Monday, 12 February 2007

4:3 Control the media.

In this present age, if you have neutered the elected politicians, there is really only one other group you need to deal with, and that is the ‘fourth estate’ or the media. Again how you do this will depend on how far you have got in your absorption of power.

Some of you have very little backlog of an independent and critical media. What there is can quickly be shut down, their independence crushed. This technique was easily established by twentieth century leaders in Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, China, the Soviet Union – and you are glad to see that some of you are following their methods.

Some of you have a trickier problem because you have a vast array of news media. In the end this is not too much of a problem. They can be bribed (not with money of course, but favours), or threatened (discreetly of course). They can be told, as in previous wars, that freedom of the press is all very well – but not in a time of national emergency and war.

From your point of view, of course, this is the best of wars since it will never end and will always be there as a reason for denouncing any serious criticisms as traitorous, against the national interests, weakening your resolve. And of course the ‘war’ justifies you in refusing to divulge the sources of your information or decisions – which would help your enemies.

You have a real trump card here. Whatever you say must be done cannot be challenged since your reasons cannot be revealed. For example, if you obtain ‘legal advice’ in a hurry from one of your law officers (even if it goes against majority opinion) you can accept it and refuse to give the grounds for that opinion. Remember that your population are not to be trusted with the information to make judgements. They must trust in you. This gives you the perfect freedom to do what you have to do without the delays and inefficiencies of democratic accountability. They are a luxury which you cannot afford in war time. It is not difficult to imagine what Winston Churchill would have said to someone who raised the question of democratic accountability in 1942!

1 comment:

Gabriel Andrade said...

I have trouble reconciling democracy and warfare precisely because of this. If everything is a "military secret", democracy's public sphere is shrinked.
As for media control, I'm not much of a TV watcher, but I am fairly pleased with CNN and BBC (especially now, who are more citical of the war than before). I can't say that of a network such as FOX or Venezuelan State Television.
As to whether Al-Jazeera further contributes to violence, I think I would issue a twofold opinion. I think that opening spaces for the divulgation of "terrorist" speeches is legitimate, as they are part of the war, and their voice should be heard (we shall invoke Voltaire' famous phrase "I don't agree with you, but I shall defend to death your rights to express yourself"), no matter how terrifyng they may be. However, from the little I've seen of Al Jazeera, I don't get a good impression of this TV network: it continously distorts Western and Islamic history, does not present accurate facts, etc.