There are two primary things that totalitarian regimes seek to control, and whose take-over are themselves a sign of creeping totalitarianism in any society: The first is education, and the younger they get access to our minds, the better. The second is the media, newspapers and radio, and, now the vast ethereal space known as the Internet.
The reason is rather simple: Media and education are the primary means we access the truth, and, as tyrants as far back as Plato have known, it is far easier to control people from within – by domineering their thoughts, even such that they don’t even they’re being manipulated – than from without, using such clumsy tools as armies and police, clubs and tear gas – even if they be there, in full force, as back-up, in case interior control fails in some cases. As I wrote not long ago, commenting on Josef Pieper, authoritarian power is most effectively consolidated through control of ‘language’, in all that implies, in what is – or allowed to be – said or even thought.
Over the past few decades here in Canada, the government has gained an almost total hegemony in the educational sphere, from kindergarten to post-doctoral fellowships, almost all of it government funded and overseen by anonymous bureaucrats, hiding behind an alphabet soup of various acronyms: OECTA, EFFTO, OSSTF, PEQAB, AUCC. There are still a few private schools here and there – those free of such state control, or at least of their meretricious purse strings – few and far between, almost all beleaguered and underfunded. There are some exclusive elementary and high schools for the rich and elite, who disdain the inferior public education they keep most firmly in existence for the plebes and hoi polloi.
The minds of almost every Canadian alive and active today – some of those well into older age have escaped – has been almost completely formed by such faceless public agencies, from the dawn of reason until, in many cases, the dawn of middle age.
That’s bad enough. But what of after class hours? And what of their life beyond the unhallowed halls of academe, into the bright light of what used to be called the real world? What if – perish the thought – some uncomfortable truths inconsistent with the State agenda should somehow find a way into their brains?
Hence, from the totalitarian perspective, news and information must also be strictly regulated, as Orwell presciently warned in his 1984 dystopia. We have a sort of ‘ministry of truth’ that goes by the acronym of the CBC – more or less a glee club for the Liberal party and their particular pet ideologies – every morning, and I scarcely exaggerate, I hear a story of global warming, the most recent one that eating a meal uses more carbon than driving to the next town over. And this agency is currently funded to the tune of about one billion tax dollars per annum – but that now seems not enough.
Hence, you may have read recently that under the aegis of supporting the beleaguered media industry which has dropped precipitously in subscribers – especially newspapers and their on-line editions – Prime Minister Trudeau has announced a bailout package to the tune of $600 million, effectively nationalizing nearly the entire mainstream media, forcing us to pay for ‘news’ that we neither need nor want, news that will now be dependent – like education – on the support of government, and therefore, likely continue to shape opinions in the ‘Liberal’ direction, and all this, conveniently enough, in an election year.
Ponder that: A billion and a half of your own dollars. Are we supposed to pay for subscriptions on top of this, if you would even want to?
Keep in mind that the news is not just news, but includes all the commentaries, interviews, questions, answers, which will all be vetted, to ensure they skew in the right direction.
Freedom of the press, as well as education, has been a bedrock of any functioning and free society. As de Tocqueville presciently warned, one of the primary tasks of a free citizenry is to keep their government in check, for power tends to metastasize, to gather ever-more power, and usually not in beneficial directions. The press – which in some way includes all of us, at least as readers, if not writers – should speak, proclaim and witness to the truth, with various points of view vigorously debated in the public arena, while holding the feet of those who wield public authority to the fire – metaphorically speaking. They must not be allowed to hide behind an impenetrable wall of doublespeak.
Chesterton warned of the subtle power of the media complex – and he had no idea of the umbilical ubiquity of ‘smart’ phones – which does not begin with outright lies and coercive censorship – even if they often get there eventually – but just by ignoring uncomfortable truths, by focusing only on those stories or images that fit their preconceived and dearly held ‘values’, all interpreted for you, free of charge, so you hardly notice. They will decide what you see and hear, what is good and evil, what is important, and what is not, and what it means to be sane, and what, insane, to belong, and to be shunned.
This, dear reader, is unhealthy and incestuous, the government funding media, which in turn supports the government, with the result that the truth that might set us free is hidden and obscured.
If you have a few spare moments today – and most of us do – read over Plato’s allegory of the cave, which sounds as though he were writing for 2018.
Allow me to wax anti-Lennon – if not anti-Lenin – in a more Catholic, theistic mode: As a thought experiment – a future eutopia, if you will – imagine if the CBC suddenly turned around, its eyes – and by that I mean those of all the producers, commentators, anchors and reporters – opened to recognizing the truth, of such things as abortion for the horror that it is.
If they condemned those three physicians – at Sick Kids Hospital – calling for child euthanasia, comparing them to the Nazi psychiatrists whose euthanasia program laid the rotten seeds of the ‘final solution’.
Imagine they spoke of drug use, sodomy, pornography and even masturbation as degrading habits that rot one’s brain and psyche.
Imagine if they spoke of transgenderism as a psychiatric disorder, and the subsequent ‘sex change transitioning’ as grievous hormonal and surgical mutilation.
Imagine they portrayed the Church in a more positive light, as the pillar and bulwark of the truth, which still shines behind the scandals.
Imagine they spoke of saints and pioneers, of those who built this nation on the bedrock of faith and family.
Imagine if they had a series on the glories of marriage and domestic life, of hearth and home, of productive work and the spiritual fecundity of consecrated and single life.
Imagine if they prayed the Angelus before the news.
It’s not that hard, if you try.
Of course, we do have some media sites that do speak of such things, but they are not going to see a cent – sorry, a nickel – of that Trudeaupian $600 million. Rather, they will continue, along with their analogous private schools, to hobble along, underfunded, underappreciated and even derided by so many, even within the Church.
Now, such sites are being shut out by Facebook and Google, who will conveniently filter what truths get by the State’s so-far passive censorship.
There is a bright side: Like love, the more difficult it is to find the truth, the more we may appreciate it. Christ never said getting to heaven would be easy, and the pearl of great price is often hidden in a field full of duplicitous weeds. Once we find it, not only should we rejoice, but like Plato’s philosopher – to say nothing of Christ’s Apostles – we should lead as many as we can to that same treasure, even if we die in the doing.