I wish to briefly outline by way of topical example, and a brief philosophical sketch what i consider Bad Faith. I do not wish to spend too long on this issue, as i believe that enough is known and demonstrated everyday about it, and i would rather focus my energies on more positive contributions to Human Endeavor and existence than giving the notion of Bad faith, and those who practice it, even more press. It is however worth a mention, mostly because it contrasts so sharply with those who seek to enlighten in Good Faith, and are hampered by those that would use similar principles by way of obscurantism, in Bad Faith, so as to subvert a positive constructive and beneficent process, for their own ends.
Now by using the term 'Bad Faith' (mauvaise foi), i did not want to evoke the criticism of the Existentialists, and Jean Paul Sartre in particular, for that is an ambiguous question of sincerity and authenticity in the light of ones actual awareness of choice, and although it has some bearing on what i wanted to say in relation to the question it is a somewhat different proposition, propounded by a philosophical discourse that alludes to a prior state of being, that encompasses a disingenuous actor in an inauthentic action, in which that actor appears to avoid or more probably 'obscure' the truth of their failure to take personal responsibility, for various disingenuous reasons. These avoidance procedures are often enacted semi consciously, but are more notably, unconscious habitual behaviourism.
Neither do i wish to confuse the Terms Good Faith and Bad Faith, with the idea of Truth, as although they are two roads, one that lead towards, and conversely away from Truth, respectively, they are not to be confused with Truth itself, and that is not the object of this brief discussion. Rather, it is how one arrives at, or departs from Truth, that is the question at hand.
The angle i wish to discuss the notion of 'Bad Faith' from, is that of the 'post enlightenment' of the individual, fully authentically aware of their position in the world, and their personal existential beingness as an empowered being. A being making fully functioning choices grounded in the essence of their own enlightenment. The kind of Bad faith that Sartre envisaged was almost a caricature of this post enlightened being, who neither abdicates the will in an act of purposive surrender, nor blinds it, in the face of the enormity of its preponderance.
No, the kind of Bad faith i have in mind is not one born of the timid or the meek, the disingenuous or the unenlightened, it is rather, that which is formed by purposive acts of the fully informed and authentic will, moving in a fully accountable and manipulative manner to coerce a paradigm to its willful advantage.
Historically we may see such acts in the extreme behavior of such notable sociopathic hedonists as say the Marquis de Sade, for example, who used privilege, position, intellect and education, to satiate willful personal desires in a headlong libertine promulgation of personal vice, using each and every person as an object, devoid of the empathic recognition of social intercourse, so as to twist truth upon the head of personal desire, for personal gain,and then to compound this position by eloquent discourse so as to justify by way of contorted and fallacious syllogism's, what were simply unbridled and avaricious acts of rampant egoism. The fact that these egoistic desires found their expression in the acts of egoistic malice and sensuality, are a mere coincidence of historical accident allied with the personal peccadillo's of the egoistic construct to be found within the protagonist himself.
Of course certain insights gained by Sade, have peeked the curiosity of generations, most notably because of his appeal to libertine sexuality, and the over riding interest in freedom within both politics, art, and personal development. But the manner in which these insights were gleaned, barely suffers a mention, the sadistic manner of his usury, the drugging of his 'victims' , imprisonment of the objects of his desire, and the Brutal and often malicious execution of his desires, give rise to certain ethical considerations that more balanced individuals might consider with rather more weight than those who are attracted by the supposed intellectual insights that these acts occasioned.
I am Sure Josef Mengele's twin studies, and his various 'scientific' work at Auschwitz, garnered all manner of interesting insights into the human condition, like for instance how long it would take a live human body to get 1st, 2nd,and 3rd degree burns if you placed live humans into a large oven and slowly cooked them, or how much force it actually took to crack a live human skull. All that would be required in such a circumstance was the objectification of the 'other', the usury of the 'other' as 'object', failing to identify them as a subject in favour of a world view that degraded every subject into a thing or object. An Objectification that sought to satisfy the curiosity, desire, or personal peccadillo of the protagonist who occasioned the circumstance in which personal interest was satiated, and of course, a ruthless disregard for any interpersonal ethic that encompassed the notion of empathy or compassion. Not to mention a fairly hefty dose of psychopathy.
