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Monday, March 14, 2011

Class warfare and the corporate media

In a comment on the preceding post, JJ (is she returning to the blogosphere? Be still, my beating heart!) observes the near-total blackout on coverage of the situation in Michigan.

As in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states, the monied interests and their hirelings are orchestrating an all-out attack on the middle class and ordinary working folks. They've bought, captured and/or subverted the institutions of government and the channels through which stories are told and the boundaries for acceptable ideas and discussions are established. What they can't buy or control, they target for destruction. Hence the war on unions and the principle of collective bargaining.

JJ wonders, not without some justification, whether the protesters standing up to these assaults ought to hang teabags from their hats. She observes, perhaps sardonically, that that seems to get MSM attention.

She's definitely on to something. For now, of course, the focus is on Japan, but let's not lose sight of the essential contrast here. The disaster in Japan is a result of plate tectonics and seismic shifts. It's beyond human control. The upheaval in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and other states has been planned. It is by malicious, calculated design. And it's motivated by simple human avarice. It is the work of a handful of people who already enjoy far more wealth, power and privilege than anyone else, trying to amass even more for themselves by screwing everyone else.

It's not surprising, therefore, that the media aren't playing it up. The MSM aren't there to tell the truth. They're there to serve the interests of their owners and propagate a certain narrative -- one designed to sucker the mass of citizens into thinking their interests are the same as those of the owners. And keep them distracted with new bits of shiny-shiny every few minutes. What they're not there to do is encourage any critical thought or questioning of any of the underlying assumptions.

As I said in response to JJ, perhaps it's time to stop using the term MSM and start calling them the corporate media, both as a way of making their allegiances explicit and as a means of reclaiming the discursive turf. It won't shift the tide overnight, but at least it'll help change the ground on which the battle is to be fought.

(Links and keywords to come. I'm trying mobile blogging; thanks for bearing with me while I work out the kinks.)

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  1. 'Corporate media' works for me.

    Mother Jones, hardly MSM I know, has good coverage of this. Otherwise, one has to rely on links from tweeps and local papers/broadcasters. Amateur photos and video.

    I'm finding it rivetting. The protesters know exactly what they're up against and also know what a long and uphill battle it's going to be. They seem determined, thank the goddess. Because it's coming here too. Pay attention, Canucks.

  2. The push back needs some identifiable leadership. There's nothing the Corporatists would like more than to provoke a radical response to discredit a populist movement - in effect to divide the working middle class and turn the factions against each other.

    Some venture that this can be an ad hoc movement like those in Tunisia and Egypt but I suspect that sort of sloppiness would be eagerly picked apart in North America. There won't be any quick revolt toppling the bad guys. It will take a long, determined campaign to prevail and that means real discipline.

  3. I've generally avoided using the term "corporate media", because (to me, anyway) it always sounded a little too much like the kind of far left, anti-capitalist rhetoric that grates on me. However, I'd agree that there's a big difference between media outlets that genuinely try to inform, and the stenography pool that currently calls itself "the Mainstream Media", and that it's a good idea to call attention to it. So maybe it's time even for me ;) to start using the term "corporate media".

    "is she returning to the blogosphere?"
    :D ;)

  4. I don't think we need concern ourselves too much with what the term "corporate media" sounds like. Most of the major media outlets are owned and operated by large, integrated conglomerates and institutional investors. Pointing that out isn't a question of left versus right, but a matter of fact (and as we all know, the facts have a liberal bias). And it has the added bonus of making the media's class biases and allegiances explicit, allowing for further discussion of why they choose to pay attention to certain stories and not others, and why they choose to put a particular spin on the stories they do cover.

    And besides, if you think "corporate media" is a loaded term, what are we to think about terms like "class warfare?" To their credit, people on the business end of it are starting to recognize it for what it is. Let's not allow the far-right fuckwads or Villagers to capture it, inject it with all kinds of nefarious overtones and pejorative connotations, and turn it into an epithet they can club us with (like they've done with the word "liberal"). My suggestion: yeah, it's a class war. Like, duh. Now let's ask ourselves, cui bono? Why is this being done? Who's doing it? Who benefits? Who's getting screwed?

    We didn't start it. We're just calling it what it is.

  5. Can't say I disagree with any of that, including your assessment of class warfare. It's not, as some would suggest, a tired old Marxist meme. It's always bubbled under society's civilized veneer, only less obviously during times of prosperity. It only breaks the surface when the economic shit hits the fan.

    (How I can be uncomfortable with a term like 'corporate media' and have no problem with 'class warfare'? The short answer is, I'm complicated. :p)

  6. Dennis Kucinich gave a barn-burner of a speech in in Madison after the rally on Sat.

    Sure, he's easy to dismiss by the wingnuts, but the guy believes and can rev up a crowd.

    @JJ, the offer of guest blogging still stands. Just sayin'.