Should a government ever lie to its citizens?

If so, why and under what circumstances?

Also, can a government be truly democratic and persist in lies?

Is there something about the nature of democracy that requires untruth in order for it to function?

oral sex isn’t sex


Well, the question relates to Plato not Clinton, so maybe the proper phrase would be “anal sex isn’t sex”.

But seriously… if we assume those in power are more knowledgable about affairs that concern the polis, or state, or nation, why wouldn’t lying be a necessary tool in order to manipulate the populace into doing those things which will result in the most benefit to the polis, state, nation as a whole?

The argument for the creation of Liberal Democracy contended, in part, that all men were rational actors capable of discerning what is, and is not, in their own interests.

Is that really true, or just a convenient fiction?

is it ok for gov’t to lie if the outcome is positive? (positive to whom, the state, the human population or the world as a whole?)

No, I think the better way is for the gov’t (if it is presumed to be intelligent) to teach people how to reason, research and think better.

If a gov’t has to lie to its people to do good, then there is something wrong with how knowledge and reasoning is functioning among the masses.

that was the basis for the creation of liberal democracy… of course they meant that only white, english speaking, western style rationalizing men were capable of participating in said liberal democracy… it remains a fiction… and the convenience hasn’t been convenient in quite some time…


No one deserves being lied to no matter who they are. It’s easier for a concentrated population to build a conspiracy, but in the long run honesty is the best policy.

a democratic gov’t lying to the populace is an oxy-moron. since democratic governments are gov’ts ruled BY the people, they are in essence lying to themselves. completely un-needed if it was a true democratic gov’t.

if, however, the gov’t is more like an oligarchy than a democracy, as most eventually turn into, then we start getting into reasons for lying to the people. if just one class of people rule, they will most likely have more knowledge about the ongoing affairs than the common peon. yet they will also have seperate interests. therefore, lying becomes all the more easy and tempting when it can be both beneficial AND easy.

Both Imp and Sirswedishmike mention education.

Now, of course, Plato also spoke of education and introducing something usually categorized as ‘the myth of the metals’. This is basically employed as a means of teaching the populace that those who rule were meant to rule by virtue of being born for it.

This isn’t necessarily hereditary… the test is when one shows an aptitude for leadershp as defined by an ability to reason as Plato presents it. Now, of course, the ruling class sort of breeds its own, but this does not guarantee that one will become the so called ‘Philosopher King’.

Inherent in a functioning Democracy is the idea of equality (though never truly actualized) it is at least paid lip service.

Not all children are equal. Each learns at his or her own pace. Wouldn’t a society be best suited to educating those whom demonstrate the best ability, while allowing the others to pursue those goals in which they possess some modicum of ability?

Isn’t this really what happens today, in America? Or is it not decided by ability but by one’s resources?

And to return to the original topic.

Sure, telling the populace lies might seem unfair, but if the Government decides the lie is necessary for the betterment of the populace, isn’t that really fair as well? Or if not, why should a government treat its people fairly anyway?

master decides what’s best (or fair, or equal) for the slave… will the slave vote against his meal ticket? that is the core of democRAT party politics.


To lie to the people, or keep classified certain information. A very fine line.

What government has not lied to the people its governed. We are lucky in that our media tends to land like flies on the bullshit the government espouses. Many governments do not allow this.

With regards,

aspacia :sunglasses:

Many do not want to think as this is difficult for many. It is easier to be entertained and be a vidiot. The opportunity is provided if the people want to take it.

With regards,



And how would we really know that? How could you know what turds said media never land on, dependent, as we are, on the flies reporting said turds for us to even have knowledge of their existence?

I ahve heard it said, but wasn’t convinced until the other day, that one of the ships involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident that precipitated the Vietnam War was never actually attacked.

The entire thing was staged. This was reported to me by my Foreign Policy Prof. who says he actually got to review some of the government documents dealing with the event itself.

Assuming that all becomes known… even then, it sometimes can take years, even decades, for the truth to come out. This is ith a supposedly “free” press.

So, lets not assume that the existence of a media means the discernment of truth. I am more inlcined to agree with Imp, the idea of a free media means a far greater chance of insidious manipulation.

But then, said manipulation, is it necessarily bad? On what predication rests the idea that the American populace deserves knowing the truth?

Bishop mentioned a Democracy, but we do not live in a pure democracy. We live in a Republic, with a representative form of government. Not only do we elect our governors, we empower them to govern us.

Shouldn’t part of their power include lying to us if it is in our own best interests? Isn’t that what we elected them for, to look after our best interests?

To original post- Yes.

