• unenlightened
    3.8k
    Mistrust and suspicion are on the increase in our society; and confidence in our institutions is in decline. To understand why a “crisis of trust” is so serious, we must take account of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, who placed honesty and trustworthiness at the heart of his theory of how we should live.
    https://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/philosophy/kant-on-trust

    Do please read the above link, it's very short. It's also 14 years old, and the crisis of trust has rather gotten deeper.

    “there will seldom be a more serious misconduct allegation against a member of parliament or mayor than to lie repeatedly to the voting public on a national and international platform, in order to win your desired outcome”.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/may/29/boris-johnson-appear-court-eu-referendum-misconduct-claims

    There are consequences in law if one lies in business; one can be prosecuted under the trade descriptions act sued for breach of contract, or convicted of fraud. But for politicians, there seem to be no consequences, unless this private prosecution succeeds. It used to be that politicians had to resign when their decisions or their claims were shown to be wrong, but not now.

    One of the features of a loss of trust in institutions is that there is an increase in trust of random emotionally satisfying absolutist conspiracy theorists. This is not a new phenomenon.

    When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything. — G K Chesterton

    There are particular threads to discuss particular cases, so I don't want to get lost in trying to decide them here. Rather, I wonder if there is any agreement that honesty in public life should be enforceable in principle in somewhat the same way that it is in business? If my new gizmo doesn't do what it says on the tin, I am entitled to my money back; perhaps I could sue if my taxes are misspent?
  • Schzophr
    78
    No, you're not, because it's a tricky process; and your wits are likely not strenuous enough to do any better.

    Politics is strict on any president, he/she has to make crucial decisions in short time periods, we can't expect perfection.

    Trumps collusion with Russia should be forgiven as beyond that his politics was good.
  • Wayfarer
    8.1k
    It used to be that politicians had to resign when their decisions or their claims were shown to be wrong, but not now.unenlightened

    I blame the Americans for that. It’s primarily due to the corruption of politics by business. And then of course they exert so much influence through their media and computer systems and so forth, that it simply proliferates endlessly.

    I think liberal democracies assume a level of honesty, and in fact rely on it. The principles behind liberal democracies are that citizens ought to enjoy freedom as untrammelled by external restraint as possible, but that this implicitly requires an adherence to an ethical code. When that goes, well, anything goes. Which was a hit song in the 1930’s.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    The real tragedy is that lies have become the new "bullshitting".
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    What would you expect from a generation who grew up watching scripted shows labeled "reality" shows?

    Wikipedia: Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics and post-reality politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.

    Just look at so many posts on this forum where feelings carry more weight than evidence and claims are made that everything is subjective.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    The article openly declares Kant as an idealist, a label that's good in essence but has the negative connotation of impractical.

    One idealistic system that has clearly failed every instance of its implementation is Communism. As far as I can see Communism requires an ideal person who's transcended all the qualities, such as deception, greed, etc., that in fact make us human. The ideology failed because it didn't have within it's structure a means of preventing or correcting the many forms human folly can take. It allowed one party forever.

    Democracy, at least as it's generally practiced, is more resilient to human flaws. A limited term in office prevents perpetuation of deception and authoritarianism. In other words democracy is a healthier robust form of government that can weather fraudulent politicians. One could say democracy preempts human weaknesses such as untrustworthy characters.

    So, we shouldn't worry about the lack of trust between the electorate and the elected as the system will self-correct as is evidenced by your post, a reaction which with the right quorum will neutralize any misguided politician.
  • tim wood
    2.9k
    Trumps collusion with Russia should be forgiven as beyond that his politics was good.Schzophr
    And example please of any occasion when his "politics was good."
  • unenlightened
    3.8k
    Please don't talk about Trump, and please don't talk about communism and capitalism in this thread. Please talk about TRUST, and the importance of telling the truth, and how these things can be sustained in a merely human and imperfect world.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    Please talk about TRUST, and the importance of telling the truth, and how these things can be sustained in a merely human and imperfect worldunenlightened

    1in_god_we_trust.jpg
  • Shamshir
    461
    Rather, I wonder if there is any agreement that honesty in public life should be enforceable in principle in somewhat the same way that it is in business?unenlightened
    Here's a question, is enforced honesty - pure honesty?
    Before you answer, consider the following: is enforced freedom - pure freedom?

    If my new gizmo doesn't do what it says on the tin, I am entitled to my money back;unenlightened
    Not really. If you get scammed, you don't deserve a reprisal; but it's common practice - partly due to goodwill, partly due to sales tactics.
  • fdrake
    2.5k


    I don't think we can talk about the decline of trust in public without talking about the political use of fear and the political strategy of anti-politics. We know that we can't trust politicians now, but we need reasons to stay mostly complacent or afraid to act, and we need useless channels to funnel dissent down to maintain (undemocratic) stability.

