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18th November 2003 | Draft

Complementary Truth-handling Strategies

Mediating the relationship between the "Last class" and the "Liar class"

-- / --

This exploration was evoked by the lack of evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the affirmation by Ray McGovern, co-founder of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (USA), that "No President has lied so baldly and so often and so demonstrably" (Independent on Sunday, 9 November 2003). The leaders of the Coalition of the Willing were complicit in this approach to truth. The world is now witness to "Liars' Summits" of the most blatant kind. But, as George Bush himself declared: "I'm sick and tired of lies and deception"



Promoting any truth
offering opportunities of subterfuge

truth to
competitive advantage
Complementary Truth-handling Strategies Promoting
truth to
the moral
. Accepting any truths
that offer hope of survival


Truth handling strategies

"Liar class"

"Last class"

"Righteous class"

"Reframe class"

  • Conservative values
  • Relative wealth (health, education, etc)
  • Priority to credibility within peer groups (old boy networks, secret societies, etc)
  • Manipulation of bureaucracy
  • Manipulation of political process (electoral promises, electoral fraud)
  • Exploitation of privileges and perks
  • Manipulation of tax system
  • Manipulation of legal system (influence on judiciary, legal harassment, extrajudicial processes)
  • Appropriating / Highjacking popular values and symbols
  • Power high ground
  • "Dirty tricks"
  • Cultivation of status and recognition


  • Survival values
  • Relative poverty (ill-health, lack of education, etc)
  • Gullibility (susceptibility to promises, consumer products)
  • Challenged (self-discipline, work ethic, substance abuse)
  • Disregard for property (graffiti, litter, etc)
  • Neediness (begging, victimhood, etc)
  • Fraud (benefits, etc)
  • Exploitation (wages, taxation, cannon fodder, etc)
  • Target (marketing, violence, propaganda, etc)
  • Hopelessness
  • Rule-bound ("by the book")
  • Officious
  • Occupation of moral high-ground ("evil" others)
  • Guardians of integrity (morality, etc)
  • Appeals for (self) sacrifice
  • Monopoly of vision of the right future
  • Interpreters of truth ("priesthoods", those who know
  • Change for change's sake
  • Irresponsibility, recklessness
  • Indifference to consequences
  • Inconstancy, fecklessness
  • Imaginative re-invention
  • Medium is the message
  • Today's truth is tomorrow's lie -- tomorrow's truth is today's lie


"Research class"

"Business class"

"Salvation class"

"Alter class"

  • Technocratic values
  • Socially irresponsible research (weapons, nuclear, nano, racial intelligence, anthropological pillaging, etc)
  • Invasive research (political surveillance, intelligence research, etc)
  • Covert (sneaky) research agenda (tobacco, GM, etc)
  • Complicit in distortion of research process ("scientific whaling", dubious pharmaceutical products, etc)
  • Complicit in threat/benefit misrepresentation (star wars, energy, "research" satellites, nano, etc)
  • Sponsored research (predefined results on demand)
  • Monopolization of intellectual property
  • Politicized research (results on demand, political think-tanks)
  • Frauulent research
  • Enterprise and entreneurship
  • Profitability
  • "Business is Business" values
  • Exploitative enterprise
  • Environmental degradation
  • Depletion of natural resources
  • Destabilizing smaller enterprises
  • Monopolistic agendas


  • Transcendental values
  • Re-making others in one's own image (proselytism, evangelism)
  • Constraining others "for their own good" (crusading)
  • Hypocrisy ("rice Christians")
  • Double standards (clothing the naked, burkha, hajib, bikini)
  • Exploitative mystification (elders, shamans, voodoo)
  • Self-reliant / Grounded values
  • Self-help
  • Promoting traditional knowledge (TEK)
  • Community development
  • Non exploitative technology
  • Self-reliant innovation / repair
  • De-linking
  • Participative democracy
  • Fragmented remedial initiatives
  • Inability to apply apply critical analysis of other classes to remedy own dynamics
  • Non-violent strategies

Complementarity between classes

The classes in the above figure are interrelated in complex ways.

Hegemonic impact of the "Liar class"

This exploration was inspired by the euphemism in the travel industry by which "first class" is distinguished from "economy class" -- and the recognition that in terms of truth-handling the former might be better understood as the "Liar class" and the latter as the "Last class". Ironically it is those in the "Liar class" that are most economical -- with the truth.

The beginning of the 21st century, with the aid of the internet, has made the degree of lying by establishment leaders apparent to a far greater proportion of the population. It is no wonder that a declared strategy of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), in the Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century (2000) specifically included: "Control the new 'international commons' of space and 'cyberspace,'...". Steps towards this are to be seen in the proposals for the US-dominated UN to control the internet -- to be discussed at the World Summit of the Information Society (Geneva, 2003). [more].

