The End of Truth

The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends.

To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the same ends.  It is essential that the people should come to regard them as their own ends. 

Although the beliefs must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants.

If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.

This is, of course, brought about by the various forms of propaganda. Its technique is now so familiar that we need say little about it.

The only point that needs to be stressed is that neither propaganda in itself nor the techniques employed are peculiar to totalitarianism and that what so completely changes its nature and effect in a totalitarian state is that

all propaganda serves the same goal–that all the instruments of propaganda are coordinated to influence the individuals in the same direction and to produce the characteristic Gleichschaltung of all minds.

[Gleichschaltung is usually translated as “coordination,” and is the term used to describe the Nazis’ efforts to coordinate all political, economic, cultural, and even recreational activities in support of the state.  The forced reorganization of the disparate trade unions into a single labor “front” is a standard example.]

As a result, the effect of propaganda in totalitarian countries is different not only in magnitude but in kind from that of propaganda made for different ends by independent and competing agencies.

If all the sources of current information are effectively under one single control, it is no longer a question of merely persuading the people of this or that.

The skillful propagandist then has power to mold their minds in any direction he chooses, and even the most intelligent and independent people cannot entirely escape that influence if they are being isolated from all other sources of information.

—F.A. Hayek, excerpt from the chapter titled “The End of Truth,” in The Road to Serfdom, 1944, pp. 171-172.

“History seems to show that the powers of evil have won their greatest triumphs by capturing the organizations which were formed to defeat them, and that when the devil has thus changed the contents of the bottles, he never alters the labels.

The fort may have been captured by the enemy, but it still flies the flag of the defenders.”

—Dean William Ralph Inge, Christian Ethics and Modern Problems, 2003 [originally published 1930], p.142.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.

When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. 

A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice—is often the means of their regeneration.

A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature, who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

—John Stuart Mill, “The Contest in America,” Fraser’s Magazine, April 1862
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“. . . I can prophesy that your grandchildren in America will live under socialism.  And please do not be afraid of that.  Your grandchildren will not understand how their grandparents did not understand the progressive nature of a socialist society.”

Nikita Khruschev before the National Press Club in 1957, cited in J. Edgar Hoover’s book, Masters of Deceit, 1958, p. 3.

“In one important sense, Marxism is a religion.

To the believer it presents, first, a system of ultimate ends that embody the meaning of life and are absolute standards by which to judge events and actions; and, secondly, a guide to those ends which implies a plan of salvation and the indication of the evil from which mankind, or a chosen section of mankind, is to be saved.

We may specify still further:  Marxist socialism also belongs to that subgroup which promises paradise on this side of the grave.

The religious quality of Marxism also explains a characteristic attitude of the orthodox Marxist toward opponents. 

To him, as to any believer in a Faith, the opponent is not merely in error but in sin.  Dissent is disapproved of not only intellectually but morally.  There cannot be any excuse for it once the Message has been revealed.”

—Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 1950, p. 5.

“After having thus successfully taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community.

It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.

The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided:  men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting.

Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described, might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom; and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions; they want to be led, and they wish to remain free: as they cannot destroy either one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once.

They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people.”

—Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1840, p. 398.

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