Bentham on why governments deliberately lie to the people
Wednesday 15 February 2012 - Bentham's Birthday
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) created a Handbook of Political Fallacies in which
he painstakingly categorized the different types of “fallacies” politicians
used to deceive the public. He did this in order to show how those in government
deceived the people in order to win office or get favours from those in office.
In his mind the Parliament was a casino, where the politicians were the gamblers,
and the property of the citizens was the stakes being played for. “Disingenuousness,
lying, hypocrisy, (and) fallacy” were the tactics used by the players in order
to win each round of the game. Those who were “the ins” (in office) had a temporary
advantage in the game; those who were “the outs” (those aspiring to be in office
next) could only hope their turn would soon come. In Bentham’s cynical though
realistic view, “the universal interest (was) a question never looked at, never
taken into account” by the players. </quote/360>.
(A) fallacy is any argument employed, or topic suggested, for the purpose,
or with a probability, of producing the effect of deception — of causing some
erroneous opinion to be entertained by any person to whose mind such argument
may have been presented.