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Commentary :: Media
Bush's Brave New World
25 Dec 2004
An essay upon the media's role in the USA
In his work “The Democracy in America”, dated 1835, the political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville discusses the role of the press in a free society, and how the former could contain the tendency toward dictatorship, commonly found within any democratic state.

According to Tocqueville, freedom should be strongly supported by a widespread press, whereby a lot of small journals, representing a wide variety of opinions, creeds and beliefs would struggle between themselves in order to sustain their points of view. Indeed, argued Tocqueville, this struggle in the realm of ideas, though disgusting and aggressive sometimes, should be regarded as one of the main foundations of democracy, and every citizen, even the poorest one, should have his voice sheltered by the press. Hence, the costs of developing, launching, and running a newspaper shouldn’t be expensive.

The freedom of the press had great importance due to a tendency the author had noticed by the time he wrote his book: the tutelary power – the disposition, stimulated by state runners, of citizens to confine themselves in their own homes, in their own private lives, leaving the public life – the political and civic life, indeed – behind. Left alone, this tendency would drive the democratic society toward autocracy and apathy, insofar as these dead political bodies wouldn’t oppose any kind of resistance against the concentration of power in few hands. Every small journal should be, therefore, stimulated; every public discussion, supported; every ideological struggle through the press, fostered.

Nevertheless, three centuries after Tocqueville’s warning, a single look at the contemporary societies would reveal places in which the struggle in the realm of ideas has been replaced by silence. Silence about the truth.

The media monopoly in the United States – the country chosen by the author to illustrate his theory – has completely changed the role of the press, placing it side by side with the ones who control state’s secrets. Huge corporations such as CNN and CBS are actually strongly supporting two candidates for presidency who don’t have any kind of substantive difference between them, whereas feminists, socialists, environmental activists, Hispanics, black movements, and other kinds of small political factions have had their voices silenced, their access to the media forbidden by lack of financial support. Furthermore, a consumerist ideology, encouraged by the big press and propaganda industry, have undermined the political will, keeping citizens at home, in front of the TV – under the tutelary power.

In short, by refraining and refusing to act as the mouthpiece of political discussions, the media corporations have been transforming, day after day, across the world, Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” into Huxley’s “Brave New World”.
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