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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The arts of lying and deception are perennials of politics, having been used and debated throughout history and in the contemporary era. Indeed, for those sceptical of democracy, deception is understood as a necessary and justifiable part of politics. For example, elitists argue that people need to sometimes be deceived by an enlightened elite whilst, for realists, the circumstances of international politics frequently demand deception by leaders. In contrast, democrats argue that political deception is corrosive to good, democratic governance other than in exceptional circumstances. Locating strategies of deception within an understanding of organized political communication (OPC) including propaganda extends our grasp and understanding of how lying and deception have become central to the exercise of power, even within contemporary liberal democracies. Today, enormous resources are devoted towards shaping the ‘information environment’ and OPC frequently employs deception, whether by lying, omission, distortion, or misdirection. Further research and theorizing are necessary in order to better understand the reach of various forms of deceptive OPC such as propaganda and their role in the exercise of power, when these strategies might or might not be justified, and the consequences for the health of democracy.

Keywords: deception, lying, propaganda, organized persuasive communication, strategic communication, political communication, manipulation, spin, political marketing

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