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The Political and Economic Conditions of Freedom of Information

by Dallas W. Smythe

Dr. Dallas Smythe is Chairman, Division of the Social Sciences, University of Saskatchewan Regina Campus, Regina, Canada. This essay was presented to the International Consultation on "The Christian Mission and the Communications Revolution" at Chateau de Bossey, Celigny, Switzerland, February 21 - 28, 1966.


An acceptable degree of freedom of information exists nowhere in the world today. Information is the basis of power. The structure of power is today not compatible with freedom for men and the care of the earth; rather it is the social organization by which men are denied freedom and the earth defiled. The technology of communications today is the principal means by which power is established and maintained. Hubris, mendacity and social hypocrisy in the service of irresponsible institutional power are the character of its contents by which this is accomplished.

The scientific and technical revolution of the past several centuries has reduced the functional time-space within which the several races, cultures, ideologies, religions and economic systems of mankind live to the dimension of a village. This is true whether we think of our capacity to kill or cure, to build or destroy, to travel or communicate, to live or to believe. Within that functional world-village, we find now existing genocidal war (Indochina), cold war, nuclear weapons threats, conventional weapons threats, colonialism and neo-colonialism, wildly unbalanced use of resources so that a major part of the world population starves or verges on starvation while a minor part consumes lavishly, racism, ignorance, a defilement of the environment through pollution of air, water and soil, and reckless wastage of irreplaceable resources. Within the "highly developed" areas the massive flight from reality represented by addictions to alcohol, narcotics, tranquillizers, suicide, crime and other escape mechanisms reflect the "dis-ease" of the cultures. This is the context in which our topic appears.

"Information," I will define as knowledge in its dynamic relation between man and man. man and his environment. and between parts of the environment. Or, if you prefer, it is Norbert Wiener’s definition, "a name for the content of what Is exchanged with the outer world as we adjust to it, and make our adjustment felt upon it.1. "Freedom", I define (with Ellul) as the act of resisting necessity. One is not free when and where one’s actions are determined for one by habit, by parental or other training, by external authority. "Freedom of information" then must refer to the conditions which would permit every human being the opportunity of full individual development while living In a way which enhances the welfare of the human race and of the physical and biological environment. So defined, "freedom of information" rests on the conditions which are also essential for "peace," defined by Robert M. Hutchins in opening the Pacem In Terris international convocation as "...not merely the absence of war; it is the nurture of human life everywhere." I am aware that Article 19 of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights refers to freedom of information in a more limited sense,2. but we should by this time be aware that the full bill of human rights is a necessary accompaniment of the enjoyment of any limited range of freedom of information and ideas.

Whether the phrase "freedom of information" be defined broadly or narrowly, the control of information is the basis of power. Machines plus human organization equal technology. They also have come to equal modern institutions. They exist and they function by virtue of their control over the individuals who comprise them in the process of exchanging content with each other. This control Is exercised through the ideologies, myths, beliefs, assumptions, procedures, policy statements, instructions, etc., which constitute and justify the individual and collective operations making up in their totality the way we use our lives. When, as is the case, men are generally denied freedom3. and the earth is dangerously defiled, the power structures which are our institutions must be held accountable for the lack of freedom of information which brings about this result.

The technology of communications is the central core of the whole modern technological, institutional complex. The history of printing is the history of power struggles between interest groups concerned to protect themselves in the emerging national states from the 15th Century onward. The history of the postal service from the 17th Century onward is the story of efforts of elements within the power structure of the national state to promote their own interests and to defeat those of others (through their own use of its facilities and through using access to the content of the mail as a source of intelligence). The impetus for innovating the wire-telegraph came from national defense establishments concerned to use control of knowledge to preserve and extend their power, and its subsequent history conforms to the pattern of other communications media in this regard.

The Communications Revolution is the name we may give to the cluster of technological innovations which took place beginning somewhere in mid-l9th Century, and which includes such items as: wire telegraphy and telephony; radio telegraphy and telephony; sophisticated photographic equipment; motion pictures; high-speed printing equipment, including capacity for mass production of photography and color; facsimile; television; the typewriter, photo-offset and chemical means of document reproduction; information recording office equipment of all kinds (bookkeeping, etc.); indexing and information retrieval equipments; computers and automation. These innovations have penetrated and will penetrate further every institution and every individual life. These innovations transformed and enlarged old centers of private power and created new ones in the Western world. Collectively they are the core of the tangled network of business, religious, trade union, military, and political organizations and relations which together constitute the power structure in the world.

The power-yielding capacity of the new communications technology falls into two categories: the "mass media" (print media, radio-TV, motion pictures) and the remainder, but the distinction is perhaps more formal than real for all of the new technological means of communications reinforce each other. In the more "advanced" western countries the prime function of the commercial mass media Is to market the economy’s output of consumer goods and services and to train the population to dutiful consumership and devotion to the national "system". The purpose of the entertainment, information and educational material presented is initially to form individuals into audiences which are then sold to advertisers for such training. Conformity to the status quo is the principle which frames the point of view and selection of these materials.4.

The techniques which are employed to sell goods and services are also (often unconsciously) applied to ideas. Erich Fromm defines the art of feelings in people without making them aware that ‘their’ thoughts are not their own".5. We must recognize that such brainwashing takes place to greater or lesser degrees in at least every advanced national system. In the process morality and liberal political Institutions are eroded.6. Such a set of institutions and individual actions could only be perpetuated in the real world today by the maintenance of a dream world in which it is constantly justified. This dream world is constructed of popular myths. In the leading Western nation the intra-national portion of this mythical world consists in such as the following, each of which has a variety of manifestations:

(1) Look out for number one; let the other fellow take care of himself.

(2) Public government is inherently bad and politics are dirty; private business is clean and efficient; public taxation is malevolent, private taxation is benevolent; that government is best which governs least. (3) Private property approaches the sacred; public planning which would interfere with it is inherently bad.

The foreign portion of the mythical world includes:

(1) We are good; they are bad. (2) Communism is an international conspiracy.

(3) Our foreign relations problems are caused by Communists and therefore counter-revolution anywhere in the world is good. (4) Better dead than red; the only appropriate response to foreign problems is military; we must be tough; force is the only thing Communists respect. (5) Foreign policy must be authoritatively determined by our Commander in Chief and the military; we should trust our leaders (but this is cushioned by the myth that "we" are pluralistic, free to think and for us the individual is sacred, while "they" are monolithic, told what to think and for them only the system is sacred). (6) Technology, know-how and winning are the all important values and our high moral ends justify our means. (7) We are the defenders of the "free world" and we will take any risks to preserve "our system".

In the socialist and mixed systems which comprise the remainder of man’s social institutional context, the technology of communications serves their systems’ values and goals. As late arrivals on the historical scene, those systems enjoy the challenging and difficult advantage of building new social orders, rather than operating old ones. Socialist morality as it is taught by the communications systems in the socialist countries, of course, has the power-ordering consequences of the technology In general, of the technology of communications, and of the mass media technology in particular. While we in the west are less familiar with the details than we are with our own, it seems safe to infer that the technology-based power structures in the socialist and mixed systems employ manipulative techniques similar in kind If not in degree to those In the west. Thus, the myths by which the Russians and Chinese systems mobilize opinion against each other and against Western nations have the hubristic quality with which we are familiar in the west. That the values of the technological system take precedence over those of individual welfare is exemplified In the Stalin regime in the Soviet Union. And the centrality of the power significance of the communications technology is attested by the pivotal importance of which faction controls the radio-TV stations and the telephone systems whenever a coup or revolution takes place in an African, Asian or Latin American country.

Within the functional world-village, to which technology has now shrunk mankind’s space-time dimensions, information on a world or inter-continental scale is distorted, mutilated and ignored to a much greater degree than information within the nation-state systems. The five so-called "World-wide" wire services upon which each nation’s mass media (and to some extent government) depend for information about events outside its own border are arms of their respective national systems (American, English, French and Soviet) and mirror the interests of the power structure within their home countries in the selection and presentation of information from the outside world. None of them cover all countries with anything like adequate reporters or freedom from conflicts of interest. Literally, events of world signif1~cance are unavailable on objective terms to virtually the whole world population.7.

One may conclude this portion of the analysis by agreeing with Ellul that in all but the least organized parts of the world,


"Rationality and coherence of action no longer depend on personal reflection or voluntary decision by the individual but on his integration into the objecçive and collective planning which governs his actions.".?8.

Power in the national state rests on public opinion -- or on "consensus" as one head of state prefers to call it. Public opinion provides day-to-day legitimacy to but does not control the national state. It is manipulated and controlled by the dominant Institutions -- economic, political and religious --of that state. The ability to control public opinion is exercised through the means of communication, and most critically through the mass media of communication. The communications media set the agenda of issues, problems, beliefs, points of view, etc. which the population of the state have for consideration and through mass production of materials conceived in a certain way create public opinion reflecting those materials. Through this power to inform -- (i.e. to determine the flow of information), the dominant institutions form the national state’s policies and actions. As Sauvy remarks, the freedom to inform Is now the counterpart of what was once the freedom to build castles.9.

The technological developments of the past century provide the organizational basis for regional and world policies rooted in ecological considerations. Communications technology as exemplified in space communications is In the forefront of this development and Illustrates the paradox.

