Kosovo War and Plato’s “The Noble Lie”

During the Kosovo conflict in 1999, military intervention by the US and NATO was precipitated by the use of outright lies and deceptions. The conflict was “ostensibly about preventing “genocide” on the scale of the Holocaust. This was the Big Lie. This was the Noble Lie. In fact, the conflict was about secession and separatism and the creation of a US-sponsored Greater Albania. Why was the Noble Lie needed? A deception was needed because US policy was supporting an illegal land grab, a forceful take-over of territory from a sovereign nation, Yugoslavia.

Why and how could such lies and deceptions occur in a so-called democracy? How do you explain it? The Noble Lie goes back to at least Plato in Western history.

In The Republic, Part III, Plato, described “the noble lie” which rulers told their citizens. For Plato, it was the elites who could tell “the noble lie”, to maintain societal stability and to ensure a contented and satisfied population. In Plato’s ideal Republic, or city-state, there were three hierarchical classes: The Guardians, the Soldiers, and the Workers. The Rulers were selectetd from the Guardians class, the “philosophers”. Next were the Auxiliaries class, or Soldiers. The third class was made up of Workers, the laborers, craftsmen, and the farmers.

For Plato, a “noble lie” or a “noble myth” was needed to maintain the hierarchical structure, to maintain the moral order, and to keep the society functioning in a productive manner.

Plato begins by stating that the “truth” should be valued, but that “lies” are sometimes necessary or required. He restricts their use to special persons only who represent the community, society, or the state or government:

“Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying , a lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of such medicines should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have no business with them.”

For Plato, ideally, only the government could tell the “noble lie”, not private individuals. The government could tell the “noble lie” if it was “for the public good”:

“Then if anyone at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the State should be the persons; and they, in their dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good. But nobody else should meddle with anything of the kind; and although the rulers have this privilege, for a private man to lie to them in return is to be deemed a more heinous fault.”

What is an example of a “noble lie” in Plato’s Republic?:

“How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we lately spoke—just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers, if that be possible, and at any rate the rest of the city?”

Plato then relates the “fiction” or “tale” or “necessary falsehoods” of how mankind is divided into gold, silver, brass, and iron, a hierarchical system that mirrored classes in society. For Plato, this “noble lie”, or metaphor, is necessary because “the fostering of such a belief will make them care more for the city and for one another.” A noble lie will make the citizens of the polis, of The Republic, more civic-minded and patriotic and will ensure communal bonding and cohesiveness and a sense of community. In short, the metaphor is necessary to rationalize and to justify the rigid hierarchy. Ultimately, the noble lie fosters the public good.

The noble lie is similar to Reinhold Niebuhr’s “necessary illusion”, a fiction that an individual needed to function effectively and productively in a modern society. For Niebuhr, “rationality belongs to the cool observers”, experts and elites who are detached and learned on a particular issue. “Democracy”, for Niebuhr, “is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.” The elites and the experts have to decide the difficult and complex issues.

What role does the noble lie have in democracy? Walter Lippmann, in Public Opinion (1922), argued that a “governing class”, similar to Plato’s “guardian class”, must emerge in a democracy that would give order and direction out of the “chaos of local opinions.” For Lippmann, “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality” must inform democratic society. This was a specialized class of “elites” made up of experts, specialists and bureaucrats. Today, this specialized class of elites includes members of think tanks, professors, analysts, “senior diplomats”, and commentators. These were “intellectual elites” who would, in essence, tell the crowd, the herd, the mob, in a democracy, what to think, and how to think. Intellectual elites are needed because in a democracy there is no such thing as an “omnicompetent citizen”. Citizens in a democracy are ignorant. They only have knowledge on some issues, but not on others. This is why elites and experts are necessary to walk people through the complexities and ambiguities of the issues.

The people in a democracy do not act or think rationally, and therefore, cannot know the public good, what is best for themselves or for others, or for their nation. As Alexander Hamilton noted: “Your people, sir, is nothing but a great beast”. For Hamilton, the masses in a democracy do not know what is in their best interest or what is in the national interest: “The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. ” The people do not know what is the “public good”. In other words, no single individual could ever know everything about the many issues in a democracy. What they do know is shallow in depth, primitive, crude, and unsophisticated. For this reason, the intellectual elites are needed to aid and to assist the primitive, unsophisticated, and ignorant individual in a democracy.

What guides the masses, the people, in a democracy? According to Lippmann, it is images, images we have in our heads: “We are all captives of the picture in our head—our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.” The image, not the actual reality, is everything. Manipulate the image and you change the perception of reality.

