“In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble.” (Ron Paul)
The world is in deep shit. Depending on whom you talk to, the problem could be the neoliberal, who wants to privatize the world and run it for profit, or it could be the neoconservative, who wants to conquer the world and run it for profit, or it could be the religious fanatic, who wants to enslave our minds and bodies for what he says is the good of our souls. Ideology doesn’t really mean much; what count are the naked greed, lust for power, and brutal violence that characterize all three, corrupt our whole system, and crush the lives of the powerless. In all this the news media are willing accomplices, rarely asking any hard questions or demanding any credible answers.
It would be hard to overstate the gravity of our situation. Four out of five likely Republican candidates for president work for Rupert Murdoch, aspiring to an office that has, at least since 1980, been occupied exclusively by war criminals. The government of the United States doesn’t hesitate to use kidnapping, torture and murder to impose what it call democracy on uncooperative countries. Democracy, in the language of American politics, has nothing to do with the rule of the people; it means a climate friendly to business, especially multinational corporations that give lots of money to American politicians. A new administration, swept into office by a hopeful public chanting the mantra “Change we can believe in,” announces that the wars and kidnapping will continue, but assures us that the kidnap victims it sends to be held in countries that use torture probably won’t actually be tortured. Russia is run by thugs and criminal strongmen. In China, a thriving state capitalism uses up workers and casts them aside, with thousands being literally enslaved to make electronic gadgets for Westerners. Your iPhone was made in what can only be called a labor camp, where working and living conditions are so poor that management had to put in nets to try to keep workers from leaping to their deaths. India runs on bribery, corruption, and human trafficking. In Europe, political leaders make polite noises about human rights even as they facilitate the state terrorism of the United States and encourage neoliberal political models that will erode the prosperity and freedom of their people. In Iran, religious fanatics call all the shots. In Saudi Arabia, the country is run for benefit of the House of Saud and the Wahhabi religious establishment. All over the world, the oppressed rot in prisons run for profit, and the dispossessed go hungry in the shadows of luxury hotels.
In the face of all this, our news media give us talking heads who in some cases can barely read the news, much less understand what they’re reading, and propagandists promoting the ideologies that are destroying us. On what is called the right, they give us apostles of hate and fear like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, driving the weak-minded to fight for the very people who are depriving them of their rights and prosperity. On what passes for the left, they give us Eric Alterman blaming Ralph Nader for our problems and Keith Olbermann trivializing the issues with his Worst Person in the World list. Bill O’Reilly, who may be a jackass, but isn’t even the worst person on FoxNews, has made the list dozens of times. Obama didn’t make the list for voting for the FISA Amendments Act, but he did make it for forgetting how many years he’d been married. White trash celebrity Bristol Palin made the list for advocating sexual abstinence for teens.
It’s a lucky thing we have our religious leaders to offer clear moral guidance, right? Yeah, right. The world’s two biggest religions, Christianity and Islam, believe everything would be okay if governments would just crack down on gay people, human rights activists, atheists, and environmentalists, and force people to be more reverent.
Rub a dub dub,
three men in a tub,
and who do you think they be?
Politician and preacher
and media creature,
out for profits, and knaves all three.
In this situation, the powers that be would like us to believe that Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and the cybervigilantes of Anonymous are our enemies, and that our safety depends on the power of our governments to keep secrets from us. It’s all for our own good, you see. We must leave the decisions and the information to our betters.
But the truth is, those who inform the public are no danger to the public, and an informed public is no danger to itself. People like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Anonymous, so far from being a danger to the people, may be among the best hopes the people have, because — make no mistake about it — an informed public is a clear and present danger to the structures of corruption and oppression. The people who run the world fear the truth more than anything, because there are still more of us than there are of them, and they rely on us to be ignorant and passive. If we ever put down our Big Macs and switch off “American Idol” for a minute, the truth could bring the revolution.