The national state as we know it -- the largest formal political entity developed to date -- grew up in the past three centuries. It was made possible and inevitable by the Industrial Revolution which initially set the limits to its size. The continuation of the Industrial Revolution in the past 100 years has progressively passed beyond the scope and dimensions of the national state and has already provided the basis of regional and world organization. The basis of this government ("government" means exercise of authority over organizations) are the rudimentary institutions and institutions- coming-into-being-through-need-and-capacity which are all around us. The significance of this basis is generally missed because of the brainwashing we receive from the national state institutions, and because of the slowness of the development (until the last few decades when the pace of development accelerated rapidly). Some of the many facets of this development are:

(a) The development of production technology which now peaks in the form of automation and cybernation. The productivity of the most advanced countries rises so high that they can, in effect, give away their product to their own citizens. In this situation the great bulk of the world population cannot be left to suffer chronic starvation, disease and lack of elementary services. The moral sense to this effect of the advanced nations with pale skins will be reinforced by the determination of the less advanced nations with colored skins. The obvious method of solving the twin problems highlighted by cybernation in the advanced nations -- unemployment of skilled people and of machine capacity -- is to apply these technical productive capacities and products on a regional and world basis.10. This ecological point of view underlies such international organizations as The Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (and consequent establishment of a Trade Board), UNESCO, the UN Special Fund and Technical Assistance program, and others.

(b) The development of the technology of public health -- which has increased life expectancy in the past century and is responsible for the "population explosion". This calls for popular education for population control. But more importantly it calls for regional and world organization to apply productive technology to feed and clothe the world’s population. The cry ‘overpopulation’ arises from obsolete national-state points of view and implicitly reflects a chauvinistic white man’s view. For how can it be said that there is world overpopulation when no attempt has been made to organize the available technology to feed and clothe the world population? The same ecologically oriented organizations referred to under (a) are relevant here.

(c) The development of the technology of war -- which has made the national military establishments largely obsolete. An institution incapable of performing its function is obsolete. Admittedly today no military establishment can protect its nations from destruction in a nuclear or bacteriological war. Very little evidence of ecologically based organization appears in this area -- the international agreement for keeping the Antarctic de-militarized and plans for nuclear free zones in Africa and Central Europe (Rapacki plan) are the sole examples. We return to this problem later.

(d) The development of the technology of communications -- which simultaneously provides the mainstay of power of the national state and its symbiotic institutions, and an example of the highest stage of development presently visible in world-ecological organization and policy. The first half of this dialectical situation has already been analyzed briefly in section 1. The technology of communications demonstrated, even in the 19th Century, its pressure toward higher orders of social organization. The postal service technology led to the creation of the Universal Postal Union in 1863 -- the first of the present UN family of ecologically based world institutions. Through it uniform operating standards and procedures were developed and applied to international mail. Wire telegraphy early In its history led through bilateral treaties to a 20-nation International Telegraph Union in 1865 -- the lineal predecessor of the present International Telecommunications Union,11. which establishes procedures and standards for telegraph and telephone operations and which allocates the use of the radio spectrum world-wide.

The radio spectrum allocation is a completely new institution which represents a complete break with previous ideas of organization, property and policy. In law it rests on functional use of a world resource. It rejects ideas of property as being measured in three-dimensions and subject to "ownership" by individuals, corporations or national states. The radio spectrum is legally the property of the human race and the regulation of its use rests on the proposition that the conditions on which individuals or groups may use it must be consistent with the interest of all other possible users in its use. Not only must the use of the radio spectrum, as a technical matter, be on terms which are mutually acceptable to the members of the human race, but through the ITU, its users contribute the knowledge of the propagation and other characteristics of the radio spectrum which is the by-product of its use.12.

Not only is there centralized planning, administration and regulation by a functional organization for radio allocation at the world level, but similar development exists at the regional and at the functional level, as well as within national states. By "functional level", here I refer to the world-wide organization of classes of radio users (e.g. aviation, marine, common carrier, broadcast). At all organizational levels, standards and operating procedures tend to be generalized on a world-wide basis. Moreover, the applications of the radio technique have been differentiated increasingly and today they permeate the whole of technically advanced society and integrate it into a regional and world-wide technological order.13.

In addition to the ITU, a list of regional and world organizations ecologically related to radio administration includes the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Marine Communications Organization, European Broadcasting Union (western Europe), International Broadcasting Organization (eastern Europe), Asian Broadcasting Union, African Broadcasting

Union, and others.

The paradox of communications technology is that on the one hand, the ITU and its related organizations are not concerned with the substantive content which passes through the communications channels (being devoted solely to technical matters), while on the other hand, as an international institution, an experienced American engineer could speak of it in these terms:

Since the radio spectrum belongs to everyone and no one, it is like the very air we breathe. When problems arise, we have become accustomed to the idea of gathering at a table and talking over these problems. Once this is done solutions not previously apparent are usually found. The fact that such solutions have inherent compromises of one sort or another as their basis is typical of the nature of the problem with which we are dealing. More importantly, it underscores the necessity for decisions in the use of a common natural resource even though such decisions are not ideal from the point of view of any one group of users. Each user and group of users has been forced by circumstances to accept a policy of ‘give and take’, realizing that he must give in some instances in order to receive in others."14.

It is precisely this prototype of technological pressure toward new regional and world organization which also embodies the presently toughest resistance from the national state to such evolution. For in the national frame of reference "intelligence" and command of the most efficient communications technology are deemed a prime essential of national security and power. Communications satellites, however, might be the technological innovation which breaks the impasse.

The supply of channels for voice and record electronic communication between continents became very short in relation to the demand which developed in the years since 1945. Communications satellites which became scientifically practicable by the late 1950’s will provide an abundance of channel space of high quality and at very low cost. The engineering work on them has now been substantially accomplished, and prototype models will shortly be replaced with operational systems. The best system appears to be the synchronous satellites, three of which spaced around the earth at an elevation of 22,300 miles will provide line-of-sight coverage to about 98 percent of the earth’s surface. The channels provided by radio repeaters in such satellites may be used for communications between two points on the earth’s surface, or for broadcast. The possible services include voice telephone, radio broadcast, television broadcast, facsimile, telegraph transmission of verbal massages or of data for computers. In its report to the UN Economic and Social Council in 1959, the ITU evaluated the potential as follows:

"It is in fact quite probable that new telecommunications equipment which.. .is bound to be developed in the next ten years will offer the technical possibility of ensuring what might be termed ‘Total freedom of information’, i.e., freedom to see and hear at all times what is happening In any part of the world. Telecommunication already plays a very important part in the modern world with its influence on the political, economic and social levels. Moreover, scientific and technical progress in the next ten years will introduce unprecedented achievements In this field and it is no exaggeration to assert here and now that teleconimuni- cation will play a primary role both on the national and on world levels and it could also be pointed out that the most difficult problems are not generally of a purely technical nature and that telecommunications questions should more and more command the attention of governmental authorities at the highest level.. ..Obstacles to freedom of Information as far as transmission are concerned will hence soon be only of a political and economic nature and the ITU can but express the hope that the appropriate internati~onal organizations will soon manage to overcome them."15.

On the recommendation of the United States and the Soviet Union, the UN created its Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to make plans for, inter alia, communications satellites. Despite the euphoric rhetoric of its ambassador’s speeches at the UN, the United States has blocked all efforts by uncommitted and socialist nations to bring the problems of organization and policy of communications satellites before that Committee, thus frustrating the Committee and the recommendations of the ITU.16.

Brazil, for example, repeatedly urged that the UN should be made the organizational home of communications satellites and that there should be a prohibition by the UN on the use of the satellites "...for the purpose of encouraging national, racial or class rivalries...."17.

The United States created a commercial corporation to exploit the publicly developed communications satellite technology in 1962. It then negotiated the terms of an agreement with 17 states (initially, others have since signed) under which the "space segment" is to be owned in undivided shares by the signatories in proportion to their respective contributions. Voting strength on the Interim Communications Satellite Committee is measured by those contributions. Absolute United States control of the "Committee" is ensured by the provision that the U.S. share will not fall below 50.6 percent of the total. Comsat Corporation, the U.S. commercial monopoly, is to be manager in the design, development and operation of the system. Presumably because of the general sentiment outside the United States for some kind of UN "home" for the communications satellites, the agreement provides that by January 1, 1969 the Committee should report to its members

"recommendations concerning the definitive arrangements for an international global system which shall supersede the interim arrangements established by this Agreement. This report, which shall be fully representative of all shades of opinion, shall consider, among other things, whether the interim arrangements should be continued on a permanent basis or whether a permanent international organization with a General Conference and an international administrative and technical staff should be established." (Article IX(a))

It also provides that an international conference should be convened by the United States government to consider the report of the Committee.

In response to the United States policy, the Soviet Union has orbited its communications Satellites and currently it is reported in the press that the Soviet Union and France are negotiating some sort of arrangement for its use.

