"Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship”, said Noam Chomsky. This is quite correct but few would agree. In Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, propaganda was less necessary than it is under the modern so-called democratic states. The reason is rather simple. In these more totalitarian states-and by totalitarian states I mean the ones that are openly fascist-these sorts of governments then care little about what people think because they control what people do.
Nevertheless, when you lose the bludgeon, then what is required is another weapon to oppress, control and marginalise people. The obvious answer to this lies in the mainstream media. It is crucial that people in these countries believe they are “free” and have an array of “rights” and “liberties” bestowed upon them. Because such countries have the vote, they depend on the media to replace violent totalitarianism. Laws then creep in under the carpet because the media often do not report them. This is all going on while we have a “free press” under brainwashing freedoms. For it is clear, at least it should be, the mind has a more rational, liberal outlook when the media is removed from circulation.
In the printed and digital media, it often makes little difference what the headline stories are because that is not their main function. What matters is selling power. It is important for certain publications not to report stories with complications because it hinders “selling power”. So more essentially, the advertising industry, as it is known, induces us to buy items we do not really want or need. We are persuaded to watch propaganda on television, which we dislike, to buy products that are of no interest to us, discuss things, which are popular but not even remotely interesting. This is the power of the corporate media, and this is just one of its many functions.
Another is indoctrination and brainwashing freedoms. Often it is not what is reported but what is not reported. For example Israeli mass media groups often do not report on Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank: Britain never did on the role it played in the East Timor massacres or the terror and horror it subjected Ireland to over a sustained period; America’s bombing of Cambodia was never reported and the sustained bombing against Laos was also neglected; Australian media groups ignore abuses against the Aborigines and so on. These things, and an array of others have been removed from history. The people’s suffering made invisible, and if we look closely at this, it is extremely disturbing considering practically all media groups conform to this propaganda framework.
In the twentieth century Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala, Grenada, Venezuela, South Africa, North Korea, Indochina, Indonesia, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Bolivia, Libya, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Chile, the Dominican Republic and of course many countries have been reported in the capitalist press not detailing the suffering of its people but the support of free market fascism, and the aim? The crushing of social movements and people: the unpeople, oppressed, and powerless, unrepresented, downtrodden are never reported, and thus, allowing such horrors to go on. People, it is said, act upon their conscience and humanity but people are unable to act upon this when it gets unreported. They are, in turn, being prevented from doing things, because they are unaware these things are happening at all. So the only people aware of such things are intellectuals and scholars who have the time and facilities to study, research and find out about such things. As for the rest of the population they are indoctrinated to such a large degree they would never believe it even if a million people revealed these facts. For societies that preach democracy that is quite another thing entirely.
Under a mainstream liberal press under brainwashing freedoms there is no Marxist voice, leftist, anarchist, socialist, feminist, ecological. All that remains is the one run by the liberal intelligentsia. These same ‘liberals’ are open supporters of market corporate fascism and they stick to this framework which stretches right throughout the entire capitalist press. This framework then gives these news programs and media journals the licence to lambast the government but only up to a certain point; but anything beyond this is largely forbidden. It is not forbidden by the government either but this is what is known as self-censorship, there is little need to censure anything Orwell says because, we ought to add, journalists and editors behave themselves and do exactly what is expected of them.
Practically every journalist writing in the popular press are just acting as servants of power. They write trivial pieces of nonsense telling the government off because they are not looking after the elderly properly or are not taxing the rich as much as they perhaps should. In the 1960's American journalists, almost without exception were apologists for U.S aggression in Indochina, and when some were opposed to it they would refer to it as a tragic mistake and that is when a bad decision by the American government. No other criticism is permitted. They refused to reveal the truth about the real aims of the war. Comically enough practically all these journalists put the lie to their very own throats. That this war of sorts was a “mistake”, not a monstrous and criminal bombardment, as it was, and at no time do they cite the real aims of the war. It has everything to do with communism, they claim. But this is a fabrication. It had nothing to do with communism and they know this well.
Polly Toynbee is another liberal journalist. She sticks to the propaganda framework as is expected of her. She criticises government policies on this and that but applauds Tony Blair’s “humanitarianism” on his actions in Kosovo. She, much like Dickens in his novels attacks government policy but not the structure of power and the nature of “democracy” itself. For a woman so vehemently opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq she did not appear so keen on opposing more popular “wars”. After the death of Margaret Thatcher, her biographer, Charles Moore, made the audacious claim on a television debating show that Thatcher supported the ANC struggle in South Africa during the 1980s. This was clearly a fabrication. After Thatcher’s death, Toynbee’s newspaper, the Guardian had a headline which read “How Margaret Thatcher helped end apartheid”, another English newspaper (the Telegraph) ran another headline saying “Margaret Thatcher’s secret campaign to end apartheid”. Toynbee on the debating show then failed to point out Charles Moore’s lies, instead she went on with this charade.
Another ploy the liberal press use to marginalise debate is quite a clever one. An individual or a group of people who are openly fascist, are not fascist at all according to the corporate press but “conservative’, conservatives then become “liberals’, liberals become “left wing” and left wingers become “demagogues”, “criminals”, “deranged”, “out of touch” and “crazed lunatics”. So the entire political class have become right wing, within various factions. Britain, wrote John Pilger, the Australian journalist, is a one party state with two factions. In the real world somebody who is right wing is somebody who likes to smash the undeserving poor on the head with an ideological sledge hammer while filling the pockets of wealthy business elites. Conservatives are nothing more than autocrats, liberals have similar views and the left have never been in a position of power in so-called democratic states.
