Lying As Power Grab

A recent article in Salon [“Republican Voters don’t actually “believe” the Big Lie about January 6 — they’re in on the con”] makes the point that, historically, authoritarian movements such as the Nazis and fascists have espoused lying as a repudiation of the “enlightenment values” of truth and feel that any strategy that will gain them power is acceptable. The Salon article goes on to illustrate how those involved in the January 6th riots and attempted coup, as well as others in the U.S. far right movement, fall into that pattern of behavior.

The use of lies is accepted and exalted by authoritarians because lying is not only an expression of power, but expresses dominance over accepted truths because authoritarians believe those espousing democratic ideals are slaves to their words and truths. For example, white supremacists lie and seek power because they reject the idea that “all men are created equal” and refuse to accept that premise.

What’s especially dangerous about this behavior is that the “great American experiment” in democracy is based in large part on an underlying respect for truth and a belief in the idea that someone is innocent until proven guilty, while the far right believes that the left was guilty of stealing the election without either evidence or truth.

The January 6th insurrection was based on a proven falsehood because those behind it believe that any means to power is justified since the other side is so “evil.” Of course, they don’t seem to understand or acknowledge that using any means possible to gain power is a greater evil than the policies they oppose.

When power itself is the goal, almost any means to achieve it can be rationalized, and the Republican support of the “big lie” fully illustrates how they place the desire for power above the desire for a true democratic republic, which they seem intent on destroying in order to save it.

3 thoughts on “Lying As Power Grab”

  1. Bill says:

    The hardest part in dealing with people who lie to get what they want is that they occasionally tell the truth. Especially as the former president does in that he accuses other people of doing what he is doing. Probably confused in that he thinks everyone thinks like he does but they are just bad at life and so easy to scam.
    People seeking power lie to those who don’t matter/count. What can be ironically amusing is that they don’t always agree who matters. One power grabbing fascist may tell the truth to someone but get lies back. The admiring truth teller believes the lies of the other person because they told them the truth.
    This is a very interesting post, but I disagree about the point of the “Big Lie”. They have no desire to save the union. That is just another lie. They simply want power and will do whatever they can to get it. Their major weakness is that they label their “friends” as people who seem to agree with them and don’t believe that the people they are suppressing will ever effectively fight back.

    1. They’ll only “save” the union if it furthers their desire for power.

  2. Mayhem says:

    It’s much the same in the Conservative Party in the UK – since Boris was elected, the government has moved to the same Post Truth gameplan. They’re not near as bad as Trump was, but they’re not all that far off either.

    The current leadership process is exposing even more just how bad they are – it’s the incompetent vs the truly terrible, all of whom are lying about their backgrounds and the past few years, while smearing their opponents and simultaneously complaining they are being unfairly maligned for being called on their bullshit.

    John Crace has been doing the Politics sketch for years now, and he’s been genuinely struggling to invent stupider things than what they actually say.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jul/18/leadership-debate-infighting-too-toxic-even-for-the-tories

    My favourite of the last one was Liz Truss refusing to attend a fresh debate unless all the previous participants at the last ones returned … in a multiround elimination contest. They are genuinely that thick.

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