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Noble lie

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The noble lie is a political concept originated by Plato in The Republic. Put simply, it is the idea that, if the cultivation of nobility of the soul is the purpose of the state, then it is in fact laudable to lie to the people too dumb to understand the necessity of virtue. Put even more simply, it means that false propaganda for the sake of the public welfare is totally acceptable. It is the big lie's older uncle.

Historically, the concept was used by people who did not believe in the tenets of a certain religion, but used them to rally their followers.[1] More recently, it has been adopted and utilized by a number of neoconservatives, due partially to the influence of Leo Strauss, a scholar of Plato who seriously believed in telling noble lies.


  1. Q: Why can't I pillage that village? A: Because God will totally smite you if you do! Unless God has some smiting that needs to be done: 1 Samuel 15:1:3 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.