How Democracies Perish, Deathbed Edition

Daren Jonescu at American Thinker discusses the flow of information and the advantage the left has when there’s a truth blackout:

This is the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of How Democracies Perish, an analysis of the spread of world communism by Jean-François Revel, one of freedom’s most serious French defenders since Tocqueville. At the heart of this work, Revel details “The Tools of Communist Expansion,” among which the most relevant for understanding our current situation comes in Chapter 16, “Ideological Warfare and Disinformation.” The profound simplicity of Revel’s nuts and bolts account of totalitarianism’s Cold War advance, far from being obsolete, actually sheds light on a defining feature of today’s progressive ascension: the perverting of the free press into a propaganda ministry.[…]

This real-time information gap, as Revel explains, was the key to tyranny’s ideological success. For when the ugly truths of communism did, at last, leak out, they inevitably came “too late,” once the potential public effects of immediate knowledge — horror, outrage, disillusionment — had already been diluted by time. That is, the West received the worst of the news once it had already become mere “history,” thus dulling its emotional impact.


The ideological war Revel described has been lost, however. The new Western media, products of the fully propagandized Western university, have broadly succumbed to the sympathy with totalitarian ethics and intentions that Revel warned was the West’s imminent danger, and the communists’ long-term strategy. In the aftermath of their victory, the totalitarians have turned to the natural next stage. Having morally weakened the West by exploiting the legitimate free press to their clever advantage, and at last having converted that press itself into a de facto ally, the enemies of freedom could begin their work on the inside of the Western establishment in earnest. It was now time to bring the ideological war home.

This moral struggle between the totalitarian impulse and the defenders of freedom is no longer a “cold war” between nation-states. It is now a war within the so-called free nations themselves. The Western media has been factionalized into the totalitarian propagandist majority and the searching, skeptical minority which forms the last remnant of the true calling of that free press which was once supposed to be a bulwark of liberty.

Today’s Western totalitarian propaganda apparatus, still operating under its former, respected title, the “news media,” functions on precisely the same mechanisms as the Soviet or Chinese propaganda operations described by Revel: suppress, obfuscate, dilute and, when revelation seems unavoidable, delay.

Read the entire article…