Showing posts tagged manufacturing consent

Manufacturing Consent

This is from the Wikipedia page for one of my favourite books, Manufacturing Consent. The good news for people who don’t like reading is that there is a movie. And the movie rocks too. After you’ve read this book, you will never look at a newspaper or a news show (even the “good” ones) in the same way again. At least, you shouldn’t, or you haven’t been paying attention.

Anyway, the Wiki summary of the book follows:

Herman and Chomsky’s “propaganda model” describes five editorially-distorting filters applied to news reporting in mass media:

  1. Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large firms which are run for profit. Therefore they must cater to the financial interest of their owners - often corporations or particular controlling investors. The size of the firms is a necessary consequence of the capital requirements for the technology to reach a mass audience.
  2. The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a “de-facto licensing authority”.Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working-class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.
  3. Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that “the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring […] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become ‘routine’ news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers.
  4. Flak and the Enforcers: “Flak” refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet’s public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.
  5. Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the “War on Terror”, as the major social control mechanism.
Mainstream critics still made the charge, partly because they are too lazy to read a complex work, partly because they know that falsely accusing a radical critique of conspiracy theory won’t cost them anything, and partly because of their superficial assumption that, as the media comprise thousands of ‘independent’ journalists and companies, any finding that they follow a ‘party line’ that serves the state must rest on an assumed conspiracy. (In fact, it can result from a widespread gullible acceptance of official handouts, common internalized beliefs, common policies established from above within the organizations based on ideology and/or interests, and fear of reprisal for critical analyses from within the organization or from the outside.) The apologists can’t abide the notion that institutional factors can cause a ‘free’ media to act like lemmings in jointly disseminating false and even silly propaganda; such a charge must assume a conspiracy.

Ed Herman answering charges that the propaganda model outlined in Manufacturing Consent represents a conspiracy theory. He doesn’t make the obvious counter-argument that it couldn’t possibly be a conspiracy, because it’s being conducted in full view of all.

Ed Herman, like his colleague in dissent, Noam Chomsky, makes no allowance for people who are accustomed to a more fluid prose style. I wonder how many more people would read their remarkable (and genuinely life-altering) book if it were written with a sense of style instead of being little more than an obvious explication of literally reams of dense facts and data.

On Communism II

  • Andrea: What're your thoughts on capitalism? I think I'm anti but I need a proper discussion at some point about the actual general pros and cons.
  • Andrea: Not just the usual bullshit people throw at you about people DESERVING payment.
  • solo1: I think it's designed to reward the worst aspects of human nature.
  • Andrea: I hate that idea.
  • Andrea: ok cool we're agreed.
  • solo1: One of the capitalist critiques of communism is that it takes no account of human greed and ambition.
  • solo1: Well, that's true. It doesn't.
  • solo1: But it's better than purposefully AIMING for it...
  • Andrea: do you think human advancement is possible without it or is that another lie designed to reinforce the system?
  • solo1: I think human advancement is possible without capitalism.
  • Andrea: Ha.
  • solo1: The Russians made it into space first, didn't they?
  • Andrea: That's true.
  • solo1: And Cuba manages to have a more efficient health service (in many ways) than the US without having the money to spend on it.
  • Andrea: I think the western world is too individualistic and it promotes a bad mentality. A vicious and dangerous cutthroat mentality.
  • Andrea: We have no concept of comradery.
  • solo1: Yeah. That's an eastern idea.
  • solo1: In these parts, it's all about individual rights.
  • solo1: In some other countries, it's more about collective rights.
  • Andrea: Surely, logically speaking, we're better off when we promote the wellbeing of everyone else? If everyone did that we'd all be overwhelmingly happy.
  • solo1: So if we want to build a dam and we have to "relocate" a million people to do it, THEN THAT FUCKING DAM IS GOING IN and that's that.
  • solo1: In Western countries, that just wouldn't happen.
  • solo1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam
  • Andrea: I love Marx reconceptualisation of property as a relationship. AND HE'S RIGHT
  • solo1: He's right about almost everything he said.
  • Andrea: And I like Lenin's idea of the state withering away
  • solo1: Capitalist countries tend to prioritise the economy over everything else, on the assumption that a good economy will result in an improvement in other areas.
  • Andrea: But I think he overestimates peoples ability to think for themselves.
  • solo1: Communist countries tend to prioritise health and education, and in many ways, fuck the economy.
  • Andrea: Well democracy (or the idea of democracy) is used nowadays merely as a protection of the status quo.
  • Andrea: Even though we've voted in a new party, it's still democracy and we are still controlled by the rules therein. And the rules therein are designed to progress the financial value of the state, not the person.
  • solo1: Yes.
  • Andrea: So essentially we are given a token voice. but nothing changes.
  • solo1: Chomsky wrote a thing about population control in democratic societies called Manufacturing Consent.
  • solo1: It's a very interesting book.
  • solo1: I recommend it to everyone.
  • Andrea: I've always been pro-Communist.
  • solo1: A fellow traveller.
  • Andrea: Just not the "communism" we've mostly had so far. But the problem was dictatorship not communism as I see it.
  • solo1: Yes.
  • solo1: That's exactly it.
  • solo1: Look at how Sweden manages to cobble something together.
  • solo1: or Norway.
  • Andrea: They're supposed to be excellent regarding efficiency and services for all from what I gather?
  • Andrea: I have to admit I'm not very well informed on economic hardline facts.
  • Andrea: Maybe that's why [BOYFRIEND] thinks I'm idealist.
  • Andrea: But I don't think I am. All my random thoughts are based on hard logical analyses of what I DO know.
  • solo1: What the fuck is wrong with being an idealist anyway?
  • solo1: Someone has to have ideals.
  • solo1: It might as well be you.
(Reblogged from rematiration-deactivated2013111)