Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Thought Control Back in the USA: Far More Effective than Communist Censorship

"You can think about censorship as a pyramid. This pyramid only has its tip sticking out of the sand, and that is by intention. The tip is public - libel suits, murders of journalists, cameras being snatched by the military, and so on - publicly declared censorship. But that is the smallest component. Under the tip, the next layer is all those people who don't want to be at the tip, who engage in self-censorship to not end up there. Then the next layer is all the forms of economic inducement or patronage inducement that are given to people to write about one thing or another. The next layer down is raw economy - what it is economic to write about, even if you don't include the economic factors from higher up the pyramid. Then the next layer is the prejudice of readers who only have a certain level of education, so therefore on one hand they are easy to manipulate with false information, and on the other hand you can't even tell them something sophisticated that is true. The last layer is distribution - for example, some people just don't have access to information in a particular language. So that is the censorship pyramid. . . . 

"Now such censorship is deniable because it either takes place out of the light, or because there is no instruction to censor a particular claim. Journalists are rarely instructed, 'Don't print anything about that,' or, 'Don't print that fact.' Rather they understand that they are expected to because they understand the interest of those they wish to placate or grow close to. If you behave you'll be patted on the head and rewarded, and if you don't behave then you won't. It's that simple. I'm often fond of making this example:  the obvious censorship that occurred in the Soviet Union, the censorship that was propagandized about so much in the West - jackboots coming for journalists in the middle of the night to take them from their homes - has just been shifted by twelve hours. Now we wait for the day and take homes from journalists, as they fall out of patronage and are unable to service their debts. Journalists are taken from their homes by taking homes from the journalists. Western societies specialize in laundering censorship and structuring the affairs of the powerful such that any remaining public speech that gets through has a hard time affecting the true power relationships of a highly fiscalized society, because such relationships are hidden in layers of complexity and secrecy."

-----Julian Assange, Cypherpunks - Freedom and the Future of the Internet 



" . . . in nations that our textbooks call totalitarian, strict controls obtain concerning press, T.V., public debate. These societies are like bad gardeners who spend whole days out in the sun pruning bushes, doing their best to cut down hopeless growths of undesired ideologies, because they do not yet have skillful means for poisoning the soil. Because they are old-fashioned, and are forced to strike with crude utensils at the full-grown foliage they did not know enough to poison in its bed, we are entitled to decree that they are brutal and undemocratic. By implication, we discern ourselves to be more civilized. The truth is that we simply know a better way to tend the garden.

"Professors at our universities, with rare exceptions, are granted the theoretical right to advocate rebellion, to develop and reflect on Marxist ideologies, to argue for an end to private ownership of land, homes, factories and means of transportation. In the same sense, editors at Newsweek or The New York Times are free to view the Cuban Revolution as a positive step forward for humanity. It is a clever North American deception to allow professor, scholar, editor alike, to say what they please when we know well that what they please is what we like. When wishes, ideas and dreams themselves can be confined like this, words can be free. The bulls, once surgically restrained, receive all barnyard privileges."

-----Jonathan Kozol, The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home

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