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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error. It is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error. Immigrants soon find their place in urban life, they soon adopt, externally, town manners and opinions, but for a long time they remain foreign to civic thought. One cannot make a social philosophy one’s own as easily as a new costume.

Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, p. Truth is always stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance.

The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. It’s a harder question to answer than you might think, partly because it’s a harder and more complex thing to accomplish than you might think. I was reminded just a few days ago that we have in our midst a grand master of mendacity. In his speech in Milwaukee on Friday, Barack Obama demonstrated once again his effortless, masterly deployment of deceit. It’s true that violent, inflammatory rhetoric can lead to radicalization among a small minority of the population But there’s another element to radicalization: gaslighting. It turns out that people can radicalize when they are lied to and about. Telling people not to believe their lying eyes makes them more likely to engage in extreme rhetoric, less likely to engage in decent conversation, more likely to raise the temperature.

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