Now of course these are extreme historical examples of individuals, and individuals functioning within systems, that act in a way so as to enjoy the objects of their own desires, whatever those desires may be, in which the individuals are aware both of what they are doing in an authentic and sincere manner and are not fettered by the limitations to appeals of either a conjoined ethic, empathy, or transverse rights of mutual consent. All are consigned to the medium of object, the 'other', which one has either no access to, or concern for, on a personal basis. Lying as they do outside the direct state of being of the protagonist....so that every subject becomes an object to use and be used.
The historical extremity of these positions however should not hide the fact that the adoption of this personal world view is at the heart of what i wish to discuss here, Bad Faith.
The best way to approach this i think is by way of topical example. Recently the Debate has raged in The United States of America in relation to proposed plans to adjust the social embarrassment of having a GDP of over 14 trillion dollars a year, but not being able to provide health Care for 20% of there population, whist leaving another 10-20% so crippled by soaring Health premiums from avaricious health care insurers and providers that it was difficult to meet other social,familial and financial demands. Barack Obama took the torch from other great champions of universal health care, who have through out the history of America sought to provide social services in keeping with the epithets and principles upon which that sovereign nation was founded.
The disinformation being propagated by the propaganda arm of the fiscal elite in America, namely the right wing press, and its somewhat oxy-moronically entitled Fox 'News channel', has descended into the farcical, and is an exemplar par excellence of the disingenuous Bad Faith that has hitherto been mentioned. It is not just that opinion is being propagated that runs contrary to the facts, but how that is being done that is so blatantly outrageous. The 'Nazi' theme that has been leveled at Obama, in the wake of his proposal that Americans in the lowest socio- economic sector's should be given an 'Option' to enjoin in an affordable scheme that covers all Americans from the ravages of misery and suffering at the hands of illness and disease, is so far from the reality of fact as to be diametrically opposed to it.
The Propaganda arm of the Far right fiscal elite in America, who seek by their own admission, the very demise of the Federal government, so that the Interests of Corporate elites can ravage unattended and without legislative fetter to procure as great a wealth in capital as they can manage, have been hard at work. Whipping up a tide of hostile intent, reminiscent of the propaganda that preceded the same 'news' networks vilifications before the failed Coup D'etat in Venezuela against Hugo Chavez. Why would a news network, who are supposedly sworn to inculcate the masses with impartial fact on a programme dedicated to the dissemination of those facts seek to dupe so many people. The answer to this question is simply in the title of this brief work, because they are acting in Bad Faith, where bad faith seeks to use others as objects to be coerced, manipulated, duped, and deceived so as to manifest the outcome desired by the interests of Powerful elites.
There is a simple test in such circumstances, where one is asked to make a choice between competing opinions. Look at who is trying to convince you of what. What do they seek to gain by such actions. Who are they and who do they represent.
In the case of Barrack Obama, it is hardly the case that he is seeking any benefit 'what so ever' in relation to setting up a Public owned and Public Run health Care option, that does not seek to replace the market, but merely seeks to enter it so as to make it accountable and fair to the demands of the citizenry. NO personal Benefit, nor private benefit is to be accrued by either himself or any of the subsequent health providers associated with this scheme, outside of a general citizen wide altruistic benefit for universal health care coverage.
Can this be said of the Neo-Con brigade, with their various arms of fighters and mechanisms, functioning to distract, coerce, dupe and deceive as best they can?...certainly not, for at present they sit atop a pile of money and goods that are likely to be less certain now that they are to be forced to cater to the actual needs of the people they purport to represent in the health sector. This accountability procedure is at the heart of what they find so distasteful. For when responsibility becomes accountable, the reasonable nature of it is tested upon its true mettle. In this regard, the lapses within the outrageous health care system, as they have existed for so long within America, are finally to be exposed and made accountable. Many of these vested interests are either going to have to adjust their agenda's or find they are simply unable to compete. This of course is an outrage for these powerful fiscal elites who have had things far too good for far too long.
Is it any wonder then that the debate has not been enjoined for the truth of the circumstance in Good Faith, but rather has descended into a deceitful diatribe of innuendo and pure malice reminiscent of those who employ such tactics in the spirit of Bad Faith. For Bad Faith never fairs well in the light of truth, and it is with this knowledge that those who have acquired vast sums of money fight their war. They cannot fight and win in the light of truth, for to do so would mean that they would have to cede that they consider every person as an 'object' to be coerced and manipulated for their own avaricious ends, they consider 'others' to be expendable, and these 'others' suffering to be a mere inconvenience or even a necessary evil so as to meet the requirements of their self justified ends, and in these more educated and enlightened days, the truth of that fact would simply be too great a burden to carry the day. So rather than enjoin the debate with sincerity,honesty,and authenticity, the dark arts of manipulative coercion are employed through out the mechanism's available to those that seek to protect their vested interests over and above those expendable 'others' who are the mere vehicles upon which the elite procure their ends.
