are the major contributors of it.

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