¡Notes! on Censorship

Julian Assange on a political society versus a fiscalised society:
“Correct, and optimistic about any organisation, or any country, that engages in censorship. We see now that the US State Department is trying to censor us. We can also look at it in the following way. The birds and the bess, and other things that can’t actually change human power relationships, are free. They’re left unmolested by human beings because they don’t matter. In places where speech is free, and where censorship does not exist or is not obvious, the society is so sewn up–so depoliticised, so fiscalised in its basic power relationships–that it doesn’t matter what you say. And it doesn’t matter what information is published. It’s not going to change who owns what or who controls what. And the power structure of a society is by definition its control structure. So in the United States, because of the extraordinary fiscalisation of relationships in that country, it matters little who wins office. You’re not going to suddenly empty a powerful individual’s bank account. Their money will stay there. Their stockholdings are going to stay there, bar a revolution strong enough to void contacts.”
When politics is deeply embedded with money, a ‘free’ society might just be deceiving, with less room for change as compared to a society whose power structure remains political and therefore more open to reorganisation:
“Censorship is not only a helpful economic signal; it is always an opportunity, because it reveals a fear of reform. And if an organisation is expressing a fear of reform, it is also expressing the fact that it can be reformed.”
In thinking about these in relation to Singapore, it is interesting to note how speech still matters here, how journalism and writing can invert power structures, how art can inflect reform. Perhaps, the condition to aspire here is to be censored.

How can knowledge and information be factually disseminated to the population? How can it circumnavigate censorship without the risk of being tainted by money, corruption and other exploitation by the power structure? How can we reinvent the power structure of society so that freedom is not illusionary but remain a core value, upheld by all?


ETA: December 28, 2016

"It is a myth that an art withdrawn from the realm of public inspection and disapproval is a freer and superior art. The impulse to evade censure can inspire raptures of ingenuity. (The passage of the prim Hays Code in 1932, which led to four decades of censorship in Hollywood, increased the sophistication and wit of American films by a magnitude.) We hear much about art enriching the human experience, which is an agreeable platitude. But it is the other way round. The human experience is needed to enrich art, and without a meaningful living connection to the society that nurtures it, art is a plucked flower."

Michael J. Lewis, "How Art Became Irrelevant," Commentary Magazine, July 1, 2015, accessed July 2, 2015.


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