So Much For Democracy

Film, Observatory

So, the US has opened up a dramatic new front against WikiLeaks, killing its web address just days after Amazon pulled the site from its servers following political pressure.

Censorship has had a long and fascinating history, from the Ministry of Information in WW2 hiding the truth about the war to the social panics created by the Thatcher government in the 80s. In August of this year ‘A Serbian Film’ was banned in London and subjected to 11 minutes of cuts.

Largely though, if there’s one thing in common with all censorship cases, it’s that leaks will break dams. And in the modern world where communication is currency, it’s interesting to note that the censors still don’t learn the lessons of the past.

To read about some great British deceptions, try Nicholas Rankin’s wonderful book ‘Churchill’s Wizards: The British Genius For Deception’. Do you know where the word ‘Bumf’ comes from? When planes dropped wartime propaganda leaflets on Germany, it was the sound that the paper bundles made when they opened. Bomph. No, I didn’t either.

7 comments on “So Much For Democracy”

  1. Alan says:

    “leaks will break dams”

    Ooh – that’s good! Chris – have you ever considered writing?

    *memo to self – do not leave flat – keep head down…*

  2. Allan Lloyd says:

    Are you sure that that is the origin of bumf. I thought that it was a shortened form of bum-fodder, so that it’s only real purpose in life was as toilet paper.

  3. Steve says:

    Yes; they’ve taken away Happy Meals and now they want to take brownies away. There MUST be something more important for the US Government to be working on than eroding our freedoms. Or perhaps not, from the Government’s point of view. I’m rather disappointed in Mr. Obama I don’t mind saying.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    The Nanny State mentality strikes again. It’s up to parents to teach their children about what food is acceptable and what is not, beyond the usual nutrition classes in school. We debated it several times in the school where I taught, but it came down in the end to, “It’s a voluntary fund raiser. The kids won’t spend ‘treat’ money on celery sticks and carrot curls. If parents don’t want their kids to have cupcakes, don’t hand out money.”

  5. Alan says:

    To misquote Mr. Lincoln – you cannot permanently teach a man something which he will not learn for himself.

  6. Anne Fernie says:

    If people are interested in how sinister the whole micro-managing of our lives is getting, look no further than the current government’s ‘Behavioural Insight Team’ with its ‘nudge’ politics and ‘behavioural economics’ to ‘persuade’ us to change our behaviours. It is continuing along the lines of the ‘Mindspace: Influencing Behaviour Through Public Policy’ report commissioned by New Labour. Even the RSA are in on the act with their ‘Social Brain’ project. Of course all these neuroscientists, behavioural psychologists, and social policy-makers emphasize that the issue of ‘free will’ should be considered and that objectives are benign (good health, environmental consideration etc). Ideally, we will all end up smiley, healthy, happy co-operative citizens. As the ‘Spiked’ website so well states: Democracy is meant to involve the formulation of a government that expresses the people’s will. Wake up people!
    ps: I had to laugh when trawling through websites on the above as prominently featured beside one article was the announcement that the government’s ‘responsibility deal’ networks invited to suggest measures re. the public health crisis are dominated by food& alcohol industry members including: McDonald’s, Kellogs, Pepsi and others ……….

  7. Helen Martin says:

    Be careful or you’ll find catsup listed as a vegetable (tomatoes, you see, which are actually fruit.) I really understand how countries end up with ‘benevolent dictators’ who tell you what you really want, even if you don’t know it. Can we define informed consent?
    Allan, that’s my understanding of the origin of bumf, too.

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