Democratic media

Nicola Sturgeon opines that social media is damaging political debate. What social media is damaging is politicians’ ability to control political discourse. It is damaging their ability to dictate the terms of debate. It is damaging their ability to totally exclude and suppress the voice of dissent. The degree to which a politician detests social media is a measure of their obsession with control. Sturgeon reveals herself to be particularly obsessed with control, even for a politician.

How many times have you heard a politician start a sentence with the words “What the public wants …” or “What the voters want …” or simply “What people want …”? They are accustomed to telling us what we want. They are comfortable with us having no voice other than that which they mediate on our behalf. They are distinctly uncomfortable with us having a voice of our own.

Politicians are adapted to an environment in which they and the mainstream media have a cosy working relationship. A symbiotic relationship in which each has something to trade with the other. Truly independent and truly democratic media threatens the tradeable goods and services of both. Politicians have influence in high places. The traditional media has influence in low places. Between them, they have it covered.

Social media – alternative media – hasn’t so much introduced a new form of influence as empowered a voice that was always there, but never strong enough to constitute a challenge to established power. The voice of dissent was once confined to pamphlets and political cartoons. Before the masses could read, the voice of dissent was restricted to plays and travellers’ tales and minstrels’ songs. The echoes of that voice can be heard in nursery rhymes. The tradition lives on in protest songs and TV satire and stand-up comedy. But only with the advent of social media did EVERYBODY get to join in.

Social media is almost perfectly democratic. Almost everybody has access. Almost everybody has a voice. Politicians don’t like this because they regard democracy as something that empowers them if controlled but threatens them if not. The traditional media don’t like it because they are no longer the ones determining which questions should be asked of politicians and which facts should be made known to the public.

Social media does not distort. Social media perfectly reflects the public mood where the public has a mood. Social media only seems to distort because we can never see it in its entirety, any more than we can make any sense of what people’s demands are when they all shout at once. So, what do the politicians and the old media do? Their first instinct is control. If they can’t control what is said on social media they can still influence what part of what is said becomes the focus of attention. Given that nobody can possibly see the whole of social/alternative media all at once, the politicians and the mainstream media seek to control which part we do see – and how we perceive it.

Always it’s about control. We are free to the extent that the voice of dissent has access to mass communication. Social media provides that access. Established power would prefer that it didn’t.

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12 thoughts on “Democratic media

  1. Quite.

    Whilst all politicians need to be kept on their toes to avoid the corruption variously of nepotism, cronyism, arrogance, and intolerance it is very clear that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP hierarchy tick ALL the boxes.

    This much can be seen by actions within the party and towards the wider pro-Independence community during the years since 2014. The examples are numerous and their is no need to rehearse them here … we all know what they are.

    Without social media and the internet the SNP Scottish Government’s Stalinest approach to shutting down all forms of criticism and challenge using various means of deflection, conflation, distraction and good old fashioned bullying we would be none the wiser of some of the dishonesty that has been exhibited since 2014.

    The dissidents are the first democrats. The true democrats.

    Vive Les Dissidents!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. We should find it astonishing that NS was able to create a huge, unquestioning following who dig in even deeper when any small voice raises the slightest doubt in her, yet she appeared utterly unable to raise support for independence.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. It is quite astounding, isn’t it, anniethenoo? Even now, The National’s letters section is still pumping out loyalist nonsense. Some people are simply resistant to any form of criticism of their heroine. While social media is a good thing in some ways, it can also be a bane in others. It does appear to encourage unhealthy obsessions with self and with forms of social insanity in minds that have not matured sufficiently to see through the propaganda, on the one hand, and, on the other, it allows commentators like Peter to dissent from accepted and dangerous political malfeasance on all levels. I suppose nothing is all good or all bad.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think Nicola Sturgeon had the gift to persuade people that she was actually doing something. She persuaded thousands that she was actually taking steps to achieve independence when she was (or so it appeared) quite deliberately thwarting it. Either she had to have known, and many, many were gulled, or she was living in a parallel universe – and still is. She (and her husband) remind me of the Caeusescus. Still believing (or so it appears) that all is radiant in Gardens SNP and Scotland. Maybe it’s just having a brass neck, but it is rather odd, to say the least. It was almost certainly the GRRB nonsense in the teeth of irrefutable evidence that caused her to resign before she was pushed. The money problem would always have been open to being swept under the carpet and explained away, as the Tories do regularly. We will have independence, but it will now be done the way it should always have been done, and that will involve a confrontation with the British State that has always been unavoidable. We are not quite there yet, but much closer than we have been for some time, and much closer than appearances would suggest. The English are a fine people with an equally fine sense of fair play, but the British State is something else entirely, and truth to tell, is a danger to all of us on these isles because it intends to keep hold of its world standing. That is what we will be up against. No chance of being normal countries while the British State dominates us all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are not alone in having made that comparison with the Caeusescus. The delusional state is the same. Right to the end, the Caeusescus declared themselves unable to understand what they were supposed to have done wrong. They genuinely believed their own myth, it seems.

