Given the responsibility to uphold the liberties and freedoms of the republic, the American system has become defined by a hyperreality in which truth and fiction have become indiscernible because of the corporate creation of the media medium that propagates an understanding embedded in a state of excited delirium and benightedness.
The media system produces the public discourse, a discourse that circulates among the people and is consumed by society and its characteristics. Through this medium, the public readily believes the sensationalist and bias views of the system and thus emerges a public opinion constructed by a media-produced headline. Therefore, the manufacture of public opinion has always been an objective of those who rule, those in power. The reality that has emerged in the American media system is one in which the propaganda machine dominates the base upon which decisions are made by citizens, taking away the liberties and freedoms of a democratic society. Though this is no typical definition of theft, as their exists remnants of basic liberty and freedom demonstrated by the ability for Americans to make guided-political decisions governing the collective life, the extent of their power has been undermined and robbed. The individual thought that governs their decisions, their discourse and their opinions have been infiltrated by media system owned by a handful of conservative capitalists. The public conduct can be dominated or determined by force, but the events of the Arab Spring demonstrate that physical repression generates more complicated problems for the ruling powers than does domination through a more symbolic violence – the shaping of minds by the organized management of public opinion. This is not to suggest that physical repression is above the American government, as the emerging police state is a testament to the state sponsored terrorist activities that have taken place domestically. Nevertheless, the concentration of this post is to illustrate how the media system has become a central part of the undemocratic nature of modern society. Similar to the thoughts expressed under ‘Mass Media‘, this blog will build from its predecessors. “The Propaganda Machine” concentrated on the political and military control of media to justify policies, the attitude of the elites towards the Great Beast, as well as the creation of a sheepish public through said propaganda. “Economic Sadism and Mass Media” concentrated on the ability of mass media and its corporate owners to target society with slogans and promises so as to subdue them into perpetuating subservience. This post will concentrate on the loss of domestic involvement, political accountability, the loss of democracy in the American system, the loss of the ability for each individual to carry equal power in determining the collective life, all of which is caused by the manufacturing of consent through lies propagated on mainstream media.
“The press scribble every half-truth spoke, then shoot it round the country like an April Fools joke. Hype the nation for a Desert Storm love affair. Wave the stars and striped like you just don’t care.” – Anti-Flag, “The Press Corpse”
The creation of the American republic was intended to create a radical idea of a ruling nation based on the people, the ‘demos’. There was meant to be an equal governance or accountability shared by all people. This power was to be a common commodity for the people. Communication can generate power, so if in a democracy everyone should be able to exercise power, it should be argued that the people should be able to govern over media and the publication of information. Without said knowledge, the people are left in the dark and in confusion; hence, the elite consensus theory emerges, which argues that the people would readily join a bandwagon of any uniform political consensus. This confusion, this lack of knowledge allows for the decision-making role to be solely in the hands of the elites. So saying, the more confusion the more the people seek guidance from the emerging aristocracy, allowing for the peoples’ choice to be mutated into another asset of the elites. The more confusion, the less ‘demos’. This confusion is not inherent to communication however; rather, the confusion is propagated and generated. Alternating ‘free speech’ for ‘freedom of noise’, the people are berated with a blitzkrieg of images and reports that leave them blind and broken. Mass media communications is based on the presentation of partially factual stories framed inside socio-emotional story lines that juxtapose some foreign evil with patriotism and Christian fervor, both of which are upheld by capitalist backed politicians. Being able to construct pubic fervor, to direct it, into a cohesive force has been the role of the media and its ‘informative noise’. This confusion has become useful; it has allowed for social, economic, military and political responsibilities to go unheeded. Confusion reduces complaints, reduces the accountability of politicians and it reduces the demands of the public, who sit complacent in deluded status quo. Confusion has become particularly effective when the confused people never realize that they are being taken advantage of. The involvement of the people has dwindled and instead of being a republic run by the masses, the republic has become a hallow puppeteer state run by business leaders and their Washington suits, to control and lead the masses like beasts. The powers open to the people, to exercise their civil duties and enforce political accountability, has become another lost concept of the republic constructed by the founding fathers.
“Just take a look around the world and you’ll find that nearly all mass media are owned and controlled by a handful of conservative capitalists. We must devise and implement alternative methods of distributing our news, our information, our ideas.” – Anti-Flag, “Underground Network”
Benjamin Franklin believed that the republic he and the founding fathers created was to exist in a form of pluralism, according to Miquel de Bustos, requiring the collective deliberation of all viewpoints existing in society. In order to construct said informed public, the media systems must decentralize power and thus define the democratic state. The free press is supposed to represent a mean to reach the democratic state, representing the right to freely express, comment and publish, the right of mas participation, political pluralism, diversity of opinion, and naturally some quality of information to be provided. Nevertheless, increasingly processes of communication have been left in the hands of privatized markets making them commodities controlled by corporations. This, in essence, is the conflicting embodiment of capitalism to democracy, the increasing commodification of a human fields, including information and communication, thus ridding the elements of democracy and establishing more so a plutocracy run by narrow business interests and opportunist politicians. Mass media is regulated by the market, becoming based on point that there are companies that use communication to produce economic and political benefits for their owners by appealing to a particular group of people. This has created social perversion, dividing the society into camps based on ideologies and principles spread on the evening news and anchored into the peoples’ heads. This divide, most easily exemplified by the division of liberals behind MSNBC and conservatives behind FOX , has allowed for the government to freely reign domestically and internationally. The media has removed the one impediment, the one obstacle, established by the founding fathers to regulate and hold the government accountable. With the people divided, there is no fear of retribution because there will always exist a camp supporting said policies, ensured by a new form of slavery being proliferated by mass media. In a developed society slavery is forbidden; one may not sell and buy people. Yet, there still exists the opportunity to sell and purchase a portion of a characteristic of a person, such as their attention. This has allowed media and its owners to target groups and buy their beliefs, thus creating a new herd to trample periodically in support of one or another element of the leadership.
