Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

The Affairs of Media

According to Noam Chomsky, people often find themselves serving the interests of money-driven media power, with the hope that foreign countries will compensate them with wages for undermining choices and politics. While there’s no doubt about the media’s ability to shape public opinion and even manipulate the masses, the public is also aware of its susceptibility to such influence. People recognize that the media has been effective in mobilizing those who initially opposed war, turning them bloodthirsty through its presentations.

The media’s role in today’s political landscape prompts individuals to question what society and the world truly desire. According to Chomsky, one conception of democracy posits that a democratic society is one in which the public wields significant influence in governing its affairs. However, there is another conception that suggests the apparatus should prevent the public from having such control. It’s important to note that this is a broad concept. Chomsky delves into the modern era, discussing the development of democracy, and explores how issues related to media and disinformation intertwine with the context of democracy.

The State Propaganda

If the educated classes support it without deviation, government propaganda will have a significant impact. Studies of the media in developing countries emphasize the dominance or hegemony of state power. In most cases, journalism serves as a tool for state propaganda, used to preserve the ruler’s ideology and interests. Consequently, those in power have a strong incentive to employ the media as a political tool to achieve their objectives. As a result, the public often perceives the media as instruments of state power. This includes individuals who serve the state, their proximity to state censorship and control, their understanding of how different aspects of the media operate at any given time, and their tendency to focus excessively on the state.

The media has diverse and pluralistic characteristics, and it often covers political issues extensively. As state power weakens worldwide, state censorship tends to decrease as well. According to Pharr, the media can be likened to swindlers, a term he coined himself. These “swindlers” actively participate in the political process and contribute to building communities.

The Architects of Adam Smith’s Policy

People often recall Adam Smith’s observations on policy formation in England. During that time, the “chief architects” of policy were merchants and factory owners who ensured that the government prioritized the interests of the people, regardless of how “painful” the effects might be on others, including the British population. What concerned Smith most was the “barbaric injustice of the Europeans” that people faced, especially in India as a conquered territory. He specifically referred to the mercantilist system, but his observations can be generalized and serve as enduring principles for both international relations and domestic affairs.

There are interesting cases in which state interests, including long-term strategic and economic interests, have overridden short-sighted concerns about the concentration of economic power, which often shapes state policy. Cuba and Iran serve as educational examples in this regard.

State Propaganda

According to Noam Chomsky, media behavior and power often exhibit inconsistent politics, hypocrisy, and ambiguity. In short, they can be deceptive and slippery. While society may perceive this as a positive aspect, it also has a destructive and detrimental side. Pharr argues that fraudulent media don’t represent a particular group, as various interests often ensnare the media in Southeast Asia. Deception doesn’t arise from a lack of loyalty; rather, it stems from the multiple loyalties, a plurality of obligations, and religious factors of their stakeholders. These diverse stakeholders possess both strengths and weaknesses.

Media analysis from the West also tends to focus on partisan relations in both informal and formal interactions between political parties and media organizations. In the context of Southeast Asia, this definition is not sufficient. Partisan relations should be understood as a comprehensive set of relationships among practitioners, parallel to the realms of politics and the media. Much of the media literature in developing countries emphasizes the hegemony or dominance of state power, where journalism uses the media as a means of state propaganda.

Neoliberal Democracy

Often referred to as “democracy promotion,” the restoration of neoliberal democracy has allowed for the marginalization of the public and other means of control. One example is the management of election spectacles in the United States by the public relations industry, culminating in Obama’s election and earning him the title of “2008’s best marketer.” Business executives have emphasized that Obama’s achievement was the most remarkable in pioneering the packaging of candidates as consumer brands, a practice they initiated 30 years ago during the Reagan campaign. However, this has meant disaster for the poor, small farmers, and workers both at home and abroad.

One of the reasons for the radical development disparity between East Asia and Latin America in the last half-century is that Latin America lacks control over flight capital, which often leads to crippling debt levels. Flight capital is regularly used as a weapon against the threat of reform and social democracy. In contrast, during South Korea’s extraordinary growth, the government not only banned capital flight but even imposed the death penalty for such offenses.

The Golden Age of Capitalism

The phrase “the golden age of capitalism” can be challenged. The period could be more accurately referred to as “state capitalism.” The state sector remained a significant factor in innovation and development through various measures, including research and development, assurance, and procurement. In the US version, these policies primarily operated under the protection of the Pentagon at the cutting edge of advanced economies. The results include satellites, the internet, computers, and most of the existing technological revolution. This also applies to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, advanced machine tools, civil aircraft, and many others. The vital role of the state in economic development must be remembered when the public hears dire warnings about government interference in the financial system after private management has once again caused it to experience a crisis, now a very severe crisis, that endangers the rich, not just the poor. Therefore, the crisis requires special attention.

Radical Changes

Legally, intelligent commentary and judicial decisions introduced radical changes in human rights and democracy conceptions. Corporations, previously seen as unentitled artificial entities, were granted all the rights of people and much more because they are considered “eternal persons” and “persons” possessing extraordinary power and wealth. The intellectual background for granting such extraordinary rights to collectivist legal entities lies in the neo-Hegelian doctrines that underlie Bolshevism and fascism. The idea is that organic entities have rights over and above the rights of individuals. Conservative legal scholars bitterly opposed these innovations, realizing that they undermined the traditional notion that rights are innate to individuals and also undermined market principles. However, new forms of authoritarian rule were instituted, along with the legitimacy of wage labor. This was seen as no better than slavery in mainstream American thought throughout most of the nineteenth century, not only by the rise of the labor movement but also by figures like Abraham Lincoln.

News Media

In the modern era, political leaders communicate extensively with the public through the news media, which they cannot control. According to Noam Chomsky, the media’s power stands between politicians and their constituents. Politicians communicate with the media, and then the media conveys this information to voters. However, paying for advertising can help a presidential candidate overcome such limitations, although it doesn’t eliminate the need for attention from free media.

On one hand, politicians aim to create activities that promote their campaign agenda and image, which compels reporters to cover them as news. On the other hand, they try to avoid situations like news conferences, as it makes it difficult to control what is reported as news. Politicians clearly seek a certain type of coverage, one that associates them with competence, honesty, likability, and popular policies. This level of ambiguity can enhance their appeal to voters who may still feel distant from them, ultimately increasing voter turnout for the party that appears more attractive.

In a two-party system, parties often tend to be as vague as possible in their stance on controversial issues to attract a broader range of voters. When the two parties decide it’s time to be less ambiguous, each party becomes more steadfast in its position.

Positive Outcome

Society is coming to realize that the prevailing economic and political principles contradict what has been claimed. Furthermore, one might be skeptical about the prediction that these principles represent the future wave leading to a favorable conclusion in history. Such confident declarations of the “end of history” have been made numerous times in the past, and they have always proven to be incorrect.

In advanced industrial countries, and often in other parts of the world, the current struggles of the masses may be reaching a higher stage and harboring greater expectations than in the past. Noam Chomsky believed that international solidarity could take on new and more constructive forms in politics and media power. Most people also recognize that by working together, they can achieve their common interests. Skeptics who view these ideas as unrealistic and naive need only to look at what has transpired in recent years. They should witness what the human spirit is capable of and how far it can reach.


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