From Walter Lippmann’s Phantom Public (1925):

The private citizen today has come to feel rather like a deaf spectator in the back row, who ought to keep his mind on the mystery off there, but cannot quite manage to keep awake. He knows he is somehow affected by what is going on. Rules and regulations continually, taxes annually, and wars occasionally remind him that he is being swept along by great drifts of circumstances.

Yet these public affairs are in no convincing way his affairs. They are for the most part invisible. They are managed, if they are managed at all, at distant centres, from behind the scenes, by unnamed powers. As a private person he does not know for certain what is going on, who is doing it, or where he is being carried. No newspaper reports his environment so he can grasp it; his ideals often do not fit with it; listening to speeches, uttering opinions, and voting do not, he finds, enable him to govern it. He lives in a world he cannot see, does not understand, and is unable to direct.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *