Two years ago, I stood in the pit of the great colloseum in Rome. This is where so many people were dragged to be publicly humiliated, tortured, murdered and/or eaten alive for the delight of a howling mob. The mob was poor, hungry, jobless (since the bread, which was almost all the food they were given, came from the Empire.) They didn't even have to serve the Empire in the military. Mercenaries from various tribes did that.The Roman mob was useless, and every one of those miserable wretches knew it. That is why so many of them loved to see other people humiliated, to be even worse off than they were. The Roman mob was something like the audience for the Jerry Springer show.
They were useless; but they had to be kept quiet, ignorant and entertained. Otherwise, their thoughts would turn to wondering why they were so poor while the Caesar and the nobility were so rich. That might have led the mob to a violence that would threaten the Imperial Palace, itself.
Better to divert them with entertainment. That's why the emperors and the nobility happily paid for the gladiators and the wild animals for the shows in the Colissseum. That's why , as I stood there trying to hear the howls of the mob and the screams of the dying, I thought of The Moncton Times&Transcript. It is the only daily permitted in Moncton. (The weekly Snap, though non-Irving, is permitted only because there is no danger of anybody reading it and learning anything.)
Today's T&T is three quarters advertising. Of the rest, most is trivia. The editorial is the usual trash - highly partisan and showing a complete lack of ignorance of the fundamentals of democracy. Nowhere is there any discussion, for example, of the fact that our provincial budget has been handed over by our government to a big business committee.
Nor is there the slightest understanding that the recent election has to be understood as a serious warning. When a democracy can form a government with the consent of only 24% of the general population, then that dmocracy is close to the end of its life. That is not the fault of Stephen Harper or the Conservatives. It's not even the fault of the system. It's because a full 40% of the population has so little faith in democracy, or so little information that they don't give a damn. For that matter, a high proportion of those who did vote had no idea of what the issues were or what the parties stood for. No democracy is going to survive that. That's why the turnout was the most important lesson of that election.
In this province, democracy has ended by any definition I know of. The basic requirement of democracy is that a government elected by the people should have the "power of the purse". That means the right to plan spending and taxation wince these two affect almost everything else. But economic planning in New Brunswick has been handed over to a self-appointed gang of corporate bosses. For all the speeches and elections, New Burnswick provincial politcs are no longer democratic. We are into a form of government called corporatism. And corporatism was the foundation stone of fascism.
For the lack of honest and full information, our news media, led by the Irving papers, are the prime cause of our breakdown as a democracy.
The only section of the T&T that is competent and more or less honest is the sports section. Of course. If this were ancient Rome, the Colosseum sports section would be the best part. It's entertainment and it's trivia. That makes it safe.
Not surprisingly, our Caesar and his nobles are encouraging us to build a new Colosseum as Moncton's outstanding priority. Keep people uninformed. Keep them entertained. Keep them trivial. That's the role of the Moncton Times &Tribune. It works as well for the new caesars as it did for the old ones.