Tuesday, 2 March, 2010

Far away, in a strange land

Yesterday, I was listening to Dinesh D'Souza (DD) debating whether Socialism is still Relevant. DD is all free market, of course, and probably got there by growing up in’ soft socialist India’.

Among other things, socialism kills freedom of press. How? Well, in India (the debate was in 1990 or thereabouts), the government owned the TV channels and was the major advertiser in press, besides being the monopoly supplier of newsprint (all of which was imported from Canada). Naturally, it showed only ministers on TV. Predictably, the press, though theoretically free, toed the government line.

Or so DD says.

Is he right? I don’t know. I haven’t got any data except my own experience. My memory says that both the Anand Bazaar and The Telegraph, the two newspapers we took, lost no opportunity of criticising either state or central governments. They had plenty of private sector advertisers to rely on.

And there were quite a few news programmes critical of the government on TV.

But my memory doesn’t matter. What mattered was DD’s audience’s gullibility.

Did anyone ask how the Congress had lost power in Delhi in 1989 if it decided what the public knew. Or how there were Congress governments in states in spite of the party being out of power in the centre. Did anyone go home and check? Did anyone ask an Indian acquaintance or write to the embassy? Did anyone know anything about the case DD was holding up as proof (actually, ridiculing) of the evil of socialism?

I don’t imagine anyone bothered. DD said it was so. He had grown up in India. Surely he was right. Had he not been, Indians couldn’t have been so poor.

We have 7 billion caricatures around, and ideologies and propagandists use us as to prove anything.

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