Lippmann explained that when telling the people “truths” in a democracy, there is a necessary degradation that occurs. Intellectual elites are needed to explain the issues to the crude and primitive and unsophisticated masses: “When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute.”

This is the dominant “narrative” or paradigm in “manufacturing consent” in a democracy. Indeed, this is the way it actually works in practice.

Lippmann’s theoretical groundwork was taken a step further by Edward L. Bernays, regarded as a pioneer in public relations in the US. For Bernays, “manufacturing consent” or “engineering consent” was crucial in a democracy: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.”

Bernays described how there was an “engineering of consent” in the US by intellectual elites: “We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.” For Bernays, this manipulation is necessary in democracy. Indeed, it is fundamental to American democracy.

These “enlightened” elites control the “public mind” or the “group mind”: “It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

The ultimate object is to control the masses in a democracy, to manipulate them through the noble lie to do what they otherwise would not do: “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it?”

Bernays argued that the organized manipulation of the masses by elites was fundamental to a democracy. Democracy is juxtaposed to totalitarianism. Joseph Goebbels and Nazi propaganda are always cited as if they are unique to Nazism and to totalitarianism. What is suppressed, however, is the fact that Joseph Goebbels derives many of his propaganda techniques from Bermays and Lippmann. The techniques of Nazi propaganda were based on American democratic models of engineering and manufacturing consent. Bernays’ seminal book Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) was a source for much of Goebbels’ Nazi propaganda techniques. Bernays himself admitted this in his book Biography of an Idea: “Goebbels, said [Karl von] Weigand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany.” Remarkably, Bernays regarded this as vindication of the effectiveness and soundness of his techniques. His techniques continue to be the guides on how consent is manufactured and engineered in the US.

To understand how and why we were manipulated and lied to on Kosovo, Bosnia, Krajina, and Iraq in 2003, you have to know about how public opinion is “manufactured” and “engineered” in a democracy.


