It is interesting how the source of big societal problems has shifted over the last decade. During my political awakening during the Bush administration the government was the big threat to free speech. Governmental censorship was the punching bag and the opponent we could all stand united against. Now, the greatest threat to free speech are the overarching megamaniacal private tech companies and the wider social justice movement. It is frightening how powerful these few entities have become. Just like the government having the power to spy on you or censor the information you view is dangerous, having private companies fulfilling the same role isn’t any better. In practice, this means that we have to combat both governmental and private overreach in our collective defense of free speech.
This brings me to the corrupting influence of state money. Although newspapers, television stations, academia and so on are aligned with the state culturally through the political convictions of their employees, the state still has a negative impact through its funding of these organisations and institutions. The breath of this problem varies from country to country. Here in Norway it is especially bad. Many news outlets have become dependent on state support to survive. The consequences of this dependence on editorial policy are quite obvious. Just like in other Western countries, our media and academia are heavily tilted to the left. As the saying goes, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
In our newspapers whenever this issue comes up for debate, they seemingly always bring up the value of having diversity when it comes to media outlets. Having many newspapers is a good thing they claim, and this wouldn’t be possible without widereaching state funding. I take the opposite view. There is no inherent goodness in having many newspapers, what matters is quality of content. When you are existentially dependent on the state for your financial survival, that is going to shape the content, especially the politically sensitive stories. There is going to be a self-reinforcing leftward bias. This is especially true as the right doesn’t instill loyalists or purge ideological adversaries once they attain power. The conduct of the current government makes that abundantly clear.
The state doesn’t just corrupt the media and academia, it also pours money down the throats of organisations in all sectors of society. Religious groupings, sports teams and assosiations, civic groups, policy thinktanks, the list is endless. All the sources that could potentially spawn a serious challenge to the legitimacy and supremacy of the state have been tainted, corrupted and absorbed into the fold. It pains me to see that the objectivity of what these organisations say is never brought up, only that their existence is secured through state money is valued. You could make a convincing argument that the current state of affairs is worse than not having these organisations at all. By having the corrupted entities we have now, we don’t see what we are missing. I’m sure people would be willing to pony up money to finance many of them voluntarily if state financing wasn’t an option.
We have also seen moral corruption as a consequence of the current regime. Several organisations have inflated their memeber rolls in order to receive more money from the state coffers. The soones we can end this source of corruption the better. Only then will we get true political, intellectual and cultural independence and have true quality content in the sphere of public discourse.