Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It’s Not About Respect Or Freedom Of Expression

     It’s about control:

     Mika Brzezinski has committed a Kinsleyesque “gaffe.” Michael Kinsley defined that as an occasion on which a politician unwittingly tells the truth. I submit that the definition applies with equal accuracy to mask slippages among media figures.

     The luminaries of the media really would like to control what you think, Gentle Reader. They aspire to the authority of Orwell’s Ministry of Love. That President Trump has denied them the homage they expect from the White House has evoked their counterfire. Not that that’s likely to have the effect they seek.

     Allow me to add a snippet from a great and unjustly neglected novel:

     “Senor Hakluyt, you are a stranger in Aguazul. You will therefore be inclined to dispute the dogmatic assertion that this is the most governed country in the world.”
     Again that air of throwing down a gauntlet in debate, again that cocking of the head to imply a challenge. I said, “All right — I dispute it. Demonstrate.”
     “The demonstration is all about you. We make it our business, first, to know what people think; we make it our business, next, to direct that thinking. We are not ashamed of that, senor, incidentally. Shall we say that — just as specific factors influence the flow of traffic, and you understand the factors and can gauge their relative importance — we now understand many of the factors that shape and direct public opinion? What is a man, considered socially? He is a complex of reactions; he takes the line of least resistance. We govern not by barring socially unhealthy paths, but by opening most wide those paths which are desirable. That is why you are here.”
     “Go on,” I invited after a pause.
     He blinked at me. “Say rather what is your view. Why is it we have adopted this round-and-round policy of inviting an expensive expert to solve our problems subtly, instead of saying, ‘Do this!’ and seeing it done?”
     I hesitated, then counter-questioned. “Is this, then, the extension of an existing policy rather than a compromise between opposed personal interests?”
     He threw up his hands. “But naturally!” he exclaimed, as though surprised to find me so obtuse. “Oh, it is ostensibly that there is conflict between one faction and another — but we create factions in this country! Conformism is a slow death; anarchy is a rapid one. Between the two lies a control which” — he chuckled — “like a lady’s corset in an advertisement, constricts and yet bestows a sense of freedom. We govern our country with a precision that would amaze you, I believe.”

     [John Brunner, The Squares Of The City]

     The vision here is plainly one of nightmare: a political system that consciously and actively seeks to shape the thinking of its subjects. Yet in a supreme irony, Brunner, a lifelong socialist (about which he was coy in his novels), advocated for a political system that must needs bring about that very thing.

     Alejandro Mayor, the Minister of Communications in Brunner’s fictional Aguazul, could as easily have been the CEO of a cartel of newspapers and broadcasters, provided only that he and his enterprises had agreed to collaborate with the State. Imagine what latitude the Internet would have under either such regime, and the hostility it would earn from the political elite. And imagine what media luminary Mika Brzezinski would think of such an arrangement, were she numbered not among its masters but among its victims.


Manu said...

The power of the media must be broken. It has been dealt a terrible blow from Trump, but the Milo affair shows that they still remain a threat.

I'm almost to the point that it's rope, tree, journalist. Some assembly required.

Roy Lofquist said...

John Brunner, in his novel "Shockwave Rider" (1975), wrote of computer network "worms" foretelling viruses and malware.

Anonymous said...

Seems yet another of one of those 'right wing conspiracy theories' has turned out to be true.
Trump was 100% correct in that the 'media' are an enemy of the people of these United States. Anyone maliciously seeking to control people without consent is an enemy to those whom they seek to control.

Perhaps there is yet another RICO case in the making here since the coordination among the media to disseminate falsehoods is obvious in every 'news' cycle.

vizslak7 said...

I will gladly forego my Social Security and Medicare benefits as soon as the government reimburses the $400K I have paid in + interest.
Jay Streb

Francis W. Porretto said...

Wrong post, Vizsla. But I take your meaning -- and quite a lot of people feel exactly the same, which is why FDR said "no damn politician will ever repeal my Social Security system!"

JWMJR said...

It can be most succinctly reduced to a quotation from Dr. Goebbels. "What's desired in a media system an ostensible diversity that masks uniformity."