So you think you're free to speak your mind? Think again. We are, all of us, increasingly bubble-wrapped in the sounds of silence.
Silencing the intelligentsia has always been totalitarianism's tool of choice. But there's only so much you can achieve with prisons and pig-farms. Now, as public intelligence shrinks to a hoarse whisper, it seems corporatised culture may succeed where more gun-pointed regimes have failed.
The mindless din that now passes for civil debate is generally attributed to populism of one kind or another – the internet, the market, democracy itself. But perhaps that's wrong. Perhaps the silence is coming from the top.
It's not just scholars and academics, increasingly silenced by ludicrous administrative burdens, vanishing tenure, a casualising workforce and despair at the commodification of what we still call "higher" education. In a way, that's the least of it. Across journalism, politics, agriculture, medicine, law, human rights and teaching, the gags are growing in size, number and efficacy.
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