From present evidence it appears that both the Comsat Interim Committee and the Soviet Communications satellite system are to be used initially for point-to-point relay purposes, i.e. it is not intended that they should broadcast TV and radio directly to populations. The technology of communications satellites, however, has developed so rapidly that Hughes Aircraft Corporation (prime contractor for the Comsat Corp satellites) now offers to deliver within two years similar satellites capable of TV and radio broadcast service, to work directly with home receivers equipped with inexpensive special antennas. Such broadcast satellites could cover a continent or a large country with usable signals, or by directional antennas could aim their signals at smaller countries. The cost of the space segment of such a system would be low, as compared with ground-based TV systems: launching, rocket and satellite would cost about $10 million, including allowance for possible launch failure, to which should be added not more than $5 million for the ground station "up-link". Useful life is estimated at five years. With such opportunities, it is safe to say that national ventures in satellite broadcasting could be numerous in the next 10 years. And the Incentive as well as the technical capacity will be present for private commercial "pirate" operations (analogous to sea-borne pirate broadcast stations off European shores which currently are forcing commercial radio onto the United Kingdom) to be undertaken anywhere in the world.

By now it should be clear that unprecedented integrative tendencies are at work in communications technology. They have taken the world to the brink of an integrated communications system capped by communications satellites with almost unlimited capacity to integrate mankind organizationally. But the forces based on the national state which resist organizational integration are so strong that currently the prospect for communications satellite organization resembles the order of the jungle more than humanity. The future, however, is indeterminate and man can make of communications satellites what he wills.

When one considers the technological pressures toward world and regional organization which have been sketched above, the force of the remarks by Aldous Huxley on the politics of ecology becomes apparent:

"Committing that sin of overweening bumptiousness, which the Greeks called hubris, we behave as though we were not members of earth’s ecological community, as though we were privileged and, in some sort, supernatural beings and could throw our weight around like gods. But in fact we are, among other things, animals -- emergent parts of the natural order. If our politicians were realist they would think rather less about missiles and the problem of landing a couple of astronauts on the moon, rather more about hunger and moral squalor and the problem of enabling three billion men, women and children, who will soon be six billions, to lead a tolerably human existence without, in the process, ruining and befouling their planetary environment.

"Animals have no souls; therefore, according to the most authoritative Christian theologians, they may be treated as though they were things. The truth, as we are now beginning to realize, is that even things ought not to be treated as mere things. They should be treated as though they were parts of a vast living organism. ‘Do as you would be done by.’ The Golden Rule applies to our dealing with nature no less than to our dealings with our fellow-men. If we hope to be well treated by nature, we must stop talking about ‘mere things’ and start treating our planet with intelligence and consideration....

"Power politics in the context of nationalism raises problems that, except by war, are practically insoluble. The problems of ecology, on the other hand, admit of a rational solution and can be tackled without the arousal of those violent passions always associated with dogmatic ideology and nationalistic idolatry....

"Power politics, nationalism, and dogmatic ideology are luxuries that the human race can no longer afford. Nor, as a species, can we afford the luxury of ignoring man’s ecological situation. By shifting our attention from the now completely irrelevant and anachronistic politics of nationalism and military power to the problems of the human species and the still inchoate politics of human ecology we shall be killing two birds with one stone -- reducing the threat of sudden destruction by scientific war and at the same time reducing the threat of a more gradual biological disaster.

"The beginnings of ecological politics are to be found in the special services of the United Nations Organization. UNESCO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the various Technical Aid Services --

all these are, partially or completely, concerned with the ecological problems of the human species. In a world where political problems are thought of and worked upon within a frame of reference whose coordinates are nationalism and military power, these ecology-oriented organizations are regarded as peripheral. If the problems of humanity could be thought about and acted upon within a frame of reference that has survival for the species, the well- being of individuals, and the actualization of man’s desirable potentialities 18 as its coordinates, these peripheral organizations would become central."

Policies conducive to freedom of information and regional and world organizational development are currently frustrated by national state considerations. There are many roads to an ecologically organized world. Regional and world government will rest on community, communications and public opinion. A UN-based broadcast satellite operation is proposed. Also a UN-based information service to supplement present wire services.18.

The national state and obsolete economic institutions are the principal obstacles to regional world development today.19. If one asks, what are the possible roads to a world without war, that essential way-station on the way to freedom of information in anecologically organized world, Arthur Waskow answers that there are five: (a) Control of the nation-state system through stabilizing the balance of power and reducing international tensions but keeping the weapons; (b) Reform of the system through total disarmament without abandoning national sovereignty or the pursuit of national interest; (c) Extension of the system through the creation of a federal world government; (d) Fragmentation of the system through increases in the power of extra-national associations and Institutions across national boundaries, and corresponding decreases in state power as these occupational, industrial, scientific, and other groups gradually expropriate from the national governments the power to make decisions within their own fields; and (e) Abolition of the system through substituting love f or coercion.20." And of course he points out that combinations of roads are possible over time. While no doubt all roads must be tried, the thesis of the present paper is what Waskow calls the "fragmentation" road ((d) - above) will shortly merge with the "extension" road ((c) - above) and that communications institutions are a key factor in this approach.

Loyalty, trust, faith in others of the human species appears not to be born in any of us. It is learned. For uncounted millenia mankind taught itself loyalty and trust only in the Immediate family. Later it taught itself loyalty to the extended family or tribe. Loyalty to the nation-state has been a principal object of the communications and educational systems of the family and of the national community for a few hundred years -- a relatively short period in man’s history. The reason man has presently so little loyalty to the human race is simply that he has not been taught it. Instead, as we all are aware, the institutions of the nation-state (prominently the family, the schools, the churches, the mass media) commonly teach ethnocentrism and prejudice against people who are racially or Ideologically either traditionally or conveniently used as scape goats. Even when there is no intent, subconscious or otherwise, to teach ethnocentrism and prejudice in our nation-state systems, the presentation of news (e.g. of damage done to people by earthquakes, avalanches, or wars) about distant peoples in a context of passive entertainment and commercial announcements as typically happens In western TV, radio and press fosters indifference. The vicarious observation of injury to an unfamiliar "them" when repeated perpetually produces a callousness which is a breeding ground for ethnocentrism and prejudice.

No doubt there is much that the family, the school, the church and the mass media could do within the nation-state to teach loyalty to the human race, and at a later point I will refer to the churches’ obligation in this regard. However, we must recognize that the bias in the teaching by the nation-state institutions is against this trend. At least we can ask that those nation-state institutions stop teaching disloyalty to the human race.

But, we must go further.

Community depends upon communication. The world community depends upon world communication. As Professor Jerome Frank puts it,

"The reason there has not been a feeling for mankind is because we have not been able to communicate so fully and intimately with mankind. One of the great new hopes of the world is that the media of mass communication, and the shrinkage of the world in terms of transportation and so on, are going to lead to a rapid build-up of a world-wide network of communication and of mutual rewar4s, out of which I think can grow a feeling for all mankind."21.

Presently there is a void In the world’s technology precisely in the area of world communications institutions. They simply do not exist In terms relevant to the need and the technical potential.

To put the matter in another light, among the reasons why the efforts to achieve "world government" in the past 100 years have not succeeded is the fact that the nation-state has effectively avoided the issue. "World government" has never been on the agenda-for-action of the world’s population because the power structure of the nation-state has kept it off the agenda of the mass media controlled by those states. A fundamental political fact is that order under law can only advance when and where there is common consent -- i.e. when public opinion provides a consensus to support It. The whole history of the de-emphasis on the city-state and the evolution of the nation-state proves this point. We cannot hope to reach Utopia in one step. A world wide common consent on all issues which cleave our new functional world-village is far off. But until those issues are placed effectively on the agenda-for-action by the population of that functional world - village we will wait in vain for the first effective steps toward a modest degree of world government.

The meaning and scope of democracy is involved in this too.


"Western democratic theory, from the days of Mill to our own, has always been concerned with internal affairs. Foreign affairs, or diplomacy, are intrinsically and historically undemocratic. They are the prerogative of the executive, who is the heir to the monarch. Diplomacy thrives on methods, such as secrecy, that are profoundly undemocratic or anti - democratic....

"As long as internal affairs outweigh foreign affairs, democracywithin the nation - statej can survive, probably to the detriment of foreign affairs. When foreign affairs, the crushing issues of war and peace in a technologically shrinking, increasingly interdependent world, begin to outweigh internal affairs, and domestic policy becomes largely determined by foreign policy las in the U.S.A. with its Vietnam war today - - DWS the democratic process is doomed to be stifled and choked. To be rescued, to survive even on the domestic plane, the democratic process must be carried over from the internal to the international sector. Foreign policy must be internationalized and carried out~ not by diplomats representing the executive, but by representatives qf the people in international bodies of deliberation." 22.

I suggest that concerted efforts should be made to develop satellite broadcasting system capable of transmitting TV, radio and facsimile programs to the whole world under the auspices of the United Nations. As indicated earlier the engineering products are available and comparatively cheap on which to build this world communications institution.

Administrative structure. Initially, an experimental phase should try out a model drawn from experience in the UN trusteeship system for undeveloped territories and in the earlier League of Nations mandates, as well as in the exploration of Arctic regions, in the organization for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and for the International Geophysical Year.
A Satellite Broadcasting Commission should be established by the General Assembly as the "trust" organization for an experimental period with a fixed term (five or ten years). This Commission should be divided into a governing body and an operating body.

The governing body might be referred to as the Board. It would consist of national government delegations and would own the facilities of the Commission. It would provide financing and be responsible for the budget of the Commission. It would establish general policy and provide general rules for the aims, responsibilities and operation of the satellite broadcasting system. It should most emphatically not be involved in operations and any possibility of undue pressure from it on detailed operations, beyond its general policy guidance, should be excluded. The British Broadcasting Corporation illustrates the role of such a Board.

