How does DE Tocqueville’s Democracy in America help you to understand and deal with the media in relationship to ideals, values, and myths?
By Trudy A. Martinez
Influence and the ramification of world history had a critical bearing upon the construction of the American order. Whereas, today the influence and the ramification of the media’s interpretation of international and foreign affairs has critical bearing on America’s future.
America is an archetype for the world; it was and is a speculative design to emancipate the world into Capitalism, a new world denomination. With the Soviet Union joining the ranks of Capitalism, for a while it appeared the American elite and Soviet elite would become the governing agents of the world. De Tocqueville speaks as if he is living in the twentieth century when he says in his book, Democracy in America,
“There are at the present time two great nations in the world which started from different points, but seem to tend towards the same end. I allude to Russians and Americans . . . They suddenly place themselves in the front rank among the nations . . . these alone are proceeding with ease and celerity along a path to which no limit can be perceived . . . each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of . . . the globe”(142).
The media had a field day with the Russians conversion into Capitalism. The propaganda of consumerism sways socialism into materialism. De Tocqueville appears to have known back in the eighteenth hundreds that America will come to be a dominate nation because he implies,
“There is less difference at the present day between the Europeans and their descendants in the New World . . . this tendency to [assimilate] brings foreign nations closer and closer to each other . . . “(De Tocqueville 142).
When Russia begins their industrial revolution, she mimics the history of America; Russia put a similar numbing seize upon the common Russian people by confining the common people’s freedom and striking unconstitutional authority over them through the execution of behaviorism.
“As social conditions become more equal, the number of persons increases who, although they are neither rich nor powerful enough to exercise any great influence over their fellows, have nevertheless acquired or retained sufficient education and fortune to satisfy their own wants. They own nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands” (De Tocqueville).
Christianity now openly appears in Russia. Is this the Russian man’s own urge to recapture paradise lost? Or is this merely the media’s communique for justification for Russian people’s persecution by sovereignty clique which is strongly colored by the media’s propaganda towards economic gain? In Russia, the myth, “The Russian Dream” is an external component of “hope”, whereas in America, “the American Dream” is internal “hope”. The difference may be seen in the mannerisms of the people. Russian’s have been on the brink of revolution while Americans accept their fate of oppression while remaining optimistic because the magic ingredient, “hope”, is programmed into the brain at a very early age. In this way America prevents revolution. The question is did Russia wait too long to join the ranks of the Americans? Is it still possible for Russia to pull the blind fold over the eyes of the Russian people without a revolution? Only time will tell. Will history repeat itself in the fashion of Anatole France or America?
The Founding Fathers of America set-up three branches of government: the legislative, executive, and judicial branch. The objective is to connect, but yet segregate the distinguish segments of the government for the purpose of providing checks and balances within the system that will protect the government from despotism (dictatorship). “Yellow Journalism” facilitates the influencing of people in the efforts of sanctioning the Constitution through the publishing of The Federalist Papers, (an interpretation of the Constitution), adhered by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. Federalist envision a powerful central government with individual state governments all syndicated together in a “firm union” (No. 9) revolving around the main force, the federal government. With this theme, the greatest amount of “liberty” will be afforded the individual states while strengthening the union to protect the union from internal and external fractions.
“The inference to which we are brought, is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed; and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects” (Madison #10). There are two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinion, the same passions, and the same interest” (Madison #10).
In other words, if we are to remove the causes of faction, we will destroy the liberty that “is essential to political life” (Madison #10). “Liberty” is to remain to preserve political life. Therefore, the effects of faction require controls through “sameness” (the concept of a partnership, in love, in marriage, in all endeavors), thereby, stifling individuality of the masses and effectively changing the value of man from a sharing nature to a selfish nature, making us all “as good citizens those who have no sympathy for any but themselves (De Tocqueville 194)” in order to form an equality basis.
In religious terms equality means “oneness”; i. e., we are all equally individual in the eyes of God, whereas in a capitalistic industrial society, equality has come to mean “sameness”. Thus, (in most cases) the individual is stifled; he is kept from realizing full knowledge or a true (creative) individuality. This is due to the controlling of the effects of faction within the society.
To effectively control a notion of sameness “the law increased the strength of . . . authorities (De Tocqueville 112)” while at the same time “it enfeebled more and more those which were naturally weak . . . the body is . . . free . . . the soul. . . is enslaved” (De Tocqueville 112). When a man’s soul is enslaved, reality escapes him; he is no longer free–liberty becomes a fantasy. “Liberty of opinion” comes to be taboo. This taboo of opinion may be seen through the lack of literary genius in America (when an intellectual emanates to show his/her genius in the literary field, he/she is quailed through tyranny of the majority) (De Tocqueville 114 – 119). “Sameness” is achieved through the ideology of Locke with “a passive affect, man is driven, the object of motivations of which he himself is not aware (Fromm 18). It is a concept whereby a few govern the masses, a system by which a sovereignty clique discontinues man’s conception of revolt through a myth, a fantasy with the help of the media, the Fourth Undeclared Branch of Government.
The arrangement of the American nation is contrived by a combination of perceptions: Locke’s ideology braced with a notion of “sameness” and a strict moral code with the execution of purism. The concept stresses religious freedom and the separation of the church and the state. But instead of separating the church from the state, the church is incorporated into the state delivering and individual through optimism into contention with an infinite quantity of objective forces (impersonal forces) joined together in harmony and charted to confuse, bewilder, and overwhelm common man and deliver him into submission of the greedy ambitions of the affluent.
“Men who live in democratic communities . . . seldom indulge in meditation . . . they . . . naturally entertain very little esteem for it . . . he risks less in making use of some false principles, then in spending his time in establishing all his principles, on the basis of truth” (De Tocqueville 165).
