Studies into the semi-obvious
The Koch brothers: avatars of malignant plutocratic power. An educated public is the last thing they want.
Massive, proliferating popular ignorance is a critical problem in any society that aspires to rational, just and democratic self-government. The kind of government willing and staffed to do the bidding of the vast majority of the people, not puny privileged enclaves accounting for less than 0.01% of the whole population. Which is what we have today in the United States.
Some are quick to point fingers toward the long-suffering educational system, currently under attack by billionaire privatisers, but ignorance at the scandalous level we see today in the US is not issuing solely from a broken schooling system, even though it is largely deteriorated, in many sectors underfunded and class-divided, at college level way overpriced, and widely infected with idiotic influences (i.e., fundamentalist creationism, etc.). And the cost of college is now so high as to effectively segregate people by class, burdening the "lucky ones" who manage to graduate with a debt likely to darken their future for decades. (Incidentally, the trade-off between "guns and butter" and foreign policy will be examined in a forthcoming micro-editorial.)
The main sickness afflicting our social and political consciousness is the toxic information we receive daily from tens of thousands of communications channels controlled by the super rich here and around the world.
Many Americans believe that America enjoys a true diversity of message in the media because, well, thousands of "independent", privately-owned channels must represent diversity. Wrong, pardner. They're confusing diversity with numerosity, which is fairly easy to do. After all, it stands to reason, doesn't it? How do you get thousands of people to say essentially the same thing under freedom?!
Well, you can. Thousands or tens of thousands of voices can repeat exactly the same message, become a parrot gallery, if their voices are controlled by the same class viewpoint--in this case the viewpoint of the ultra rich, who happen to own practically all the media. The situation gets more disagreeable when you realise that these select "super citizens", each worth a bunch of billions, also own the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. And the so-called "two party" system.
The upshot is that America is now in the grip of a thoroughly prostituted, shamelessly bankrupt media system, not any longer-- if we ever had it--a dependable informational system, but an Orwellian Ministry of Truth that deforms and negates reality 24/7 in the service of a corrupt reigning plutocracy.
It's worth noting that the huge lies we consider "reality" in the United States do not, as a rule, originate with media personnel per se, either too dumb or too timid for that, but the media system and its top employes happily disseminate them. As a rule, they take their pointers from top politicians, aggressive conservatives and prominent business leaders, which in America are often found in the same bag.
The "sociology" of American journalism has been examined in many articles posted on this site and elsewhere so we won't go into that here. Suffice it to say that in most cases, especially with those at the very top of the profession, career and multimillion-dollar rewards come first, duty to the public interest a distant second. And that's assuming the official brainwash has not polluted their minds already. Like the Jesus parable about the moneychangers they should be kicked out of the temple, flogged in the public square for willful complicity in the crimes of the empire, but that will have to wait for the revolution.
Plutocracy is the true political system of the United States at this point, and this system DOES not require a well-informed intelligent and interested public, but precisely the opposite. Intelligent publics are a threat to plutocrats and warmongers everywhere, and as a result the commercial media, owned stock lock and barrel by huge corporate clans, have no incentive to inject clarity or truth into their reporting. Trust therefore the sports scores and weather reports, but scarcely more than that. It's liable to be poisoned.
Every American should understand that without "liberating" the media, "occupying" the mass communications system of this nation, the world will continue to go from bad to worse to horrible for everyone, while the planet dies right before our eyes. Just take a good look around if you need convincing. For those who still have eyes, the evidence should be overwhelming. But if you still disagree, then think about it carefully, because you may be part of the problem.
Patrice Greanville and Branford Perry are senior members of the editorial team of The Greanville Post.
If you want to do something about this, start by educating yourself about media. It's a great education because it's tightly interwoven with politics and history in general, so you get a good understanding of where and how social power operates. Many are familiar with Chomsky by now, but there are other voices who also provide superb insight into this area and should be paid attention, too. Five books should give all the foundation you need to become something of an "expert" on this topic. Here's the short list, welcome them to your library, and act! If five books seem like overkill, then read at least one.
" ALEX CAREY: TAKING THE RISK OUT OF DEMOCRACY
" MICHAEL PARENTI: INVENTING REALITY
" ROBERT McCHESNEY: THE PROBLEM OF THE MEDIA
" HERBERT SCHILLER: THE MIND MANAGERS
" ROBERT McCHESNEY: RICH MEDIA, POOR DEMOCRACY
Media critic and former economist P. Greanville is The Greanville Post's founding editor (http://www.greanvillepost.com/).
He also serves as publisher for Cyrano's Journal Today. He has a lifelong interest in the triumph of justice and (more...