Neoliberalism, as a political ideology focused intently on maximizing the power of “capital,” deploys a double truth to cover its inherent contradictions: 1) that an ideology dedicated to liberal values has to continuously resort to illiberal practices; 2) that an ideology that venerates spontaneous order has to resort to authoritarian regimentation and control; 3) and that an ideology that claims that a free and open “market” is the pinnacle of information processors engages in the promotion of ignorance.
As you can see, these contradictions pose a problem, one that has confounded neoliberals since their initial conclave at Mont Pèlerin. For instance, if their comprehension of an ideal society is correct, then why don’t the intellectuals and vast mass of the public simply get with the program?
Instead, there’s an esoteric truth for members of the inner circle, who act like a Leninist “vanguard of the proletariat, poised to infiltrate the government and immunize policy from the optimally stupid electorate,” who are to be content with an exoteric truth. Members of the inner circle, technocratic elites, maintain the veneer of democratic consent while reconfiguring government functions in a neoliberal direction.
The key objective of a double truth is to maintain power. Double truth world-views are what hold the empire together; the powerful spend so much energy propagandizing us because they need to in order to retain power. In case this wasn’t already abundantly clear, the neoliberal ruling classes have no intention of giving up control of the global capitalist pseudo-empire they’ve been working to establish these last sixty years. Freedom has nothing to do with democracy or speech or individual rights: for the neoliberal it is about the freedom of the market and the elites who control those markets.
Double truth is not exactly propaganda, although there are some similarities. While official propagandists are definitely pleased if anyone actually believes whatever lies they are selling, deception is only part of it. The primary aim is to generate an ‘official narrative’ that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point.
Instead, the whole concept of “fake news,” that’s been with us since the election of Donald Trump, should be thought of as the culmination of double truth. As the foremost neoliberal historian, Phillip Mirowski says, “The aim is not nihilism for the hell of it, but rather, represents the pursuit of two objectives dear to neoliberals:  The transformation of the endless befuddlement of the masses into a lucrative source of recurrent profit; and simultaneously,  the rendering of the populace more docile in the face of neoliberal takeover of the government.”
Unfortunately, double truth hasn’t been simply confined to economics and has become an integral part of our ruling elites skill set. We witnessed it in the run up to the invasion of Iraq when Bush chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr. blurted out, that from a marketing point of view you don’t introduce new products in August. We heard it from Karl Rove when he told Ron Suskind that “guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ […] ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Far from chastising our feral elite, the invasion of Iraq and disastrous aftermath seemed to signify a new phase of lawlessness and contempt for honesty. The Wall Street Crash, where the lies came fast and furious. The Syrian misadventure, where the US partnered with Al Qaeda to overthrow the government of Bashar Assad while simultaneously waging a “War on Terror” against Sunni extremists. The attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government using Nazi’s while decrying anti-Semitism in Europe.
In fact, I’ve come to believe that the deep state that I’ve discussed ad infinitum is the perfect representation of double truth, where there’s an exoteric truth that the US is a noble if imperfect republic, while the esoteric truth is that the real decisions are made by shadowy intelligence agents, Wall Street bankers and Silicon Valley billionaires.
Thanks to the gallant efforts of the corporate media, with their partisan echo-chambers, it has never been easier for our putative leaders to deploy double truth. Hell, they could deploy a triple or quadruple truth in our hyper-partisan media environment and I doubt anyone would notice. Unfortunately, reality, as they say, has a liberal bias. And so the people who have spent their entire lives doing nothing but manipulating other people’s beliefs are incapable of dealing with Covid or climate change or all of the myriad of other problems that are barreling down the pike at us.
As it stands I don’t think they have any intention of saving us. I believe that the end game is clearly in view. If your plan is to allow the world to spiral towards mass death and destruction while you retreat to a bunker in New Zealand or some other isolated area to live out your days in comfort, protected by armed guards, you’re unlikely to win much in the way of public support. Better to keep the militarized bunker thing on the low-down and keep people thinking that “we’re all in this together” and if we just install solar panels, recycle more, ride their bikes to work and so on we’ll somehow turn it all around and march arm in arm towards a happy and sustainable future.
I think that if I learned anything with this little exercise it’s to know them by their deeds rather than their double truths. Ignore the narrative in your partisan news feed and follow the money, follow the resources and weapons, and follow what our feral elite are doing rather than saying.
PS: Bezos, Branson and Musk are rocketing into space.
I hope they don’t come back.