I want to blog about something that has been bothering me for a while. As members of a community what do we owe each other if anything? What should be the norms that govern our interactions in the "public square"?
What is acceptable behaviour and what is taboo? And does government have a role?
When you see 5 year olds strutting around in heels, mini skirts and boob tubes whilst singing the latest Rihanna songs at the top of their voice, what does that say about our society? Are these young children being best served?
There was a recent out cry about a clothing line from Victoria Secrets aimed at high school kids. In our capitalist system are young girls fair game or should they be protected from such influences?
Libertarians would argue that advertising is not coercion and short of physical force, individuals and organisations should be free to plug what ever they choose to whoever they choose. After all this is nothing more then free speech, and no one is forcing you to listen.
To me this is a very simplistic argument, and one that chooses to ignore the lessons of history. The people who promote such arguments the most are the rich and the powerful. The same people that profit the most from selling everything and anything using any means necessary (short of force).
As for the history lesson. The twentieth century is full of examples of people that exploited the fears and insecurity of the massess to satisfy their own ends. From Hitler in Germany to Pol Pot in Cambodia, there are numerous examples of where the powerful have used propaganda to get the masses to perform their biding.
Mind control is real. The question is as a society what do we want to do about it? If every magazine is full of pictures of Kim Kardashians arse. What is that saying to young women? And what is it saying to young men? More importantly what is it not saying? What important social and political discourse has been eclipsed by such trivia?
But is it just trivia? I don't think so. I wouldn't go as far as to say that it is all one big conspiracy, but there are vested interests in keeping the masses dumb and docile. How else would 1% be able to dominate at the expense of 99% in a so called democracy?
The same mechanism is used in politics. US elections have become affairs that can be bought. Sophisticated propaganda techniques are used without limits to secure votes. Everyone despises "negative campaigning" whilst everyone does it. Why? Because it works! If it didn't politicians wouldn't spend millions on campaigning and end up indebted to their pay masters.
But this is the way it has to be right? To constrain the propagandist would jeopardise our freedoms and for Americans could be deemed unconstitutional. I argue the opposite. We collectively have a responsibility to protect each other from this deafening barrage of misinformation.
I would go further, by saying that democracy simply doesn't work with such a cacophony as a back drop. What is needed in a functioning democracy is an informed public. Yet if the facts are unfavourable to your interests then factual information is the last thing you want to expose the public to.
The ruling elite worked this out as early as the 1920's when Edward Bernays began to perfect his art of public relations. If anyone was in doubt of the power of propaganda the rise of the Nazis during the 1930's left no one in doubt.
So where are we today? I think this quote from a native American Indian who spoke on a reservation at the turn of the 20th century sums it up well:
"The white man has many wonderful things, but he cares not whether his people are wise"