Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 08:58 | SYDNEY
Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 08:58 | SYDNEY

In defence of political hypocrisy


Sam Roggeveen


20 May 2008 17:23

Some months ago I mounted a defence of sorts of Hillary Clinton's perceived 'authenticity deficit'. People have the impression that she is uncomfortable in her own skin, and that they never see the 'real' Hillary. This is presumed to mean that she is untrustworthy, and that the more authentic and 'real' Obama is more likely to tell the truth. Here's a wonderful column from The Guardian which takes that idea much further, and might just change the way you observe politics and politicians. One choice quote of many I could have picked, on Orwell's 'Animal Farm':

But at its end, Animal Farm also points towards the end of hypocrisy, as the criteria by which hypocrisy might be judged themselves become unsustainable. The final scene in the book describes the moment when the leading pigs play cards with the humans, with whom they are now happy to do business, and drink whisky, and fight. Their faces, Orwell says, began "melting and changing". He goes on: "Twelve voices were shouting in anger and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Throughout his life, Orwell was obsessed with masks, including the various masks of power, and the masks worn by those who sought to hide the truth about power. It is this preoccupation with masks that makes sense of one of Orwell's most famous lines, and one of his most misunderstood. In perhaps the last thing he ever wrote, Orwell declared: "At 50, every man has the face he deserves." This does not mean that we deserve our physical appearance; what it means is that we deserve our mask, the face we choose to show to the world, because having lived with it for so long we can no longer claim that it is merely a fa├žade. Here, though, at the end of Animal Farm, is a scene in which no one is wearing a mask, because it is no longer possible to see what there is to mask. Once again, no one has anything to hide, and that is where the terror lies.