Why would a rational person believe a government? Given the politicians’ and their minions’ incentives to lie and their capacity to avoid (their low cost of avoiding) accountability, there can be only one circumstance: when free speech and competition in the provision of news provide continuous tests of the statocrats’ declarations. For example, one is justified to give more credence to the US government than to the Russian government about the war in Ukraine. It is not necessarily because American politicians are more virtuous than Russian ones, even if it is true that more freedom generates more virtue; it is instead because US government rulers and agents have less incentive to lie than their Russian counterparts, that is, the cost of lying is higher for the former than for the latter.

It is therefore troubling, although not totally unexpected, to see European governments, including that of the European Union, censoring RT (“Russia Today”), a TV and Web outfit that is part of the Russian Leviathan. The Wall Street Journal reports (“EU Orders Removal of Russian State-Owned Media From Search Results, Social-Media Reshares” March 10, 2022):

Europe’s effort to cut off access to Russian state-owned media extends to search engines and social-media posts, not just their television channels and online-video feeds, according to a copy of an email from the bloc’s executive arm. …

In response to last week’s sanctions, telecommunications companies were obliged to remove the RT television channel from their TV services in Europe, and so far in at least some EU countries, they have also blocked the RT and Sputnik websites from being accessible to internet users. …

The email from the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, specifies that its sanctions order should be interpreted to cover search engines because they “facilitate the public’s access to the content of RT and Sputnik.” It also says that social-media companies must either not post or delete posts from individuals that broadcast or recopy content from RT or Sputnik.

It is true that our governments should not go out of their ways to protect the freedom of speech of the Russian government. But they should not interfere with the freedom of their “citizens” to listen to what they want and make up their own opinions.

If European residents are prone to blindly believe Russian propaganda (which, on RT, is more discrete because aimed at, and only available to, foreigners, and has the potential advantage of informing the careful student on what Russian rulers think), what legitimacy do the elected rulers of such a democracy of idiots have? How can the infantilization of citizens make them anything else than subjects? What does this portend for the future?