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Berdyaev. Midst of the week Society Berdyaev. End of history

Society
Ordering of society. Social lie
In the works of Nikolai Berdyaev

Lie is a weapon of defense

People live in fear, and the lie is a weapon of defense.

The lie is mortared into the foundation of the organisation of society.

The lie plays a tremendous role in human life. The world is swallowed up in lies. … Not only do people that are by nature liars lie, but also uprightly truthful people. They lie not only consciously, but also without awareness. People live in fear, and the lie is a weapon of defense. … But most significant is the social lie, affirmed of as a duty. The life of states and societies is full of it, it serves as a support for civilisation, this gives it pride, as being the vanguard against chaos and anarchy.

Deeply rooted in the mass consciousness, myths are manifest by the expression of this lie. Through the organising of these myths, lie runs the world, a watch-guard over human society. Ancient myths arose out of a collective subconscious creativity, and at their foundation was always some sort of reality. Contemporary myths are characteristically and consciously an organised lie. In them is no naivete. This may sound pessimistic, but it mustneeds be recognised, that lie is mortared into the foundation of the organisation of society.

Disappearance of the very criterion of truth

People cease to seek truth, they instead seek power.

Contemporary myths are characteristically and consciously an organised lie. … The lie, avowedly socially-useful, herein reaches within the myth such unprecedented proportions and so deforms the consciousness, that there arises the question of a radical change of attitude towards truth and the falsehood of lie, — about the disappearance of the very criterion of truth. … Pragmatic philosophy affirms, that truth is the useful and the fruitional for the process of life. In such manner, truth is entirely made subordinate to the vital process, and its criterion is the increase of the might in life. And in practise it leads to this, that they cease to seek truth, they instead seek power. But for the finding of power, the lie can seem more fruitful than truth. They seek power because they sense themselves perishing in the world, which has gone into a fluid condition, in which there is no longer a firmness of body. … Thence the extraordinary role of technology in modern life.

Lie as the chief foundation of the totalitarian states

The lie is conceived of, as a sacred duty. It is not regard as a lie — that which gives strength to the struggle. The lie can even seem the sole truth.

The lie is the chief foundation of the so-called totalitarian states, and without an organising lie they could never have been created. The lie is conceived of, as a sacred duty, a duty in regard to the chosen race, in regard to the might of the state, in regard to the chosen class. It is not regard as a lie — that which intensifies dynamism, that which serves to the growth of life, that which gives strength to the struggle. The lie can even seem the sole truth. Ложь есть главная основа так называемых тоталитарных государств, без организованной лжи они никогда не могли бы быть созданы. Ложь внушается, как свящейный долг, долг в отношении к избранной расе, в отношении к могуществу государства, в отношении к избранному классу. Это даже не сознается как ложь. Не признается ложью то, что усиливает динамизм, служит возрастанию жизни, что дает силу в борьбе. Ложь может даже казаться единственной истиной. … Everything, which is said about a racial or class enemy, is usually a lie. The enemy is a fiction, needful for a drumming up of enthusiasm, for the justifying of force, for the increase of might. … Upon the lie likewise is the basis for the political parties. Demagoguery, without which the parties cannot circulate, always presupposes the lie. The slogans, which the parties drag out during the time of pre-election agitations, usually have nothing in common with their real politics. And with all the lofty aims, there is a veiling-over of non-lofty interests.

The lie is useful for the organisation of power in this world.

On strong grounds it can be asserted, that the lie is useful for military life and the organisation of power in this world. Truth, the pure and unsought for truth, can be harmful and destructive for the organisation of order, for every systematic cover up of disharmony.

The whole of historical Christianity knew how to transform Christian truth, which is an apocalyptic explosion of the world, into a power, adaptable to this world, to the vital interests of this world.

The lie can sustain the organisation of society and the state. But inwardly it is ruinous to he person. Truth however builds up the person.

Collective consciousness

In what is the cause of the exceptional role of lying in our epoch? … When the conscience, producing moral judgements, is carried over from the depths of person to the collectives and in the dynamic of the collectives into history, then how readily the lie can seem justified. … never yet in such proportions has there occurred the withdrawal of conscience from the depths of person and its transference to collective realities, as in our time. The personal conscience, the personal moral judgement not only are paralysed, but they demand of them that they be paralysed. The personal conscience would never recourse to suchlike a lie, to which recourses the conscience of the state, the nation, the party, the class, etc. … The denigration of the structure of consciousness is explicable in this, that for the individual consciousness there is denied the right furthermore to define the realities and distinguish them from the fictitious, and this right is acknowledged only but for the collective consciousness.

The collective consciousness has crystallised with such power and in such proportions, that it completely smothers within man the personal conscience. Man is forced into the lie in the name of this or some other understanding of the collective welfare. … The lie is wrought by evil, when there is the will towards domination and might, not personal only, but collective also, in what it cannot realise of itself. The will to power can be particular to an individual, but it always bears a social character. … The will to power cannot be realised otherwise, than with the assist of the lie. … The extent of the lie in the world defines itself by the manifestation of a centralising collective consciousness, sustaining the will to power.

To conquer the lie

In the struggle against the lie we ought to unite with the utmost Truth, i.e. God.

The personal conscience defines our relationship to this utmost Power — the Truth.

The new society cannot be created by diplomacy, i.e. by adaption to the condition of the world. The world is so full of the lie, the lie is so corrosive to the supreme human ideas, that by the unique powers of the world, by which everything is relativised, it is impossible to conquer the lie. Faith in the victory over the lie presupposes faith in the existence of a power exalted above the world, of the power of a Truth over the world, i.e. God. Even if all the world be infected by the lie, then all the same there is the Truth, pure from every blemish of lie, and in the struggle against the lie we ought to unite with this Truth. The personal conscience defines our relationship to this utmost Power — the Truth, but this is not only a conscience, isolated from other people, this is a conscience, pervaded by the sense of the spiritual brotherhood of people, a brotherhood in the Truth, and not in the lie.

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