The other day I happened on an episode of the Bulwark podcast in which political writer David Frum cites Hannah Arendt’s words on lies:
This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie—a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days—but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.
The source for Arendt’s words is a 1978 article in The New York Review of Books, based on a 1974 interview by the French writer Roger Errera. I give the date to underline the fact that a nearly 50-year-old description applies almost verbatim to today’s events. Frum’s mention of Arendt comes just after time code 00:04:02 in the podcast.