The Individualism to Come
We live in an age of mass communication, and it is that which makes it possible for a political unit to be enormous in area and population and yet, at the same time, be a democracy.
In the long ages during which the only way instant communication was possible was by a carrying voice, a political unit could allow individual participation in the government (the essence of democracy) only if it were small, like the ancient Greek city-state of Athens.
If a political unit was large, like the ancient Persian Empire, and the ruler could make his voice heard to only his chief officials, then the result was an autocracy.If the political unit had begun small, as in the case of Rome, a decrease in individual freedom with growth was inevitable.
When means of communication become more sophisticated, whether through something as relatively primitive as more and better roads or something as advanced as television, then individual participation in the machinery of government can increase.
Can increase, but it doesn't have to. When mass communication is kept only mass—such as when the voice of the one leader is all that is heard throughout the nation, thanks to electronics—then the ideal can become that of making the nation a mass automaton, obedient to the single voice. The most dramatic case of this was in Nazi Germany.
Clearly, the situation most favorable to democracy and to individual freedom is where communications exist in forms that can be both mass and individual. Either alone is insufficient and even dangerous.
Radio, television, newspapers, magazines, even billboards and posters, are essentially mass-communication devices. Whether we are speaking of a