Monday, February 13, 2017

Andrew's Back

FLG is exicted to see Andrew Sullivan will be writing more regularly, and he begins thusly:
I want to start with Trump’s lies. It’s now a commonplace that Trump and his underlings tell whoppers. Fact-checkers have never had it so good. But all politicians lie. Bill Clinton could barely go a day without some shading or parsing of the truth. Richard Nixon was famously tricky. But all the traditional political fibbers nonetheless paid some deference to the truth — even as they were dodging it. They acknowledged a shared reality and bowed to it. They acknowledged the need for a common set of facts in order for a liberal democracy to function at all. Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission. That first press conference when Sean Spicer was sent out to lie and fulminate to the press about the inauguration crowd reminded me of some Soviet apparatchik having his loyalty tested to see if he could repeat in public what he knew to be false. It was comical, but also faintly chilling.

FWIW, FLG has been fascinated by Wilde's Platonic dialogue, The Decay of Lying, since he recently discovered it.    Along with Camille Paglia's contention that the emergence of transgenderism signifies the end of Western culture, it has sparked a keen interest by FLG in the mauve decade.  He's convinced there are lessons to be learned there.


The Ancient said...

Andrew Stevens said...

Sullivan's obviously gone a bit nuts about Trump though. It is absolutely true that 99% of everything that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth bears incidental resemblance to the truth, if any at all. Everything Trump says is designed to affect people's opinions of him in one way or another and Trump isn't even interested in whether what he's saying is true or not. This is garden variety self-aggrandizing compulsive lying. It's not even considered a mental illness (many people live with the condition quite happily and it can even be beneficial, as it probably has been to Trump). There is no reason to believe Trump is even remotely delusional, on the level of a person who would insist a blue wall is scarlet. Indeed, Trump is probably less delusional than someone who would insist, against all evidence or reason, that Sarah Palin must obviously have faked her pregnancy with Trig.

Andrew Stevens said...

I.e. when Trump dabbles in conspiracy theories, which he does all the time, I am not concerned about his mental health like I might be with someone else because Trump hasn't convinced himself of something that is obviously false - he just doesn't care one way or another whether it's true or false.

FLG said...


I'm with you on Trump. What's been interesting to me is Scott Adams' analysis of Trump and how he so persuasive. (If you haven't seen any of it, you'd probably find it intriguing.

For most elites, we think of arguments should be debate team-esque. Trump is playing a completely different game. He wins media arguments by all sorts of things off-limits in a debate, such a ad hominem and straight out falsehoods. And I think you're correct about him saying something and not caring the slightest of whether it is true or not, as long as it moves him closer to his goal.

Andrew Stevens said...

I have read a number of his pieces. I've always been largely unimpressed with Scott Adams. He's a reflexive contrarian who tends to fixate on research he doesn't understand.

As for Trump, I wouldn't say "Master Persuader," but he's certainly an above average conman and always has been. I've found him fairly transparent for at least thirty years now and I'm always surprised that other people don't.

Andrew Stevens said...

By the way, it's here that I should probably recommend Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit."

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