There are a hundred different reasons for despising and boycotting the billionaire press and the industrial journalism it disseminates — but, as it happens, the substance of many of the objections can actually be conveyed by just two quotations.
One is a famous line of Malcolm X (1925-1965), the great — and, of course, assassinated — African-American human rights activist:
If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. (Speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, 13 December 1964)
The other quotation is from someone whose name I’ve never learned — as the text simply showed up on the internet a couple of years ago in the form of the following unattributed photograph of an unsigned graffito:
To me, those two statements seem to contain a sizeable quantity of insight; anyone who feels inclined to doubt their truth or relevance is hereby enjoined to spend a few hours with a highlighter pen and a random pile of newspapers — yes, the ‘serious’ ones will do just as well as the comics — and do a little ‘media analysis’ on the reporting, comment and editorials. If you need a bit of help (and if you can overlook the grotesque immodesty of the juxtaposition), I can even offer you a further quotation in the form of Doran’s Third Law of Media:
The more ‘mainstream’ a Western news source aspires to be, the more assiduously will it cultivate a capacity for selective amnesia with regard to events that show Western power in an unfavourable light.
(No, I haven’t forgotten that this is a ‘classical music’ blog: if you’ll bear with me, the musical part of the topic will be along very shortly. What I’m doing here is — once again! — attempting to make sure that we’re all ‘on the same page’ in terms of understanding the real nature of the ‘newspaper’ element within our state-corporate media system. If you’ve the stomach for it, read on…)
I mean it: take literally any important issue you like, and work carefully and thoughtfully backwards — all the way back to the specific causative, precipitating or exacerbating factor that you and I may be perfectly well able to remember, but which your newspaper has unaccountably forgotten… Then work forwards again, and see where you’ve ended up…
You want a ‘worked example’? Here’s one from today…
Not so many summers ago, the US and various of its vassal states bombed and strafed resource-rich Libya and engineered ‘regime change’ — in the process destroying that society’s governance and degrading its infrastructure, and turning what had long been a stable, functioning and prosperous North African nation into a collapsing and fragmenting failed state on the southern edge of Europe. Since then, refugees in their uncounted thousands have been fleeing the spiralling chaos and violence within yet another country wrecked by what the imperial West pretends is its ‘humanitarian intervention’. And, faced with this spectacle of crime and horror, what does our billionaire press define as ‘the problem’, ‘the issue’, the thing about which ‘something must be done’…? Yes: migrants. No, not the cause; merely the effect…
See how it all works? Leafing through those nicely printed pages, you will read countless smug condemnations of the ‘utter callousness’ of the traffickers who cram Libya’s citizens and refugees into little boats and send them out to sea to drown or dehydrate en masse — but you will never see an editorial dickie-bird about the utter callousness of the Western micro-elite that cynically destroyed Libya itself in the expectation of corporate gain and geo-strategic advantage.
Similarly, as you negotiate your way past the corporate advertising (in forms both open and covert!) you will encounter news-like reports stressing ‘how important it is’ that what are called ‘real refugees’ are distinguished from ‘people simply looking for a better life’ — yet in none of these items will there be the slightest acknowledgement of the reason that the people of Libya now face an existence worse than any they would previously have imagined possible.
In each case, you will have noticed, the West’s role and culpability have simply been made to disappear — using a whitewash well known to the authors of those two quotations above. For there is no greater love for an oppressor than that which takes his catalogue of violence and atrocity and makes it vanish from view, officially unimportant, a cause of nothing at all. Nor is there a more successful way of shifting blame away from the wealthy and powerful and onto the poor and desperate than to take a question about ‘how real’ or ‘how significant’ is their desperation, and to make that a central issue of the debate. And if you don’t want to see the final result, you should look away now. Because by the time this story is eventually put to bed, months or years from now, the perpetrators — us! — will have been turned into the victims; and the real victims — our victims! — will have become perpetrators…
That, dear reader, is the miracle of a proudly ‘free’ media which — when push comes to shove! — always turns out to be marching in lockstep with the political, military and corporate power it ostentatiously affects to be ‘holding to account’. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that, if you are someone who actually forks out for a newspaper (or a BBC TV license: it’s the very same brand of whitewash), you are that most tragic of creatures: the idiot who reaches into his own pocket and pays good cash money for his own ongoing stupidification.
Now, having read all of that, you will be wondering four things. First, what does any of this have to do with music? Secondly, why is this piece of media-criticism presented as part of my ‘Game Over’ thread? Thirdly, why are you now faced with a photograph of a slightly guilty-looking cat? And, fourthly, what can possibly have induced me to spend half of my lunch-break standing at a photocopier, scanning 20 pages from that reeking outfall of elite-serving distortion that is the oligarch-owned Independent on Sunday…?
For the answers to these questions — and more besides! — you’ll need to read the next posting… Click that ‘Follow’ button to make sure that you see it!
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