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News in the consumer society

The Pew Center has put out an interesting survey of people’s news habits. The survey confirms that:

  • People trust journalists less and less. That’s especially true of people who are Republican or conservative. As a result, the alphabet networks are down but Fox News is way up.
  • Young people don’t read newspapers and absorb news from random sources. More and more people are getting their news online.
  • Specific knowledge of current events goes with age, and with education and general level of culture. Readers of “literary” mags like the New Yorker have more of it than readers of political mags that the New Republic.
  • Reading lit mags also goes with political liberalism.

What I get out of this is that culture and social connections are thinning out, and as a result public thought is becoming ever-more-exclusively liberal. If there’s no principle of authority and no shared substantive values and loyalties, public discussion ends up based on the theory that all preferences are to be treated equally. That’s the basis of liberalism, so to undergo schooling today is to be drilled in liberalism. It appears that the drill is usually effective.

Fragmentation also means that people go their own way. They don’t trust what passes for public thought, which they view, often correctly, as manipulative. So they attend to their own affairs and pick up impressions of public events here and there, molding them in accordance with personal situation, preconceptions, or how things are spun.

Conclusions:

  • There are a lot of people who don’t like liberalism, but their reasons are inarticulate and not well thought through. That makes them vulnerable to manipulation and sloganeering and incapable of intelligent sustained effort.
  • They’re open to new sources of thought and information, but also tend to be self-centered and self-indulgent so that everything becomes part of the universal online media circus.
  • So there’s an opportunity today for trads to make their pitch, that’s what we’re doing at Turnabout, but also a tendency for whatever pitch they make to become just part of the show and so lose all effect. So making a pitch can’t substitute for more direct methods of setting up a better life here and now for those who want it.
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