Media as Constraint in Achieving Social, Political and Economic Liberty

Scientific Essay, 2015

27 Pages



1. Introduction

2. Occidental versus Oriental

3. Economic Space

4. Political space

5. Social Space

6. Empire versus Liberty

7. Conclusion


1. Introduction

This text discusses the political, economic and social space available to citizens in nation states in oriental and occidental realms. Western states claim superiority by highlighting that their citizens have more social, political and economic space which contributes in individual and collective advancement of society

They discard non-western political systems as crude, despotic and totalitarian in nature which denies social, political and economic space to citizens. Various inductive and deductive methods of reasoning have been used throughout the text to draw inferences and conclusions to counter the self-aggrandisement of western world.

It seems the occidental perspective has overpowered the oriental perspective completely in the 21st century. There is a claim that western outlook has a universal character. There can be no alternative to it. It is result of evolution. However there is no truth in these prepositions.

It is true that west represents more refined outlook on certain issues. At least it would be justified to claim that popular struggles together with economic conditions ensured individual lifestyle choices to citizens in western nations. However, this struggle is far from completion yet. Most of the eastern societies could not sort out the issues related with individual liberty.

West has launched an undeclared campaign to establish control over weaker societies. It uses media to establish its control over the world view of every person on planet and shape policy framework of every nation on earth.

The increased power of the dominant ideology has curtailed liberty within the developed nations for citizens. Generally the contrary will be claimed in popular discourse. Citizens at large in all societies have limited liberty to function freely. Forces inimical to common man are limiting democratic space for people in general.

It is wrong to consider west as one unit. Now west is struggling to maintain the level of wealth and income gap with the countries of second and third world. As people in west are becoming restless and demanding comparative economic equality, the unscrupulous methods western governments employ to deal with voices of masses are becoming more visible.

There is no force driven by truth and justice which is shaping and giving directions to our societies. It is a human act. However it is difficult to claim that anyone is conspiring against anyone. It seems everything is beyond of control human activities. It seems like social, political and economic direction of mankind is natural like a river which flows and decides its own path through the valleys.

In a limited manner this text discusses all the threads and trends and role media plays in shaping our outer realities.

2. Occidental versus Oriental

West has dealt with the issues of liberty, religion and rights of women long ago. Asian and African societies are still struggling to develop consensus on these issues. James Stuart Mill in his classic work on ‘Liberty and Subjection of Women’ basically draws our attention on two facts.

First, ability of the state to persuade, coax and force citizens to follow its dictates. In other words state’s ability to control the social, political and economic behaviour of citizens with or without force. Second, the psychological hold of society over citizens. The latter situation was the matter of concern for Mill.[1]

State’s ability to conduct widespread surveillance makes it very powerful. It enables state to spread its hold over citizens to an unprecedented scale. In fact this is the most troublesome part of surveillance activities by US government. Edward Snowden, US National Security Agency whistleblower opened can of worms. It came as a shock to citizens that US intelligence agencies are doing what is least expected from them. USA is still considered the leader of the free world. Even the fiercest critics of United States don’t expect it to behave like a totalitarian regime.

In fact the excessive surveillance was dismissed as necessary strategy to deal with terrorism by US government. FBI dismissed all liberal voices by claiming that surveillance is necessary to avoid ‘Boston like’ incidents.[2] Another section of opinion leaders claim that law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from monitoring of their mails, phone calls and other communication through the internet.[3] This latest development should be opposed on some principled grounds.

Just imagine a state, which is too powerful to observe the ongoing discourse at the initial stage among the minority of dissidents. State can use that information to subdue the emerging arguments and also the debate itself before it emerges on wider public sphere to challenge the dominant view. Terrorist activities against the USA have given it an excuse to apply these draconian and undemocratic measures to suppress the independent voices of citizens.

Some critics argue what is wrong in being disciplined, what is wrong in expecting that citizens will cooperate with state. The real questions are why citizens are supposed to be pliable? Why all should think alike? Why not all are entitled to have different opinions?

If a large section of population has exhausted all peaceful and democratic means then it has every right to plot against the power elite of the state or to put it simply - against the state. It has every right to argue fearlessly against the dominant structures of society. If state adopts violence to suppress legitimate demands of masses then they have moral right to react. Violence is one of the oldest tools for conflict resolution.[4]

If China adopted the same (US surveillance) measures to mitigate dissident voices, the western world is most likely to make huge hue and cry. They will also raise the bogey of human rights to discredit and de-legitimize communist government. Their world view is not driven by any desire to make this world a better place, but by shameless self interest.

