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Belloc wrote this book towards the end of the 'Great War'. The title is not ironic or sarcastic; he genuinely praised and liked the Free Press, and had experience working on and for independent newspapers. He hoped they would become very influential; and that optimistic prediction is the point of his book. Looking back a century, we can see parallels between independent news sources and websites; and looking back further, we can see an analogy with the influence of pamphlets as far back as the Reformation.
Conclusions and comparisons with Websites. [The breakdown of the book's contents is in big-liesdotorg].
* To Summarise Belloc: He dated plutocratic England, with power combined between newspapers, politicians, and the rich, from I think about 1900. The Jameson Raid and Marconi scandal marked some sort of boundary between aristocratic politics and plutocracy. Belloc had contempt for Parliament, and I think respect for the past; he thought in some unspecified ancient times people were conscious of their rights and property. He considered the Free Press was a counter to new powers, and would succeed, and within a few decades. But the success would be in debate: he thought all the serious issues, notably in his view Economic, would be fully debated within a few decades. (Belloc said much the same in The Jews. He said in about 1920 of Jewish power that the 'cat was out of the bag'). But although there would be debates, Belloc could see no sign that people would act to establish their entitlements.
* Belloc did not foresee modern-style propaganda, which includes the output from 'think-tanks', trusts, radio, greatly-expanded numbers of academics, and many quasi-scientific groups. Nor the strange developments budding from those things--trolls, distractors and timewasters, flooders with wrong material, multiple sources putting the same views in different ways, and so on. The reason seems to be he assumed a 'capitalist' press: despite wartime propaganda bureaux, he did not foresee the vast subsidies to official establishment sources making them independent of advertising and cover price.
* Belloc assumed, in his Eurocentric way, that, somewhere, there will be a writer who knows about any controversial topic, and is willing to discuss it in print. These assumptions may fail where (for example) far distances are involved: Soviet Russia was never reported reliably at any time. His assumption fails where there is intense secrecy: official secrets illustrate the possibilities. So the principle that reading mass newspapers, plus the Free Press, will fully inform anyone who takes the trouble, is simply wrong. The fantastic deceptions such as 'the Holocaust', NASA, 9/11, false flags to start wars, linger largely because of effective gagging methods and mass dishonesty.
And Belloc assumed that writers would emerge; in retrospect, the laziness of many people, and the corruption of academics, was something he ignored. At the present day, I don't know of a single person who's listed BBC crimes and omissions and deceptions, for example. Or anyone who's continued Lewis Fry Richardson's 'socionomic' attempts to (for example) summarise wars to identify 'cui bono'.
* Belloc seems to have had no systematic way to comb the world of the Free Press for likely titles. He says he reads English and French Free papers, and American, but no others. He supported the 'Great War', largely because Britain and France had secretly decided to be allies, and his idea of war was something chivalrous and honorable, in which profiteering wasn't talked of much. His list of scandals (picked out in red, blow) omits the arming of Japan by Jews against Russia, assassinations of Russians, and many other matters. But he seems to have missed arguments against the war. And he had little idea of the nuts and bolts of finance: he does not discuss the 1913 formation of the 'Federal Reserve', although he was aware of Jewish power. Other missing issues include long-term planning, of the 'Illuminati' sort, and the worrying long-term implications; and such things as land reform and finance reform.
* Belloc draws attention to weaknesses of the Free Press, one being that many newspapers could not survive the loss of an influential editor or writer(s). In the same way, many websites cease having influence if the founder or writers leave or lose interest. The most reasonable conclusion, looking back over a century of news, seems to be that the official media had almost complete domination: almost everyone for example supported the opinions they were fed about the Second World War. The Free Press had a bit of influence--see the examples below--but most large issues, including the Great War, went unexamined. Personally, I hope Internet will prove much more robust.
* Lessons for Internet. These seem to be somewhat hopeful.
(1) The marginal cost of the Free Press--i.e. here we compare with websites--is zero. If you have a computer, it costs nothing more to access 'Free Press' sites than the effort of hunting for them.
(2) The cost of websites is far, far below that of hard-copy newspapers.
(3) The multiple specialist topics are relatively easily hunted down by search engines, something (apart from indexes) unknown before.
(4) Free machine translation allows access to sites from anywhere. If the translations aren't wonderful, they still exceed anything even the most polyglot person was able to read.
(5) Hypotheses (e.g. the acts of the Illuminati, the behaviour of Hitler, the causes of wars) are more explorable on Internet, although of course there is a mass of unsound material, some of it the Internet version of the 'Official Press'
(6) 'Political lawyers' who inspired such fear in Belloc are, arguably, in a weaker position since websites can be held in varied locations and subject to varied national laws.
(7) Belloc bewailed the fragmentation of the 'Free Press'. There's not much sign of change here; there are large numbers of websites. But it would be relatively easy to arrange alternative sites with multiple inputs.
BUT Belloc was hopeful that debates would ensue in full and within a few decades. The failure of debate on Jewish issues, notably the coup in Russia, the control of money, the world wars, and 'post-war' frauds show Belloc was enormously more optimistic about the 'Free Press' than proved realistic. AND Belloc also doubted there was a popular will to do anything: exposing frauds and absurdities may simply have little effect amongst the general public, and this so far has been the Internet experience too. Considering the reactions to (e.g.) nuclear weapons doubts, the takeover of Palestine, wars in Korea and Vietnam, Jewish immigration attitudes, Belloc was correct there.