Staunton, August 8 – Abbas Gallyamov says that “not a single revolution whose time has come has been stopped by the tightening of the screws against the media.” On the one hand, this is a logical tautology as a revolution that does not occur after repression against the media is by definition one whose time has not come.
But on the other, the observation of the Moscow analyst and former Putin speechwriter is noteworthy because those in power often assume they can remain there by restricting the media rather than addressing the underlying problems that the media may expose and bring to the attention of a broader audience (ehorussia.com/new/node/24019).
And Gallyamov suggests that while limiting press freedom may not stop a revolution in its tracks, such restrictions do have one critical consequence: by reducing the amount of information in the society, restrictions on the media typically lead to more radicalism when changes do occur than the absence of such restrictions do.
That is one of the lessons that can be gleaned from the French case in the 18th century and the Russian in the early 20th as compared to the British-American case 250 years ago. Neither restricting nor not restricting media blocked a revolution in any of these cases, but where the media had been restricted, the revolutions that followed were far more radical.
Gallyamov cites the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville and Seymour Martin Lipset on this point, quoting the latter’s observation that “the best means of keeping the masses from radicalizing is to ensure their real participation in the political process.” The first necessity for that is “freedom of mass communications.”
Those in Moscow today who believe they can prevent a revolution by repressing independent media are deceiving themselves, he suggests. All they are doing is ensuring that when change comes, it will be far more radical and all-embracing than otherwise would have been the case – and that the authors of repression will be the most likely victims.