The womb-like psychological warmth that is submission to power

Medialens is an absolutely indispensable resource for intellectual self-defense and unmasking the ‘necessary illusions’ within which power envelops itself. Here is their latest media alert, focusing on UK media coverage of Iran, Gaza and the MPs’ expenses scandal. (You can pre-order their new book Newspeak in the 21st Century here.)

In a recent alert, we described how the modern corporation is an inherently predatory, even psychopathic, entity. We noted that business managers are legally obliged to subordinate human and environmental welfare to profit.

Inevitably, then, corporations do not restrict themselves merely to the arena of economics. Rather, as John Dewey observed, “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business”. Over decades, corporations have worked together to ensure that the choices offered by ‘representative democracy’ all represent their greed for maximised profits.

This is a sensitive task. We do not live in a totalitarian society – the public potentially has enormous power to interfere. The goal, then, is to persuade the public that corporate-sponsored political choice is meaningful, that it makes a difference. The task of politicians at all points of the supposed ’spectrum’ is to appear passionately principled while participating in what is essentially a charade.

Continue reading “The womb-like psychological warmth that is submission to power”

The Truth Alone Will Not Set You Free

Journalist Chris Hedges writes of a Kafka-esque landscape in the world today where corporate advertising, lobbying and control of media fogs the distinction between lie and fact.

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, left, and Miles O’Brien rehearse with the network’s “news wall” in the background.
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, left, and Miles O’Brien rehearse with the network’s “news wall” in the background.

The ability of the corporate state to pacify the country by extending credit and providing cheap manufactured goods to the masses is gone. The pernicious idea that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the freedom to accumulate vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others has collapsed. The conflation of freedom with the free market has been exposed as a sham. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out and people get a taste of Bill Clinton’s draconian welfare reform. And class warfare, once buried under the happy illusion that we were all going to enter an age of prosperity with unfettered capitalism, is returning with a vengeance.

Our economic crisis—despite the corporate media circus around the death of Michael Jackson or Gov. Mark Sanford’s marital infidelity or the outfits of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest incarnation, Brüno—barrels forward. And this crisis will lead to a period of profound political turmoil and change. Those who care about the plight of the working class and the poor must begin to mobilize quickly or we will lose our last opportunity to save our embattled democracy. The most important struggle will be to wrest the organs of communication from corporations that use mass media to demonize movements of social change and empower proto-fascist movements such as the Christian right. Continue reading “The Truth Alone Will Not Set You Free”

These are the birth pangs of Obama’s new regional order

Supporters listen to Ahmadinejads speech
Supporters listen to Ahmadinejad's speech

Seumas Milne sums up well the reasons why some caution is necessary. ‘The turmoil in Tehran reflects a refusal to accept Amadinejad is popular and confusion about how to respond to the US’, he writes.

Also, it appears Robert Fisk can’t decide from one day to another where he stands. On his first day he had declared Ahmadinejad a winner because someone told him so. Now he is claiming, based on the photocopy of a forged letter being distributed at an opposition rally, that not only did Ahmadinejad lose, he lost by a margin of 4-to-1. Imagine that!  And why would a veteran journalist suspend his skepticism to clutch at such an obviously bogus piece of propaganda? (which among other things also claims that Mehdi Karroubi — a man that independent polls showed receiving 2 percent, as opposed to AN’s 34 percent — won more than twice as many votes as Ahmadinejad). Look at the reasoning of this doyen of British journalism:

In a highly sophisticated society like Iran, forgery is as efficient as anywhere in the West and there are reasons for both distrusting and believing this document. But it divides the final vote between Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi in such a way that it would have forced a second run-off vote – scarcely something Mousavi’s camp would have wanted.

So Fisk first asserts that the reasons for believing a document with such outlandish claims inconsistent with any known independent polls and the dubious manner in which it was acquired are just as good as the reasons for doubting it. He then nudges the reader toward his implicit conclusion, that the document can’t be a forgery, since it does not give Mousavi outright victory. Who could argue with such impeccable deductive reasoning? This is not journalism, this is propaganda.

Here’s Milne’s corrective:

‘They have elected a ­Labour government,” a Savoy diner famously declared on the night of Britain’s election landslide in 1945. “The country will never stand for it.” From the evidence so far coming out of Iran, something similar seems to be ­happening on the streets of Tehran – and in the western capitals just as desperate to see the back of Iranian president ­Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Of course the movement behind opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi spreads far beyond the capital’s elite, as did the supporters of Winston Churchill against Clement Attlee. In Iran, it includes large sections of the middle class, students and the secular. But a similar misreading of their own social circles for the country at large appears to have convinced the opposition’s supporters that it can only have lost last Friday’s election through fraud.

Continue reading “These are the birth pangs of Obama’s new regional order”

Breaking News: Journalist Amira Hass arrested while leaving Gaza

Amira Hass

This just in. Ha’aretz reports:

Israel Police on Tuesday detained Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass upon her exit from the Gaza Strip, where she had been living and reporting over the last few months.

Hass was arrested and taken in for questioning immediately after crossing the border, for violating a law which forbids residence in an enemy state. She was released on bail after promising not to enter the Gaza Strip over the next 30 days.

Hass is the first Israeli journalist to enter the Gaza Strip in more than two years, since the Israel Defense Forces issued an entry ban following the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in a 2006 cross-border raid by Palestinian militants.

Last December, Hass was arrested by soldiers at the Erez Checkpoint as she tried to cross into Israel after having entered the Gaza Strip aboard a ship run by peace activists from Europe.

Upon discovering that she had no permit to be in Gaza, the soldiers transferred her to the Sderot police.

When questioned, Hass pointed out that no one had stopped her from entering the Strip, which she did for work purposes.

To read the rest click here.