Plato’s Noble Lie Trumps Ten Commandments in the EU

If you’re familiar with Plato’s Republic, you may recall that Plato recommends that society’s elites persuade everyone to believe a false story of the society’s origins. The purpose of the “noble lie” was to get the rabble to go along with the enlightened plan of government Plato was proposing.

That government officials frequently lie in the name of the common good comes as no surprise to any lucid person. However, most of them avoid appearing brazen about it. A notable exception occurred last week when the prime minister of Luxembourg publicly denied the existence of a secret meeting of EU finance ministers to discuss Greece’s financial crisis. At the time he made the denial, “the official limousines were already pulling up in Luxembourg.”

Der Spiegel, which had broken the story about the meeting, later interviewed the PM, who professes Christianity, and called him out on his lie. You should read the whole interview, but get this exchange in particular:

Juncker: Because the financial markets in Europe were still open and trading was still underway on Wall Street, we had to deny the existence of the meeting. Otherwise the course of the euro against the dollar, which had already fallen as a result of your report, would have plunged disastrously. . . .

SPIEGEL: Are you saying that, as a finance minister in the age of global capital markets, you cannot tell people the truth?

Juncker: I do not have a ready answer to your question. My main concern is to protect people from detriment. That’s why I feel practically compelled to make sure that no dangerous rumors begin to circulate. I’m certainly not going to go to confession because of a false denial. God understands more about the financial markets than many who write about them.

Get that? You can lie to the world and God won’t care, at least if you’re a high-ranking government official and you meant well. Plato would be so proud.

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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2 Responses to Plato’s Noble Lie Trumps Ten Commandments in the EU

  1. Here we have a classic, and disturbing, case of a professing Christian pursuing the idol of mammon. Perhaps for the citizenry in general and not for himself, but still it is clear that he sees his chief calling to be glorify the Euro and enjoy it forever.

    It is also disturbing that the news of a secret meeting of finance ministers could have such ramifications on global currency markets. In a free society such a tiny number of men would not be able to hold economic society in the balance.

    • Dr. J says:

      That is a great point, actually two great points. The Eurocrats know that without maintaining a plausible expectation of economic growth for everyone through their monetary wizardry, public support for the EU collapses. And it is pretty rich that they will rail against multinational corporations’ “monopolistic” practices when those corporations exercise a mere fraction of the power and influence over the system that they do.

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