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Fabrication of necessary illusions for social management is as old as history. But in the democratic system the necessary illusions cannot be imposed by force, rather they must be instilled in the public mind by more subtle means. A totalitarian state can be satisfied with lesser degrees of allegiance to required truths. It is sufficient that people obey. What they think is a secondary concern. But in a democratic political order there’s always the danger that independent thought might be translated into political action. So it is important to eliminate the threat at its root. Debate cannot be stilled and indeed should not be stilled in a properly functioning system of propaganda. The reason is that it has a system reinforcing character if it is constrained within proper bounds. What is essential is to set the bounds firmly. Controversy may rage as long as it adheres to the presuppositions that define the elite concensus. And it should furthermore be encouraged within these bounds. That helps establish these doctrines as the very condition of thinkable thought, and it reinforces the belief that freedom reigns.

Noam Chomsky

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