Facebook can’t bring us together, but culture can. That’s why Unesco is vital


The Guardian / Opinion / Unesco
Tuesday 10 October 2017

he Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg made headlines when he said earlier this year that the social media giant wants to bring together communities and help people “find a sense of purpose and support”. As a film-maker, I know that cinema is an ideal medium for opening minds and, in Zuckerberg’s words, “expanding our horizons”. Films are not designed to serve as schools or teach lessons. They are spectacles. Even so, those spectacles can have profoundly political dimensions. Through cinema, distant countries have got to know one another and powerful taboos have been overcome.

Politicians rightly fear and respect these powers. This is why authoritarians have always sought to subjugate them. History shows us that fascists and Stalinists have little patience for dissenting views – especially when those views are immortalised in the form of a book, a painting, a play or a film.

The most straightforward way of determining whether a government is democratic is to ask: does it allow cultural life to proceed independently, or does it seek to bend culture to its own purposes?

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