In 1921, the famous American journalist Walter Lippmann said that the art of democracy requires what he called the manufacture of consent. This phrase is an Orwellian euphemism for thought control. The idea is that in a state such as the . where the government can’t control the people by force, it had better control what they think. The Soviet Union is at the opposite end of the spectrum from us in its domestic freedoms. It’s essentially a country run by the bludgeon. It’s very easy to determine what propaganda is in the USSR: what the state produces is propaganda.
Trump has made noises about wanting to change libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists but he has no more chance of doing that than of getting Mexico to pay for a border wall. Nor is there any other real evidence that what is going on is anything other than a more heated version of the same argument conservatives have been having with the press for decades. The only differences are that Trump has made it the centerpiece of his campaign appearances and the mainstream press is, if anything, far more biased than it used to be. Had journalists stuck to the standards they claim to be now defending, it wouldn’t have stopped Trump from attacking them. But it would make us a bit more sympathetic.
The conditions that obtained in the literary milieux of London and Paris in the early twentieth century prompted Eliot to believe that the best kind of literary criticism arose when a poet applied his most intense critical consciousness to the first draft of his poem, to make it as good as he could make it. “I maintain even that the criticism employed by a trained and skilled writer on his own work is the most vital, the highest kind of criticism; and . . that some creative writers are superior to others solely because their critical faculty is superior.” The next best conditions occur when a poet, on request, studies the first drafts of a friend’s poem as carefully as if they were his own or adjacent to his own. Eliot found these latter conditions when he asked Ezra Pound to read “He Do the Police in Different Voices.” Pound’s criticism and Eliot’s own turned the poem into “The Waste Land.”