Sunday, September 24, 2006

Brownson on Lying in Politics

Both parties will call that the will of the people, which both know is only the will of some few party leaders, and claim the sanction of the popular voice, for what they have every reason to believe the people have never examined, never deliberated upon. Both parties have their secret wires, which they pull to make the puppets dance to their will ; and everywhere both have a concealed agency, which produces the results they ascribe to the spontaneous will of the people.

Now, parties should be open and honest; and any party that should undertake to deceive the people, though in its belief for the people's good, or to carry its ends by any other management or policy than that of truth and honesty, ought to be damned to everlasting infamy; and every party leader, who prides himself on his skill, his adroitness in building up his party and securing its success, ought to be looked upon as one of those liars, who are to have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The people have for ages been managed by adroit politicians, and lied to by parties and statesmen, and it is time that both they and politicians and statesmen, learn that there is no allowable policy, no admissible management, but that of telling the truth and acting honestly. Politics till then will be a tissue of falsehood, and governments will be but splendid lies. In this country above all, should we frown upon all intrigue, and contemn all concealment, all political management.

Orestes Brownson, A Discourse on Lying. Brownson goes on to argue that lying is always a sign of cowardice, and concludes:

The true man is always a hero. In the hour of trial, in the hour of danger, you know where to find him, Where the fire is hottest, and blows fall thickest and heaviest, there you find him, and always will find him. He deserts his standard never, and holds it with a firm grasp in death. If we would be men, be what our forms and lineaments promise, we must be heroes. We must dare always to utter the truth, whether its utterance be in words or in deeds. We must be always true to our inward convictions, and if the world be opposed to them, no matter ; we must take our stand on them, and trust that in due time the world will come round to us. We must shun falsehood as the most deadly poison, and be true to the God within us, let it cost us what it may.

If there be anything wanting in this age, it is men, men of chaste minds, intrepid spirits, heroic souls, that dare stand up and speak from the fulness of their own hearts, and go forth and act in obedience to their own convictions. Let us be men ; let us be true ; be faithful to God, to man ; be what we seem ; and then, though the world around us may crumble, we shall find ourselves safe on the Rock of Ages.

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