The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Freedom of the Press?

Jan 19, 2015

Politicians from the right and the left present themselves as fierce defenders of freedom of expression in recent days, especially freedom of the press.

But in fact the January 11 demonstration with all those heads of state next to President Hollande actually showed what little importance these freedoms are accorded by the French president. Standing next to him was Victor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, especially known for controlling the press; the prime minister of Turkey, described by Reporters Without Borders as the No. 1 prison for journalists in the world; the Egyptian minister of foreign affairs, in whose hellish prisons are incarcerated three al Jazeera journalists and uncounted numbers of oppositionists, not to mention all those executed by the Egyptian government ... and other similar examples.

The so-called democratic politicians have not hesitated in the past to gag the press when it’s a matter of the interests of the bourgeoisie. In France, they pull out these rules especially when they go to war. During World War I, the French press, willingly or by force, was part of the propaganda machine at the service of the warmongers. In 1939, before France entered World War II, the French Communist Party was banned, as was its newspaper. Censure of the press existed in French colonial wars in 1945, 1947 and, of course, in Indochina during the war lasting from 1946 to 1953. During the Algerian war, not only were journalists arrested and articles banned, along with some books and films, the censorship lasted for a long time after the war.

And today, the press, the radio, the television – all are controlled by big capitalist media groups that are biased so as not to call in question their advertising revenues. Charlie Hebdo itself was always struggling to survive financially, and the politicians never gave them any support before these terrible assassinations.

Freedom of the press in this society is above all freedom for the capitalists who control the press.