2006-12-14

By Carl K. Savich

Source: Serbianna

RELATED POSTS
Kosovo: Honoring Nazis and the SS
UN negotiator on Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari wanted to honor and commemorate Finnish Nazi SS troops in 1999 when he was the President of Finland. He wanted to have the Finnish taxpayers and the Finnish government fund and finance the construction of a plaque in the Ukraine to commemorate the deaths of Finnish Nazi SS troops killed during Operation Barbarossa. Ahtisaari is not, alone, however, in seeking to honor and celebrate the legacy of Nazis and the SS.Kosovo Albanians have similarly honored and commemorated the legacy of Nazis and the SS. Kosovo Albanians have named a high school in Pec and ...
READ MORE
Human Rights Violations: North Korea Versus The U.S.
UN Third Committee Resolution L.23 IN, Legitimizes Stranglehold Economic Sanctions., Used as a Means to "Obliterate" North KoreaOn November 15, 2016 the United Nations Third Committee adopted the resolution:  “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Among the co-sponsors of the Resolution were United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, etc.  Disassociating themselves from the resolution, which they denounced as invalid, were China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and three other countries opposed to the biased character and double standards that typify “country-specific” resolutions.  The so-sponsors of this resolution are themselves guilty of  criminal human rights ...
READ MORE
Kosovo Under Nazi Germany: Nazi-Created Albanian Security Forces in Kosovo During the World War II
Greater Albania under Nazi GermanyDuring World War II, 35,000 to 40,000 Kosovo Albanians were recruited by Nazi Germany as part of the German occupation forces and security formations in Greater Albania, a state created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini that included Kosovo-Metohija, western Macedonia, and territory from Serbia and Montenegro. In Albania, there were 30,000 Albanians who were in the German occupation forces. In 1941, the German occupation forces created a Kosovo Albanian Gendarmerie with headquarters in Kosovska Mitrovica. In 1944, these forces were incorporated into the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division. In 1942, Balli Kombetar organization battalions were established ...
READ MORE
What About Apologizing To Ukraine, Mrs. Nuland?
Yesterday’s leak of the flagrant telephone talk between the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt has already hit the international media headlines. In short, it turned out that the US officials were coordinating their actions on how to install a puppet government in Ukraine.In this flagrant telephone talk between the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt agreed to nominate Bat’kyvshchina Party leader Arseniy Yatseniuk as Deputy Prime Minister, to bench Udar Party leader Vitaly Klitschko off the game for a ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: The Spoils of War
The legal and diplomatic argumets for granting “Kosova” indepence, whether “supervised” or unsupervised, are totally spurious and unfounded. There is no basis in international law or international agreements or the UN Charter for dismembering Serbia by allowing a minority population to secede. The only argument is the argument of force, “the spoils of war”, seeing Kosovo as a spoil of war. This is the only “argument”. But since this is an unpalatable and unconvincing argument, it must be buttressed and camouflaged with the discredited and disproved “genocide” construct, which acts as a convenient obfuscating smokescreen. This argument runs as follows: ...
READ MORE
Former Kosovar Jihadist Recounts Syrian Odyssey
Ridvan Haqifi (left) and Lavdrim Muhaxheri (right), two ISIS Kosovo Albanian commanders. | Photo: ISIS propaganda videoAlbert Berisha, a former Kosovar jihadist who travelled to fight in Syria, appeared before a Pristina court on Monday to recount his version of the story and maintain his innocence.Berisha, who graduated in political sciences from the University of Pristina and holds a Masters degree from the University of Tirana, was arrested in 2014 and is charged with participating in terrorist organisations. This crime is punishable with a minimum of five years in prison.Berisha said he went to Syria from October 6 to 20, ...
READ MORE
The “Extrajudicial” Assassination Of Slobodan Milosevic In 2006
On March 11, 2006, President Slobodan Milosevic died in a NATO prison. No one has been held accountable for his death. In the 10 years since the end of his lonely struggle to defend himself and his country against the false charges invented by the NATO powers, the only country to demand a public inquiry into the circumstances of his death came from Russia when Foreign Minister, Serge Lavrov, stated that Russia did not accept the Hague tribunal’s denial of responsibility and demanded that an impartial and international investigation be conducted. Instead, The NATO tribunal made its own investigation, known ...
READ MORE
Proxy Wars: Kosovo and South Ossetia
Yada…yada…yada. The discussion on the unprovoked and planned aggression by Georgia on South Ossetia is futile and moot because Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced last week that the Russian Government would recognize the independence and freedom of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On August 25, 2008, both houses of the Russian Parliament or Duma voted unanimously to recognize the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On August 26, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that the government of the Russian Federation officially recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.Save your rhetoric. Georgia has lost those areas permanently. Ossetians and ...
READ MORE
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and American Nuclear Denial
“To Hell and Back” is a phrase that can bear a pretty heavy metaphorical load when it comes to talking about the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It’s also the title of a book by Charles Pellegrino.Pellegrino’s book is a moving and grueling close-up look at the horrors experienced by the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki both on the day of the bombing and in the days and years afterward. I have the heart of a dried-up raisin but even I got a little teary in places.There are few opportunities for inspiring “triumph of the human spirit” narratives amid ...
READ MORE
The Real Reasons Why FBI Director James Comey Reopened the Hillary Email Investigation
This last Friday it became public record that FBI Director James Comey reopened the Hillary Clinton email server investigation after repeatedly testifying before Congress and the world up to last July that he’d closed the case, after in his words not finding sufficient evidence of “any criminal wrongdoing” to indict her in spite of her four years as Secretary of State egregiously breaching our national security:’ -committing obstruction of justice and willful tampering with evidence, -deleting 30,000 emails after receiving a court subpoena constituting destruction of evidence, -not to mention repeatedly engaging in perjury before Congress and the FBI.But obviously a federal investigation still in process in late June never stopped Bill Clinton’s illegal ...
READ MORE
“Islamic State Déjà Vu”
