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privileged liar

A priveleged liar, by holding authority, is in a position to cover up falsehoods or protect themselves from the consequences of lying.

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In general, a political figure? who lies would be a priveleged liar, as well as a spin doctor, chief editor or mailing list moderator? or wiki sysop?, or practically any other professional? who commits to an untruth while acting in their professional capacity. The definition of the "term:professionalism?" almost always includes at least some requirement to lie to protect the others who practice that profession: a sort of etiquette.

Critics of such liars are usually not in an equal power relationship in debates with them, unless a ruleset exists that deliberately restores or even imposes an equalization of power. The use of simple guidelines usually does not achieve this, as guidelines are interpreted. Generally only a venue that is devoted to giving those exposing people in positions of privelege the upper hand, and which deliberately denies and undoes advantages that the powerful enjoy in other media, can counter the influence of liars.

Some theories of civilization hold that they collapse only because of the inability or unwillingness of ordinary people to ever challenge that the powerful have a right to lie to them.

issue statement


How does the process of open politics itself disadvantage powerful liars and undo the effect of their privilege on matters of vital public interest and public trust? What happens without such a process to restore or impose or rebalance powers?

[+] position: rules must support those who "out" privileged liars

[+] position: creating equal power relationships is impossible therefore only begging may be allowed

argument for: this is a common definition of loyalty?


Pleasers, whiners, wheedlers, fawners, beggers, and lick-em-cleaners throughout history have taken this position. See Mike Nickerson for one such example.

counter-argument: It is not actually a position, it's more of a common deceit. By convincing the powerful that they will be in control of the change, their guard is down, and change can be conducted without so much resistance and scrutiny. For instance if an alpha can be convinced to suspect and even kill beta males rather than groom them to be successors, the power structure as a whole is weakened seriously.

argument against: if the strong don't play by rules, the weak can fight dirty


Michael Ignatieff raised this argument in The Strength of the Weak?, part of his Massey Lecture? series on terrorism. He believes that this is the most common argument against relying on moral suasion and convincing the powerful.

The potential of the weak abandoning the rules by which moral suasion occurs and adopting their own rules which will very strongly disfavour the powerful, remains powerful in all societies where coward?s are not confused with pacifist?s, e.g. pretty much anywhere outside Upper Canada?.

argument against: killing works


Killing very powerful people or arranging assassination? or accident?s is a proven technique to disrupt existing power structures, part of politics as usual.

For instance, Israel assassinated the two top leaders of Hamas just before leaving Gaza?.

counter-argument: killing can result in technological escalation

While a well-targetted killing can reduce tensions between warring power structures, it tends to result in a further devotion of resources to defense and use of attack and defense metaphor, just as a species that is under frequent attack tends to evolve to devote more of its body weight to claws, armour, etc..

counter-argument: killing is too much fun

To carnivorous creatures, killing is fun (if it weren't, the creature would not be motivated to practice killing even in play?). Accordingly it is an option that will be pursued before it must be, and that is counter to the princples of peacemaking? which argue that non-violent tactics? must be exhausted first, even if they are boring.

counter-argument: killing only provides temporary advantage

While the stronger representatives of a weak group may gain tactical advantages by killing, the weaker representatives of that group will likely be scared by it - and may be targetted as per the technological escalation argument above. These divisions are relatively easy to exploit as per the methods below. Accordingly killing is a weak method. It demonstrates weakness and lack of creativity?.

counter-argument: killing sets up the wrong leaders

Worst, as Gandhi? observed, it sets up the wrong leaders, those good at killing. Unless a strong discipline of accepting the benefits of violent actions

argument against: power is based on property, so property damage reduces power


Power is based on property rights and control of resources. Destruction of the property and disregard of the rights is a way to reduce power without any killing. See vandalism? for the general issue.

In February 2006, responding to cartoons that depict Muhammad in an insulting way, there were riots throughout the Muslim world? and in Europe? and even in North America?. Some minor property damage occurred notably to the embassies of Denmark?, but no one was even injured.

Likewise, the Paris riots, 2005? went on for two weeks with only one death, which was at least partly provoked by the victim. There was much property damage, little harm other than the one unfortunate death.

The political response was extremely advantageous to the highly disciplined movements that were able to spark and control the riots to such a great degree.

argument against: information warfare including so-called "term:character assassination?" can work, and will be used by enemies anyway


There are many methods that amplify the ability to deceive?, seduce? and divide? that rely neither on killing nor on lying, but on selective use of facts and effective timing to exploit divisions that arise between members of power structures.

These methods have arguably been employed throughout history, but have achieved new rigor in this millenium. Failure to master these techniques will mean military failure in the long run against rising powers such as India? or China. Accordingly to tolerate priveleged liars in positions from which they can be easily ousted when it is convenient for hostile powers, is dangerous and exposes the too-tolerant to invasions and exploits of all kinds.

In other words, failure to master these techniques leads to subservience? especially in the Troll Age.


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