    The alienation of people from their government representatives mirrors the alienation of the political class from international vectors of power. One way to address this issue is to replace non-compliance with structurally conditioned indifference; the 'non-linear' part of Russian propagandist Surkov's non-linear warfare:

    In his enforcement of Putin’s will — or his own interpretation of it — Surkov carefully constructed and presided over a system in which Russians could play-act an intricate imitation of democracy. Every persuasion on the political spectrum was given a Kremlin-backed voice within the system as Surkov ensured that the Kremlin organized and funded a wide range of political groups and movements, from liberal to Communist to conservative, sowing confusion and cynicism in the public while at the same time co-opting any genuine opposition. The messengers differed, but the message was the same — the Kremlin was always in control. Under Surkov’s simulation of politics, dissent wasn’t crushed: it was managed.

    The key part of this management strategy is the creation of supported avenues for dissent which stymie the formation of effective popular movements.These are gatekeepers for political action, moving the goalposts or hiding them.

    Selectively inefficient legislative apparatuses play a role here: the legal system covering criminal negligents in Grenfell in the UK is a good example, so was the lack of jail time for our criminally negligent speculators in 2008. Sometimes this can be interpreted in terms of regulatory capture, sometimes it's (also) a systemic blindspot (see inequality + overproduction and climate change). A diffuse and inefficient (or intentionally badly enforced in the case of our tax laws) gatekeeper-administrative apparatus has the dual purpose of blocking internal political intervention and discouraging grass roots activism by rendering it internationally collaborative by necessity. It has the perhaps intentional side effect of alienating honest citizens from politics by denying the efficacy or applicability of their votes and petitions.

    The media management of outrage interacts with our modern day equation of politics=political discourse to play a role here, the contours of acceptable opinion are rarely perturbed, and the well known alliance between powerful corporations and media outlets (cough Murdoch and Koch cough) project the voice of the ruling class from the institutions which help shape the terms of debate in which popular opinion is formed. Politics on social media is typically sound and fury organising nothing except the convenience of our ruling class.

    An emerging role for 'influencers' is taking place, acting as pseudo-servants of the ruling classes by embodying acceptable opinions which are near the contours of acceptable opinion. The communities which support influencers also necessarily become associated with a consumer identity through the algorithms which shape the medium they are in: these algorithms also watch their every move, and our governments have almost unrestricted access. Here we can see the role of ideological echo-chambers, discretising identity into a panopticon of conflicting units that in reality have far more shared political interest than their antipodal role in discourse suggests.

    This promotes a second level of apathy and indifference, there are people who can 'see through' this shit, which includes many liberal commentators, but this is still within the narrows of acceptable opinion; it is fashionable to bemoan the degradation of discourse, and this too is organised over influencer communities.

    Then, unfortunately, we have anti-politics; which is a populist political rhetorical strategy that demeans official political opponents as part of the ineffective system (which everyone recognises), and thereby they provide false hope of revolution in rhetoric but their policies are more of the same. We have luminaries here from the milquetoast left and right, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, Nigel Farage and Trump.

    The political situation surrounding anti-politics must be seen on the level of social structure which produces these effective demagogues rather than blamed on the examples. Their popularity only makes sense under the public acknowledgement of the degraded power of democracy in the West. Of course, Western democracies have rarely had this power, the interwoven threads of capital and government were created along with the working class and colonial expansion, exporting the hatred and indifference of the ruling class for their workers and citizens abroad, which was immediately re-internalised through the politics of fear-mongering racism.

    The politics of fear in general also plays a privileged part here, as trust in our nation is better fuelled by xenophobia defining an empty, other-less Us through blind prejudice against the other; better fuel than a sincere commitment to a democracy of trusted institutions, which requires a lot of fire and sackings and arrests to achieve at this point. This politics of fear resonates with the anti-political and discursive elements of the non-linear war we face on all fronts; systematic trust is dead, we need to recreate it politically on our own terms.

    For talk about the resurgence of right nationalism across Europe and America, the politics of fear, the anti-political element, and the reactionary disgust against feminism and post-colonial studies interact to make an actionable space of belief to propagandise. One way out of this trilemma of fear, undermined democracy and corporate power is fascism; which has the problems it always has, the other is to organise left; which requires us to repurpose the media which fail us every day.
  • BrianW
    850
    I wonder if there is any agreement that honesty in public life should be enforceable in principle in somewhat the same way that it is in business?unenlightened

    You mean like, "I honestly believe I deserve that," or, "I honestly believe the ends justify the means," etc, etc. Yeah, we've really enforced such.