A sound financial base must be provided for the system. Of a number of logically possible bases, those based on deriving revenues from advertising would be totally unacceptable to a number of countries and must be excluded. Financing based on receiver licenses would demand a fairly high standard of living on the part of viewer - listeners and a degree of prior commitment to the service which obviously do not exist. The only feasible financial base appears to be direct contributions, either from broadcasting organizations (national and regional) or from national governments. Presently and for some time to come many broadcasting organizations would not be able to make financial contributions sufficient to support an independent, efficient satellite broadcasting operation. For the immediate future at least, national government contributions must provide the financial base, calculated as are contributions to the UN and other inter - government bodies.23.

The operating body might be referred to as the Satellite Broadcasting Federation. It would operate within the general policy established by the Board. This Federation would be formed from the broadcasters and would consist of the regional broadcasting unions rather than national broadcasting organizations

Program policy. Program content for satellite broadcasting should be based on the most significant common denominator of international acceptance on educational and cultural affairs and should progressively pursue the terms on which initially controversial aspects of educational and cultural matters may be programmed for regional and world audiences. At the present stage of man’s development the broadcasting of public events is the most obvious example of the most significant common denominator of international acceptance. Sports (Olympic games), music festivals, major religious events (a Pope visits the UN), major technological events (astronauts return from the moon; a hydro electric project is completed, etc.) illustrate the type. Also at this level of acceptance may be the teaching of basic literacy, physical geography, biology, botany, plastic arts and the performance of music. A second and more controversial pool of materials which the Commission should develop into mutually useful programs might include personal hygeine, public health, human geography, the races of mankind, technology and its applications to economic development and - - history. The overriding principle is that beginning with the educational and cultural material in which mankind most readily finds common interest, the programming will move progressively and as rapidly as possible to thornier materials.24.

A question arises as to the desirable degree of centralization of program responsibility at the operating level of the Federation of regional broadcasting unions. At the outset it will clearly be desirable to maximize the decentralization in program responsibility at the operating level so that it devolves upon the Federation’s constituent Unions in such a way that programs would reflect the programming capacities of the countries they now serve. Even from the start, however, the Federation should send out an ad hoc internationally responsible program production team for live coverage of international events, in cooperation with the United Nations.

Finally, the Commission’s programming policy should recognize its obligation to maintain liaison with the UN - related organizations, especially UNESCO, FAO, WHO, and to develop appropriate programs in relation therewith.

The second stage in the development of the world satellite broadcasting system should grow out of the experience in the experimental stage.

That such a world satellite broadcasting system would find strong support is suggested by these remarks by U. Thant at the Pacem in Terris international convocation in New York in 1965:

"Governments, however well and sincerely they may cooperate in the United Nations, cannot by themselves face the great and shifting problems of our age in isolation. The peoples they represent must also give life and reality to the aims and ideals of the Charter, towards which we strive. Here, again, now have the means to achieve a great objective, an enlightened world public opinion. One of the revolutions of our age, the revolution In communications of all kinds, has made a well - informed public opinion technically possible for the first time in history. Our problem is to ensure a beneficial use of these means of communications. This Is a challenge to leaders both temporal and spiritual, to intelligent and creative men and women everywhere. Without real knowledge and understanding and without a determination to learn from the past, to rid ourselves of outmoded prejudices and attitudes, and to face the future together with both hope and wisdom, we shall not succeed in making our aims and ideals a working rea1ity."25.

which presently exists in the fledgling community of mankind. It would support and draw support from those other ecologically - based organizations now affiliated with the UN. It would make a start toward providing a world public opinion which would demand and eventually achieve appropriate organizational forms where popular delegates could by - pass to some degree the functionally obsolescent nation - state system. At such a time the nation - state would not vanish; it would simply discharge the functions appropriate to its scale and would doubtless continue, as do cities today to command an appropriate but limited loyalty from individuals.

The possessors of power (through the communications technology) to control men today are the political and economic institutions which rely on and in turn maintain the national state as the prime agent of mankind’s organization. Where the Church is identified with these national state institutions, as is largely the case, its influence at the grass roots level reinforces the reign of these obsolete institutions and policies. The challenge. to the morally responsible institutions (pre-eminently the Church). is to disarm the national power based on communications technology and to shape the new regional and world institutions which should use the power of that technology to implement policies compatible with the care of the earth and humanity.

In our functional world - village, the political and economic conditions of freedom of information are the same as the conditions of peace, of justice, of life with approximate equality of opportunity. The substantive problems are basically three: (1) The growing gap between the advanced and newly developing nations in terms of levels of living (food, essentially); (2) The growing gap between colored and pale skinned people which is linked with the food problem and exacerbated by ideological differences; and (3) The ideological garb in which these problems appear. The procedural problem is how to organize ourselves in this world to meet these substantive problems. And here the impediments center on the obsolete nation state and its obsolete institutions. I have suggested that rudimentary regional and world organizations which foreshadow the kind of organizational structure capable of meeting the world’s ecological problems have already emerged and that in the area of communications lies the opportunity to build the, core (or nervous system) for world and regional ecological organization.

I now suggest that the churches of the world, and especially of the western world where the obsolescence in policy and structure is most evident and where the churches can perhaps do something about it, should address their energies, their hearts and their minds to doing something practical to bring about the unity of mankind. As Ritchie Calder puts it science and technology have catapulted the world within the past 20 years into a situation where "Mankind has become an entity, interdependent through our common necessities."27. The youth of the western world, born post - atom, senses this, but as Calder says,

• .their elders are still schizophrenic - - recognizing the facts of a shrunken world, but rejecting the implications, which upset outworn creeds." This would mean acting on the answers to such questions as:

(1) What can the churches do to teach people loyalty to humanity with a degree of intensity which places that loyalty superior to loyalty to the nation state, the national economic system, the ethnic "in - group"?

(2) What can the churches do to detach themselves from their undue support of the nation-state and its principal supporting economic and political institutions?

3) What can the churches do to produce the needed changes in the policy and structure of the nation - state and its principal supporting economic and political institutions to the end that effective power will be vested in appropriate regional and world organizations?

4) What can the churches do to promote the plan for a world satellite broadcasting system? A world - wide news service?

5) What can the churches of the world do to develop mutual understanding amongst themselves on a program involving the preceding questions?

In posing these questions I am sensitive to certain facts about the western churches - - whether they are also valid for other churches I do not know. One of these is that the church tends most to be a prisoner of its cultural context at the local community level where economic, political, and ethnic pressures focus on the minister, priest, etc. At the upper organizational levels these pressures are often lighter. A second observation is that it is precisely at the national headquarters levels of the typical western church that the Inertia of church organization and staff exerts Its most debilitating Influence on the capacity of the church to effect change in its own program or in the policies of the economic and political institutions In which It Is enmeshed. And the third observation is that at all organizational levels of the church there will be found people interested In and capable of working effectively for change.

Everyone identified with a church would seem obliged today to consider anew his position in light of the condition of injustice in our functional world - village. "He who preaches love in a society based on injustice can purchase immunity from conflict only at the price of hypocrisy," says the anonymous sage. And as Pope Paul said in his Christmas message in 1965:

"Is not peace the first greeting that is given in the name

of Christ - - as He Himself gave it after His resurrection:

‘Peace to You’?

"And is not the first contribution which the church can offer, from her position in the midst of the world, to give, promote, and teach peace?

"Peace Is in fact the first and chief good of any society. It is based on justice, freedom and order; it opens the way to every other value In human life....

"Brothers, heed the message of peace which Christmas brings to men who even now are the object of God’s love. Check the way things are going. It is possible that you are on the wrong track. Stop and think. True wisdom is to be found in peace.

Peace needs to be built on a courageous revision of the inadequate ideology of egoism, strife and national superiority. We need to know how to forgive and begin again, so that the relationships between men will not be determined by power and. force nor simply be economic gain or the state of civic development but by a higher concept of equiality and solidarity…"28.

And General Douglas MacArthur, one of the foremost military figures in the Western World, said substantially the same thing.29.

By their profession of faith, members In churches have obliged themselves to a concern with this morality. For millenia religious leaders have decried injustice and war, but they were bucking a going concern until the last couple of decades. Now, the massive pressures of technology in all fields are pushing toward world organization and ecologically based policies. The unity of man is immediately possible - - for the first time in history - - and the alternative of nuclear destruction may make this the only time in imaginable history when man’s unity is possible. Let the morally concerned get on with the job of acting accordingly.


In seeking to use the power of technology to cure the present ills of our dangerous technological age, we must recognize that a long run struggle will still lie before us if we can make the current passage without further and possibly fatal damage to the earth and to humanity. For the conditions of optimum freedom of information then will still be beyond immediate reach. Freedom of information for all men will still require millenia of evolution before man and his institutions are equitably arranged in relation to each other. But while there is still examined life there is hope - - and the possibility of starting to take the needed steps to cure the obvious problem.

