Media Control in Democracy
It is axiomatic that we have a free press and our adversaries have propaganda. Perhaps the distinctions are not so clear. In totalitarian systems the state-run media are viewed as largely irrelevant. Consumers of news in dictatorships readily recognize their media as organs of propaganda. However, in democratic societies where force is not a convenient option the problem of ensuring state domination of its citizenry is different. Since the truncheon is not available more subtle forms of manipulation and thought control are required to keep people in line. It is in this domain that the media perform their unique and crucial task in shaping, molding and managing public opinion.
Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. His contributions to modern linguistics are legendary. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” The New Statesman calls him “the conscience of the American people.” He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 93, he is still active; writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, his latest are Consequences of Capitalism, Chronicles of Dissent and Notes on Resistance.