Loyalty and Truth
Loyalty versus the truth is a favorite topic of mine. It is an essential aspect of understanding how various fundamental structures in our society function.
Loyalty has two faces. We regard loyalty as a positive quality. We can remain loyal to a child, or to a friend, or to our commitments, perhaps a spiritual commitment to be a reasonable decent person.
There is a danger in loyalty. This occurs when loyalty to a person, or a political party, or an organization simultaneously holds a lie, or a corruption, or an abuse. or a strangling power structure. The situation where loyalty permits dysfunction.
We know of the police "code of silence." A type of loyalty, where policeman number one would never rat out corrupt policeman number two. Rather than go to the authorities with the inside knowledge of how a cop is corrupt, there is the "wall of silence" that maintains a perceived allegiance to a higher cause. The higher cause is the brotherhood of police. The brotherhood is sanctified territory, so the notion of "harming" the individual guilty of corruption by bringing this knowledge to higher ups is taboo, the sanctified territory can't be messed with.
This is a case where loyalty exceeds or overrides the truth. A case where the sense of loyalty allows one to ignore the truth. In this case the truth is a particular corruption of duty. Justice becomes the big loser here.
I used to hear the term "my country right or wrong." This is another expression of how loyalty surpasses the truth. The country may very well be wrong, and this was the overwhelming view of US involvement in Vietnam, but according to the slogan, we are to ignore the wrong policy in favor of allegiance to government and by extension the country in general.
I would like to point out that one of the flaws in this slogan "my country right or wrong" is the notion that the government is the country. In a democracy, the government is the representative of the people. The people are the main body of the country, the government is not the country. So in this light, the slogan "my country right or wrong" is an aid to the political party that is in power. The slogan justifies the policy of the dominant political party and equates them with the country itself.
Here the concept and commitment to loyalty violates the truth on several levels simultaneously. I think of it as the jackpot bind of political corruption.
The slogan "my country right or wrong" is a quick and easy sound bite and is effective in this sense. The media folk love this kind of thing. However if one spends the time to at least lightly deconstruct the slogan it yields a mound of irregularities and stinking implications.
We are seeing the slugfest of loyalty versus the truth everywhere lately. For example, some claim that "supporting the troops" means that we must accept the Iraq War unquestionably. These are the loyalists. Forget that the run up to the war is overflowing with incorrect and false premises, forget about these facts, now that we are there, we must proceed with loyalty to the mission. So the truth, becomes the victim.
Again we also have the situation where the reasoning conveniently supports the dominant political party or administration. Loyalty to bad and destructive political policy is linked to loyalty to country. Those who object are treasonous or worse. This is the megajackpot bind of political corruption where the truth transforms into the enemy. This is when we are in big trouble and that we are.
In the political arena, we need the facts and the truth. It is the wall of loyalty that often keeps the facts out of the picture. It is hard to accept having our personal loyalties violated. We want to believe and trust our politicians. However, the truth is the standard to use when judging our politicians and their policy. When loyalty and truth are at opposite ends, then loyalty alone becomes an exercise in destructive fantasy.
painting by Warhol