Democratic Undermining and pretending democracy – Georgios Ardavanis (Ph.D.)

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Real democratic freedom and space are rapidly dwindling in Europe. When someone has a disagreement with the official line can be considered a legal justification for accusing someone of protest, imprisoning them without charge, and restricting their ability to engage in legal political activity in non-party political contexts. Protest and disagreement are misunderstood even in their definition. For law enforcement and intelligence agencies, providing evidence of some type of treason and illegality (in their eyes) is a good enough justification to file charges against someone. The absurdity of these situations has reached obscene proportions, and they happen far too frequently.

Besides the democratic people, the media is also the main casualty of the fake democracy. The co-opted versions of the media, once seen as the promoter of truthful political news coverage, have now disproved that notion and reduced themselves to a phony tool of governing party propaganda. It’s bad enough that front-page news is no longer included in mainstream newspapers. These headlines appear on pages two or three. One must make do with front-page full-page adverts announcing major projects worth so many crores in the interim. 

When I was in my early teens, I would patiently await the delivery person to bring me my daily dose of news. When I was younger, I always went first to the sports page. I became more politically aware as I grew up around politically aware role models and would scan page one, then the internal pages, and finally the editorial. There are several distinctions between then and now, such as news coverage.  The number of newspapers that are wise and honest reading is declining. In our youth, we used to be told that reading the “right” newspapers, journals, and novels is what shapes our understanding of society. The appropriate reading encourages one to explore society and politics and to pose “why” and “why not” questions.

I am a member of the so-called “irate sixties” generation. We didn’t have the internet back then, but what the heck? We had public libraries, street-side vendors of newspapers and magazines, mimeographed newsletters and articles, and competing political graffiti that always stopped passers-by with food for thought. These were our Internet-plus sources. In those good old days, news carried emotion and content. It embraced discussion, introspection, and an attitude of inquiry.

The place for actual news has been taken over and compromised by propaganda today. With news analysis, “The Real Truth/Alternative Media” demonstrates bravery and sincerity. They are a unique tribe that proves honesty is important. Through their reporting, they show how brave investigative journalism comes with dangers and challenges that must be overcome if our democracy is to be responsive and alert. It is a well-known coincidence that journalists or regular people have either been imprisoned or slain in European, American, and Asian nations.

The terrible status of the mainstream media in our time is mostly the result of two dynamics. The media’s moral character has been damaged by corporatization. There were media channels before the corporate media emerged, frequently on opposing sides of the political spectrum. The reader was able to generate opinions based on a lively political conversation by reviewing the variety of reportage. There were sometimes heated arguments between friends in coffee shops, on campuses, in youth movements, and social action organizations. Perspectives were identified and chosen by readers. Politics was not a one-sided conversation. The media played a significant role in the phenomena of political plurality. The media became an essential component of a healthy democratic space as a result.

Corporatization has inaugurated an era of “opiate news.” Most nightly news panels are populated by obnoxious anchors and political sycophants. Dissenters are ignored and degraded. The anchor directs the discussion in the direction of an encoded “truth.”  Political prejudices are reinforced by debates and the news. The astute watcher and listener have abandoned this dishonest news cycle, opting to skip the shrill performances for a more tranquil evening. After all, the pages of “The Real Truth Media” and YouTube videos of gutsy, brave, and astute newsmakers continue to produce genuine truths.

Corporations stand for the wealthy and the governing classes. Their sole goal is to advance societal perspectives that are apathetic and supportive of the prevalent narrative. In order to sustain the culture of dominance by a select few and serve as a filter between the upper and lower classes, the subsections of industry are trained to resemble and imitate their paymasters. They also take the opiate that turns them into dull, uninteresting profit bearers for the corporates. 

The same audiences who used to obediently turn on the television to learn more about their world have abandoned corporate news-baiters. If the new initiative to enter the global news market cannot prove itself to be credible enough to draw a large audience, it will simply fail.

The practice of giving fake information credibility is now referred to as “paid news.” Sadly, if an insult on such a plot is repeated and communicated for even an hour, it will have done enough harm to complete the damage. This is best summed up by the classic Shakespearian statement, “Mischief, thou art afoot; take thou what course thou wilt!” This brand of journalism is inherently fascist and cynical.

Political and social poison is fake news, which is frequently paid for. It not only confirms the desperation that politicians employ through the mainstream media and their obedient followers, but it also uses horror to incite fear. News about former intellectuals who became Fascists is false information that gullible citizens and politically motivated groups avidly believe. In the aforementioned example, neither the social claim nor the scare tactic’s justification is supported by any evidence. Regardless of how offensive fake news may be, harm has already been done once it has spread, and it is too late to undo the damage at that point. However, news and opinions are not solely created by the media, whether it be through newspapers or television. At the grassroots level, social movements, civil society, and the human rights movement all play a significant role in shaping public perceptions of social and political realities. When their opinions oppose the government, expose bad government policy and its execution through consciousness-raising, and mobilize large numbers of people, trouble arises. The different social and patriotic organizations are stifled and rendered incapable of operating through disruption, banishment, raids, withdrawal, and investigations.

Many Non-Government Organizations and members of civil society have either shut down or altered their messaging to appease the powerful. Information is not only about the raw facts; it also includes the processes by which those facts are created on the ground and the ramifications of those processes for the polity, whether it comes from the media or public discourse. The ruling classes and political regimes desire an uneducated, obedient populace that does not care or dare to speak the truth in public.

Democracy has come to clearly be in danger when groups, parties, and individuals—whether or not they are intellectuals—are outlawed. Western democracies hold themselves up as examples, yet they really undermine democracy while acting like it. Have Western democracies resorted to copying various models that criminalize free speech and jail individuals whenever a group or an individual exposes the contradictions of the injustices that punctuate the social reality to a greater extent than the government can bear?

Political tolerance has fallen dramatically. It has gotten so bad that newspapers and media outlets are being shut down, intimidated into silence, bought off, or otherwise coerced. Reporters and op-ed authors are questioned and/or given cases.  There is no doubt that many journalists have toned down the vocabulary and tenor of their political criticism out of fear of being arrested and losing their jobs. While potential talent declines to join, the best leave. Others, though, opt for the status quo for financial advantage.

It takes more than nostalgia to transport one back in time. A thriving and vigilant civil society has a responsibility to defend press freedom and, consequently, the freedom of those who want to restore democracy as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, the media’s legitimate job is to uphold political plurality, justice, and human freedom by releasing democracy from the grip of such politics. An ideal political system requires people to participate voluntarily.  If that isn’t suppressed, fascism will spread and rip apart the social and political structure of society. 


Georgios Ardavanis – 09/10/2023

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