Fighting a lie in the name of a half truth


“During World War II, a communist disillusioned by Stalinism, Arthur Koestler, commented that the West was fighting a lie in the name of a half truth. The West may not live up to its ideals, but it was certainly better than the Nazis or Stalin.Thinking about the state of the West after the war, Albert Camus came to the conclusion that sometimes it even might be necessary to fight a lie in the name of a quarter-truth. The reason, he argued, is that that quarter-truth at stake in the West is that of liberty and freedom. Without some measure of these, the possibilities for conceiving of and working towards a more just future are radically attenuated.In the wake of Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance, we may now be down to a one-eighth truth. But there is little question there is more liberty to be had in the US or in Western Europe than there is in Moscow or Beijing, or in Caracas or Teheran. What is needed is for Westerners to make better use of it, and to rediscover their great traditions of popular revolution.

Tarak Barkawi, Associate Professor in the Department of Politics, New School for Social Research. In “Why China Won’t Be a Better Super Power; Believe in People, not States,” Al Jazeera, June 28th, 2013



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