Author’s noteThe following article focussing on the jihadist terrorist insurgency in Macedonia was first published by antiwar.com in July 2001, barely two months before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.Known and documented, since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahedin (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest had become an integral part of US foreign policy. A report of the US Congress had revealed how the US administration – under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake – had “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment through ...
READ MORE
US Had A ‘Pretty Supportive Attitude’ Toward Fascism In 1930s
The State Department described Hitler as a moderate who was holding off the forces, the dangerous forces of the left … and of the right, namely the extremist Nazis,’ explained the noted scholar.By MintPress News Desk | October 7, 2016Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator, speaks at the dedication ceremonies of Sabandia, central Italy, on Sept. 24, 1934.MUNICH — While the typical narrative of American history positions the United States as a supporter of democracy and opponent of fascism which helped to defeat the Nazis, key figures in Washington also supported dangerous dictators in Italy and Germany ...
READ MORE
Trump’s Win Wasn’t Ideological. It Was Brilliant
CNN explained well “5 surprising lessons from Trump’s astonishing win”, and the historic crushing failure of traditional Presidential-year American politics, but it really boils down to one simple fact: In the battleground states, where most of the advertising dollars and get-out-the-vote money was being spent, the Trump organization made use of the Republican-Party organization in those portions of the campaign-operation that benefited from those established contacts and its tried-and-tested methods and techniques, but not in the portions of the campaign-operation that needed to be improved and to function better than in all prior U.S. Presidential elections.The simple fact is that ...
READ MORE
Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England
The recent resolution of the parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE fully equalizes the role of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, except that it had the purely pragmatic purpose of extorting money from Russia on the contents of some of the bankrupt economies, intended to demonize Russia as the successor state to the USSR, and to prepare the legal ground for the deprivation of her right to speak out against revision of results of war.But if we approach the problem of responsibility for the war, then you first need to answer the ...
READ MORE
The Destabilization Of Macedonia? Greater Albania And The Process Of “Kosovization”
IntroductionThe last open armed conflict in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – FYROM (former Socialist Republic of Macedonia as one of six federal republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) in the May 2015 was just an expected continuation of constant tensions between the ethnic Albanians and the Macedonian Slavs during the last quarter of century.[i] However, these tensions are time to time transformed into the open armed conflicts of the Albanian extremists, usually coming from Kosovo, with the Macedonian security forces.The most notable conflict incidents in Macedonia after the Kosovo War in 1998−1999, when the Kosovo Albanians ...
READ MORE
US Provides Military Assistance to 73 Percent of World’s Dictatorships
Source: Rich WhitneyRich Whitney is an attorney, actor, radio commentator and disk jockey, Illinois Green Party activist and former Green Party candidate for governor.
READ MORE
The History of the CIA
When I began reading the work of Douglas Valentine about six years ago, I had not read his books, only the articles that the US online journal Counterpunch had published. In fact I only began reading Counterpunch because of the accident of having been introduced to the two original editors of what was then only a printed newsletter. Later I was even able to publish a few pieces in that journal before its more famous founding editor’s demise. Why do I preface a book review with such personal observations? To that question I will return later.After reading numerous articles I ...
READ MORE
Democratic Front of Montenegro will continue to fight against NATO membership
The opposition in Montenegro unanimously decided to boycott the local elections in Niksic, scheduled for March 12. This decision was made in protest against the political trial against the deputies from the Democratic Front (DF) Andrija Mandic and Milan Knežević. DF, Democratic Montenegro, Demos, civil movement URA, the Social Democrats and the Socialist People’s Party refused to participate in the elections after the Mandic and Knežević were deprived of parliamentary immunity.Andrija Mandic said that the prosecution was launched in order to weaken the Democratic Front. He added that he wants to raise the question about the legitimacy of the removal ...
READ MORE
Islamic Extremists Establish Foothold in Kosovo and the Balkans
Peace TV, an enterprise directed from India, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai by a fu­­ndamentalist Islamist preacher, Zakir Naik, has established a 12-hour daily program in Kosovo, a country 90% Muslim.The entry into Kosovo of Naik’s Peace TV, broadcasting each day in Albanian from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., appears to be an element in a novel campaign by South Asian Islamists to establish a foothold among Europe’s indigenous Balkan Muslims. Peace TV’s message is hard-line Wahhabism, which insults, in aggressive terms, spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, non-fundamentalist Sunnis, Jews, Christians, and Hindus, among others. Radical Islamist interlopers and their financiers, mainly ...
READ MORE
Europe Between Two Fires
Being attacked from two sides simultaneously (terrorism and Russian threat) Europe has to decide what to do first: to counter terrorism or increasing Russian might. Choosing the priority is the most difficult challenge for the European States today. But Europe should make choice because states' budgets are not bottomless.It is obvious, that as soon as the terrorism problem comes to the fore, NATO (first of all the US) diverts attention to other matters, such as the necessity to boost defence expenditures because of Russia, Syria, Afghanistan and other "annoying" countries.It can be easily explained by the burden the country has ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: Honoring Nazis and the SS
Human Rights Violations: North Korea Versus The U.S.
Kosovo Under Nazi Germany: Nazi-Created Albanian Security Forces in Kosovo During the World War II
What About Apologizing To Ukraine, Mrs. Nuland?
Kosovo: The Spoils of War
Former Kosovar Jihadist Recounts Syrian Odyssey
The “Extrajudicial” Assassination Of Slobodan Milosevic In 2006
Proxy Wars: Kosovo and South Ossetia
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and American Nuclear Denial
The Real Reasons Why FBI Director James Comey Reopened the Hillary Email Investigation
“Islamic State Déjà Vu”
US Had A ‘Pretty Supportive Attitude’ Toward Fascism In 1930s
Trump’s Win Wasn’t Ideological. It Was Brilliant
Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England
The Destabilization Of Macedonia? Greater Albania And The Process Of “Kosovization”
US Provides Military Assistance to 73 Percent of World’s Dictatorships
The History of the CIA
Democratic Front of Montenegro will continue to fight against NATO membership
Islamic Extremists Establish Foothold in Kosovo and the Balkans
Europe Between Two Fires

Donate & Support The Global Politics