There is the possibility suggested above that by taking advantage of the impetus of technological advances, mankind may build the type of ecologically - oriented regional and world organizations appropriate to order in our functional world - village of today. If this happens and the evil propensities of the nation - state and its symbiotic institutions are abated,, what then? Mankind will then be started on a promising new level of existence. It will find the end of war an immediately feasible goal. It will find the world supply of and world demand for food, clothing, etc. at least conceptually and hopefully functionally related to each other. It will find the related issues of nation - state organization in Africa and Asia posed in a context where their solutions are at least commonly visible. And many other human problems related to the present ecological imbalances will be accessible to sensible solution. But injustice will still be far from disappearance. Hostility between peoples will not have vanished - - merely transformed into non - lethal forums. Substantial progress will have been made towards realization of the political and economic conditions of freedom of information, but their full realization will still be far distant.

Obviously the world will not be a utopia; rather simply less inhuman than it 18 now. And the human race will be embarked on a new phase in offering a systematic analysis of all the problems which this technological development itself will pose to mankind in the millenia which would follow, at least it is possible to suggest some considerations for common concern.

A cautionary note comes from Ellul who points out that the values of technological innovation are always ambiguous, and that;

(1) All technical progress exacts a price, i.e. while it adds something on the one hand, it subtracts something on the other. No ibsolute progress results because while technological innovation adds values of undoubted merit, it simultaneously destroys values no less important.

(2) All technical progress raises more problems than it solves and tempts us to perceive the consequent problems as technical in nature, and to seek technical solutions to them.

(3) The evil effects of technological innovation are inseparable from the good. It will not do to say, as some do, that technology is neutral and may be used for good or bad ends. In fact the good and bad effects are simultaneous and inseparable.

(4) All technological innovations have unforeseeable effects.31.

What distinguished man historically from other animals was his acquired capacity to learn and to pass on what he learned to others in his community, i.e. to communicate both in the present and to the future. Culture is the broad name for what he learned and passed on and the technique and organization by which culture existed and was perpetuated was in a sense both his technology and his communications system. In time it came to involve art forms of all kinds, (heiroglyphics, drawings and carvings, images, tools, etc.) and for all purposes (ranging from what we would call economic (making a living) to what we could call religious (giving him a sense of meaning in life)). These art forms became specialized, e.g. in seeking to understand the physical world (primitive astronomic devices), and some were specialized in what we call art, philosophy and drama. Languages were developed and techniques of recording language produced writing. Looked on very broadly as the means to understand and control his environment, all of these parts of human culture provided the basis on which modern man has erected his science, his technology and his "arts". In this sense, man’s culture is a sort of shadow - world which he has constructed and used as his way of coping with others of his own kind and with his physical environment. This shadow world "works" pragmatically to take advantage of the physical environment, as when the steam engine or the atom bomb was developed. But the fact that man’s culture j~ a shadow world tends to be lost sight of when a technology becomes as all - embracing as will be that of a globally organized mankind. For this shadow world imperfectly reflects the real world, and as it has been monopolized by the white western world in recent centuries, it mirrors the aggressiveness of that culture. One class of problems that such a globally organized mankind must face up to early is the class of problems which I call man - environment problems.

Quite evidently the face of the man - environment problems most deserving attention is that which the Greeks called hubris - - the conscious or unconscious assumption that man can be all powerful. Whereas primitive man saw himself (and where he exists today, sees himself) as part of an organic world which he cannot control, we have many examples of man's arrogant, self - assertive pretensions to be master.31. While not found amongst scientists frequently, this hubristic attitude is often explicitly and implicitly taken by engineers in their view of the physical world.

A second class of problems which a globally organized mankind must solve will be the man - man problems. Presently, hubris in the extreme marks the point of view of the world’s leading nation - state in this area too. A leading American economist, Kenneth Boulding recently said:

" .between the great and the grandiose is a hair’s breadth. It is an invisible boundary that can be passed over without noticing it. The man or the society, however, that passes over it is on the road to destruction, for grandiosity is greatness without realism, without tenderness, without sensitivity, and it produces the frame of mind that eventually becomes deaf to ominous messages of the real world. I believe that the United States is frighteningly close to this boundary, a Rubicon that Caesar crossed, Napoleon crossed, Hitler crossed, and from which there is no return save through disaster. Whether we have crossed this boundary I do not know.

"It is, of course, our image of ourselves not only as a great power but as the great power that is at the root of all our grandiosity. Can’t we have a Moderately Great Society? One lesson of history is that nothing falls like success, for the successful do not have to learn anythlng."32.

There are other man - man-problems too. One of these is what might be called the problem of technological arrogance. We, enmeshed in the western technology, find ‘what we call "literacy" an essential good, and indeed for us the ability to operate primarily within a shadow - world of symbols which we call literacy is necessary for the functioning of our technology. But we project the assumption that what we call literacy is a necessary good to all ‘peoples, even those whose culture is not based on such a shadow world. We equate culture with literacy, and this is at least debatable and probably erroneous. A further example of technological arrogance is our attitude toward what we call education. Again, for our type of society it is essential. But we forget that education is a two - edged sword. It may be in fact destructive of either ignorance or knowledge; the one sure aspect of it is that people are different after they have it than they were before, but to assume that in all cultures this difference is desirable is again a probably erroneous inference.32.

Still a third problem in technological arrogance involves our attitude toward rationality. Our dictionaries define knowledge as "assured rational conviction". Education is defined as "to give knowledge or training to". We assume that man can only order his life if it be done rationally on the basis of "information". This passion for rationality pervades our shadow - world in the functional world - village, and we in the so - celled advanced areas presume that we have a monopoly of rational wisdom which must be trained or educated into all mankind. Again the assumption that all cultures must identify culture with rationality is probably erroneous.

The last large area of problems which an ecologically - oriented global community must face up to is what may be called the man - society relationship. Here we have the thorny area of the individual versus the group which has troubled mankind in the western world for the past several millenia but especially since the rise of the nation - state. Believing as I do that "freedom" is the act of resisting necessity, and recognizing that the global technological society would expand the range and variety of necessities, it seems probable that in this one problem area alone mankind may find room for dialogue and development indefinitely into the future. The vista of possible mutual adjustments between the scope for individual resistance to necessity and the range of degrees of social necessity which may take place in a process of successive approximations is infinite and might occupy. mankind until the earth finally cools and perhaps mankind migrates to other solar systems.34.

Such problems, however, must be reserved for full attention until the time for them is ripe. For the present there are more pressing problems for which the solutions are more evident. The crucial issue is whether mankind can now take the needed steps to ensure the survival of its accomplishments and shortcomings, accumulated over uncounted millenia. We may not make the passage, but if we do not it will be because we don’t deserve to. While there is still self - conscious, examined life there is hope and the challenge to take the needed steps to cure the obvious problems.

Footnotes

 

 

1/ Wiener, Norbert. The Hwnan Use of Hu’nan Beings, (N.Y., Doubleday, 19501 Anchor Books edition, 1954, p. 17.

2/ "Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

3/ In "Western Man in 1970", Ellul says: "The moralists and the phenomonologiste are agreed that a moral man is one who Is in an ethical Situation, of which choice is the characteristic feature. A man can only be moral if he is confronted by a choice and makes that choice. There can be various kinds of choice (the classical choice being between good and evil, between end- values, or between courses of action based upon a value). But the characteristic feature of the man of 1970 is that he has less and less choice of this kind and that, even when he has a choice, he does not make that choice, so strong is the pressure in one particular direction. Piecing together some of these facts, we find that they all point in one direction -- to the fact that man responds increasingly to signals. He is trained by the techniques of human relations to fit perfectly Into the group. He Is passively ‘culturized’, brought up to accept everything without question or criticism. In these conditions there is less and less choice. On the one hand individual choice is eliminated by the highly organized, careful training given by society. Every important decision is objectively defined, predetermined by the working of the manifold techniques of a society in which every action Is carried out by technical means and In which the community is conc~rned with man as a whole, including his opinions and feelings. It would be impossible to give men freedom of choice when the social organization has become so sensitive and delicate that every choice, even the most commonplace, is liable to react on the community, and every opinion or feeling Is treated as a serious matter because it may affect the Individual’s productivity or social adjustment, or his human and public relations." Ellul, Jacques, "Western Man in 1970", in de Jouvenal, Bertrand, Futurables, Studies in Conjecture, 1963-64, (Geneve, Librairie DROZ, p. 79).

4/ According to Mr. Edwin Newman of the National Broadcasting Company, on a nation-wide TV broadcast in the United States, "...the general level of TV behavior In news reflected the American society, and it was not reasonable to expect an organization that Is financed by advertisers to pioneer In fields that may offend people. TV covers what flows naturally from the organizational system in which we live." Quoted by Jack Gould in his column, New York Times, February 19, 1965.

A standard set of specifications given by major national advertisers to writers of TV and radio dramas:

"In general, the moral code of the characters In our dramas will be more or less synonymous with the moral code of the bulk of the American middle-class, as It is commonly understood. There will be no material that may give offense either directly or by inference to any

organized minority group, lodge, or other organizations; institutions, residents of any state or section of the country, or a commercial organization of any sort. This will be taken to Include political organizations; fraternal organizations; college and school groups; labor groups; industrial, business and professional organizations; religious orders; civic clubs, memorial and patriotic societies; philanthropic and reform societies (Anti-Tobacco League, for example); athletic organizations; women’s groups, etc., which are in good standing.