(A) WRONG IF: (1) The motive is for dubious cultural purposes. (“It’s what dad did.”) (2) The motive is for dubious instinctive purposes. (“I feel like it.”) (3) The motive is by delegation from someone else’s influence whom stands a strong chance of being motivated by either clause A1, or A2. (“Because I said so.”)

(B) RIGHT IF: (1) It’s carefully determined that the eventual outcome is likely a great deal of injustice and/or wasted resources as opposed to the alternative. (2) The urgency of decision points to low-risk (you can tell them later) in lieing, and high-risk (you can’t make them forget later) in truth. High-risk relating to clause number B1.

Yes, generally we are agree. Much unconfirmed information could cause a huge panic, possibly a recession, and possible vigilante violence.

With regards,

aspacia :sunglasses:

Right, those two reporters who lied and said they converted to Islam should not have regardless of the fact they would have been beheaded.

Nope, sometimes it is necessary.

With regards,

aspacia :sunglasses:

Politicians lie for the same reason little children do: they have discovered it to be a quick and easy way to get what they want.

Fortunately many children mature into a respect for the truth.

Those who don’t … become politicians … or lawyers … which accounts for why so many politicians are lawyers (pardon my amusing purposeful error in traditional logic).

The truth is our presentation of reality that matches reality.

It is always good to tell the truth, good for one’s self, and good for others.

Arguably, the first line draw must be about saving lives.

Politicians know this. So many of their lies are erroneously rationalized with respect to saving lives.

A famous example of this kind of lie is America’s invasion of Iraq.

America invaded Iraq solely to steal Iraq’s oil distribution rights when Saddam had threatened to divert America’s share of Iraqi crude to China once the sanctions lifted when Iraq would then be free to choose its own trading partners.

Such a loss would have been economically crippling, but it was not life-threatening by any means.

Bush and the gang knew an invasion of Iraq would indeed result in the slaughter of scores of thousands of Iraqi civilians, which is what indeed came to pass.

So to justify the loss of life, there had to be a prevention of similar loss to be used as justification, else if we had been told the truth, that America was invading just to steal Iraq’s oil distribution rights, Bush would have been impeached.

So he lied. He said it was all about WMDs and terrorism and “evil Saddam”, when the reason we invaded was none of the above.

But, playing on recent events related to 9/11, the lie was easily sold to a fearful populace.

So, was that wrong? Was it wrong to lie to prevent economic catastrophe in America, a prevention that came at the expense of scores of thousands of innocent Iraqis?

I say yes, it was wrong of Bush to lie.

First, because lying is wrong, period.

Second, because by lying he cost innocent people their one and only precious life, and he prevented us from doing the right and humane thing by all: working all that much harder to develop safe alternative energy sources/consumption.

as Imp implied before, who’s to say it is in our best interests? do you really think that the lies the politicians tell us are in our best interests … or theirs?

i know that i didn’t elect my representative to lie to me. or to look after my best interest. or to keep me sheltered. most people i know don’t vote like this. they vote for the representative that will represent their views the best. that will fight for what we feel should be happening. how can they possibly know what i feel on an issue if i don’t know the truth about the issue? i have to be able to be informed, which is contradictory to them lying to me, to have an educated opinion from which the representative will then represent.

Lying is wrong. Withholding the truth is not the same as lying, and withholding the truth is a necessary evil… Mayhem isn’t pleasant.


I don’t see where withholding the truth/omission of fact is other than a lie … mendacity, duplicity, deceit … it all equates to lying.

Lying is wrong, and for more than the reason of the initial instance. There is no such thing, especially from a political view as “one lie” … it begets a multitude of lies, that eventually just perpetuate the dissolution of any truth.

No, a government shouldn’t be allowed to lie to its’ citizenry, and as a counter to that statement, the citizenry has a responsibility to continually measuring facts, with regard to its’ own government.

Hence, because the overwhelming majority of the Amerikan herd is oblivious, it lends credence to the purported necessity of governmental mendacity.

Help! I’m having a 60’s flashback! “People get the government they deserve” was almost a mantra in the late 60’s. Government proposes ideals, but lives by expediency. In short, it will use whatever means it can to provide for its’ ruling class up to the line of a revolutionary overthrow. It doesn’t make any difference where or what form of government is in place. Is lying wrong? That isn’t even a question in governing. Is it right? That isn’t even a question in governing.

Those governed are manipulated by those who govern. Period. All the idealistic proclamations, all the ethereal considerations debated in a community, or state is wonderful, but it comes down to one simple thing: who has power?

Is there a person here who has not lied either deliberately or by “sin of ommission”? There is your answer.

Do the governed want to hear lies from their government? Apparently so. Truth or lies are less the issue. When it comes to government, most people just want to be left the hell alone.