“What remains of democracy is largely the right to choose among commodities. Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the population a “philosophy of futility” and “lack of purpose in life,” to “concentrate human attention on the more superficial things that compromise much of fashionable consumption.” Deluged by such propaganda from infancy, people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They may abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political realm, to the self described “intelligent minorities” who serve and administer power.”—Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (2003)
Benjamin Franklin, to a questioner after being asked what kind of government had been created in Independence Hall in the summer of 1787.
Pretty much everything I think about politics derives from that last clause: “if you can keep it.” Politicians can be demagogic, thoughtless and stupid. Media can be money-chasing sensationalists only truly worried about the second-to-second ratings their stories get online. Corporations can be self-interested and fantasize that the aggregation of endless self-interested pursuits will magically emerge as the community’s interest.
But citizens have to be smart. Citizens have to recognize what forces are trying to strip their power away for selfish ends. Citizens have to care.
There is no “them” who has to protect democracy for the citizenry. We have to do it for ourselves.
Not a great interview, but Mr. Morris’ book sounds like a unique and long overdue statement about photojournalism. Like in most important things we tend to miss the point due to laziness and preconceptions.