"We will treat mention of the Civil War carefully, mindful of the sensitiveness of the south on this subject. No written material may be used that might give offense to our Canadian neighbors... .There will be no material for or against sharply drawn national or regional controversial issues... .Where it seems fitting, the characters should reflect recognition and acceptance of the world situation in their thoughts and actions, although in dealing with war, our writers should minimize the ‘horror’ aspects... .Men in uniform shall not be cast as heavy villains or portrayed as engaging in any criminal activity. There will be no material on any of our programs which could in any way further the concept of business as cold, ruthless and lacking all sentiment or spiritual motivation." ("Madison Avenue’s Program Taboos," Variety, October 26, 1960.

Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton have said: "To the extent that the media of mass communication has had an influence upon their audiences it has stemmed not only from what is said but more significantly from what is not said, for these media not only continue to affirm the status quo but in the same measure they fail to raise essential questions about the structure of society. Hence by leading to conformism and by providing little basis for a critical appraisal of society, the commercially sponsored mass media indirectly but effectively restrain the cogent development of the genuinely critical outlook. This is not to ignore the occasionally critical journal article or radio programme but these exceptions are so few that they are lost in the overwhelming flood of conformist material.. . .Since our commercially sponsored mass media promote a largely unthinking allegiance to our social structure, they cannot be relied on to work for changes, even minor changes, in that structure.. . .Economic pressure makes for conforinism by omission of sensitive issues." (Lazarsfeld, Paul F., and Merton, Robert K., "Mass Communications, Popular Taste and Organized Social Action" in W. Schramm, ed., Mass Communications, (Urbana, Ill., 1949), pp. 459-80, 470-471.)

5/ Fromm, Erich, Liberation, October, 1961, p11.

6/ Professor H. H. Wilson of Princeton University recently said:

"The incidence of corruption and dishonesty at all levels of society is so prevalent that a distinguished American sociologist feels justified in characterizing the United States as a ‘racket society’. Ritual lies and institutionalized deceit have achieved cultural approval. Whitaker Chambers, despite repeated admissions of lying under oath, was accepted by the society as a sober patriot and a responsible man. We have made national heroes of police spies, while the Department of Justice has protected professional perjurers in the name of national security. There seems to be no public revulsion against those who participated in rigged quiz shows, payola, or white collar crime, as epitomized in the electrical industry’s price fixing, or the universal acceptance of cheating on examinations. After all, on what basis does one condemn cheating on examinations when the purpose is to acquire a degree which will enable one to get a Madison Avenue job writing ‘whiter than white’ soap jingles, or plugging the consumption of cigarettes? On what basis does one condemn the football players who cheat, or the basketball players who indulge in gambling fixes, when the respectable university authorities promote these commercial carnivals? The fact is that we have whole industries employing the most advanced scientific and psychological skills to promote institutionalized deceit, not only the advertising and public relations industry, but manufacturers who rely on deceptive packaging and planned obsolescence, and the drug companies who promote drugs before they know what the side effects may be. The point is, succinctly made by John Jay Chapman, that ‘mere financial dishonesty is of very little Importance in the history of civilization. The real evil that follows in the wake of commercial dishonesty so general as ours is the intellectual dishonesty it generates. One need not mind stealing, but one must cry out at people whose minds are so befuddled that they do not know theft when they see it.’

"For a society premised on the inherent worth of the individual as its prime value, the most disturbing element is the evidence of a growing contempt for human beings. This is illustrated by the deliberate manipulation of news by government and the official justification of deceit as a policy. The general tendency is to treat people as. puppets, to be manipulated for the consumption of official policy, or as bottomless pits for the consumption of commodities. One may see the same tendency in the ruthless invasion of privacy, exploiting the most personal details of private life In the guise of presenting ‘news’, and no person In any walk of life is protected against this kind of exploitation.

"The fact seems to be that the United States is moving toward a kind of modern feudalism, and one not necessarily harsh and repressive for those who conform; a soclfQ’ dominated by elites with an ever-widening gap between the rulers and the ruled, with the mass of people destined to play a passive, or at best a ritualistic role; a society featuring social engineering which in the guise of ‘efficiency’ dehumanizes and destroys human relationships; a society in which privatization, escapism; withdrawal become a common defensive response; a society which degrades and undermines by creating permanent dependency without meaningful individual

participation in crucial decisions. To avoid facing up to this reality we argue that these conditions are exceptional, temporary, the result of personal inadequacy, necessary for national security or simply a reflection of ‘human nature’ -- the prime excuse for escaping responsibility and avoiding action. We indulge in the nonsense of explaining anti-social behavior in terms of ‘bad’ men versus ‘good’ men -- all that is needed is to replace the badies with the goodies and the problems will be solved. Or we offer as solutions the improvement of education, the return to religion, or pious exhortations to achieve the ‘Great Society’....

"We tend to look at our institutions and their problems as separate entities, to be treated in piecemeal fashion, when what is needed is to look at society and its culture as an interacting whole. When this is done it is difficult to refute the conclusion of a sober and perceptive American scholar who wrote:

‘Too often today the sickness of the body politic is regarded as a local infection that does not materially affect the health of the whole organism. The picture needs turning about. It is the politic body entire that is racked with pain while only an extremity or two, a finger or two, remains in precarious, Insular well-~~eing. Were all the miseries that are labelled "social problems" added up -- crime and mental disorder, divorce and desertion, illegitimacy, delinquency, alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide -- they would run into millions and millions. The United States, one should recall, has (about) forty million families. A rare family it is whose household is not invaded by one of these apocalyptic riders....It is no longer a problem of curing a few sick. It is no longer a problem of preventing the sick from making the healthy sick. It is a ~prob1em of the commonwealth. The whole political community has about it the air of a hospital.’ (de Grazia, Sebastian, Errors of Psychotherapy, p. 10-11)

(Wilson, H. H., The American Way: Model or Warning? An address in the

PLAIN TALK series, "Toward the Future Society", March 9, 1965, The

University of Saskatchewan Regina Campus, Regina, Canada, pp.9-13.)

7/ Today there are five news agencies operating "world-wide" -- i.e. nominally professing to report to the mass media of the world what happens anywhere In the world. Of these four are commercial organizations, engaged in producing, distributing and marketing a product -- news. Two of these four are operated from the United States, one from England and one from France. The fifth agency is Tass, the Soviet press service. None of the agencies covers all countries of the world with competent reporters in sufficient number. Conflicts of interest abound in the commercial wire services:

in many countries the wire service both sells incoming news to the country and buys outgoing news from the country and the price of doing the former is that the latter is tailored to the propaganda policy of the country’s information ministry. For all five wire services, the legal form, the rights and duties, the definition of the news "product", the conditions

under which correspondents are employed and may work -- all reflect the national and business systems of their respective home countries. All perceive the world through their nationalistic eyes.

As concerns the availability to the world’s population of the news produced by the five wire services, there is again a gross imbalance. If the latest study on the subject by UNESCO (in 1953) is still valid, less than 10 percent of the world’s population lives in countries the press of which has available to it both the western wire services and that of TASS. Not far short of two-thirds of the world’s population has available to its press only the point of view of the western wire services and the remainder -- a bit less than one-third -- has available only that of TASS. Finally, one need not labor the point that the press of the western world has only a slight interest in presenting to its customers even the biassed foreign news "product" it gets from the wire services. Nor the point that the staffs of the wire services are inadequate both in quantity and quality to perform their ostensible functions. In sum, the way the world gets news about itself through the general communications network is archaic, inadequate, parochial, and dangerously divisive in an age when institutional lag should be reduced rather than perpetuated.

(See UNESCO. News Agencies; Their Structure and Operation, (Paris, UNESCO, 1953), pp. 199-201)

8/ Ellul, Jacques, "Western Man in 1970", op. cit., p.52.

9/ Sauvey, Alfred, La Nature Sociale. (Paris: Armand Cohn, 1959)

10/ JamesG. Patton, President, National Farmers Union (USA), recently said:

"The countries of the world, through the United Nations, should adopt a food policy of how to feed the people of the world, or how to come closer to feeding the people of the world, and then through international trade agreements they should divide both the commercial and the social markets. The social market at the present time is larger than the commercial market, and this encompasses the Common Market. At the present time our orientation is toward Europe, whereas the great quantity of empty bellies in the world is in the Pacific Basin. If we will busy ourselves with that, we can let the Europeans go pretty much the way they want to go and have a decent trading relationship with them... .We need to use the United Nations to establish a raw materials resources board to stabilize world prices, and then we won’t have much trouble about the rich men getting richer by manipulating the prices of the poor man in monoculture countries." And again: "The issue today is not communism versus whatever we have. It is whether or not we, the white men, the minority of the world, can join the rest of the human race who are colored. This is the central issue. The problem is not Russia but the colored men of the world who are seeking the same dignity and the same equality that we have. And they are not going to settle for less". On the Developed and the Developing. An occasional paper resulting from an International Convocation on the Requirements of Peace published by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Santa Barbara, California, 1965, pp. 15-16.

Lee A. DuBridge, President of the California Institute of Technology said:

"From a purely technical standpoint, we now know enough to:

‘Produce enough food to feed every hungry mouth on earth --and to do this even though the population should double or treble.

‘Make fresh water out of sea water, and thus irrigate all the earth’s arid regions.

‘Produce enough energy from uranium to light and heat our homes and offices, electrify our railroads, and run all our factories and mills.

‘Build houses, buildings, and indeed whole cities, which are essentially weatherproof...’

