(No such thing as a free) lunch with the colonel

Naive do-gooders like me were cheered immensely by the news that the Arab League summit in Tunis was apparently cancelled because al-Bush said the following to his Tunisian counterpart:

I appreciate the fact that you’ve got an education system that is modern and viable; that women in your country are given equal rights. I look forward to talking to you about the need to have a press corps that is vibrant and free, as well as an open political process. There’s a lot we can talk about. Tunisia can help lead the greater Middle East to reform and freedom, something that I know is necessary for peace for the long-term.

I don’t know what Mr Blair said to Mr Gaddafi this week, but I hope it was along similar lines. My copy of the Wizard of Was’s Green Book was rescued from the Libyan embassy during the legendary squat in the mid-80s. There was a big party with bands and, while the business studies students removed the brass fittings, wet-behind-the-ears politicology students helped themselves from huge stacks of Muammar’s masterwork, some of which ended up down Brick Lane. Here is what the prophet of neo-Platonism tribalism madness said about the press, taken from Part One: The Solution of the Problem of Democracy: ‘The Authority of the People’:

the press

Democracy means popular rule not popular expression

The natural person has freedom to express himself even if, when he is mad, he behaves irrationally to express his madness. The corporate person also is free to express his corporate identity. In these cases, the first represents only himself, and the second represents no more than the group of natural persons composing his corporate person. The society consists of many natural and many corporate persons. Therefore, when a person, for instance, expresses himself in an irrational manner, that does not mean that the other persons of the society also are mad. The expression of a natural person is only self-expression, and that of a corporate person is only the expression of the interests or viewpoints of persons forming the corporate person. For example, the company for the production and sale of tobacco only expresses the interests of the participants in that company, i.e. those who benefit from the production and sale of tobacco although it is harmful to the health of others.

The press is a means of expression of the society and is not a means of expression of a natural or corporate person. Logically and democratically, the press, therefore, cannot be owned by either of these.

Any newspaper owned by an individual is his own and expresses only his point of view. Any claim that a newspaper represents public opinion is groundless because it actually expresses the viewpoints of a natural person. Democratically, a natural person should not be permitted to own any means of publication or information. However he has the natural right to express himself by any means, even if it is in an irrational manner to prove his madness. Any journal issued by a trading association or by a chamber of commerce is only a means of expression for this particular social group. It presents its own point of view and not the viewpoint of public opinion. This applies to all other corporate and natural persons in society. The democratic press is that which is issued by a popular committee comprising all the various categories of society. In this case only, and not otherwise, will the press or any information medium be an expression of the whole society and a bearer of the viewpoint of its categories and thereby the press or information medium will be indeed democratic.

If the Medical Association issues a journal, it must be purely medical. Similarly this applies to other categories. The natural person has the right to express only himself and he is not entitled from the democratic point of view to express anybody else. In this way, what is called the problem of press freedom in the world will be solved radically and democratically. The continuing problem of press freedom in the world today is generally the product of the problem of democracy. It cannot be solved unless the entire crisis of democracy in the whole society is solved. Only the Third Universal Theory can solve the intricate problem of democracy.

According to this theory, the democratic system is a cohesive structure whose foundations are firmly laid on basic popular congresses, people’s committees and professional associations. All these come together in the General People’s Congress. Absolutely, there is no other conception for a genuine democratic society.

Finally, the era of the masses, which approaches us at a rapid pace following the era of the republics, inflames the feelings and dazzles the eyes. As much as this era gladly announces the real freedom of the masses and their happy emancipation from the shackles of instruments of governing so much it warns of the approach of an age of anarchy and demagogy if the new democracy, which is the authority of the people, does not relapse and the authority of the individual, class, tribe, sect or party again comes to predominate.

Theoretically, this is the genuine democracy. But realistically, the strong always rule, i.e., the stronger part in the society is the one that rules.

Oh dear.

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