Truth as a condition to the survival of the world has never been greater. However, we are also, more than ever, swamped by fake news and lies. The most derisory anecdotes have become widespread and are readily commented on social media, as well as by the supposedly serious media; in much more quantity than the most important and rigorous information that is essential to judge our present and our future.
The human mind prefers simple solutions, even if it is false, rather than complicated solutions, especially if it is not intuitive. It would rather heap hate on scapegoats and believe in conspiracies, rather than reflect on the mechanisms. A simple lie is more likely to be accepted than a complex truth. But here it is: truth, like nature, is complex.
At the moment, lies are widespread. For example:
It is a lie to believe or to make believe that the national level is the best framework for dealing with the essential problems of its residents. This is not true! We must have the courage to say, and perhaps even to shout, that, in the national context alone, there is nothing sustainable that we can do against uncontrolled migration, unbearable inequalities, global warming, military nuclear risks or against the future threats posed by new technologies (including artificial intelligence and biotechnology). There must be binding international rules in order to confront each of these aforementioned problems—global regulations and a global regime to enforce them. In a very real sense, the opposite of what is being proclaimed by those who dream only of power and not of results—on the far-left and far-right.
It is also a lie to believe that for each difficulty, there are guilty people; and that it would suffice to denounce such persons and expel them. A problem usually refers to mechanisms rather than culprits; and the act of finding those who profit from such problem or identifying scapegoats will not change anything related to the suffering of those who truly suffer in the long run. For example, taxing the wealthy is necessary to reduce inequalities, but this will not prevent obscene fortunes from being accumulated or amassed elsewhere. In order to solve the issue, we need a real global tax system and the means to enforce it. In contrast, on a national level, the essential is what we can and want to do for the education of our people, or the advancement of our culture and language. To be noted, the efforts that are exerted to solve other problems, at the national level, are not in vain. Indeed, such efforts must be attempted. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that such efforts will neither be sustainable nor efficient unless it is scaled up, to the greatest extent possible, to the international level.
It is also a lie to criticize a situation without being able to propose concrete and real solutions to the problems that we denounce. For example, it is a lie to denounce (as do all political actors in all countries (elected officials, trade unionists, activists and commentators)), the burden of taxes and public expenditures, if we are not able to, at the same time, cite very precisely the public expenditures that we are proposing to reduce. For my part, I have repeatedly engaged in this exercise; privately with President Francois Mitterrand during my tenure as his advisor; then later publicly (especially in 2008 in the report of the Commission for Liberation of French Economic Growth). At the time, we came to the realization that behind each public expense, there is a particular interest group that will do everything to continue to enjoy such spending. And we are confronted with, as was the case for me every time, political caution. Some will call it dexterity; others will say it is cowardice.
Therefore, it is a lie to complain about the carelessness of others without having a concrete solution to propose.
Lying to yourself is akin to holding yourself in contempt. Lying to a people is also akin to showing contempt toward them. Further, lying to one another is perhaps the greatest contempt of all.
We can only hope for progress in the human mind, which would finally make it prefer to face the realities rather than indulge in reassuring fictions. It would make us understand that only courage, lucidity, and the ability to face real issues with real solutions are worthy societal guidelines. This type of progress would give us have the courage to have meaningful debates, with supporting evidence such as the real numbers, on the proposed solutions, in order to examine the consequences in detail (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level of analyses) and evaluate all the implications.
Let us not delude ourselves. Nothing is worse: In politics, fairy tales always end very badly.