Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The terrifying threat of authenticity

Those in power would like everyone to hold ideas that they hold -- or at least claim to hold them. It is commonplace for governments to speak as if their representations of truth are indeed unproblematic. In fact, they fear and resent authentic witnessing and authentic expressions of opinion that conflict with those they promote. They are so terrified of it that they have often taken extreme measures to control it.

Clifford Levy reports that a Russian editor who was pressed to affirm that a beating he received by the police when caught participating in a demonstration was his own fault. That his beating was publicly reported was hugely threatening to the Russian establishment. Or so we surmise, for after being beaten the committee formed to investigate [only after the New York Times reported the beating] pressed him to take the blame for it. The only problem was that he recorded the six hour interrogation by the committee. See the whole article:

Good journalistic reporting -- which like all human endeavors can never be perfect or complete -- is costly and precious. Without it there can be no just society, no serious democracy. It will always be threatened.

Public claims contrary to those promoted by the power elite have always been a threat, and suppressed brutally. It goes back even to biblical times. This was Jeremiah's problem: For opposing the policies of the rulers of his time, advocating conciliation with the Babylonians rather than rebellion, he was threatened, put in stocks, and imprisoned in a well; and his book was burned.

It's an old game.

No comments: