The Dictatorial Grasp on the Truth?

Griff nach der Wahrheit

Who does not know the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s book, 1984? This arose in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Nazi dictatorship – and it is purported that states such as North Korea have such ministries. However, when we read the news nowadays, we are strongly reminded of Orwell’s dystopia.

Facebook, spurred on by demands and threats from the German government, wants to indicate fake news as such in the future on its platform. The Czech government fears that Russia, after its alleged interference in the American election campaign, will also interfere in its elections in 2017 and, because of this, has established a Truth Agency in order to verify news.

In Germany, the CDU and the SPD want to draw up a proposal for new legislation by the end of the year for an intelligence agency against disinformation. It is important to note that the above article was from 29th December 2016. Therefore, this should be drawn up within a few days, in the Christmas period.

This begs the question of why pension or education reforms take thirty years or longer when such a staggering encroachment of basic rights can be produced off the cuff in a short period of time.

Since when has it been the task of a government to assess the truthfulness of news? Until now I thought that the media and civil society were responsible for this… Are numerous dictators not rightly reproached, among others, for exactly this censorship? Suddenly now, there is a compulsion to act!

The evil is lurking in the east. And after the favourite, Hillary Clinton, lost the race for the White House, some appear to be afraid that, under Donald Trump, Russia could be lost as an enemy. Attempts are being made to kill two birds with one stone.

Of course this is all pure specualtion and a conspiracy theory. It is patently obvious from various legislative amendments that there have been massive reductions in civil liberties and civil rights since 2001. Of course, all in the name of protecting life and limb. It is good that there are organisations such as the AK Vorrat who are fighting against this erosion.

Ultimately, however, they can only be successful if each and every one of us recognises where this control mania, in which we are now living, leads. We do not have to accuse those governing of wishing to harm us (some would now see it as such). But imagine if a successful populist took over the government affairs and then had control over an organisation which would decide what is true and what is not true?!

Attempts at this can be recognised in the case of Donald Trump who repeatedly makes claims which (so far) can be proved to be false. Admittedly he is not the only one who plays this game but in his case the distortion of the truth was perfected in his entire election campaign.

That Clinton lost the election was not the fault of the Russians rather her catastrophic campaigning (including ignorance of the Rust Belt states). But that is only by the by… because also here, attempts are being made to substantially manipulate the truth.

Some will argue:

The government is there to protect us from harm.

And it is, in principle.

But what about our personal responsibility? The more power we, the people, give to whoever, the more vulnerable we become. That power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely – has been evidenced a hundred times over in history.

If we voluntarily share our data in the internet and give up the contol over this of our own free will (which is done, for example, by every Facebook user to a great extent), then we should not be surprised when this data is used for purposes beyond our control. Including the generation of algorithims which feed us with matching news. If this is also “pre-filtered” by partisan organisations, the quickly growing information bubbles will be insurmountable.

For us from the writing guild, the fake news issue has a positive element: in the future we will not have to bother about such trivial matters as copyright and the truthfulness of statements because we can simply refer to the responsible ministry *sarcasm off*.