In 1922 Bertrand Russell gave a speech which was reproduced in a small volume titled Free Thought and Official Propaganda. One aim of his speech was to encourage people to read the newspapers in a less gullible manner, with less credulity. “Don’t believe everything you read,” applies to every form of media and not just the internet.
“There are two quite different evils about propaganda as now practiced,” Russell noted. “On the one hand, its appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument; on the other hand, it gives an unfair advantage to those who can obtain the most publicity, whether through wealth or power.”
He went on to say his bigger concern was the latter of these two. He illustrates it with a story of two parties whose ideas are equally good, but one party has ten times more money to promote their ideas. “It is obvious that the arguments in favor of the richer party would become more widely known than those in favor of the poorer party, and therefore the richer party would win. The situation is, of course, intensified when one party is the Government.”
I’d like to present two examples of what concerns me. The first is the matter of State-promoted gambling, the second is the misconception that our two party political system is good.
I was living in the Twin Cities when Minnesota passed a law to endorse a state lottery. Since that time ad agencies have produced ad campaigns, at taxpayer expense, to promote gambling. The net result was the discovery that 6% of people develop an addiction and need help.
Scientific studies show which kinds of games generate the most income and what kinds of people are more likely to play the various styles of games. The target audience is not wealthy people, but ignorant and needy people.
With a Democratic majority in both houses and a Democratic governor, you would think that decisions would be made that benefit the needy, not further enslave them. But then, it’s a power game. And the State needs its capital. The people promoting gambling have deep, deep pockets. The propaganda in favor of promotion of this vice far exceeded the capacity of those opposed to be heard.
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister once said, “Think of the press as a great keyboard upon which the government can play.” This is the same man who said that it you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Well, the lie in this country is that we have free elections.
Returning to Russell again, he stated, “The state is a collection of officials… drawing comfortable incomes so long as the status quo is preserved. The only alteration they are likely to desire in the status quo is an increase of bureaucracy and the power of bureaucrats.”
We have Republicans and Democrats in office. Every four year they vie like Sumo wrestlers for the Oval Office.
At the end of the day, when you step back and examine what our political leaders have done for the past 100 years, the trend lines are not difficult to recognize. One sees rising bureaucracy followed by rising taxes, followed by increasing bureaucracy, more regulations limiting freedoms, and still more taxes. It hardly matters which political party is in office.
Every four years we see a continuous parade of candidates who all come from within this system, ever voting themselves more money and more power at our expense. No one on the national scene who seriously aims to reverse this pattern is electable because both parties, Republican and Democrat, endorse this status quo situation that they so benefit from. Third parties have neither the money, nor the media assistance that the GOP and Dems have. Even when candidates mouth new ideas, everyone knows that nothing will really change.
If you listen to the media, it doesn’t take long before somewhere some political analyst derides the American people for their apathy toward the political process, especially with regards to the national scene. There might be good reasons behind this widespread epidemic of indifference.
My primary concern with all this political apathy is that people will become cynical and apathetic about everything. The truth is, you have more power to make the world a better place than you realize. Don’t wait till November. Choose to make a difference today.