After the Dictatorship of the Lie

Submitted by AWL on 7 March, 2008 - 7:35 Author: Sean Matgamna

After the Dictatorship of the Lie

“The lies dished up and spread
by the powerful machinery of
government [] can reach everyone,
everywhere... We are... in [an]
era of the absolute lie, the
complete and totalitarian lie
spread by the monopolies of press
and radio to imprison social
consciousness." - Leon Trotsky, 1937.
I pondered all these things,
and how men fight and lose the battle,
and the thing that they fought for
comes about in spite of their defeat,
and when it comes turns out not to be
what they meant, and other men
have to fight for what they meant
under another name."
-William Morris,
"A Dream of John Ball."*
[Russian and East European Stalinism
collapsed in 1989-91. It was replaced
not, as socialist had hoped, by
working class rule, but by
the capitalism of the state-looting
oligarchs. The battle sketched in here,
between despair and nihilism on one side
and, on the other, understanding
and the sharp sense of responsibility,
was fought out then in the minds
of many socialists.]
A. Yes, in the Century of The Lie
The Greater Lies bred kings
And gun-clad Liars ruled.
In the Century of Enthroned Lies
Truth was defamed, un-natured,
Constricted, stifled, stulted.
In the Century of the Lie,
Usurping Lie acclaimed as Truth,
Determined what was true.
And when the seminal, breeding Lie,
Clad in armour, fire-power, myth,
Is in command, then Truth
Alloys with obscurantists,
With priests who pray alone,
Cranks, flat-earthists, loons
Forever out of tune;
Truth blinks, maimed, ugly
In sudden helplessness,
Sovereign by right, overthrown,
Outlawed, hunted, lost,
Hiding, cold in the heather,
Afraid of the showing moon.
Yet, slowly, meanderingly,
Truth does win fast control;
What’s gone comes back again;
Though never at your call;
The beaten rise again,
Furled flags again unfurl!
B. No! Don’t think that there is
An eccentriet god nearby
Who hoards a clean discerning
Bank of seeding Truth on loan,
Or think for consolation
That Truth has staying power
To last and claim its own:
Annulled in its own time,
Its seed drawn off, its place
Usurped, its strength unstrung,
Aligning eyes all burned out,
The vanquished banished truth
Consigned to scorning laughter
Is a bloodless shade thereafter.
A. ‘Till strong lies dry, and crack!
B. By then Time has moved on:
There is no going back!
Your Truth will lose its name,
Lose both its sense and shape,
If you let its time escape;
History a rushing river,
You cannot hone your sword,
You will not plant your flag,
By this same stream again:
You cannot steer your craft,
Nor will you fight your fight,
On this same tide twice;
Truth must ride its Time:
There is no going back!
And when the Lie, raw malice spent,
Sinks down on History’s tip,
Shy, limping, ghosted, blind old truth
Comes bent and shadow king
To a world the Lie has schooled
And seeded through with lies.
Faint echoed memories remain
Of outcast, banished Truth,
Moult words from off a theory
Whose practice stalled and failed;
Shard-bits off a perspective
That lacked the maps and means;
Shot rags from a philosophy
That could not fill its sails,
Interpreting the world
It tried and failed to shape.
A. You fight the fight and lose,
But then you’ll find your cause
Work through, not as you’d choose,
But unexpectedly,
Made strong in long adversity:
Humankind makes its history
And History makes man.
(And you? Do what you can!)
B. Rude History allows
No replay matches:
There is no going back!
Where once the Lie has ruled
Late-truth will not un-sink
What lies have sunk, or prop
What levelling lies have felled,
Un-seed where lies have raped,
Re-group what lies, amok,
Have disarranged and scattered,
Un-shrivel what the Lie,
All overshadowing, shrivelled,
Or rouse our martyred dead!
A. And yet, new generations do
Reclaim defeated Truth,
Fight its fights once more;
And then the Truth you lost
Works its way through:
We make our history,
Though not as we like or at will
History makes, and remakes, us;
The beaten rise again,
The victors fall apart;
Long furled-up flags unfurl;
Know this for our new start!
(And you? Play your proper part!)
B. Lies make no restitution!
The Liar keeps the spoils
His heirs may sell the loot:
Starved Truth, come back, must sign
Acts of Oblivion,
Make peace with the Lie-offshoots.
History does not atone.
Once done, your chance is gone;
The losers die alone,
Beaten, barren, sterile as stone.
A. Yet, we will rise again!
You fight the fight and lose,
The victors loot and breed,
The beaten fall apart.
And yet, ideas do survive,
Ideas do re-root,
And carve new routes;
Long-doldrumed flags fly;
Our cause will yet prevail.
Though mortal men and women die,
Protean Truth revives, thrives:
Transformed, renewed: replenished
We will rise again!
B. Then ask Leon Trotsky why
Truth fell before the Lie,
And tell dead Trotsky why
This is the Century of the Lie!
A. Woe to the defeated!
1993
*John Ball, a priest, was a
leader of the peasant rebellion
in England, in 1381,
in which he lost his life.