Recently a new vital human right has been added to those that are traditionally known: information.
In a democratic regime, free discussion is a postulate of the defense of the human person and his right to justice, constantly threatened by the passion of the masses, by favoritism, by groups and crowds.
In a democracy, free discussion is a postulate of the defense of the human person and the right to justice, constantly threatened by the passion of the masses, by favoritism, by groups and by crowds.
The government, at the time it exercises its duty to inform the nation, also performs a very specific duty, which amounts to keeping citizens constantly informed about government policy. Freedom of information is guaranteed only if the state does not leave the duty of informing in the arbitrary hands of isolated groups or specific organizations. There is no doubt that the problem of relations between information and government policy is very delicate indeed.
A truly serious and rigorous scientific investigation can in most cases, in my opinion, bridge the gap which often exists between facts and opinion, a gap which is often harmful, and often deviates the government action from its main aim: guaranteeing the welfare of the largest possible number of citizens.
Just as one's rights have been recognized sacred by the United Nations and the European Council, so has the right of every man to have access to information.
It is not difficult to understand how important it is to be able to have available one or two bodies, inside a democracy, that can truly guarantee the free formation of public opinion.
In this sense it is fundamentally important that all citizens may confidently have access to information given them by their government, because only in this way can it maintain in tact its contracting power and continue to guarantee impartial investigations and objective judgements.
I feel certainly that in the relationship between disseminating information and modern government, a moment of particular importance is represented by publicity and problems related to it, publicity that has wilfully been distinguished from propaganda to free it from even the slightest moral implication.
It has thus been said that while propaganda aims at the diffusion of ideas, advertisements aim at persuading people to buy a specific thing.
But general promotion of economic matters and policy, which takes place through publicity, is no less noble than the work of persuasion which propaganda uses with citizens so that they may join this or that party.
Under this profile it would be good for modern democracies to worry about getting publicity out of that "lucrative" sphere, which is typical of it.
There is much talk of freedom of the press, yet nobody has thought about an obvious truism regarding the freedom of the press. It is unthinkable that the press manages to pay for itself through sales of its publications. It survives thanks to advertisements, and this present a conundrum.
No one regards such advertisement as immoral, indeed such advertisements are vital and keep information channels alive.
Administrations still refuse to use this means to persuade the public on reforms. This is due in part, to the idea of perceived impropriety.
Information and the modern democratic state, far from being in conflict, both act on different ground, but with one common aim, a very noble and important aim, that is to stimulate judgement, to exercise in the best way possible that critical function which more than any other distinguishes man from all other living beings: freedom.
Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is president of "La Centrale Finanziaria Generale Spa," one of Italy's leading financial firms.
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