Democracy was invented by the Greeks. But their philosophers had very grave doubts about it and generally did not believe that it could be brought to work. Socrates explained it like this:
Imagine an election between two candidates: a doctor and a sweet shop owner. The sweet shop owner would say of his rival:
“Look, this person here has worked many evils on you. He hurts you, gives you bitter potions and tells you not to eat and drink whatever you like. He’ll never serve you feasts of many and varied pleasant things like I will.”
And then, the doctor – how can he respond? Would you really, honestly, vote for someone who could only reply:
“I cause you trouble, and go against your desires, in order to help you.”
Some 2.500 years ago, a Greek philosopher – using only his mind and skill at deduction – foresaw the exact dilemma which is destroying our democracies today.
There are many, many “sweet shop owners” in the world today. Politics is rife with them; demagogues with outrageous promises, easy lies, and emotional appeals. People like Trump, who promised to “drain the swamp” while he himself has proven to be by far the worst such creature America has experienced for more than a century. Or Boris Johnson, who twisted statistics to claim that Britain was sending £350 million a week to the EU and who may be handed the honourable position of Prime Minister of Britain as a result.
Why is it that we ignore the honourable politicians and are so attracted to the lying ones? Are we really unable to perceive what is best for us?
Yes, we are – because the fourth leg of democracy has failed us.
It is commonly said that democracy is a building resting upon three pillars, all of them equally important: the government, the parliament, and the courts. Unfortunately, that is not true – it omits a crucial fourth leg without which no modern democracy can ever function: the media.
Democracy can only work if voters are informed about what is going on in society. It is an absolute requirement. Without information, we cannot know what is actually happening and who or what to vote for. The instant that free and objective information is missing, slanted, or manipulated, democracy starts to sicken and die.
Once media are no longer free, independent, and able to report without bias what goes on in society, democracy cannot function.
We see an extreme form of this today in the US, where Fox News – by far the largest TV news channel in the States – was the main source of news for 40% of the people who ended up voting for Trump in the 2016 campaign.
Fox News may give the appearance of being free. But in reality, it is hobbled and chained, bound to the will of its owner: the Murdoch family. It is, in fact, a propaganda tool for the ultra-rich. And yes, Rupert Murdoch is easily in that elite – currently worth more than $21 billion and the 52nd richest person in the world today.
Do you really think Fox News would show something which did not align with his interests? Or that it is a coincidence that the Trump tax break overwhelmingly went to the ultra-rich, while Fox News is one of Trump’s staunchest supporters?
In my previous post, I argued that the upper class of society would take control of democracy and twist it to its purposes. Today – well, look around you, and you see the result.
The crucial fourth pillar of democracy – the media – is up for sale. And the ultra-rich are buying it, pure and simple – share by share, company by company.
Capital has entered government – through the back door.
We can no longer trust the news.
– Northern Dragon © 2019. All rights reserved.