      Of course, nobody is trying to make out that the Murrells are anything like as bad as the Caeusescus. But the similarities in their self-mythologising are very striking. There is, perhaps, something interesting to be said here about the nature of dictatorial or monarchical power and how it hardly matters who the dictator or monarch is because their power both derives from and devolves to those down the ranks of the hierarchy. It is perfectly possible, in principle at least, that the figurehead of the worst totalitarian regime imaginable might be a perfectly decent human being. The ‘Evil Dictator’ is a bit of a propaganda caricature. The individual at the top is merely an enabler. Even an unwitting enabler.

      The ‘regime’ that developed around Sturgeon and her ‘Grand Vizier’ husband is (was?) a distant cousin of the Caeusescus’ dictatorship. But a cousin nonetheless.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Yes, with social media, the whisperings in the winds can now be heard and now are amplified to a thunderclap what with all the speculation and revelations now unfolding in our benighted country. We seem overtaken by darkness…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Too much power is not good for anyone. I wouldn’t trust even myself in a position like that. I’d like to think I was incorruptible, but I would never be willing to take the risk – if I was ever offered that risk, which is highly unlikely. I agree with you that people at the top are no worse or better than the rest of us – at least to begin with – but there has to be a measure of self-delusion and self-deceit to remain in ignorance of what is happening around you. It is always very difficult for onlookers to reconcile the two. William the Conqueror was a monster, as was Edward I, but both were exemplary husbands, even while they ordered genocide, the Conqueror even being a prototype feminist when he allowed his wife to reign in his stead, in England, when he went off to Normandy on political business.

    The exception to that general rule was Stalin, I think, who was both a domestic and state tyrant, an all-round monstrous human being, and, possibly, Hitler, too. I wouldn’t put the Murrells in those categories, but they have behaved extremely badly to the SNP and to Scotland, or, at the very least, enabled bad outcomes, and no one could convince me that they do not still espouse a very real degree of self-delusion that is quite staggering. History will not treat them kindly, I think. They almost introduced the GRR into law – which would have seen our society disintegrate rapidly – having no discernible sense of its dangerous elements.

    I think that is what I cannot forgive: the utter lack of due diligence which should be part and parcel of governing. It was no accident that due diligence was not carried out either by the sycophantic acolytes or the administrators. It must all have come from the top. As a lawyer, Nicola Sturgeon could not have failed to have been schooled in due diligence, so it was obviously by-passed. Social media highlighted that very effectively. Nor was due diligence and proper research carried out on the various routes to independence, all of which, taken as a whole, would have pointed the way long ago – an amalgam of the political, the constitutional and the legal.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sturgeon told the audience at RSA House in central London that she believed the influence of social media websites, like Facebook and Twitter, has undermined the ability of countries to “address big issues of substance that will shape futures”.

    “big issues of substance” like Independence back in 2007 to 2014, in a country whose media was totally Unionist and burried Independence under the floorboards when it could. She should ask people who campaigned in 1979 for Devolution in the face of media which was full of:

    “This is a bad bill, vote NO and a better one will be along real soon now, honest”.

    Not the most aware thing she’s ever said; without social media, the Indy Ref probably wouldn’t even have happened let alone YES got 44.7% and Indy became mainstream – and she got her job!

    Anyways, wee furtive huddles on corners outside shops should also be banned banned banned banned … I’m getting hysterical now 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There was a video on YouTube today for a few hours about a Murrel but it was pulled in view of the content. Someone acted pretty quickly to get them to take it down. But I expect the damage has been done, and the content will be doing the rounds.

    It’s a pity that the information could not be legally made available so more people could know what has gone on. Perhaps the time is approaching when the restriction will be lifted, and all will be revealed.

    Until then a lot of people are being prevented from knowing the facts about an important event; facts which should really be in the public domain.

    Liked by 1 person

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