    The problem with consensus is it is just that.
  • Schzophr
    78

    Politics is tricky around life and therefore can't be strictly moderated. Um.. His war stance with Iran, anti immigration policies, his control and enhancement of budget. I guess highlight me in the Trump thread if you want to talk.
  • tim wood
    2.9k
    His war stance with Iran, anti immigration policies, his control and enhancement of budget.Schzophr

    His policies on these is good? In what way good? Btw, anti-immigration? When did the USA become anti-immigration? And in what sense or in what way has he done the budget any good - beyond making the super-rich richer?

    These assertions of yours ordinarily would be laughable, except that they're not. Demonstrate or retract.
  • unenlightened
    3.8k


    Please take your fascinating discussion to the Trump thread.
  • tim wood
    2.9k
    Well noted. Will do!

    Rather, I wonder if there is any agreement that honesty in public life should be enforceable in principle in somewhat the same way that it is in business?unenlightened

    US Constitution Art. 1 sec. 6:
    "They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place."

    So, they can lie like rugs in Congress. Perhaps the hoped-for gain from any lie told outside of Congress should be monetized according to some schedule or formulae, and the liar fined accordingly and punitively. And this apply to all persons (persons, i.e., including legal persons). in all situations. The safeguard being that most "white" lies and other small lies usually aren't worth the trouble of pursuing.

    But for the big lie, I'd apply stern, severe, and proportional punishments.

    It might be called anti-lie legislation, and it would be an acknowledgement of and reaction to the harm that lies can do. The penalties being sufficient to strongly disincentivize persons from lying.
  • fdrake
    2.5k


    A rejoinder to my previous post is that a totalising conception of corporate power is not instrumentally useful in resisting its deleterious effects on public trust, so more than ever we need careful sociology and political analysis to track the limit points, fault-lines and interfaces between the ruled public, the ruling classes, and our glorified HR-for-capital governments.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    There are particular threads to discuss particular cases, so I don't want to get lost in trying to decide them here. Rather, I wonder if there is any agreement that honesty in public life should be enforceable in principle in somewhat the same way that it is in business? If my new gizmo doesn't do what it says on the tin, I am entitled to my money back; perhaps I could sue if my taxes are misspent?unenlightened
    That's how a representational democracy govt. works. You choose someone to handle the budget. If you don't like how they handled the budget, vote for someone else next election.

    How about we eliminate political parties all together to try and limit some of the polarization this country is going through, and have the media stop putting microphones in front of politicians faces just so that they can lie and spin, spin and lie. I don't give a damn what a politician says because I know it will fall well short of the truth. I pay attention to their actions and how they vote in Congress.
  • unenlightened
    3.8k
    I don't think we can talk about the decline of trust in public without talking about the political use of fear and the political strategy of anti-politics.fdrake

    I'd like to try, anyway. I gave a link in the op to the Open Learning site. It is a source I trust, both academically and politically. I trust them, not to be perfect, but to be careful; to be concerned to be accurate and unbiased in their material. Likewise, I generally trust the ingredients list on food packaging to be accurate. And as Wallows points out, money is entirely made of trust - well trust and rather thin paper. It's not a matter of left or right particularly - social life, economic life, law and order, governance, academia, science, every good thing depends on trust.

    I had thought that would be obvious enough not to need saying. So when a scientist fiddles his results, it's a big scandal, he loses his job and so on. When a policeman takes bribes, it is a scandal and he loses his job, his pension, and goes to prison. When a firm lies about the meat in its pies, it is a scandal, the product is taken off the shelves and they are prosecuted under the trade descriptions act.

    So we see how it is when people do not trust the media and do not trust politicians. It's not a different kind of case; things stop working. The difference is that there is no enforcement of any standard. In the UK it used to be managed by peer pressure...

    That's how a representational democracy govt. works. You choose someone to handle the budget. If you don't like how they handled the budget, vote for someone else next election.Harry Hindu

    Why does it only work that way? No one would consider that an adequate way to regulate surgeons. 'You don't like how they handled your operation, use a different one next time.' It's ridiculous, and with the government, many many more lives are at stake. To demand at least honesty does not seem too much. To expect that failed politicians resign or be sacked is no odder than to expect surgeons that fail to resign or be sacked.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    To expect that failed politicians resign or be sacked is no odder than to expect surgeons that fail to resign or be sacked.unenlightened
    One man's "failed" politician is another man's "successful" politician. That is politics. So maybe we should eliminate politicians and representation and just let all citizens use the internet to vote for any bill or budget that is proposed. What a hoot that would be!
  • Janus
    7.9k
    When that goes, well, anything goes. Which was a hit song in the 1930’s.Wayfarer

