The Prescient 1932 Book ‘Broadcast Minds’

 

In 1932 Ronald Knox (Translator of the Bible, Detective Story Writer, Catholic Priest) wrote a book called Broadcast Minds. Its purpose was to answer some of the pundits appearing on the BBC. Knox deals with the claims of Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells, Julian Huxley, H.L. Mencken, and lesser lights. In chapter one, he anticipates McCluhan and Postman by arguing that while man makes technology, technology then makes man. His definition of “broadcastmindedness” seems prophetic for today’s discussions of social media, etc. Did his prediction come to pass? See here:

The immediate danger I foresee is what I call broadcast-mindedness. By that I mean, primarily, the habit of taking over, from self-constituted mentors, a ready-made, standardized philosophy of life, instead of constructing, with however imperfect materials, a philosophy of life for oneself. In politics it is easy enough to see what this means, as I have suggested above. It means that the great generality of men become good subjects but not, in any real sense, good citizens. They vote, they pay their taxes, they obey the orders of Government departments, they assist the police, under suggestion from without; they do not contribute anything of their own, their own sense of need or experience of life, towards the formation of a general will; they acquiesce in that general will, which is formed by a governing class of experts. I put the mater brutally, not because I am convinced, as Lord Russell appears to be convinced, that this is a state of things towards which we are inevitably moving, but because I want to make it clear what is the logical issue of our present tendencies, if they remain unchecked. The logial issue of our present tendencies, in political life, is a subservience to the expert more complete than the subservience of our ancestors to their Whig overlords in the early eighteenth century.

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  1. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Very good.  See this related post, in which it is argued that a citizen in a democracy should be considered as an officer of the state.  

    • #1
  2. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Broadcast was inherently one-to-many. 

    We’ve now built an infrastructure that is capable of many-to-many, microcasting if you would.

    Much of our current political and economic activity seems to revolve around attempting to preserve the broadcasting era central control in an age that inherently undermines it.

    • #2
  3. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Locke On: We’ve now built an infrastructure that is capable of many-to-many, microcasting if you would.

    I was always proud of being a broadcaster. I’m not really sure there are any left.

    The single entity in this country that should embrace the ethos of broadcasting is one that has notoriously refused to, that is, my former employer, ESPN. Microcasting your politics is easy for one simple reason. Politics doesn’t come with a rights fee. If I’m paying $2.7B per season for the National Football League the last thing I want to do is piss off 1/3 to 1/2 of my potential audience. But Disney finds a way.

     

    • #3
  4. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Broadcast was inherently one-to-many.

    We’ve now built an infrastructure that is capable of many-to-many, microcasting if you would.

    Much of our current political and economic activity seems to revolve around attempting to preserve the broadcasting era central control in an age that inherently undermines it.

    Is this what we sometimes call living in a bubble?

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    What would we do without experts? 

    • #5
  6. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Locke On: We’ve now built an infrastructure that is capable of many-to-many, microcasting if you would.

    I was always proud of being a broadcaster. I’m not really sure there are any left.

    The single entity in this country that should embrace the ethos of broadcasting is one that has notoriously refused to, that is, my former employer, ESPN. Microcasting your politics is easy for one simple reason. Politics doesn’t come with a rights fee. If I’m paying $2.7B per season for the National Football League the last thing I want to do is piss off 1/3 to 1/2 of my potential audience. But Disney finds a way.

     

    So has the sports world – 

    • #6
  7. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Very interesting quote and person. Wikipedia says he was an Anglican priest and converted to Catholicism to which his father excluded him from his Will.  It said he was influenced by Chesterton and Chesterton was influenced by him.  He also served as British Intelligence in WWI.  I’d say he was very intuitive, as his quote depicts man’s predictability in a fallen world without moral boundaries.  

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Knox

    He wouldn’t even believe the insanity that has overtaken the world (via technology) since 1932!

    • #7
  8. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    If a place the size the US is run from the top, the media will play that role as it suits those who control the top.  They run the media.  We developed the first, at least explicitly, bottom up system but  state governments accumulated too much power and were mostly inept, as is all government, but rather than dismembering and down sizing, we shifted power to the national government and it grew rapidly by historical standards into what we have now and it’s taking over.  There is a fix, but we don’t recognize it; leave and form a new Republic from which ever states or  pieces of states, want.  LA, New York City and Washington can stay together and would collapse very rapidly if they were to continue to centralize but won’t, so could form a viable country once they dump their insane modern liberals.  Once that happens the new States could allow a centralized military with them, but need to keep everything else separate.  Crazy? Indeed, no doubt about it, but the option is decay and Chinese dominance until they also rot, but we’ll no longer have a giant modern economy.   Neither will anybody else.  Well, maybe Switzerland, and the tiny nordics.  That’s good and it’ll start all over and if we dismember we can to.

    • #8
  9. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    What would we do without experts?

    Peer-reviewed studies have shown that we couldn’t survive. Even to write the grant requests for those studies required experts, studies show.

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I don’t think we realize even a fraction of the ways that the elites have taken over our thinking. And those rare times we make the effort to think independently, we are punished. Tough times.

    • #10
  11. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Wonderful insight!

    Aside: I loved the style. He consistently uses a certain striking pattern—echoing—to create continuity between each sentence and the one immediately prior.

    It makes the logical flow clear to the mind, so the mind isn’t occupied with the work of reading, and can start right in on thinking.

    • #11
  12. Headedwest Inactive
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    What would we do without experts?

    I see what you did there.

    • #12
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