Who Owns Fox News?....who Benefits from the Insurance system as it stands today?....what are they Protecting?, and how much do they stand to Lose?, with the implementation of a Fair and equitable system that ensures No child, No person, No citizen has to suffer the misery of No health care within the confines of the Richest Country on the Planet. These are the questions that should be asked, and answered in the Minds of the Voting electorate, rather than trumped up charges of 'Nazism'.
Now it is true that the previous administration had much in Common with Nazi tactics, and in fact the Propaganda war that rages at present is in some ways similar to those employed by Josef Goebbels so successfully in the dark years before the second world war, and it is also true that the last presidents own grandfather was imprisoned for having been a Nazi Collaborator and war profiteer, so why should we be surprised that the same people who enjoyed such protected prosperity for so long would be employing such tactics as their Faith Demands of them. Such are the demands of those who exist within a world view that objectifies all things, including people, animals, and the entire ecosystem in which each subject exists. The above example is reasonably topical, but the principle is not temporally specific, so expect more of the same would be my advise. For until the Truth of their Bad Faith is exposed for what it is, the obscurantism will continue unabated as a mere contrivance of the perpetual state of warfare, both personal and interpersonal, that those who hold such a world view must adhere to as a consequence of holding that specific world view. It is not a choice, it is a consequence.
Now i started this note with reference to the nature of Bad Faith, and have shown a couple of examples of how this Bad faith manifests itself in corrupted rational, masquerading as some other principle. How one gets beneath the mask, and uncovers the reality of that Faith is possibly a more pertinent question, but it is sure that in order to do so one must be aware of all the tactics and tricks, dupes and deceits that are likely to be employed by those that seek to protect their position in spite of truth. In the light of those that have followed a path of Bad faith, so as to maximize their own benefit against the benefit of other competing interests, one can say only this, once the truth of their own self interest is exposed for what it is, any disguise of social concern is simply eroded and eradicated.
Cui Bono!....who benefits, is the question that should be at the forefront of any decision making process when confronted with differing accounts of the truth. From there it is easy to unmask the deception, and adjudicate the outcome or course one wishes to take in Light of the fullest truth that is available at any particular time.
For Enlightenment, Authenticity and Sincerity, are not the end of the story when it comes to the question of Faith, as is evidenced by the aforementioned debate. These vested interests employ procedures and coercions fully in tune with the faith they employ. As can be seen, the Bad Faith they have chosen as their personal standard, has been chosen with intent and within the fullness of a decision making processes that is neither obscured nor stunted in its understanding or execution. Far from it, it is because of the awareness of social circumstance that such coercive devises have been employed so as to garner the desired results of vested interests who will do almost anything to avoid the light of Truth and the path of Good faith to become the central themes in this or other debates. The trick for those who walk the path of Good Faith must be to centralize the debate in light of that truth, so that those who seek by means of Bad Faith to dissuade, deflect and deceive the opinions of others fail in their personal endeavor to supplant the wishes and needs of others over and above the greed's of the selfish few, no matter how few that may be.
So in Conclusion, What can be said of Bad faith, other than it is a fully authentic devise, enjoined with full intent, by sincere and aware individuals, culpable of making reasonable choices in light of all competing interests, who have opted for a selfish path of rampant egoism, out of balance with any other competing interest. The fully authenticated choice to pander to personal interests does not necessarily have to be made in Bad Faith, but 'Bad Faith' is employed by those that seek to HIDE this choice, in light of the facts, and other competing choices, so as to maximize the advantage they have over and above 'others' they consider either superfluous or as mere means to their own self interested ends, with no consideration for those 'others'.
The devises of the obscurantist are innumerable, and although it would be of interest to go through a few of them, it is enough to point out that no liar or obscurantist can suffer the direct and simple exposure of their own self interest for long, without losing their fabricated veracity in the light of truth, and that transparency is one of the finest vehicles for exposing the Person of 'Bad Faith'.
© Richard Michael Parker 2009