I avoid newspaper articles, but I can’t avoid headlines. Eight years ago, we were being told to get with the international consensus and vote for Obama. Now we’re being told that foreign devils have been pulling strings for Trump. I’ve been assuming this media craze, like so many in the past, would soon be forgotten, and I’d never regret not learning about it. The trouble is, I never learned about the previous scandal, the one about emails from the Democrats being leaked, the contents of which were said to be mildly embarrassing. Apparently, although the leaks themselves were uninteresting, who was involved in the leaking is terribly important, and those with secret knowledge are sure it’s the Russians. Maybe. I’m not qualified to have an opinion here. Being a monarchist, I defy the democratic expectation that subjects must have an opinion on all topics, or even all topics the press decides are of note. I will content myself with enjoying the impression that the international consensus on American politics is rather less monolithic than we had once thought.
When I was young and naive, I was warned and believed that there are great dangers to having a state-run media. What I didn’t appreciate then was that, in a democracy, the alternative to having a state-run media is having a media-run state. I have come to believe that media power and democracy must be destroyed together in a single blow. As long as democracy exists, unlimited power will accrue to those who can control the perceptions of the masses. Without democracy, not only does control of public perceptions not immediately translate into power, the ability to control the minds of the public itself erodes. How may of these issues that the news concerns itself with would really interest many people if they weren’t connected to partisan fighting? People are indeed motivated to learn their party’s take on many topics if it means the chance of winning arguments for their team or even just having one more reason to think members of their team smarter and more virtuous than their rivals. This “educative” operation of democracy has even been noted by democracy’s advocates. I might be impressed if I thought the sort of knowledge gained (and, still more, the intellectual skills practiced) had much in the way of intrinsic value. But I don’t.
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