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Mass Media and
Your Culture
as an Identity

By Punkerslut

From RadicalGraphics.org
Image: From "Media" Gallery from RadicalGraphics.org

Start Date: November 11, 2009
Finish Date: November 11, 2009

"The ruling classes have in their hands the army, money, the schools, the churches, and the press. In the schools, they kindle patriotism in the children by means of histories describing their own people as the best of all peoples and always in the right. Among adults they kindle it by spectacles, jubilees, monuments, and by a lying patriotic press. Above all, they inflame patriotism in this way: perpetrating every kind of harshness and injustice against other nations, they provoke in them enmity towards their own people, and then in turn exploit that enmity to embitter their people against the foreigner."
          --Leo Tolstoy, 1900
          "Patriotism and Government," Part 3

     News outlets are a natural part of civilization. The social consciousness wants to know what is happening in the community, the region, the nation, and beyond it. In television, newspaper, radio, and magazines, news is available in any form and focused on any topic. The mainstream news stations, however, always focus on what they believe are threats to society. They speak about unemployment, crime, wars, and political scandals. They'll detail the numbers of jobs lost, some horrendous murder case, a battle in a nameless and foreign land, or a sleazy politician who just had an affair. This is the news as it reads day-to-day for all of the major news carriers.

     There is a cultural effect when you are saturated with so much information. You pick up the values and ideas given to you by the source. A story about burglaries in town, for instance, will give you a conscious understanding of that fear. Someone thought enough about that to write it, and someone thought enough about the writing to publish it. It might even be in a completely different area and you're not effected, but the information itself still leaves an impact.

     Your attention has been focused on these crimes of theft as the general warning sent out to the community. And if this is the community's watch tower, when it sounds the alarm against some looming danger, you will not only feel yourself threatened. But you will feel that your family, friends, and neighbors are being threatened. Your culture naturally values the innocent who are wrongly attacked, and so this becomes your new values -- your new culture.

     A newspaper doesn't have to lie to deceive you. When the media deceives you, it is to give you a culture that you think truly represents you -- when it is a culture that is actually your enemy. If the news focuses on violent crimes in ethnic-minority neighborhoods, it will give you a racist impression. There could be just as much crime in other neighborhoods, or even far worse, but they don't have to cover it.

"It is the superstition, myth, pretense, evasions, and subservience which support authority and institutional domination. It is the reverence for these institutions instilled in the school, the church and the home in order that man may believe and obey without protest. Such a process of devitalizing and distorting personalities of the individual and of whole communities may have been a part of historical evolution; but it should be strenuously combated by every honest and independent mind in an age which has any pretense to enlightenment."
          --Emma Goldman, 1934
          "Was My Life Worth Living?" Harper's Monthly Magazine, Vol. CLXX, Section I

     Death tolls in wars will only reflect the number of soldiers who have died on our side, or the number of civilians killed by their side. It is so rare to hear an actual, numerical count of those our troops have slaughtered. And so, it gets pushed out of your mind almost entirely. There is no established voice that says that it matters, that it has always mattered. Even in protests from "traditional" groups against wars, they focus not on the total death count. But just one nation's deaths. For patriots, human morality must bow before the nation.

     The media is giving you an impression from its total viewpoint: its covering of crimes and wars, unemployment and business, politicians and celebrities. The biggest impact is that it centers your view on these things as the most pressing issues of the community and society at large. News stories are presented to you almost as if the public had voted on them as the most significant to their personal lives. They are offered as what is really on the mind of the people, when it is just what is really on the mind of the media-owners.

     A story that covers the death of a murder victim, for instance, gives you the impression that murderers are your greatest threat. But in the same day, perhaps one hundred or two hundred people were killed by a government in wars, labor camps, and forced migrations. Perhaps in the same day, a thousand died from unhealthy, eating habits suggested to them by the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- which officially endorsed cigarettes. In the same day, children were poisoned by lead dust in the cities, police brutality ravages the urban areas, and millions are left to starve in the streets.