The challenge for society is that when the core leadership of the United Nations is so evidently associated with lying, the question is why should anyone assume that the influence of such leadership with regard to truth-handling should not permeate all such institutions in which their standards apply. An interesting example is the case of the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat) whose "mission is to provide the European Union with a high-quality statistical information service". In 2003 it is however the subject of a major investigation into long-term fraudulent financial transactions that enabled three top officials to divert millions of euros into secret bank accounts [more]. More interesting is the fact that this fraud was discovered by chance. But even more interesting is the fact that no question is raised as to the possibility that the statistics produced under such corrupt leadership may themselves have been fraudulently manipulated in some way -- at the request of interested parties -- and in exchange for further financial rewards. The focus is on tracking the fraudulent financial transactions and not on the possible distortions in the "high-quality" of the information service and their strategic implications for European policy-making.

This case illustrates the major dilemma for the "Liar class". How does a member, or representative, of the "Liar class" prove that he or she is not lying? How can Eurostat prove that its statistics have not been falsified in some subtle way under such leadership? In the UK, the Labour government under Tony Blair is faced, after the Iraq WMD disaster, with the consequences of its long-term policy of "spin". How does it prove that it is not being economical with the truth in its management of information? How indeed can it prove, for example, that official statistics on "unemployment" are not being falsified, if only by selective presentation of information?

Given the long string of broken promises associated with failure to act on electoral manifesto commitments (UK Freedom of Information Act, etc), and on formal aid commitments to developing countries (Afghanistan, etc), for example, why should it be assumed that any declaration by a member of the "Liar class" should be taken at face value? As suggested in the figure above, members of the "Liar class" distort the truth at their convenience, because they have the power to do so.

The irony is that the efforts of the "Liar class" to control the internet and the media, through which the degree of lying is revealed, have resulted in ever more invasive measures to obtain the truth about others through electronic surveillance. But, as the intelligence debacle associated with WMD revealed, the processing of "intelligence" gained in this way is now distorted and politicized to an unknowable degree in response to the strategic needs of members of the "Liar class". As with traditional leaders surrounded by sycophants, they themselves are now faced with the greatest of difficulty in determining the truth relating to any situation -- if indeed they have any need of it.

The obvious response by the "Liar class" -- to any implication of being economical with the truth -- is denial. As figures of authority they are able to add to any simple denial an expression of outraged affront that their honour is being impugned by such "totally unreasonable implications". Regrettably they are able to use the power of their position to go even further:

But, perhaps much more regrettable than any of the above, is the facility with which members of the "Liar class" collect, appropriate and celebrate symbols of righteousness, honour and moral integrity as a cosmetic concealment for their continuing propensity to lie. This process -- enhanced in every way by public relations -- may be seen in operation in:

Suspect framings by the "Liar class"

Questionable framings of truth


Framing of

Framed by


Security Threat levels Military / Government
Gun lobby
Reinforce power base
Enlarge military appropriations
. Terrorism Government Reinforce power base
Destabilize opponents
Research Medical benefits of research
Medical-Pharmecutical complex
. Food benefits of genetically modified products Food industry and science
. Energy benefits of research Physics laboratories Enlarge laboratory budgets
Environment Natural environment Industry
. Plant piracy Pharmaceutical / Biotech industry
. Dam construction
River diversion
. .
. Hunting Hunting ("countryside") lobby
Politics Democracy Political parties .
. Civil / Human rights . .
. Indigenous peoples (third world) Industrialized peoples .
Development Sustainable development Industry .
. Free trade areas Business .
Morals / Ethics Euthanasia Religions and government .
. Evil Religions and government .
Population Fecundity Religion and politicians
Culture Education Employers .
Health Health Medical-pharmaceutical complex .
Justice Indicted leaders . .
Design Fashion Design / Marketing industry .
Status Social classes
Recognition / Prizes
. .
Commerce Corporate malfeasance
Salary differentials (CEOs)
. .
Information Freedom of information
Media .
. .




The above schema does indeed provide a useful way of reviewing the activities of the different classes and their relationship -- as widely documented in the media and via the internet. It is psychologically convenient and reassuring to identify with the positive attributes of one class -- and to recognize the problematic attributes of other classes with which one has to deal.

But, perhaps more interesting, is the value of the schema with respect to one's personal involvement in all the classes -- to whatever degree:

The First Shall be Last, and the Last First (Matthew 20:16)


Walter Truett Anderson (Ed.). The Truth About the Truth: De-Confusing and Re-Constructing the Postmodern World. New York, Tarcher/Putnam, 1995 (New Consciousness Reader)

J.A. Barnes. A Pack of Lies: Towards a Sociology of Lying. Cambridge University Press, 1994

Sissela Bok. Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. New York, Pantheon, 1978 (Vintage Books, 1999)

Jeremy Campbell. The Liar's Tale: A History of Falsehood. W.W. Norton [review]

James Carroll. The Culture of Self-Deception. Boston Globe, July 30, 2002 [text]

Paul Ekman. Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage. New York, Norton and Company, 2001

Al Franken. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. E P Dutton, 2003 [summary; review]

Robert Fulford. Lying in our time. The National Post, April 24, 2001 [text]

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David W. Maurer. The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man and the Confidence Game. Anchor Books, 1999

M Scott Peck. People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. 1983 (Simon and Schuster, 1997) [introduction] [excerpts]

L Saxe. Lying. American Psychologist, 1991, April, pp. 409-415.

Ted Slater. A Brief Consideration of the Ethics of Lying [text]

Perez Zagorin. Ways of Lying: Dissimulation, Persecution and Conformity in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1990

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