Wednesday, September 15, 2010


John Dewey viewed democracy not only as a form of government, but also as a social ideal materialized by community. The defining characteristic of community is cohesiveness, or unity. Instead of operating in self-iinterest, individuals within a democratic community see themselves as responsible for the well-being ofe ach other. Therefore, individuals relate with each other with the purpose of solving the problems of an environment that is always in need of improvement. Every person is valued in a democratic community, meaning relationships can be visualized as an inter-connected web. But elites, who constantly attempt to manipulate the public for their own self intersest, operate on a hierarchal structure. Hierarchal structures value only those at the top. For this reason, elites are generally considered tobe the adversaries of democratic community. The only way that their authority is weakened, is through civic engagement.

Historically, one way that elites have been challenged is through journalism, which is a form of civic engagement. A journalist's job is to correct the distorted information elites distribute so that the public is accurately informed. Accuracy threatens elites' control, which is why several international governments have alws in place tha tlimit citizen's access to uncensored information. For example, earlier this year Google was targeted by China for refusing tohonor its censorship rules. More recently, Hugo Chavez--the president of Venezual--banned publishing violent images in the news media to hide the country's increase in crime.

The greatest vault of uncensored information is the internet. Due to its immediacy, and accessibility, anyone with a voice has an outlet to be heard by anyone with an ear. Consequently, now even journalists themselves are considered to be the untrustworthy elite. Formal media outlets are being accused of malicious dishonesty. For isntance, wthin the last few days, Newt Gingrich publically claimed that democrats, and liberal media, were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And in the past few weeks, there have been numerous reports that President Obama is a Muslim despite his own claims to be a Christian. Even though many would claim that a person's religious affiliation in America is insignificant, Obama's is noteworthy due to prevalent stereotypes about Islam. These two events demonstrate the flaws of online media or an unrestricted communal space for public discourse. One one hand, memebrs of diverse communities can interact freely online. But on the other hand, the internet's lack of regulation makes it more difficult to locate authentic information. Ironically, this is why online media has come to contradict Dewey's theory of self-less unity because for every posting with a positive agenda, there are several more with negative agenda.

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