The original purpose of the free press - the Fourth Estate - was as a watchdog on government, which the Founding Fathers passionately mistrusted. Through the years, a couple things have happened that bear on the press’ ability to serve the public. First, the rise of corporate power has largely coopted government, and as a result, private interests now stand as the greatest threat to individual liberty. Second, the press has been almost completely swallowed by corporate interests, resulting in news agencies that are mostly useless in serving the public interest.
So what happens when the watchdog becomes the lapdog of those it’s supposed to be protecting you against?
The Fourth Estate is dead. Time for the 5th Estate to step to the plate.
Membership Membership in this community is restricted. When someone applies for membership we will review their LJ and admit or deny admission based on the intelligence we see there. We’re not trying to create an exclusive salon for snobs by any means, but we’re here to encourage smart, analytical discussion of important issues, and understand (from reading a lot of LJs) that this goal is not furthered by throwing the doors open to everyone.
Principles 1: This community is dedicated to the critical examination of a political, social, cultural, artistic, economic, and religious issues affecting people in America and around the world. As our list of interests indicates, we bring a very broad perspective to our thinking on these issues.
2: While we routinely arrive at conclusions that condemn or favor one political party or another, we do not proceed from partisan dogmas. Our founding members either are or have been members of multiple political parties, including the Big Two, but we all understand that no party has the market on either virtue or corruption cornered. Political parties are locuses of tremendous power and wealth, and as such they inherently attract people whose primary interests in life are about self-enrichment, not the public good. Therefore, this community tends to approach all political parties and operatives with a degree of suspicion, even as we understand that there are necessarily good people who stand as exceptions to the rule on both sides of the aisle. All this said, it might be expected that we will appear partisan to some readers, in that we will likely spend a good deal of time whipping on whoever is in power at the moment. We remind the reader that opposition to A doesn’t automatically imply an endorsement of B.
3: We categorically reject the idea that the actual divide in the American public is left vs. right, red vs. blue, conservative vs. liberal, etc. This is a cynical construction of the nation’s power elite designed to divide and conquer. The real divide is instead elites vs. the middle and working classes, or put another away, the haves vs. the have-nots. If we look at the 2004 election, for instance, we see that we were encouraged to believe that John Kerry and George Bush were polar opposites, with each representing roughly half the population. It’s instructive to remember that these two men are members of a hyper-rich, privileged class and that they were members together in the most elite university fraternity on the planet. When we are asked to believe that a powerful, connected, wealthy Skull & Bones alum is more like we are than he is his powerful, connected, wealthy fraternity brother, we’d do well to consider that maybe, just maybe, somebody is lying to us. As such, this community is dedicated to championing the people, those on the bottom of the divide.
4: While we don’t see ourselves as any kind of full-on intellectual elite, it is true that the founders of the community are a heavily educated group (several hold doctorates in various fields), and we therefore are firmly committed to intelligent, critical discussion. Tone is optional - we will sometimes be dispassionate and coolly rational, and at other times we might rage like madmen - but we are first and foremost committed to fostering something that America doesn’t get enough of: intelligent discussion and debate.
5: We might disagree at times, but we will conduct our discussions in the manner of civil, intelligent, articulate people who understand the vital role of debate in the maintenance of a healthy democracy.
Rules 1: Be smart, be civil. We reserve the right to remove members who drag down the level of conversation or promote discord.
2: Use LJ-cut if your post takes up more than one screen (and that’s one screen on the 5th Estate page, not your friends page). Likewise, use LJ-cut for large pictures.
3: Cross-posting. You are encouraged to cross-post to your journal and other communities.
4: Marketing and evangelizing. We want smart members and as many intelligent sets of eyeballs as we can attract, so please tell people about the community.
5: Use of logos/brandmarks. Community members are free to use the logos, images, and brandmarks to acknowledge their membership and to promote the community.
6: No personal posts. Not everything is appropriate for this community. We all post things that are trivial, amusing, personal, etc. to our personal journals and other communities, but please try to keep on-mission here. We’ll boot posts that don’t belong.
7: Analysis, insight. Some communities are primarily information exchanges - infojunkies is a good example of this. We're good with posts that link us to news and developments, but we're more interested in analysis of these stories. So a link that's a jumping off point for commentary is the sort of thing we favor.