“Social divisions encouraged by the few – few! Those in power suckerin’ suckers like you – you! – as corporate welfare flows from troughs of the state – state! – big business takes more than their fair take – take! But in the end it is suckers like you – you! – who buy that the poor are givin’ you the screw.” – Anti-Flag, “Watch the Right”
The people are indoctrinated into unquestionable loyal fodder for politicians and corporate leaders, spoon-feeding them fabrication after lie after fabrication to promote public beliefs that discourage and deactivate any attempt to transform the corporate controlled media toward a more democratic, decentralized society. In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying news in the US. It was argued that under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. The decision implied First Amendment rights belong to the employers, becoming a broad shield for them to hide behind. Evidently, the public airwaves, once representing a tool for public discourse and non-biased information, have become a commodity and asset for corporations to influence. This example demonstrates the propagation of fabricated news, sensationalist headlines, and lies to keep the people subdued and complicit to a system robbing them of their individual liberties and freedoms. The bias towards hyperreality inherent in modern media is so rampant, the consumer-based populace only need turn on the TV to be exposed to the spin. The hyperreality is easily seen in the sensationalist rhetoric of FOX and Glen Beck, both of whom seem adamant about demonizing Hugo Chavez, a leader repeatedly elected through democratic means and supported by over one and a half million voters in 2008. For the lowest-income two-thirds of people in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez means health care, jobs, food and security in neighborhoods. Along with lowering the unemployment to levels lower than that of the US, FOX has concentrated its efforts solely on providing an abundant source of negative Chavez news. The presentation of this foreign evil is juxtaposed to the gilded conservative knight of Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh, inside the corporate media, is a caricature of patriotism and Christian values. That he lacks factual understandings of socio-political circumstances doesn’t matter in a hyperreal corporate media system. His propagation of noise, however senseless, champions the cause of excited delirium of knowinglessness. Rush Limbaugh once accused Paul Gusmorino of being a Marxist professor for his article “The Main Causes of the Great Depression”. Gusmorino was in 10th grade when he wrote the piece in 1996, hardly a Marxist political economy professor. Nevertheless, the spin of the corporate media has succeeded in creating a “Truman Show” around Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, allowing for the mass production of their nonsense. Evidently, the cultural decline will continue as long as the spin that incited it, corporate media sensationalism, is present.
“Our thoughts and our lives controlled by pocket books of rich politicians. Like a rich daddy warbux, they pay for the deaths of those who speak of revolution, while they keep us at each other’s throats.” – Anti-Flag, “Daddy Warbux””
The American people were given a republic, if they could keep it, but the manipulation of the media has resulted in a rule by an aristocracy as government agents are given various powers over the general public. The media has undermined and eliminated the means given to the people, by the founding fathers, to hold the government accountable. The media system of domination protects itself through confusion, the proliferation of noise to isolate and bewilder the people. Walter Lippmann, former member of Wilson’s Committee on Public Information, stated that the media secures the intellectual solitude of the ‘bewildered masses’, controlling with propaganda those whose lives are entertained and incommunicado with other people. Individual thought is a weapon against this form of ‘mind think’, a form of blind patriotism in which the people allow themselves to be led along by lies of the elites. It is in this instance that the Police States of America is depicted, through the suppression and silencing of people with individual thought. The power of the media organizes silence around issues that should not be known by citizens, limiting the accessibility of information and rescinding the freedoms of the American people. The media system of the American societies is the central machine of the organized silence and noise. It is the mechanism used to establish who will dominate the apparatus that makes noise, by guiding the public thought towards one or another corporate controlled candidate. So saying, Mattelart and Murciano argue that a democratic media system is simply a system in which power is diluted, or where power, as such, does not exist. Power is intended to be contained in all the elements but none of the elements alone has sole power. This separation and balance, the institution so set up, has been dissolved by the totalitarian system emerging through media thought control, physical repression through the security apparatus, and a rigged power hierarchy. The American system is one set up to protect its capitalist interests and ensure that domestic forces remain subservient and silent to the evident violations of their constitutional rights. So saying, the republic crafted by the founding father has become a tyrannical institution driven by capitalist greed and given free reign because of the ineptitude of the masses, an ignorance and consent constructed by the media.