    As everybody knows, when anything goes, then it's like the song by Leonard Cohen in the 1980's, so unlikely to be a hit:

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows the war is over
    Everybody knows the good guys lost
    Everybody knows the fight was fixed
    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
    That's how it goes
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
    Everybody knows that the captain lied
    Everybody got this broken feeling
    Like their father or their dog just died
    Everybody talking to their pockets
    Everybody wants a box of chocolates
    And a long-stem rose
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows that you love me baby
    Everybody knows that you really do
    Everybody knows that you've been faithful
    Ah, give or take a night or two
    Everybody knows you've been discreet
    But there were so many people you just had to meet
    Without your clothes
    And everybody knows

    Everybody knows, everybody knows
    That's how it goes
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows, everybody knows
    That's how it goes
    Everybody knows

    And everybody knows that it's now or never
    Everybody knows that it's me or you
    And everybody knows that you live forever
    Ah, when you've done a line or two
    Everybody knows the deal is rotten
    Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
    For your ribbons and bows
    And everybody knows

    And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
    Everybody knows that it's moving fast
    Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
    Are just a shining artifact of the past
    Everybody knows the scene is dead
    But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
    That will disclose
    What everybody knows

    And everybody knows that you're in trouble
    Everybody knows what you've been through
    From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
    To the beach of Malibu
    Everybody knows it's coming apart
    Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
    Before it blows
    And everybody knows

    Everybody knows, everybody knows
    That's how it goes
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows, everybody knows
    That's how it goes
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows, everybody knows
    That's how it goes
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows


    So, yeah, hold the politicians (and the press and the guilty individuals within corporations) legally accountable for lying to and deceiving the public; I think it's a great idea, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen. To realize a genuine state of trust we need a massive paradigm shift; a radical alteration of consciousness itself. People need to really want it, and be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices and changes to their habits.
  • Hanover
    4.8k
    Rather, I wonder if there is any agreement that honesty in public life should be enforceable in principle in somewhat the same way that it is in business? If my new gizmo doesn't do what it says on the tin, I am entitled to my money back; perhaps I could sue if my taxes are misspent?unenlightened

    Even assuming the analogy apt (i.e. that it is as much fraud for a gizmo seller to sell an ineffective gizmo to you as it is for a politician to obtain your vote under false promises), I'd still disagree with the proposition that both should be afforded the same remedies in court because I do not see the purpose of law as seeking logical consistency. That different classes of people are treated differently in order to advance particular state interests seems reasonable to me. If we choose, for example, to give emergency room physicians greater protection against negligence suits than we do other physicians (as some states do) seems reasonable if the purpose is to reduce emergency room costs and assure the public there will be plenty of emergency care when needed. Logically, though, an ER doctor is just another gizmo maker.

    The question then is why can't we sue every politician who secures votes saying he will not vote for X the minute he votes for X if he is just another gizmo producer? My response would be the same as above, which is that the societal effect would be more damaging than allowing the current state of affairs to continue forward. What would happen is that the passage of legislation would cease taking place in the legislative building, but it would move to the courthouse, where every empowered citizen would file endless lawsuits trying to advance their interests before judges and juries.

    As an aside, I also am not particularly troubled by the current state of distrust in government and the lying that now occurs except to the extent the acts of politicians amount to actual violations of law. That is, I don't see us at a nadir where we now need to reconsider our limited remedies of impeachment, recall elections (available in certain cases), and just waiting to election time to vote for the other guy. The world has been through far worse times than now.
  • unenlightened
    3.8k
    The question then is why can't we sue every politician who secures votes saying he will not vote for X the minute he votes for X if he is just another gizmo producer?Hanover

    Strawpolitician, you have there. Anyone is entitled nay obligated to change their plans as circumstances change. Think matters of fact. As per my previous example of a UK politician claiming that leaving the EU will save money that it cannot possibly save. Or incompetence on this sort of scale.

    except to the extent the acts of politicians amount to actual violations of law.Hanover

