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Ethos



I’ve thought about the question as to whether or not you should lie for quite a while. It seems almost impossible to live without lies, save if you refuse to speak at all; so, for a time, I accepted the rationale that defensive lies were acceptable (although I never really practiced that). I actually think the Iranian (Aryan) ethos is best in this respect: “Better to die than to tell a lie.” This was taken as a grave point—and people did kill themselves if a lie was told.


What if people lie to you? Shouldn’t you meet lie with lie? I think you should say, “You are a liar.” If you think about it, if you lie defensively you’ve just been dragged down to their level—and how do you keep track? The problem with lies is it gets hard to keep track and you can get lost in your own defences.


It’s better to never lie because it increases the antagonism levels—politeness itself easily becomes a lie. Now I don’t advocate you be rude, but just that you don’t garnish your life with bland pleasantries that can turn into lies—into flattery. And, indeed, I think the liberal left is really decadent politeness—ideas like “racism”, “sexism”, and so on are degenerate developments from hospitable behaviour and decorum that have become politicised.


Not to lie will increase antagonism levels, to increase antagonism levels means to increase the struggle for excellence—it also increases the suffering levels (“What do you think of my dress?” “Well…”); it is a requirement for growth to suffer, refusal to lie will make you suffer more and therefore make you grow more—it will reveal your inadequacies more quickly, it will therefore increase excellence.


Ultimately, a society that precludes lies will be more antagonistic and confrontational—especially in the early days—but it will settle down into a higher stability than our current society, since the best way to make peace is to prepare for war; and in an antagonistic society, a very frank society, social frankness would beget initial conflict, constant growth, and stable peace. It’s diplomats, journalists, and politicians who cause vast wars—because they lie. The lie creates local stability but at the cost of global instability—so that there is an inevitable enormous explosion, not continuous small ones.


Conditions such as depression come about from an internal nag-hag, and this is often mistaken for “morality” or “conscience”—it tells you “not to say that”, “not to say what you think about the dress”, “not to admit you are obsessed with large boobies”. This is predicated on the idea that it is “moral” not to hurt others and, perhaps, prudent not to expose yourself to hurt. I tend toward the view that if there it is a “morality”—perhaps, to be accurate, an ethos—it is to tell it how it is even if it hurts the other person or yourself. It’s the desire to protect, in the lie sense, that constitutes “immorality” to me.


The corollary to this idea in the physical realm is that corporal punishment and capital punishment are the optimum punishments because these are the most honest—not being based on attempts to psychologically manipulate people, not being afraid to hurt people (“I pretend to get better, you pretend to help me,” constitutes prison or social worker thought; it’s opposed to, “That hurt, I will desist”).


It should be noted that although this implies a willingness to hurt other people—in instances more severe than the dress—it also implies a willingness to be hurt yourself; and not only because you might provoke an antagonistic response—on a more basic level, you have to humble yourself and admit you don’t know. “Do you know French?” “A little, from school….” (protection) as opposed to “No” (I’m not as great as I thought).


Yet, ultimately, the benefit if everyone refuses to lie (and that includes lies by omission, I think, where you tactically keep your mouth shut) is great—the total outcome would be better for all people. Kant reached the same conclusion, albeit in a different way, and thought that even if an axe man was at the door and his quarry sheltered in your house you should tell him it was so—the Germans are a truthful people. Obviously, we live in an imperfect world, so I do not expect that everyone will desist from lies; but I would say that as individuals we should eliminate lies from our lives to the greatest extent possible. I would go so far as to say this is my only moral prescription: never tell a lie.


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