In English Voices From Spain

The Truth of Lies

Originally published in Spanish: “La verdad de las mentiras”. Ferran Toutain. Blog. 

Catalan: “La veritat de les mentides”. Ferran Toutain. El País.

In Voltaire contre-attaque, the essay by the French thinker André Glucksmann published in 2014, one year before his death, our era is described as “the anarchy of knowledges and opinions”. The problem is not only that everyone wants to vindicate their opinions —whether or not they are relevant, founded or verified—, but also that society sees the essence of democracy in that vicious and disturbing attitude. In the current state of affairs, everything is subjected to be affirmed or denied to the speaker’s convenience, and truth necessarily ceases to exist, as always wanted those who, in the schools and the media, never let pass a chance to proclaim its non existence. It was not until the emergence of social media that the long-standing dream of egalitarianism could be lived to the full: the anarchy of knowledges and opinions.

In the last few years, with the new access to political leaders who navigate in Twitter and Facebook the same streams of hatred, fallacy and self-praise than their followers, the democratic society as we knew is becoming blur, and this is the territory where, among many other phenomena, Trumpism, Brexit and the Catalan process flourished. Last September 24th, Xavier Vidal Folch and José Ignacio Torreblanca wrote in El País a report titled “Myths and Falsehoods of the Catalan Independence Movement”, compiling and explaining the main falsehoods on Economy, History, Law and Spain’s political status used by the Catalan process promoters to plant their powerful roots. The report does not seem to be any useful, among the alluded actors, other than to redouble the hostility displayed against anyone who dares to put them into question; that the rigorous denounce of a lie receives less credibility than arbitrary affirmations is a prominent feature of the anarchy of knowledges and opinions. Social media and the powerful audio-visual media of our time amplify the effects of propaganda to unusual lenghts, but as explained by Hannah Arend in The Origins of Totalitarism, the creation of a parallel dimension where beliefs refute facts was as early as the 1930s the driving-force of totalitarian ideologies. What we are facing is not a mere collection of lies, but the institutionalization of lies, that, the moment they are issued, they get shielded against any falsation and become part of the state structure. In an interview with Le Figaro, the French historian Benoît Pellistrandi, aware of all such circumstances, says that Catalan pro-independence movement is just a slogan, and he explains that “it has been fed by an anti Spanish populism encouraged by the Catalan government”. This is the truth pushed away from sight by lies.          

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