"But, Dr. DuBridge points out, "A host of techniques capable of solving mankind’s problems and easing his burdens cannot be used because we do not know how to bring adequate resources of money, labor and materials, and most of all, management to bear on the problems -- or bring them to bear in such a way that the results achieved would, in a monetary sense, justify the costs." Quoted in Waterman, A. T., "Science in the Service of Man", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May, 1962.

11/ See Smythe, Dallas W., The Structure and Policy of Electronic Communications, University of Illinois Bulletin 82, Urbana, Illinois, 1957, p. 17-21.

12/ Unlike most other resource use, moreover, the use of the radio spectrum does not waste or damage the resource.

13/ In 1964 there were in the United States alone 1,434,645 radio stations operating within the standards, rules and allocations established by the International Te1ec~inunications Union and the various regional, functional and national regula~Jry bodies. This was more than a four-fold expansion since 1956.

14/ Quoted in Smythe, Dallas W., The Structure and Policy of Electronic Communications, p.103.

15/ I. T. U., Telecommunications Journal, September, 1959, p.189. Emphasis added.

16/ American Ambassador Yost, in late 1961 told the Committee:

"The United States believes that communications satellites can eventually play an important role in the expansion and improvement of international communications and the fostering of international understanding...." (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Verbatim Record of the first meeting, November 27, 1961, p.27.)

Ambassador Stevenson, speaking to the Committee One of the UN said of communications satellites: "This fundamental breakthrough in communication could affect the lives of people everywhere. It could forge new bonds of mutual knowledge and understanding between nations. It could offer a powerful tool to improve literacy and education in developing areas....Now we have sought in good faith and so far as it is possible to present a program which is above the clash of partisan politics or the cold war. The principles and programs embodied here bestow no special advantage on any state -- they are in the interests of all states." (Address to UN Committee One, December 4, 1961, mimeographed.)

17/ Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Additional Report, November 27, 1963, p. 27. Brazil also said:

"The present system used in radio and television transmission is based upon national boundaries. National broadcasting with political goals, through short waves aimed at other countries does not invalidate this basis. But it is certain that satellites will annihilate all such national boundaries, and a country or group of countries able to exploit outer space for radio and television transmission will be in a position of strength -- insofar as political propaganda is concerned, without precedent in history. The political power of radio and television in all countries must be borne in mind, particularly as it is felt in some underdeveloped countries where illiteracy is high, to evaluate the impact that the use of these media could bring to bear upon the political life of the world in the future.

"Thus, our Committee should study how to place radio broadcasting and television transmission by means of satellites under international control, preferably within the structure of the United Nations and perhaps through a space agency. In this connexion, we feel that it would be very useful to have the United Nations convene an international conference on outer space. One of the main purposes of this conference should be the regulation of the use of satellites under international control for radio broadcasting and television communications. This conference should also deal with the possibilities of using satellites for mass education and elimination of Illiteracy throughout the world." (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Verbatim Record of the Eighth Meeting, March 27, 1962, p. 18-20.)

The Austrian delegation, in General Assembly debate in December 1963 pointedly complained at the American policy of keeping communications satellites out of the UN purview:

"In the United States, ‘Comsat’ -- the Communications Satellite Corporation -- Is planning the first launching of a commercial-type communication satellite in 1966, and the company expects its initial system with global capacity to be in operation by 1967...,The establishment of such a system would, however, also have important legal and political aspects, such as the participation of governments in the ownership, use and management of the satellite system. These aspects, we feel, should be considered by the Outer Space Committee. It might equally wish to consider whether the global communications system, available on a non-discriminatory basis to all nations of the world, as envisaged by Assembly resolution 1721 (XVI), part D, should not be placed under the auspices of the United Nations." (General Assembly, Verbatim Record, A/C.1PV. 1342, December 2, 1963, p.52-55.)

18/ Huxley, Aldous, The Politics of Ecology, An Occasional Paper on the Free Society published by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Santa Barbara, California, 1963, p. 6-7.

19/ This not-original proposition finds recent expression in the following sample:

Morgenthau: "The great overriding issue that we must face in our government and that other governments must face as well lies in the discrepancy between our conventional modes of thought and action on the one hand and the unprecedented novelty of the objective conditions under which we live. We think and act in terms of the pre-atomic age, while we live in an entirely new age which has made those ideas of the past as obsolete as earlier ideas were made obsolete by the previous industrial revolutions. This concerns particularly the nation state. I am convinced that the nation state has been rendered obsolete by the nuclear revolution in the same way In which feudalism was made obsolete two hundred years ago by the first industrial revolution of the steam engine. .. .There Is no doubt that the absolute national sovereign state is the enemy of man on earth." Morgenthau, Hans J., On the World Comiiunity, pp. cit., p.23.

Hoagland: "Any living organism, including a society, has to adapt to the changes in its environment or perish. As a biologist I have been interested in the fact that so many more species and forms of plants and animals have disappeared because of their inability to adapt than are here today --hundreds compared to each one here today. Of course, this is also true of civilizations and social systems that have been built up by man in the course of his social evolution. I agree with Mr. Morgenthau that there is an obsolescence today, as a result of nuclear weapons, of the concepts of nineteenth century sovereignty. They will have to be solved in some form of world government, some form of general agreement to live under a rule of law against war. This doesn’t necessarily mean replacing the cultural differences between nations, butit does mean enforceable law that can be controlled by some form of international agreement and a police system." Hoagland, Hudson, Ibid., p.25.

Weinberg: "...not only our political organizations are being rendered obsolete by the march of military technology, but also our economic organizations are being rendered obsolete by the march of civilian technology.. . ." Weinberg, Alvin, Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, quoted in Dreher, Carl, "The Big Atom: Solving the Water Shortage", The Nation, Vol. 197, (December 28, 1963), p. 453

Stanford Research Institute: "In the coming decade, science and technology will provide new means to use the vast resources of the oceans, to exploit the Arctic and Antarctic, to explore space, perhaps to affect climates. Unless better ways of cooperation are established, these advances Into new frontiers willOntensify international tensions. Current concepts of national sovereignty are not well suited to the orderly regulation of these advances nor to their development for maximum utility with minimum conflict. Policy panners will find it increasingly necessary to explore new types of supranational organization." Stanford Research Institute, Possible Nonmilitary Scientific Developments and their Potential Impact on Foreign Policy Problems of the United States. A study prepared at the request of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate. (Washington, G.P.O., 1959), p 1.

Levontin: "It is thus not too much to say that the states of the world maintain a common front against international law."

"The proposition which emerges then, is that international security is not possible -- not for transient or remediable reasons but because the concept is self-contradictory. This is the myth of International security: the persistent belief, contrary to historic evidence as well as to logical demonstration, that states can continue sovereign and independent, while, at the same time, it is nevertheless possible to work out a system of security among -- as distinct from above -- them: international security. Intellectually, the belief in this self-contradiction is on a par with acceptance of round-squares and sugar-salt lumps. Yet life is not wholly intellectual; and the myth persists. The pretensions of ‘international law’ befog the essential contours of the myth and somewhat conceal what should have been a self-evident truth: that a state is either sovereign or under law. The hoary chimera that ‘states are sovereign under international law’ has been, and still is, so frequently repeated that it is advisable... .to take a close hard look at ‘international law’."

"Thermonuclear danger is imminent, and the means of avoiding it are known. The means are not physical, but they are known. Every man’s defence against robbery Is likewise not physical. People do not walk about armed and personally guarded. They defend themselves by instituting government above themselves. They cannot defend themselves by mutual terrorization (which the major powers are now trying to do) but only by concentrated terrorization, which because It is concentrated, is not terrorization but is the orderly governmental monopoly of force,.. .Ultimately every nation, small and big is faced with a choice which may be expressed in the words ‘Federate or Perish,’ If their government does not exercise the one choice, it opts implicitly for the other....

"The price of government Is exceedingly high. It not only implies, for the several national ‘governments’, the prospect of having to waive a substantial portion of the pomp, prerogative and privilege which they now enjoy as the traditional concomitants of the possession of national military power, and having to content themselves with the considerably smaller amount of glory which is reserved for mere units of local administration. It also implies, for the more advanced peoples, readiness to forego some of their intellectual pride and ethnic prejudice, and even possibly some of their national welfare, which is implicit -- temporarily -- in partnership with the less advanced."

Levontin, A. V., The Myth~ of International Security. (Jerusalem, The Magnes Press, 1957) p.133, xvii, and xx-xxi. Emphasis in original.

20/ Millis, Walter. The Demilitarized World. Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Santa Barbara, California, 1964, p.39..

21/ On the Developed and the Developing, sup.clt., p.18-19.

22/ Borgese, Elisabeth Mann, in A Constitution for the World. Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Santa Barbara, California, 1965. p 19-20. Emphasis added.

23/ The establishment of a Commission Board composed of national government delegations is warranted by more than the financial responsibility they would assume. Communications satellites involve major national policy considerations. Only at this level of authority can the Important broadcast policy issues which are involved in satellite broadcasting be appropriately resolved in policy for the Commission. The existing professional broadcasting organizations at the national level would not be capable of making such determinations as Board members without placing themselves under national governmental pressures which should not be imposed on them.