When you consider the happenings in Russia and read about the transition of socialism (communism) to capitalism, you find yourself wondering if there isn’t a conspiracy of the rich to control not only America but also the world.
“. . . The rich in democracies always stand in need of the poor; and that in democratic times, you attach a poor man to you more by your manner than by benefits conferred. The magnitude of such benefits, which set off the difference of condition, causes a secret irritation to those who reap advantages of them; but the charm of simplicity of manners is almost irresistible; affability carries men away and even want of polish is not always displeasing. This truth does not take root at once in the minds of the rich. . . that population does not ask them for sacrifice of their money, but of their pride” (De Tocqueville 197).
If America is not aware of America’s devious past, how can the governing few duplicate America’s history in a country on the other side of the world with such precision? How will they know the duplication must be precise to be efficient and to be effective? Why else is religious freedom now suddenly allowed in Russia?
“To minds thus predisposed, every new method which leads by a shorter road to wealth, every machine which spares labor, every instrument which diminishes the cost of production, every discovery which facilitates pleasure . . . seems to be the grandest effort of human intellect. It is chiefly from these motives that democratic people addicts itself to scientific pursuits . . .” (De Tocqueville 167).
As a result of man’s agony perplexed by the overwhelming impersonal forces, common man was and still is forced to conform or seek escape from his reality through the escape mechanisms. Common man ceases to be an individual with a free choice; the freedom guaranteed by the constitution eludes his grasp.
After the Civil War in America, major steps were taken to prevent a repeat of such a catastrophe. A mandatory school system is put in place to educate the masses. But doesn’t it make you wonder if educating the masses is the real reason? Or is the school system set-up to play games such as ‘blind man’s bluff” with the youth of America? Is history white washed? Are the masses controlled to prevent revolution? “Hope” appears to be the magic ingredient which guides the youth through behaviorism into a new way life with new values.
Is there “freedom of the press” in America? Or was and is “freedom of the press” the means of suppressing the masses? Does the press induce the public through the media (newspapers, magazines, television, and the movies) to satisfy the desires of the stronger faction? In the 1890′s as in the 1950′s, “yellow journalism” was a dominate force at work, feeding off the majority, oppressing the weak, with ideologies of Palmer and McCarthy. In 1948 the press is embarrassed. The press got caught wearing the Republican Hat when their papers hit the street announcing Truman’s defeat based on their opinion polls which were to sway the public to their way of thinking. When in actuality, the Democrats went to the polls (the only poll that counts) resulting in a triumph for Truman over Dewey.
“. . . The stronger faction could readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in the state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger”(Madison #51).
The words of De Tocqueville and our forefathers are still true today: the stronger factions control the minds of the masses through the incorporation of TVism into the daily life of millions of Americans. A couch potato became reality when America began growing its vegetation in the living room of the American family.
Nearly every American couch has at least one fat potato planted on it an average of 7.5 hours per day; their job is to watch the “booby-tube”. What to buy? Who to buy it from? Get the dope; get duped; violence, violence, and more violence.
It makes one wonder: is there a conspiracy to shorten the lives of as many Americans as possible to make way for the fresh cheap labor that’s coming to America in the Jungle of new factories, industries, and McDonald’s?
In Mojave, McDonald’s has a new crew, all foreign workers (fresh, cheap, labor); these workers may be working for less than minimum wage. I overheard a conversation between two managers discussing a labor wage contract below the rates of minimum wage laws. How can this be? America makes it possible with laws on the books that allow hiring below minimum wage when the employee is in a training status. Who is to say that a training status doesn’t mean an alien–aliens have to start somewhere learning to be good consumer–iced Americans. McDonald’s are justified aren’t they? After all the American youth are not capable of working: the American youth is not interested—French- fries–fried brains are more along their lines; they have taken up other occupations–materialistic in nature, the materialism of others. Bottle sucking is out; sniffing and intravenous feedings are in.
Meanwhile, the masses of new soon-to-be Americans are converted through the consumerism of advertisement and subliminal messages into materialism to be damned in a hell on earth as the “American Dream” requires props (status symbols) that announce your status with a flare.
The lawyers and judges provide the checks and balances that may keep us safe from tyranny: hence, they control democracy. The trouble is they may be duped too. Legislation has seen controls put upon the media in regards to commercials seen on TV; this action should result in alleviation of some of the control over the minds of the youth (a tendency to convert the youth to the idealism of consumerism by way of deceit seen on the screen). If we require seeking assistance in protecting the privileges guaranteed through the Constitution and the Amendments, the Supreme Court becomes the interpreter and protector of the rights of the people as it is implied in the federalist papers. But not many people ever bother to read the Constitution or the Amendments; the belief alone satisfies. The myth; the American Dream; the red, white, and blue; and the hope for a better tomorrow keep us at bay: separate, divide, and control. A Disneyland of fantasies without revolt, without revolution; the American public is “the object of motivations of which he is not aware” (Fromm 18).
One could say with Democracy in America Tyranny of the majority is born. A foreigner, a French man says it all when he looks through the looking-glass into the “fairy-tale” land of America and says,
“The error arose from seeing the interest of the nobles perpetually contending with those of the people, without considering the issue of the contest, which was really the important point. When a community . . . is equally divided between adverse principles,–it must either experience a revolution, or fall into anarchy . . . social superior to all others must always be placed somewhere . . . liberty is endangered when this power finds an obstacle which can retard its course, and give it time to moderate its own vehemence . . . Unlimited is in itself a bad and dangerous thing. Human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion. God alone can be omnipotent” (De Tocqueville 115).