If the state acquires power to monitor every phone call and every text message of each citizen without proper debate. Then that power could be easily misused. The intelligence community and politicians in US are not saints. If state cannot be stopped altogether from doing this, then at least free and fair debate on the issue will introduce the safeguards to stop the state from abusing it.

There are many questions which must be answered. Who is making USA unsafe? Who is threatening USA? Why a section of US population feels alienated? Why they are plotting to harm other innocent citizens? Why the racial and religious minorities feel subjugated and harassed? Why can’t US government adopt measures to curb the inflow of potential threats into the country? Why USA tolerates voices inimical to western values of freedom, liberty and liberal lifestyle in their own societies?

USA treats friends and foes alike. It seems policy makers in USA do not trust any nation. India is the fifth largest nation in terms of scale of snooping done by USA.[5] It is difficult to imagine the ways of how Americans can use that information.

US intelligence agencies perhaps are reading what Rahul Gandhi is discussing with his Columbian girlfriend on phone.[6] They are also monitoring the communication of top Indian politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats. They can get the precise idea about the strategies of Indian government to tackle foreign and domestic issues.

Legally phones of citizens cannot be tapped in India with similar impunity. Right to privacy is a part of fundamental rights in India. Supreme Court (India) has declared right to privacy as part of larger concept of ‘right to life’ in one of its landmark decisions.[7] Politicians who are in power can misuse the right of a state to tap communication among the citizens. They can use this power against their political opponents.

It is important to challenge the status quo propagated by state and constantly push it towards change. Liberty includes the right of citizens to constantly work for changing social, political and economic order by any non-violent means.

In fact by using ‘liberty’ all the religions, social, political and economic orders came into existence. Now many of these orders are termed as ‘ideologies’ which are embedded in broader structures. Whether we can identify them or not is irrelevant. The most relevant thing is they exist.

In the west individual liberty is not under threat from state. Only political and economic space is comparatively constraint. As far as social space for individual lifestyle choices are concerned, it is definitely available. Occupy Wall Street movement and debate around one percent versus ninety-nine percent withered away as fast as it emerged on national discourse in the western public sphere.

3. Economic Space

Economic space does not mean ability of an individual to start a business of his or her choice to earn a living. Here economic space means demand by section of a population to change the economic structure of society.

Presently half of gross domestic product of China comes from state owned companies.[8] Constant propaganda by neoliberal regimes led to the widespread belief that only privatization and liberalization can bring progress. State control over means of production will only lead to inefficiency, incompetence and wastage of resources. However, contrary evidences are available in plenty.

Thirty percent of working population in Norway works for state.[9] It is beyond the scope of this paper to enter into developmental approaches. It only intends to draw attention to the fact that if state takes responsibility, it has resources and wherewithal to solve the problems of mankind by acting according to their will and in their interest.

In our modern society labour is alienated as corporate culture hates labour and environmental regulations. All this created space for theory of alienation. Young Marx mentions that after working excessively workers or labourers feel alienated and detached from three things. Firstly, worker loses interest in his or her produce. Secondly, he/she loses interest in nature. Thirdly, he/she feels alienated and detached from his/her family and friends.[10]


[1] O. P. Gauba, An Introduction to Political Theory, New Delhi, McMillan, 2004, p. 34

[2] Henry, ‘The Liberal Surveillance State’ 19 January, 2014,, (accessed on 5 September, 2014)

[3] J. Ball and S. Ackerman, ‘NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens' emails and phone calls’, The Guardian, 9 August 2013,, (accessed 15 August 2014)

[4] R.J. Rummel, Understanding Conflict And War powerkills/TJP.CHAP10.HTM (accessed on 4 December, 2015)

[5] India fifth-largest target of U.S. electronic snooping, The Hindu, 9 June 2013, (accessed on 10 January 2014)

[6] Aarthi Ramachandran, ‘Decoding Rahul Gandhi’, Outlook, 27 August 2012,, (accessed on 3 October, 2013)

[7] ‘Phone Tapping: What 1997 Supreme Court verdict says’, 26 April 2010,, (accessed on 19 November, 2013)

[8] ‘China Economy’, Economy Watch [Website], 2013,, (accessed 4 December 2013)

[9] ‘Kingdom of Denmark’ economies/Europe/Denmark.html, (accessed on 5 June, 2014)

[10] Judy Cox, ‘An Introduction to Marx Theory of Alienation’, http://pubs., 1998, (accessed on 5 January, 2014)

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Media as Constraint in Achieving Social, Political and Economic Liberty
Doon University
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communication, liberty, Oriental, Occidental, Media, Social Liberty, Political Liberty, Economic Liberty, Political Philosophy, Occidental vs. Oriental
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Mukesh Devrari (Author), 2015, Media as Constraint in Achieving Social, Political and Economic Liberty, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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