2015: The Year of Lying Dangerously


No, we don’t think his nose is deformed. Looks perfectly normal to us. And we’re going to vote for him. Photo by Tristan Schmurr/ Flickr

The crash of the industrial age proceeded apace in 2015. One reason that is not well understood is that a different, parallel trend — the onset of moral bankruptcy accompanying the collapse of American Empire — also accelerated this year, often obscuring the economic news, often by design. Whether one is causing the other, or both are caused by something else, is something for the historians to sort out, if there are any historians. Right now, both are happening too fast to analyze. But let’s focus for a moment on the moral decline.

The ethical glue that once held our culture together — the unquestioned mutual commitment to freedom and decency and fair dealings — is liquefying at a terrifying rate. This is what happens at the end of empires, when the energy of their high ideals is spent, the ecstasy of their ascent is in the past, and the agony of decline causes them — their leaders and their people — to abandon everything they once believed in.

Did we once profess that the rule of law was supreme, both at home and abroad?  Today we have a president, by all accounts a decent Christian man, who regularly signs lists of the names of people to be assassinated without benefit of judge or jury. Do these assassinations often involve blowing up weddings, schools and hospitals? Shrug, “Collateral damage.” Is there any connection between the regular assassination and indefinite detention of those suspected of being enemies of the state, and the regular assassination on American streets of those suspected of being enemies of society? You bet there is.

This year, 2015, has seen the appearance of another symptom of moral sickness: lying. Not that lying appeared suddenly, or without precedent, it has, alas, always been a part of our public conversation. What was different about 2015, and has the power to destroy whatever is left of American “exceptionalism,” is that this year, pathological lying metastasized throughout society, and it didn’t matter.

Once upon a time, a politician caught in a lie would apologize, often tearfully, resign from office and vanish. Today, the politician dismisses the overwhelming proof of the lie as “just what you would expect from the media,” or a “political attack,” and then tells another whopper, causing the pliant media to yell, “Squirrel!” and dash off in pursuit of the new tidbit.

Nor have the lying eyes been confined to politics. Remember the oil revolution that was going to return America to energy independence? The conference in Paris that was going to be the beginning of the end of global climate change? The War on Cops, declared in a year when fewer of them were harmed than in almost any other year, when their occupation did not even come close to making the list of ten most dangerous? The War on Coal, blaming Obama for all the economic woes being suffered by the world’s nastiest fuel?

What is really terrifying about this is not just the scale or the sheer brashness of the political-industrial lying complex, but the fact that after it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that a lie is a lie, large chunks of the American people SIMPLY DON’T CARE. Don’t try to confuse me with facts, they say, I know what I know and I want what I want.

This mindset (wait, isn’t that an oxymoron in this case?) used to be shared by a few laughable lunatic fringes in our culture, who, granted, occasionally became troublesome, as in the McCarthy Era, the Japanese Internment Travesty, etc. But this year it is being represented by most of the candidates for president of the United States. And the more brazen, deranged and unapologetic their lying, the better their poll numbers.

This will be the end of us, as surely as the destruction of our topsoil or the desertification of our farmlands or the exploitation of the last of our water or the crash of our markets. Because truth exists whether we recognize it or not, just like gravity and climate change. If we neither know nor care about requiring the objective truth in the speech of our citizens and leaders, then the truth will not set us free. The truth will kill us.  


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5 Responses to 2015: The Year of Lying Dangerously

  1. Tom says:

    Oh yeah. Thanks for pointing this out to the abundantly ignorant American sheeple, Mr. Lewis, including both those who refuse to vote for these clowns and those that imagine voting to be as serious as breathing.

    As you illustrated in your essay, though it will have NO impact on the current state of affairs – let’s call it DESPERATION, shall we? – there’s clearly only one direction now, and that’s down and out (of existence), and this needs to be acknowledged right up front.

    Without the basic trust in the social contract or in everyday affairs, this despicable nasty behavior of lying pervades society and begins to erode all trust. From there it’s only a few steps to Dodge City, everyone for themselves survival, total social breakdown (which we’re already seeing with the cops), and grid collapse. Truck traffic will become prey to mercenary bands of survivalists, aggressive “preppers” and the lone psychos, and will come to a stop. Car traffic will also stop once the panic sets in.

    It gets too ugly to describe after this, so i’ll leave it to your imagination that first BIG step down toward the awaiting abyss that we’re sliding in to. The pace of this social decay will parallel, to some degree, the exponential rate of decay of our dying ecology, since when there’s no food or potable water there’s no humanity shortly thereafter.

    2016 will be an “interesting” year from beginning to end – and the next election (if we make it til then). Events are spinning out of control on all fronts, so hold on.

  2. colinc says:

    I have to admit, Mr. Lewis, that I have not read any of your books and have only been reading your posts here, on this blog, for a few years. Regardless, I also have to admit that this article, even with regard to your history of outstanding reportage, is the finest and most astute and most poignant of all your writings to date, at least in my not-in-any-way-humble opinion! Just 30 minutes of television, any time of day or night, or a cursory leafing through ANY print publication should be more than enough evidence for anyone to understand that the bulk of the population of this country (U.S.A.), or most any other “nation,” is more than willing to say or do anything to reap a modicum of reward, no matter how small or what the consequences may be for “others.” Indeed, at least here in the U.S.A., “lying” is THE de rigueur modus operandi of “how to succeed in business (or most anything else) without really trying.” Alas, the truly sad part is the superlative numbers of recipients of those “exaggerations” who are unable to discern that crap from “reality.” As my daddy used to say, and correctly so, “It takes two to tango.” If it weren’t for a preponderance of liars and an equal, if not greater, preponderance of dim-witted BELIEVERS, “our” species has shown truly great potential which will not, in any way, be “realized.” I no longer know whether to cry or laugh, but sway to the latter, at the catastrophic end to which this is all leading. (I still recall, from H.S. English classes, that it is “improper” to end a sentence with a preposition.) Once again, my heartiest “Kudos to you” for such an exquisitely perceptive and “timely” article.

  3. venuspluto67 says:

    Interestingly enough, I saw this article on Reddit.com just now:


  4. Michael kastre says:

    Amen, brother. There are no morals, ethics, or accountability. So called political correctness is all that is left (well that and greed). The signs don’t bode well for us as a people…