Friday, 9 November 2012

Ignoble Liars.

Douglas Murray is just the youngest public ideologist of the 'War on Terrorism' and his work is worth reading at least to know thy enemy. Noting the charge of 'noble lies' leveled by critics of the Iraq war, and its pretext, Douglas Murray writes "The notion of the 'noble lie' certainly arises in Plato, and it is true that Strauss and many neoconservatives admire Plato. But what Plato described (in his Republic) was that, on occasion, leaders have to conceal truths from the masses in order to lead them most wisely. He certainly did not (as one commentator put it with wild hyperbole) claim that 'it is practically a duty to lie to the masses.'" Going on to stress that "Plato described how in matters of grave importance, occasions arise in which a leader will know best, and in which the less well-informed masses, if given the opportunity to decide on a specific matter, might decide wrongly." This goes against his earlier position in the book where he slams the conclusion that Leo Strauss was a "champion of the 'noble lie'" as misinformed.

Even after this Murray maintains that the charge is unfounded, offensive, glib, ignorant and nonsensical. Furthermore it is hurled about by people who have "misrepresented their Plato and not read their Strauss". He describes the outrage regarding 'noble lies' as a "faked outrage". This really comes out of his loyalty to a particular agenda manifested in the policy designs of the Bush administration. In his view the UK and US governments didn't lie because they merely revealed what they knew about Saddam's Iraq - or rather, what they thought they knew - to their people. The twerp goes further to say "they discussed intelligence that was incorrect, information certain amount of raw intelligence that may turn out to have been comprehensively mistaken." He even claims that the governments were too eager to pander to public opinion (except that which was anti-war) as he derides critics as 'conspiracy theorists' once again - it would seem, it is one of his favourite swearwords second only to 'moral equivalence' in his arsenal of vilification and obfuscation.

So the fault of the Anglo-American establishment was not in but in telling the people too much, revealing information that should not have been revealed. Apparently there is not the remotest possibility that any of this could constitute deception. Murray is keen to guard against anyone who might attribute immoral behaviour to George W Bush and Dick Cheney, while looking to maintain a high bar for American aggression against Iraq. Yet the administration officially dumped the talk of WMD as soon as the invasion found there were no such weapons. The supposed links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda were dropped as the invasion quickly turned Iraq into a centre of terrorist activity. The doctrine of 2004 was that it's enough for a country to have the capacity to build weapons and the intent to use them. So that's virtually any country in the world. It's this kind of thing that the neoconservatives are looking to defend by damning critics as 'relativists', yet another swearword deployed against critics of imperial adventurism.

I wonder if Murray refined these abilities in whatever public school mummy and daddy sent him to when they realised they didn't love him. It's clear Murray is aware that the Platonist framework gives convenient reasoning to the wider agenda to which he is a loyal servant. In Plato's Republic the 'noble lie' is supposed to engender devotion to the city-state among the citizenry, it is meant to be employed when philosophy fails. So if we accept that the established authority has to propagate a particular view of the world in order to maintain social harmony we can still question the neoconservative mission. Really it's that Murray believes in the cause to the extent that he can be totally cynical. To get to the bottom of this we have to question the fundamentals: the position that the United States can and ought to invade countries to make democracies out of them. It's the insistence that the interests of the US (which are pervasive in all of its interventions) are synonymous with the interests of the countries it invades and occupies that we rightly take fault with.

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