    Well all I am suggesting is that politicians be subject to the same kind of legal restrictions as every other citizen in every other kind of job.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    Well all I am suggesting is that politicians be subject to the same kind of legal restrictions as every other citizen in every other kind of job.unenlightened
    And how do you subject politicians to legal restrictions when it is the politicians that define the legal restrictions?
  • unenlightened
    3.8k
    Well first you try voting for the ones that agree with you, and if that doesn't work, you start a revolution.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    Well first you try voting for the ones that agree with youunenlightened
    Which is what I said earlier:
    If you don't like how they handled the budget, vote for someone else next election.Harry Hindu

    and if that doesn't work, you start a revolution.unenlightened
    Good luck. One man's revolutionary is another man's terrorist.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    I'd like to try, anyway. I gave a link in the op to the Open Learning site. It is a source I trust, both academically and politically. I trust them, not to be perfect, but to be careful; to be concerned to be accurate and unbiased in their material. Likewise, I generally trust the ingredients list on food packaging to be accurate. And as Wallows points out, money is entirely made of trust - well trust and rather thin paper. It's not a matter of left or right particularly - social life, economic life, law and order, governance, academia, science, every good thing depends on trust.unenlightened

    I think it's relevant to distinguish socially necessary trust, which is in some sense inviolable for the current functioning of things, and personal trust, which is based on an individual's relationship with whatever is trusted to some degree. People could stop trusting in money personally, and when that happens there are economic effects, but people can't stop treating it as a social necessity so long as the present order of things, or something close to it, holds.

    Personal trust, moreover, is quite tied to socially necessary trust. One amazing revelation, though it is actually quite old really, which the success of anti-politics confronts us with acutely is that the powers which keep things running are not vouchsafed by personal trust in the aggregate; we know most government institutions cannot be trusted in all the senses we'd need to trust them to say we trust them, but nevertheless society keeps moving along since the relevant powers reproducing socially necessary trusts are doing so.

    Socially necessary trust can perhaps be called an operative belief seen in our actions, even if the emotional valences of trust are not there.

    It is always relevant to ask 'who do we trust?' 'for whom do we trust?' 'on what basis do we trust?' and 'does our trust matter?' - things are currently organised where personal trust in the system in the aggregate matters little for its ongoing function. I don't want to 'psychologise' trust here for the same reason that I don't want to 'psychologise' logic in other places; trust is always a worldly social relation with material consequences and grounding, mediated by the conditions of social-economic-political-cultural life which are situationally relevant to the target of the emotional valences of personal trust.
  • creativesoul
    5.9k
    Language acquisition is existentially dependent upon both trust and truth.

    We trust our direct sensory perception - at first - because we have no choice in the matter. Ducks, dogs, and dinosaurs have never been able to doubt whether or not their physiological nervous system is dependable/trustworthy.

    Trust is akin to a load bearing structure of the written/spoken word. That is particularly obvious when we think about direct proportional effects/affects. When trust is high in a speaker, one takes them at their word. One thinks/believes that the person is speaking sincerely.

    "Truth telling" can lead to a bit of confusion if it is conflated with sincerity/honesty. One can speak sincerely, one can speak clearly, one can be perfectly honest, and...

    One could be stating a falsehood. While being honest is admirable, it does not require omniscience. One is lying when one deliberately misrepresents their own thought/belief. Lying is what insincere speakers are doing.

    Making promises to the electorate is what politicians do. When one sincerely promises to do 'X', then it is his/her obligation, which they voluntarily entered into, to make the world match their words. That is the difference between a promise made by an insincere speaker, and one made by a sincere one. The insincere speaker knows that, knows the power of that, and uses it as a means to garner/gain trust.

    When enough promises are broken, the individual speaker is no longer needed and/or wanted as someone to depend upon. When the government consists of long lists of just such people, the citizens will lose their trust. When the citizen no longer believes that their vote matters, voter turnout will falter. If within a fifty year timeframe, a government passes legislation that offers financial incentive for citizen business owners to move all the operations to another country, that government has turned it's back on it's own people. Not a fatal mistake. It can be corrected, and ought.

    Governments create the socioeconomic landscape. There is no reason for to not use that power as a means to help foster and/or cultivate more opportunity and options for all citizens being governed.
  • Valentinus
    498

    The trust between people is a critical point of reference in the working world. That is not necessarily aligned with law that gives one redress for crimes committed.
    On top of not telling lies and screwing other people, the imperative to not treat other people as means to an end is really difficult when doing just that is your job description.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    The difference is that there is no enforcement of any standard. In the UK it used to be managed by peer pressureunenlightened

    Trust is earned, it cannot be enforced. When it is lost, we suffer the consequences. But trust will not be regained through enforcement. That ship has sailed. This thread is depressing.
  • frank
    3k
    Socially necessary trust can perhaps be called an operative belief seen in our actions, even if the emotional valences of trust are not there.fdrake

    It's probably rooted in what we are biologically. It's interesting to think of a large scale society as a manifestation of our make-up the way a bee-hive is for bees.

    Would you be ok calling that potential a fundamentally biological thing? Or is there something extra-biological about it?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment