We all live in an information age – or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads – heads down – checking – monitoring – tweeting.
We’re wired – we’re on message – and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves.
Identity is the zeitgeist.
A lifetime ago in ‘Brave New World’ Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom.
Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age.
Like the memory of Mandela the media’s wondrous technology has been hijacked.
From the BBC to CN the echo chamber is vast.
In his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005 Harold Pinter spoke about a ‘manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good – a brilliant even witty highly successful act of hypnosis’.
But said Pinter ‘it never happened.
Nothing ever happened.
Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening.
It didn’t matter.
It was of no interest’.
Pinter was referring to the systematic crimes of the United States and to an undeclared censorship by omission – that is leaving out crucial information that might help us make sense of the world.
Today liberal democracy is being replaced by a system in which people are accountable to a corporate state – not the other way round as it should be.
In Britain the parliamentary parties are devoted to the same doctrine of care for the rich and struggle for the poor.
This denial of real democracy is an historic shift.
It’s why the courage of Edward Snowden – Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is such a threat to the powerful and unaccountable.
And it’s an object lesson for those of us who are meant to keep the record straight.
The great reporter Claud Cockburn put it well: ‘Never believe anything until it’s officially denied’.