'the mainstream news will tell you everything that helps capitalism thrive' by Punkerslut
Image: By Punkerslut

     All of these are true, just as much, but none of them are given an analysis, an examination, or anything worth publishing in a news story. The media does not want you to think that the government or the system of property has anything to do with society's misery. They focus not on abuses caused by the system, but they focus on individual subjects who act out. And one murderer is just acting out when compared to the mass murders of state violence. It gives you the idea that you need the government, that you're threatened not by laws but by the lack of them, that you're in danger when you have no police officer or army.

"...he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light."
          --Plato, 360 BC
          "The Republic," Book 7

     Why would mass media have the interest of fooling you? Why would it want to mislead you, to drive you in a direction against your interests? For what reason or desire could they possibly do this?

     Media is like any other privileged party of the social order. It is very easily corruptible and bought-out. The church, during the Middle Ages, blessed the shackles of slavery, and during World War 2, it assisted the Nazis in escaping. The state has sanctioned slavery in all of its miserable forms, from serfdom, to bonded labor, to wage-slavery. It can be purchased and used to advance the interests of some wealthy, powerful minority. The university, too, has been bought-out and made a meaningless instrument of violence and ignorance. Generations and generations of racist, Euro-centric history books have been pumped out of these "institutions of higher-learning."

     All of these social institutes gain nothing by being altruistic. The church, the state, and the university, if they genuinely followed truth, would be hated by society's elites -- and not worshiped by them. If the government was just, it would offend the Capitalists and throw out the slaveholders. If the church was honest, it would have lost its congregation. And if the university gave truth, it wouldn't produce those who manage sweatshop factories and who prop-up dictators to exploit foreign people. All of these institutes are praised and honored by the wealthy, because they have been purchased.

     But the politician that doesn't give in to special interests loses their funding, and soon their campaigns. The pastor, who gives a piece of reality to his listeners, is quickly dismissed by a bishop. And the university that teaches the interconnection of human society eventually loses grants from commercial patrons. So, too, with the media, which has often been called the Fourth Branch of the Government.

"...the only way the workers can shrug off the ignorance and cultural deprivation that the capitalist regime and the state assign them to is by means of revolution."
          --Isaac Puente, 1932
          "Libertarian Communism"

     If the media spoke the truth, it wouldn't receive funding from its investors. Government officials are supported by capitalists, because the candidates pass laws that help their electors. Not the people electors, but the campaign-contributor electors. So, too, with the media. It is not given wealth just to operate as a public service to inform the public. Businesses do not practice philanthropy. A news station is an investment. It allows those who own the majority of wealth to give you the viewpoint they want you to have.

     And what do Capitalists want you to focus on? They want you to be concerned about some political scandal or some celebrity breakup. They want you to think that it is more important that a police officer was shot in a bank robbery -- than that police officer shooting and killing an unarmed man. It is more important that two massive corporations have merged together, than a village was massacred by US-allied forces in Africa, South America, or Asia.

     In short, all that gives you faith and hope in Capitalism, all that makes you think you need the government and a propertied society, all that makes you submissive and cowardly and easy to dominate -- this is what mass media will feed you. Because, as a privileged class, it is naturally corruptible, and the deliverer of truth is the perfect costume for the greatest deceiver.

"I must beg you to indulge the hoarseness of my voice, which has been somewhat strained addressing meetings of the Industrial Workers ('the IWW') held in and about Chicago during the last two or three evenings; but, fortunately, my eyesight has not been strained reading the accounts of these meetings in the capitalist papers of Chicago.

"Alert, vigilant, argus-eyed as the capitalist dailies of Chicago are, there is not one of them that knows of this meeting of the Industrial Workers. But if this were a meeting of the American Federation of Labor and an old trade union leader were here, you would read tomorrow morning a full account of it and him in every capitalist paper in the city. There is a reason for this that explains itself."
          --Eugene V. Debs, 1905
          "Revolutionary Unionism," Speech at Chicago, November


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