Thursday, 20 April 2017

#11 – 27/04/17: Lying in Politics

When we talk about lying […] let us remember that the lie did not creep into politics by some accident of human sinfulness. Moral outrage, for this reason alone, is not likely to make it disappear.
–––Arendt, 'Lying in Politics'

The ultimate aim was neither power nor profit […] The goal now was the image itself.
–––Ibid.


In what promises to be an excruciatingly topical session, we'll be reading Arendt's 'Lying in Politics' next week, with Derrida's 'History of the Lie' as secondary material.

Arendt's essay responds to the 'Pentagon Papers', the U.S. Department of Defence's report on their involvement in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. These papers were leaked by The New York Times amidst the furore of the Watergate scandal; they exposed 'the extravagant lengths to which the commitment to nontruthfulness in politics went on at the highest levels of government' (Arendt, 4).

The response we find in 'Lying in Politics' is an interrogation of both the nature and the political uses of truth and lies. Prescient as ever, Arendt equips us with the tools for understanding post-truth, nationalism, and the way governments attempt to hold power.

What better to set you up for the coming months of Trump's narcissistic foreign policy, Erdogan's new mandate for authoritarianism, and May's manipulative, Brexit-fuelled electioneering?

Where? LHRI Seminar rooom 1
When? Thursday 27th March 2017, 57pm
Primary reading: 'Lying in Politics', from Crises of the Republic. PDF here.
Secondary reading: Jacques Derrida, 'History of the Lie: Prolegomena'. PDF here.