Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

The Totalitarianism of Democratic Media

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

The Totalitarianism of Democratic Media

Article excerpt

It's always been taken on faith that, given their monolithic nature, totalitarian media are far more effective in promoting support for government actions and policies than are the non-governmentally controlled, free media in democratic nations such as the United States.

Not so.

No media were more monolithic than the strictly party/government-controlled, agitprop-focused press in the Soviet Union. But because the populace knew that all they read, heard or viewed was strictly controlled by the Communist Party, few believed what they were told. The proof of this is the widespread opposition to everything which the Soviet government practiced and stood for, which manifested itself immediately on the heels of the Communist regime's collapse. This was also true, though perhaps to a lesser extent, with the Nazi press which held sway in Germany from Hitler's ascension to power in 1933 through the defeat of the Third Reich in 1945. For, if Nazi industry czar Albert Speer is to be believed, one of Hitler's constant fears was that support for the (ceaselessly propaganda-promoted) German war effort was so shallow, that he resisted all attempts to place the German economy on a full war footing until well after it became clear the Axis was doomed to defeat.

Here in the United States, our Constitutionally guaranteed right to a free press allows the existence of alternative media such as the Village Voice, Bay Guardian, The Nation, and the journal you're now reading. It also permits the presence of dissenting voices in our mainstream media such as Anthony Lewis in the New York Times and Bill Moyers on Public TV. And because these occasionally dissenting voices are allowed expression, this has given rise to a generally held belief that the American government can never succeed in achieving public acceptance of anything like an official party line.

Which is exactly why the ostensibly free American media have become so effective as promoters of American government policy and action: clearly, a press over which there exists no governmental censorship apparatus telling it what it may or may not state must, by definition, be free--and therefore can be believed. But, what it turns out that the press' predominant tenets reflect--varying, except for the rare dissenters cited above, only in degree--are the policies, actions and beliefs which are held by the corporate interest/government oligopoly which has ruled America since the rise of big business in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.