Summary: A new force has erupted into US politics. It might prove decisive and revolutionary, but is so unexpected that after several years its significance remains a secret. It is truth. After generations of bombardment by lies we have difficulty recognizing truth and do not take it seriously. Unless suppressed, it might reshape politics and therefore America.
“Truth is revolutionary. …Truth has to be sought — in tears, in sorrow, in desperate revolt; here a little and there a little gained, and when gained held against all comers for the sake of humanity and sometimes at the cost of life itself.”
— From “The Great Conspiracy”, a 1912 editorial in The Vote, a newsletter of the Women’s Freedom League (source).
The history of America since WWII has been shaped by lies. See the Big List of Lies by our Leaders. See the Left’s long history of false warnings (deliberately constructed to aid their political programs). The Right has their faux history, faux economics, and fake quotes. Both Left and Right manufacture fake news.
They do this because it works. It works because it meets the needs of the various social classes of Americans. The internet puts the accumulated knowledge of humanity at the fingertips of Americans, but we do not appears use it. Political campaigns (e.g. climate change, the campus rape culture) and elections are shaped by lies.
But changes comes from unexpected sources, often unappreciated only slowly. As seen in the truth assaults on America.
- The “climategate emails” leaked in November 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (here are some of the best).
- The massive revelations in 2010 of secrets about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, leaked by Chelsea Manning.
- Edward Snowden’s revelations in June 2013 of the massive surveillance operations our government runs against us (analysis here).
- The leak in 2015 of the Panama Papers revealed secrets about 214 thousand offshore, many hiding ill-gotten or untaxed wealth.
- The leak in July 2016 of 20 thousand emails from the Democratic National Committee, revealing the inner machinations of Democratic Party elites — such as their suppression of Sanders’ campaign. Plus there was the August 12 leak from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the emails leaked in October from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
- Above all, in 2006 Julian Assange created Wikileaks, which has become a powerful engine shining lights on the secrets of our ruling elites. It has facilitated leaks and encouraged others to leak on their own.
Much of our politics during the past eight years has been driven by these leaks. This is a revolution, but one seldom remarked upon. Since WWII much of our politics were debates about the lies of our major institutions — from the 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident that fired up our war in Vietnam to Saddam’s WMDs. Now we debate the significance of secrets about our major institutions sd our leaders explain why we should disregard these revelations.
These leaks seem likely to continue. Our leader’s increasingly tyrannical efforts to suppress them reveal their true nature — such as constitutional scholar Obama’s retconning the Espionage Act of 1917 to suppress release of vital information to Americans. Each leak tells us a bit more about the real world that we could not otherwise see.
The Boomers remain in shock from the discovery that much of what we were taught about America was false. This is a larger political revolution, coming faster. Like the effect of the pill on society, only after many years will we see its effects. My guess is that they will be large beyond what we can imagine today.
“There’s a new sheriff in town.”
— A line from a thousand westerns. It was decisive in those stories and can be so today.
Past eruptions of truth
There have been rare incidents of unexpected eruptions of truth into US. The turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s produced four revelations, with mixed results.
- News of the 1968 My Lai massacre leaked despite efforts by the US military and major news media to hide it. Many in America were outraged. Many cheered.
- The Pentagon Papers revealed long-hidden truths about the Vietnam War. The NY Times published them in June 1971, too late to have much effect on the war (negotiations with North Vietnam began in May 1968; troop withdrawals began in 1969).
- In 1972 FBI Associate Director Mark Felt leaked key information about the Watergate investigation to the WaPo. This played a role (of unknowable significance) in stoking the public fury that led to Nixon’s resignation.
- The revelations in 1975 by the Church Committee led to substantial reforms, which were slowly eroded away — and erased after 9-11 (Americans hate to have their illusions tarnished; Church was defeated in the 1980 election).
Update: leaks from officials are a different thing
With so much considered secret, officials decide what we learn. Some they release officially. But sometimes the news is useful to release, but too hot to be associated with. So anonymous leaks by government officials have become one of the major channels through which we learn about the deeds of our government.
For example, see the NYT’s “Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations.”
“The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward. Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades.”
The NYT’s journalists have no curiosity about the status of this information (is it secret?) and the motives of the officials for leaking it.
How long will this burst of truth-telling last in America? Much depends on our reaction to it. Will we embrace it and protect those who tell us what we need to know? Or will these deep truths be fodder for the daily sensational news, as we cheer truths that help “our” team and boo truths that help the “others”?
For More Information
- Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations.
- Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
- Why do we believe, when the government lies to us so often? When we change, the government also will change.
- Amnesia and anger: one is the problem, the other the cure.
- Government officials’ lies erode the Republic’s foundation. Do we care?
We hold the solution in our hands…
- Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America.
- Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
- Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.