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This active, aggressive capability is clearly different from our passive susceptibility to falling prey to error, illusion, the distortions of memory, and to whatever else can be blamed on the failings of our sensual and mental apparatus.
Because of the immensity of his job, he must surround himself with advisers …
who “exercise their power chiefly by filtering the information that reaches the President and by interpreting the outside world for him.” The President, one is tempted to argue, allegedly the most powerful man of the most powerful country, is the only person in this country whose range of choices can be predetermined.
Such change would be impossible if we could not mentally remove ourselves from where we physically are located and that things might as well be different from what they actually are.
In other words, the deliberate denial of factual truth — the ability to lie — and the capacity to change facts — the ability to act — are interconnected; they owe their existence to the same source: imagination.
Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear.
He has prepared his story for public consumption with a careful eye to making it credible, whereas reality has the disconcerting habit of confronting us with the unexpected, for which we were not prepared.
In a quest to illuminate the various “aspects of deception, self-deception, image-making, ideologizing, and defactualization,” she writes: Truthfulness has never been counted among the political virtues, and lies have always been regarded as justifiable tools in political dealings.
Whoever reflects on these matters can only be surprised by how little attention has been paid, in our tradition of philosophical and political thought, to their significance, on the one hand for the nature of action and, on the other, for the nature of our ability to deny in thought and word whatever happens to be the case.
Arendt considers one particularly pernicious breed of liars — “public-relations managers in government who learned their trade from the inventiveness of Madison Avenue.” In a sentiment arguably itself defeated by reality — a reality in which someone like Donald Trump sells enough of the public on enough falsehoods to get gobsmackingly close to the presidency — she writes: The only limitation to what the public-relations man does comes when he discovers that the same people who perhaps can be “manipulated” to buy a certain kind of soap cannot be manipulated — though, of course, they can be forced by terror — to “buy” opinions and political views.
Therefore the psychological premise of human manipulability has become one of the chief wares that are sold on the market of common and learned opinion.(Oddly enough, the only person likely to be an ideal victim of complete manipulation is the President of the United States.