In America, the failure to understand information in a non-partisan context can get quite funny, especially now that the Administration has decided that the biggest reason the US is doing badly in Iraq, is because the media failed to say that the US is doing well... Lots of ineresting further links in there, including the Powel Memo.
It’s a curious phenom that so-called “right wing” personalities tend to take a dim view of the subtleties required for balanced dialogue, or balanced public discussion. They tend to see information and its distribution as tools for the furtherance of a goal; the notion that information can exist in a non-partisan condition of being merely “true” in some verifyable sense, is a concept which they seem to be simply unable to frame in their minds. From their vantage, even the proposition that information can be non-partisan, or inert with regard to goal-achievement, would have to be understood as manipulation. Ergo, even the proposition of “balanced” is a position hostile to them. This would have once been the territory of endlessly hair-splitting philosophers who wanted to either grasp or dismantle the nature of truth – however, in the “right wing” mind of this particular sort, truth is information of use – neutrality is simply not a possible condition of truth.
…even the proposition that information can be non-partisan, or inert with regard to goal-achievement, would have to be understood as manipulation.
Put another way – one can accumulate facts and draw verifiable conclusions about what is true, or (as above), decide what is true first and then judge facts to be true or false based on whether or not they support your position. The difficulty of the latter approach is immediately obvious when put this way. Inevitably facts come to light which either run counter to, or simply don’t relate to, an assumed position on truth. And facts which relate to common sense experience, annoyingly don’t go away after being judged, and remain blatantly present in the world. What is amazing, is the ability of many people to simply ignore, or refuse to acknowledge such facts even when they are forced to deal with the measurable reality of them. The mental convolutions required to dodge and weave through unwelcome facts to one’s happy place can be bizarre, and that makes me wonder if there is a long term impact on mental health.
The define-the-truth-first approach appeals to, or tends to create (chicken n’ egg trick), a dogmatic religious mindset, which may explain why the “right” is rife with frantic bible-thumpers, rather than soulful forgivers.
In a real sense, one either agrees with them (understands information to imply the same truths that they perceive), or is arguing against them (any other valuation or evaluation of information). There is no middle ground – not even a neutral interpretation.
The difference in perception is remarkably vast, considering that the folks I’m thinking of hail from the same region of the planet. It is a difference I would have been less surprised to see philosophically and socially distinguish cultures which developed in relative isolation from one another, much as China and France could be contrasted. Both complex cultures with elaborate social systems, yet different in the very foundations of the perception of things.
Absolute control of information is, of course, traditionally a great source of power, and a very effective means of maintaining order. The cost to politicians at least, and in some measure to their country, is that it is a particularly shallow form of order without deep moral or cultural roots. Once established, should the control fail, all compasses fail. In other words, as history has shown, it can be effective while it lasts, but is often catastrophic for a society should that control be removed.
A faith-based order requires no particularly great effort, thought, ethical or moral strength. Just follow instructions, and say nothing otherwise. It is a balm to the mind which is not equipped to cope with the chaos of life.