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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/27/11

Divided and Conquered America: How "Independent" Media Undermines Mass Movements For Meaningful Change

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Message David McGraw

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After much research you realize that there are very few people who know our current system of power well enough to critique it in a meaningful and effective way. There are very few people who are brave and courageous enough to boldly speak their hard-earned truth to power. Once you understand how the powerful function to divide and conquer us, you break free from the groupthink partisanship that is pivotal in preventing any meaningful mass movements for structural change. It is at this point that you learn to appreciate the all-too rare "truth-tellers." It doesn't matter what their individual political leanings are -- most often they defy any pre-existing ideology. Ultimately, you respect the fact that they are exposing the deeper and more meaningful truths that are necessary for critical thinking and the evolution of your own perspective. In this regard, Chris Hedges is one of our leading truth-tellers. He courageously refuses to be pinned down into a partisan cage. He most often comes from a progressive perspective, but he has no hesitation in exposing the destructive role the Democratic party and "liberal establishment" play in our demise.

Here are two brief quotes from Hedges that I would like to call attention to:

"The longer we believe in the fiction that we are included in the corporate power structure, the more easily corporations pillage the country without the threat of rebellion. Those who know the truth are crushed. Those who do not are lied to. Those who consume and perpetuate the lies -- including the liberal institutions of the press" and the Democratic Party -- abet our disempowerment." [full source]

"The liberal class" prefers comfort and privilege to justice, truth and confrontation. Its guiding ideological stance is determined by what is most expedient to the careers of its members. It refuses to challenge, in a meaningful way, the decaying structures of democracy or the ascendancy of the corporate state". Those who expose this moral cowardice and collaboration with corporate power are always ruthlessly thrust aside. The liberal class is incapable of reforming itself. It does not hold within its ranks the rebels and iconoclasts who have the moral or physical courage to defy the corporate state and power elite." [full source]

While Hedges correctly criticizes the "liberal class" and Democratic Party, which all-too effectively push aside our most important truth-tellers and movements for change, I would like to point out an aspect of Hedges' critique that I believe is overlooked and discuss a more subtle method of suppression: the role of so-called "independent" media. This is where an important lesson is to be learned.

Whether they are aware of it or not, so-called "independent" liberal/progressive online news sites are pivotal divide and conquer pawns. The more established and well-funded progressive outlets are crucial players in suppressing mass movements for meaningful change.

Most people who read news on the internet are aware of the inherent corporate/political elite biases within the mainstream media, but the more insidious biases within some of the more popular online media sites are rarely questioned. I'm not talking about the obvious progressive viewpoints of sites like The Nation, Think Progress, AlterNet, Truth Out, Common Dreams, Mother Jones, Daily Kos, Media Matters, etc., I'm talking about the divisive partisan rhetoric these sites use and the destructive influence their funding sources have upon their reporting.

Don't get me wrong, I have respect for these sites. They do very important investigative reporting and help advance our understanding of many vital issues. However, we must also be aware that they are funded in large part based on their commitment to engaging in divisive partisanship. These organizations are heavily dependent on partisan foundations and political organizations that adhere to the tenets of the two-party system. Therefore, their editorial framing is most often "Republicans bad, Democrats good." They are critical of the Democratic Party to a point, no question about that, but a large part of their reporting and rhetoric serves to support the two-party system in service of the Democratic Party by consistently focusing blame on the Republican Party.

They frequently run headlines and commentaries that are purposefully aimed at dividing people along partisan lines and limiting thoughts into groupthinking traps, for this they are rewarded with financial support. It is clearly understood within the "independent" media community that if you focus your attack on the symptoms of the system (Republicans, Koch brothers, Fox News, Tea Party, etc.), you will be funded with hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, if you effectively focus your attack on the root underlying system and go against both political parties, you will not be funded. That's why these sites always default over to the Democratic Party, that's where the money is. (The same can be said for libertarian/conservative sites who blame Democrats in favor of Republicans.)

Organizations that engage in these divide and conquer strategies are therefore playing a key role in suppressing a much needed evolution of understanding and unified mass movement.

As I wrote in The Two-Party Oligarchy Vs. The People:

"When Progressive news sites complain about Republicans, or Conservative sites complain about Democrats, I can't help but think that they are insuring their own demise, and the rest of the country's for that matter. By buying into the Democrat versus Republican charade they have become the most important cog in suppressing any organized resistance."

For anyone who wants to make the tired old argument that there are no alternatives to the two parties, and wants to line up in the "vote for the lesser of two evils" crowd, you must acknowledge that it is your unwillingness to embrace alternatives, and give them a platform to grow their influence, which ensures the continued tyranny of the two-party system. On top of that, just look at where your unconditional support for your party has gotten us.

I've learned from experience that you can unite people across the political spectrum on the core issues that are at the root of the crisis we are in -- those key issues being: campaign finance, lobbying, the revolving door, breaking up the banks and the concentration of media ownership. These are the key systemic issues that we must focus on and can rally around together. There are many other issues that are important, but until these core common ground issues are solved we will ultimately find our other efforts to be futile.

It is obviously not easy to unite people on these core systemic issues and break through all the partisan noise when so many popular "independent" media outlets are primarily focused on the Democrat Vs Republican sideshow distraction. But if you're serious about changing the corrupted system that we toil in, if you are ready to roll up your sleeves, if you prefer justice and truth over short-term comfort and privilege, you have to stop fighting yesterday's war and evolve. Don't fall into the same short-sighted thinking that plagues the super-wealthy and current politicians. The inability to look at the longer-term ramifications, in favor of short-term profits and comfort, ensures our continued decline. If we (99.5% of the population) can't unite against the top economic 0.5% who control both political parties, our standard of living will continue on its downward spiral.

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Writer David McGraw, of, author of numerous articles & books- THE ROAD THROUGH 2012...Revolution or World War III.....The Choice is Ours, is a political activist, lecturer & analyist.
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Divided and Conquered America: How "Independent" Media Undermines Mass Movements For Meaningful Change

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