Sunday, 17 June 2012

For the neo-cons, concern about 'liberty' extends only to the powerful

There is an interesting video of Michael Gove - the right-winger currently shaping the school curriculum around his own brand of patriotic, traditionalist, Eton-influenced conservatism - at the Leveson Inquiry.

In it, in his usual mix of self-satisfaction and condescension, Gove airily glosses over the staggering list of appalling behaviour that the inquiry has heard about - from the hacking of a murdered girl's phone, to the tapping of the phones of grieving relatives of the dead - in order to highlight his supposedly noble commitment to 'liberty' and therefore aversion to press regulation.

Apparently, for a man shaping the way in which British children will be educated for years to come, none of these events appears to warrant any major changes to the system of media regulation.

Gove at Leveson - click for video
Now, for Gove, the Leveson Inquiry is awkward. He is a tireless defender of News Corporation and a former employee of one of Rupert Murdoch's flagship papers. The two also share the same neo-conservative world outlook.

But there is something deeper here, that connects Gove to the multitude of think tanks across the UK and in particular the US, that profess to love 'liberty' and 'freedom', from the Heritage Foundation to the Taxpayer's Alliance. This shared commitment is to defend the freedom of the richest corporations to act and operate as they see fit, regardless of the consequences for the public at large.

So, US right-wing campaign groups endlessly attempt to undermine any efforts to defend the world's natural environment from being blighted by corporate decisions based on short-term greed. At the same time, neo-conservatives have actively resisted attempts to bring legislate to protect people from injury or worse at work through corporate malpractice or negligence.

This concept of liberty is therefore a one way street. And so, for Michael Gove and his ideological bedfellows, 'freedom' in the context of the media is the right of rich and powerful men to use their organisations to ruin the lives of ordinary people, without sanction.

How very noble.

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