24/ The program policy of the Commission must also be based on the premise that mankind consists of many diverse cultures, most of which represent in actual numbers very large numbers of persons. From this premise flow at least two fundamental policy points:

(a) Perceptual traits or habits, peculiar to cultural and ethnic groups are sufficiently different from each other that the program policy must deal sensitively with this factor. The cultural material from a predominantly print-literate (i.e. sight-oriented) culture such as Western Europe and North America will not be meaningful In the same terms to peoples in a predominantly oral culture (sound- oriented such as in Africa and Asia) and the converse is true as well. The images and conventions of the art forms (e.g. the editing technique involving long shots, close-ups, panning and montage in cinema, TV and radio) have one meaning in some cultures and a different or no meaning in others. This fact imposes a double responsibility on the program policy for satellite broadcasting. On the one hand, it is necessary to handle program material in such a way that the products of one culture are comprehensible to other cultures. On the other hand, it is necessary that one culture should not replace others. En principle, the program objective should be to present material in such a way that each culture’s universal insights may be appreciated in their unique cultural context by other cultures. This is easier said than done, but this is the challenge which satellite broadcasting poses to mankind. We have developed to a fine art the technique of killing each other; surely commensurate resources should be committed to the task of learning how to understand each other.

(b) The second policy consequence is that in practice the Commission’s programming should be produced for differentiated but large audiences. It is neither feasible nor desirable to try to produce all programs of a satellite broadcasting service to broadcast to all the world’s population. As with all broadcasting, most programs must perforce be addressed to minority audiences. In this connection, "minority" audiences take on a new meaning. A program ~or a "minority audience" of say 1 percent might in the United States reach 2 million people. For the Satellite Broadcasting Commission it might reach 60 million people. Flexibility within a program schedule produced for large but specific audiences should be the principle here.

25/ On the World Community, sup. cit., p.22. Emphasis added.

26/ UNESCO. News Agencies: Their Structure and Operation. Paris, UNESCO, 1953, p. 199-201.

27/ Calder, Ritchie, "The Speed of Change", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December, 1965, p 2-5.

28/ Text of Pope Paul’s Christmas Message "To All Men", New York Times, December 24, 1965, p 6.

29/ Not long before his death, General Douglas MacArthur in an address to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines, said:

"The great question is -- can global war now be outlawed from the world? If so, it would mark the greatest advance in civilization since the Sermon on the Mount. It would lift at one stroke the darkest shadow which has engulfed mankind from the beginning. It would not only remove fear and bring security -- it would not only create new moral and spiritual values

-- it would produce an economic wave of prosperity that would raise the world’s standard of living beyond anything dreamed of by man.

"Many will tell you with mockery and ridicule that the abolition of war can be only a dream -- that it is but the vague imaginings of a visionary. But we must go on or we will go under. And the great criticism that can be made is that the world lacks a plan that will enable us to go on.

"We are now in a new era. The old methods and solutions no longer suffice. We must have new thoughts, new ideas, new concepts. We must break out of the strait-jacket of the past. We must have sufficient imagination and courage to translate the universal wish for peace which is rapidly becoming a universal necessity -- into actuality."

This speech was not published or reported in the United States press.

30/ Ellul, Jacques, "The Technological Order", Technology and Culture, III, (Fall, 1962, p.394-421.)

31/ "President Johnson said today that if America’s global commitments ‘sometimes cause us difficulty or create danger, then let us not be dismayed.’

"We cannot, and will not withdraw from this world’, Mr. Johnson said in a speech apparently aimed primarily at younger Americans. ‘We are too rich, and too powerful and_too important. But most important is that we are too concerned.’...

"Picturing the United States as the spiritual capital of an empire of democracy, Mr. Johnson said: ‘Today the sun never sets on free men, or on men struggling to be free. Our democracy has proved the most powerful secular idea in the history of man." (New York Times, February 23, 1965. Emphasis added.)

"President Johnson... .told a group of students who visited the White House that many of his ideas had come from students. He said he would like to see them develop as much fanaticism about the United States political system as young Nazis did about their system during the war." (New York Times, February 6, 1965, p.C-.13.)

Also see Hitler, A., Mein Kampf.

 

32/ Boulding, Kenneth, "Postscript: A Moderately Great Society", New Republic, December 18, 1965, p 15-16..

"By almost all the world’s standards, the United States is an inconceivable success. We have attributed this largely to our virtue and good management, not wholly without reason, but a certain amount of it is due to luck -- the fact, for Instance, that we have so often done the right thing for the wrong reasons.

"What is dangerous, however, is that because of our success it is hard for us to learn that we may be operating with an image of the world that has in fact passed away. The conditions of success in the future are not the same as the conditions in the past. What we do not understand, and seem almost incapable of learning, is that in the long run, legitimacy is much more important for survival than either wealth or military power; and that though up to a point, wealth and military power create legitimacy, beyond a certain point, they destroy it.

"It was Stalin at Yalta, we may remember, who sneered at the Pope for having no divisions, but Stalin’s divisions did not save his good name for posterity or his monstrous statues from destruction, while St. Peter’s still stands.

"In the international arena, then, the United States has delusions of grandeur. We spend $50 billion a year to impose our will on the world and we find that we are impotent in Vietnam because we have no legitimacy.

"Even if our napalm and airborne terror produce "victory", the damage done to our moral image; enormous, for we have become a monster. Our wealth and military power produce affability on the world’s face and curses in its heart. We are incapable of organizing the world in our own image, and in the course of trying to do this, we are destroying ourself.

"The military-industrial complex is eating the heart out of American life and seriously reducing -- perhaps in the long run fatally -- its potential for economic progress. In the 1950’s, for instance, there were 45 countries that had a higher rate of growth in per capita income than the United States.

"Because we are grandiose on the international scene, our perfectly sincere motivations toward producing a Great Society at home are all too likely to be frustrated. I can only sketch the points of failure.

"Our agricultural policy, while it has produced a spectacular technological success, has failed to develop the social inventions needed to make the necessary adjustment to this success, and we find ourselves with uncontrollable surp1~es. We ship these abroad under the benevolent title of Food for Peace and create cumulative dependency and the probability of future disasters and famines of enormous magnitude. Already our barns are half empty and surplus may give way to shortage.

"Our flood control policies actually increase the probability of loss both of life and of property from floods because we treat rivers as physical systems and enemies instead of as social systems and dangerous friends. Our public housing creates desert communities, filing cases for live bodies, alienation and delinquency. Urban renewal tackles the problem of slums by pushing little people in little houses around and moving the rich and middle class into the central city and the slums outside. If we are not careful, indeed, the bulldozer will become the symbol of the Great Society.

"Our educational system, in spite of recent improvements, is still shockingly inadequate and is still producing far too many people who are functionally illiterate and incapable of taking their place in the modern world. Our architecture is an assembly line of imported rectangular cliches. Our airports are clearly designed without human beings in mind, and our automobiles are designed to kill 40,000 or 50,000 people a year. Our civilian industries are technologically backward, our railroads are a national disgrace, television is a wasteland and we cannot even control the Dutch elm beetle.

"By this time, I am sure, I have lost all my friends, most of whom are in the Vital Center, or what I am now tempted to call the Devitalized Consensus. "Just give us time", they will say. "Our hearts are in the right place. We are very busy solving all these problems, and pretty soon they will all be solved."

"The Vietnamese will all be dead, the slums will be cemented over and the poor will no longer be with us. If there are any left, they will be against us.

"I am an ingrate, a curmudgeon. There goes the bus to the Great Society, with a brass band on the top and a missile at the rear, and I seem to have fallen off and am just throwing up quietly on the sidewalk."

33/ Coomoraswamy, Ananda K., Am I My Brother’s Keeper?, Asia Press, 1946.

34/ Ellul’s analysis runs in these terms:

"...freedom is not an immutable fact graven in nature and on the heart of man. It is not inherent either in man or in society, and it is meaningless to write it into a law. The mathematical, physical, biological, sociological, and psychological sciences reveal nothing but necessities and determinisms on all sides. As a matter of fact, reality is nothing except combinations of determinisms. Freedom consists precisely in overcoming and transcending determinisms. ‘Freedom’ is a word completely without meaning unless it is related to necessity, unless it represents victory over necessity. If we say that freedom is graven in the nature of man, we can only mean that man is free through obeying his nature, or to put In another way, through having conditioned his nature. But this is nonsense. We must not think of the problem in terms of the choice between being determined and being free. We must look at it dialectically, and say that man is indeed determined, but that it is open to him to overcome necessity, and this act is freedom. Freedom is not a status, but a movement; not a vested interest, but a prize continually to be won. The moment man stops and resigns himself, he becomes subject to determinism. He is most enslaved when he thinks he is comfortably settled in freedom.

"In the modern world, the most dangerous form of determinism is the technological phenomenon. It is not a question of getting rid of it, but, by an act of freedom, of transcending it. How is this to be done? I do not yet know. That is why this book is an appeal to the responsibility of the individual. The first step in the quest, the first act of freedom, is to become aware of the necessity. That man can see, analyze the determinists that press on him attest8 to the fact that be can envisage them simply as objects confronting him and, by seeing them in this way, act as a free man. If man were to say: ‘These are not necessities; I am free thanks to Technique, or despite Technique’, this would prove that he is totally determined. But by grasping the real nature of the technological phenomenon, and the extent to which it is robbing him of freedom, he confronts the blind mechanism as 8ubjeCt, i.e. as a conscious being."

Ellul, Jacques, The Technological Society, New York, A.A. Knopf, Inc., 1964, p .xxxii-xxxiii.

 


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