Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeCulture WarAll your favourite quotations are a lie (Part 2)

All your favourite quotations are a lie (Part 2)


IN PART One of my investigation of ‘fake quotes’, which you can read here, I only scratched the surface of the deception that has been practised against us by the Powers That Be. I focused on the use of faked quotes by Classical authors to advance a particular agenda: in this instance to promote the notion that war is a natural state for mankind, thus advancing the interests of the Military Industrial Complex while simultaneously instilling a societal mindset of militarism, anxiety and despair.

This second part of my essay is more digressive and more speculative. It will act as a litmus test for just how far down the rabbit hole readers are able or willing to go. Five years ago, I would have considered its thesis to be bonkers. But this, I would argue, tells us more about the comprehensive nature of the deception than it does about the nature of objective truth.

That is, we have been so thoroughly programmed – the ‘intelligentsia’ perhaps especially – to respond to particular buzz phrases or buzz names (like Pavlov’s dogs responding to a bell) that when we hear them being questioned our response is irritation and defensiveness rather than open-minded curiosity.

There were some good examples of this in the comments below the version of the essay that was published by TCW. One reader balked at the notion that Winston Churchill could be anything other than a wondrous human being and heroic examplar. Another cited Normie history to support his ex-cathedra Normie statement that there was nothing nefarious about the intentions or backgrounds of the early Hollywood producers, and that they were purely in it to make money from entertainment, not to push a propaganda message.

We’re all well accustomed to the power of slogans. We’ve read our Orwell: ‘War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength’. We’re familiar with Goebbels and Edward Bernays. We’ve laughed at lots of episodes of The Fast Show and Little Britain. So I don’t think I need waste any paragraphs explaining how easily we are manipulated – whether towards laughter, towards making purchases, towards political positions, towards much else besides – by the pithy, punchy phrases we have come to know as ‘sound bites’.

I believe our overlords – the Powers That Be, the Predator Class – have been aware of this much longer than we have. Catchphrases (there’s a clue in the name) can be used to bind us, like spells. Even when they’re not true, or not very, they can acquire through endless repetition the not necessarily deserved status of immutable truth, thus subtly shifting the way we think as individuals, and, by extension, forming the accepted positions held by the broader culture. It’s so incremental it’s barely noticeable. But that’s how They roll: They’ve got the patience and They think in terms of decades, if not centuries, when advancing Their agenda.

By way of example, allow me to mention one of my least favourite lines from Oscar Wilde, the oft-quoted one from his play A Woman of No Importance on the subject of fox-hunting: ‘the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable’. I concede that my irritation may be coloured by the fact that I am – or would like to be – a fox-hunting man. But really my objection is more aesthetic than it is political. Like a lot of Wilde’s bons mots, it’s just too strained. Wit has to seem effortless, yet this is painfully overworked. You can almost hear the awkward clunk as Wilde is forced to shoehorn in the word ‘uneatable’ rather than the more natural choice ‘inedible’. Also, as I once read elsewhere, foxes are not strictly speaking inedible: you just have to marinate them for a long time. Yet, somehow this piece of hackwork has become known as the go-to aphorism on the subject of foxhunting. For those who need lazily and cod-literately to slander the people who hunt foxes, at any rate.

But Wilde’s influence is small beer when set against the biggest, most influential and possibly the most dangerous of all the phrasemakers, Shakespeare. Or rather ‘Shakespeare’: it helps if you realise that Shakespeare’s works were the creation of a scriptorium (a writers’ room) funded by Queen Elizabeth and overseen by one of her leading courtiers, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.  But even if you don’t want to go that far down the rabbit hole, you have only to read the texts to realise that Shakespeare’s works were at least as much a political project as they were a literary or dramatic one.

Just as the Powers That Be have done in our own era via Hollywood, TV and the internet, so their late 16th and early 17th century forebears did through the medium of drama: they exploited the popularity and ubiquity of entertainment to shape public consciousness.

There isn’t space here to cover this at any length but let’s briefly alight on one of those quotes you’re encouraged to learn when you’re studying King Lear at school. ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.’ Well, as you’d expect, it’s a memorable line, pungently expressed, and it might even be an accurate summation of the nature of existence. But it’s pretty damn blackpilled – not a line that leaves much room for hope or the possibility of redemption. Suppose you were in charge of propaganda for a ruthless, narrow oligarchy, isn’t that just the kind of message you’d want to ram home into the imaginations of all the little people you needed to control: ‘Life is awful. There are vastly more powerful forces than you which shape your ends. And that’s just the way it is, you useless eaters’?

Or let’s take the most famous speech in all of Shakespeare: Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy. Weird, isn’t it, that of all the memorable lines that de Vere and his scriptorium cobbled together, the ones we focus on – or, perhaps, have been encouraged to focus on – are those in which a moody, confused young man internally debates the pros and cons of committing suicide.

Even weirder, to my mind, is the rationale given. Life is so miserable, so fraught with troubles, Hamlet argues, that it’s a wonder we don’t just have done with it and top ourselves. But we shouldn’t, or at least we don’t, he decides, because what comes after death – ‘That undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns’ – might be even worse.

Because Hamlet is so well studied, even over-studied, at school and afterwards, it requires quite an effort of will to step back and consider it objectively. It has become such a known fact that this is the greatest speech ever written that it feels almost a form of sacrilege to question its presence in the literary and dramatic pantheon. Which precisely, to my mind, is why we should most especially do so.

In my journeys down the rabbit hole, I’ve developed this theory – I call it Delingpole’s Second Law – that the more the Powers That Be want to draw something to your attention, the more suspicious you should be of their underlying motives. Is it really coincidental that the six best known words in the entirety of Shakespeare – words which even people who have never read any of his plays can quote – are the prelude to a speech pondering the merits of suicide?

They were written at a time when suicide would have been universally recognised as a mortal sin; when under Elizabeth I’s Act of Uniformity 1558, which wasn’t repealed till 1650, church attendance was a legal obligation. Yet here is ‘Shakespeare’ blatantly, shamelessly, even vauntingly, rejecting the fundamental Christian argument against suicide – as the Catholic catechism expresses it, ‘It is God who remains the sovereign master of life . . . We are stewards, not owners of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of’ – and replaces it with a cynical humanistic one, dependent on rational intellect and the crude calculation of least worst options.

So what’s going on here? If you wanted to put it simply, you could say that the Shakespeare project was just another waystation on our Luciferian overlords’ ongoing mission to abolish God. Which is more or less what we’re taught at school when we learn about the Renaissance, except it’s usually spun as a positive thing rather than a negative one: an intellectual, political, cultural and artistic rebirth, as the talents of the day threw off the shackles of Medieval Christianity, embraced humanism and rediscovered the (pagan) wisdom of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

Obviously, there is much, much more to Shakespeare than Luciferian blackpilling: of course there is, that’s the point. The very best form of propaganda is that which engages all levels of society, from the highest intellects to the lowliest groundlings, and perhaps no black arts collective in history ever achieved this more brilliantly or enduringly or – on a good day – more entertainingly than Edward De Vere, his psyop scriptorium and the Collected Works of WS.

One of the key details they got so right is quotability. Perhaps it would be pushing it to suggest that all those plays were

Elaborate delivery mechanisms for punchy one-liners. But I suspect those writers well understood – no less than did Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, or Monty Python or the Goons four centuries later – that if you want to get inside your audience’s heads, nothing succeeds like a catchphrase.

The third and final part of this essay will be published tomorrow.

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James Delingpole
James Delingpole
James Delingpole is host of the Delingpod podcast. The Delingpod: The James Delingpole Podcast (

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