cross-posted from: https://lemmygrad.ml/post/287850
Cross-posting this here (and editing it slightly) as I think the West's strategy of circulating constant lies about China makes it a worthwhile read for people who want to study the subject of such lies. This is a book about the many types of lies leading up to and throughout World War I.
For people interested in particular categories of lies, you can scroll down to the last section heading: "A list of some of the forms of lying which he will include specific historical examples of in his book". I think taking a look at this list is good for anyone trying to get a handle on and make a study of the many different kinds lies being utilized against China right now.
"Anyone declaring the truth: 'Whether you are right or wrong, whether you win or lose, in no circumstances can war help you or your country,' would find himself in gaol very quickly. In wartime, failure of a lie is negligence, the doubting of a lie a misdemeanour, the declaration of the truth a crime."
The author, writing in the aftermath of World War I, explains his reason for compiling this collection of wartime lies: "When the generation that has known war is still alive, it is well that they should be given chapter and verse with regard to some of the best-known cries, catchwords, and exhortations by which they were so greatly influenced. As a warning, therefore, this collection is made." In other words, he is hoping that this collection and analysis of the various deliberate lies floating around during World War I will help future generations see through future lies and not get swept up in them next time. Although this work contains examples from the World War I era, I feel that it makes many relevant points that still need to be understood today.
Tl;dr: 3 quotes that convey his overall point:
There is nothing sensational in the way of revelations contained in these pages. All the cases mentioned are well known to those who were in authority, less well known to those primarily affected, and unknown, unfortunately, to the millions who fell. Although only a small part of the vast field of falsehood is covered, it may suffice to show how the unsuspecting innocence of the masses in all countries was ruthlessly and systematically exploited.
None of the heroes prepared for suffering and sacrifice, none of the common herd ready for service and obedience, will be inclined to listen to the call of their country once they discover the polluted sources from whence that call proceeds and recognize the monstrous finger of falsehood which beckons them to the battlefield.
Man, it has been said, is not "a veridical animal," but his habit of lying is not nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe. It is, indeed, because of human credulity that lies flourish.
Further quotes from the introduction, for those interested:
Falsehood is a recognized and extremely useful weapon in warfare, and every country uses it quite deliberately to deceive its own people, to attract neutrals, and to mislead the enemy. The ignorant and innocent masses in each country are unaware at the time that they are being misled, and when it is all over only here and there are the falsehoods discovered and exposed. As it is all past history and the desired effect has been produced by the stories and statements, no one troubles to investigate the facts and establish the truth.
The use of the weapon of falsehood is more necessary in a country where military conscription is not the law of the land than in countries where the manhood of the nation is automatically drafted into the Army, Navy, or Air Service. The public can be worked up emotionally by sham ideals. A sort of collective hysteria spreads and rises until finally it gets the better of sober people and reputable newspapers.
War being established as a recognized institution to be resorted to when Governments quarrel, the people are more or less prepared. They quite willingly delude themselves in order to justify their own actions. They are anxious to find an excuse for displaying their patriotism, or they are disposed to seize the opportunity for the excitement and new life of adventure which war opens out to them. So there is a sort of national wink, everyone goes forward, and the individual, in his turn, takes up lying as a patriotic duty. In the low standard of morality which prevails in war-time, such a practice appears almost innocent. His efforts are sometimes a little crude, but he does his best to follow the example set. Agents are employed by authority and encouraged in so-called propaganda work. The type which came prominently to the front in the broadcasting of falsehood at recruiting meetings is now well known. The fate which overtook at least one of the most popular of them in this country exemplifies the depth of degradation to which public opinion sinks in a war atmosphere.
When war reaches such dimensions as to involve the whole nation, and when the people at its conclusion find they have gained nothing but only observe widespread calamity around them, they are inclined to become more sceptical and desire to investigate the foundations of the arguments which inspired their patriotism, inflamed their passions, and prepared them to offer the supreme sacrifice. They are curious to know why the ostensible objects for which they fought have none of them been attained, more especially if they are the victors.
A list of some of the forms of lying which he will include specific historical examples of in his book:
There are several different sorts of disguises which falsehood can take. There is the deliberate official lie, issued either to delude the people at home or to mislead the enemy abroad [...] There is the deliberate lie concocted by an ingenious mind which may only reach a small circle, but which, if sufficiently graphic and picturesque, may be caught up and spread broadcast; and there is the hysterical hallucination on the part of weak-minded individuals.
There is the lie heard and not denied, although lacking in evidence, and then repeated or allowed to circulate.
There is the mistranslation, occasionally originating in a genuine mistake, but more often deliberate.
There is the general obsession, started by rumour and magnified by repetition and elaborated by hysteria, which at last gains general acceptance.
There is the deliberate forgery which has to be very carefully manufactured but serves its purpose at the moment, even though it be eventually exposed.
There is the omission of passages from official documents of which only a few of the many instances are given; and the "correctness" of words and commas in parliamentary answers which conceal evasions of the truth.
There is deliberate exaggeration [...] There is the concealment of truth, which has to be resorted to so as to prevent anything to the credit of the enemy reaching the public. A war correspondent who mentioned some chivalrous act that a German had done to an Englishman during an action received a rebuking telegram from his employer: "Don't want to hear about any good Germans"; and Sir Philip Gibbs, in Realities of War, says: "At the close of the day the Germans acted with chivalry, which I was not allowed to tell at the time."
There is the faked photograph ("the camera cannot lie "). [...]
Some trivial and imperfectly understood statement of fact becomes magnified into enormous proportions by constant repetition from one person to another. [...]
Atrocity lies were the most popular of all, especially in this country and America; no war can be without them. Slander of the enemy is esteemed a patriotic duty. [...] The repetition of a single instance of cruelty and its exaggeration can be distorted into a prevailing habit on the part of the enemy. Unconsciously each one passes it on with trimmings and yet tries to persuade himself that he is speaking the truth. [...]
There are personal accusations and false charges made in a prejudiced war atmosphere to discredit persons who refuse to adopt the orthodox attitude towards war.
(As you can see, he lists many different categories of lies, I have omitted a few.)
I myself have not read all of this book yet, just the introduction, so I can't comment on the rest of it. I just thought that the introduction, or even just some of the introduction such as the quotes above, is worth a read for those looking to understand the ways these kinds of lies are created and circulated, especially for those looking to study more specifically about it.