China Digital Times pulled a great item from an interview with Chinese publisher Bao Pu and writers Guo Xiaolu and Hao Qun (who goes by the pen name Murong Xuecun) from the June 3 issue of Foreign Policy.
The blockage of the Internet by the Chinese government means, said the authors and publisher, that people are not getting enough information to make rational decisions.
[R]elatively few people actually bypass censored information on the Internet. But why? Censorship in the long run breeds prejudice. Once you have this prejudice, you think you know everything, but you don’t. That’s why they’re not actively seeking — because they think there’s nothing out there. It’s a vicious cycle.
I have long argued that censorship means the people of a country will begin to rely more on rumors and prejudices than on cold hard facts. China’s rulers, however, say too much unregulated (censored) information leads to social instability.
What they really mean is that once people start thinking critically, the iron-heel rule of the Communist Party in China will be weakened.
And what goes for China goes for other dictatorships. Think Iran, Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe. Even the leaders in proto-dictatorships such as Singapore and Malaysia want to control all forms of media to protect their hold on power.