Mark Curtis is an historian and has written a number of important books. Some of his works include Unpeople and Web of Deceit. They detail a furtive account of crimes and clandestine wars conductive by the British government over decades and this is interesting because most of the allegations and charges documented in these books never reach the mass media. The crimes are conducted in many countries including Yemen, Malaya, Kenya, even Vietnam. The deaths of these innocents in these countries are so many we could even describe it as a holocaust itself. This same writer attempted to get articles published in the Guardian newspaper in the 1990s, detailing the British support for genocide in East Timor, carried out by Indonesia, but such requests were denied.
The main and most important aspect of media propaganda is the marginalisation of dissident debate and comment. Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel Prize winning speech for literature, was, rather predictably, ignored. The speech itself was broadcast on terrestrial television..late, very late. In the speech he spoke about American agression in Vietnam, Iraq and Nicaragua. He quoted Father father Metcalfe and went on to offer his own thoughts:
'Sir, I am in charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My parishioners built a school, a health centre, a cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. They destroyed everything: the school, the health centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please demand that the US government withdraw its support from this shocking terrorist activity.'
Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity. 'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.' There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch.
Innocent people, indeed, always suffer.
Other British playwrights including Howard Barker and Edward Bond are also ignored. In Britain, the country to which they are native to, are removed from the political arena. They do not fit into the propaganda framework Polly Toynbee and others fit into. They - Bond and Barker - are dissidents, who do not waste their time and energy writing about trivialities concerning British politics, saying things like which political party are the most benevolent and that this or that policy works. The reason for this is that are not interested in propaganda but in more serious matters. But these men have interesting things to say on the state of contemporary British politics.
The only people that have heard of Edward Bond in Britain are the people who study him in the universities and drama schools. Even so, they will be lucky to see anything performed from Bond in his own country. People like him are dangerous of course because he does not utter dogmatic platitudes as he is expected to. He, like Camus’ hero in the outsider, Meursault, has a set of values and does not subvert the truth, and in turn rejects his own societies values. He, in turn, is repaid by being ignored.
In Howard Barker’s 1975 play, Claw, we see a corrupt politician, as well as a corrupt police officer and a working class victim, Victor, sentenced to seven-years imprisonment for smashing a Karl Marx picture over his son’s head. Noel, his son is an unsavory character; a pimp. He ends up in a mental institution, Noel that is, and gets murdered by two nurses. At one point during the play, Victor says: “In an unjust society, the weak will always be the persecuted...so they are brutalized by the system. But when the system falls, so will all forms of cruelty”. Barker is an intellectual, and in Britain intellectuals of all kinds, are kept out of harm’s way, unless, they are part of the establishment itself. These sorts of people are the ones that are spineless, with no backbone. They are useless, and pathological.
Ken Loach is another person who refuses to adhere to the practices of the criminal state. His overriding themes in his films has always been “class”. Often in his work, we see working people subject to monstrous and terrible conditions. He was asked, along with ten other directors to make an eleven-minute film, along with ten other international directors, about that famous date, September 11th. Loach decided to make it about the the 1973 coup in Chile which took place on that infamous date in September, with Western complicity and support in the terror. Salvador Allende was the democratically elected President in the Latin American country in 1970, eventually committing suicide. But we are not supposed to know this. Again, Loach is dangerous in his own country because he refuses to submit to the propaganda framework.
The mass media is effective in controlling people. It is more effective than say putting people in gulags, gas chambers and so on, because these torturous methods are not required for the mass media to control and marginalise people, so people do not get out of hand and they do as they are told. The troubling thing is that people believe they have deep-seated values but that is hardly the case. All these people do is regurgitate what is presented to them. That is just a scrap-yard society. Everything has become one-dimensional. If you do not succumb to the free market fascist democratic ideal you must be totally removed from society, and treated like you no longer exist; if you do not buy into the puerility of power and mass culture you are a snob and a traitor. This is a society like any other. It is monstrous and contemptible. It is the sort of the Kafka could not have dreamt up. It is a totally rotten and retarded society.
“You would not fit into my circle of friends”, a man once said to me. This is because he insisted, my knowledge on popular culture was “weak”. This intelligent man, with an unusually high IQ, could not comprehend anything beyond this. He, it is true, went to private school, paid by his father, who worked in some capacity for the government. In other words his parents paid him large sums of money to give him the world’s greatest education and make them think like themselves: like fascists. Everything about British society, in particular, is infantile to stupendous degrees. Books are fine to read but must contain at least some element of escapism. Films watched by a mass audience must be made by Hollywood studios, and have nothing but infantile stupidity in them. The topic of conversation has to be surrounded around the television system, gossiping about various celebrities and so on. It is, with all things considered, the media which have us believe we are more free than freedom itself when the truth is the Jew is Auschwitz had more freedom.
10th-13th May, 2014
For my earlier posts on crime, see previous posts in my blog; my final post on crime essays will be posted soon.