I have written before about the various strands and species of propaganda surrounding us at every move. No-one seemed surprised or thought I was overdoing it, which pleased me as I wanted to get across just how pervasive these subtle reinforcements of ideology are.
On this occasion I’d like to explore the collision of youthful idealism and the pervasiveness of propaganda. As the intelligent and educated young make their way into the world from the bosom of family and the puppy basket of college they uncover the many varieties of special interest groups attempting to fashion our planet into the demographic subservience to their oh-so-necessary services and products. The usual suspects are big government, big religion, big education, big military, big pharma, big intelligence, big business, big media and big agriculture. We end up, as we pursue our individual goals, as worker drones and consumer drones. We all find various ways to rebel. Some get off drugs, some get off the grid, some grow their own.
In the corporate media, as we have come to call them, there are many who realize that the fix is in and that they will only secure themselves a future by towing the party line and following orders. Ripping the fabric of denial and myth-making to reveal the approved propaganda of one or other of the controlling elites may appeal to the anarchic iconoclast, but to anyone with college debt or a family it’s career suicide.
The alternate media, powered by the explosion of the internet, has given niches to those voices whose idealism makes them strive to break the mold and make deception recede sufficiently that slivers of truth may emerge, if only for a moment. Because of their seemingly independent nature outlets such as Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera and Russia Today have become havens for those who would march to the beat of a different drummer.
I have observed them all with interest, enjoying their presentations and wondering when cracks will appear in their facade. Democracy Now! is obviously a home for what has been termed “the gatekeepers of the left”, where the sensible intellectuals analyze and decry the geopolitical greed of the imperialist powers who seek to maintain their version of the status quo regardless of the sovereignty and ambitions of smaller nations and human rights organizations, but where the loonies who seek to expose the cover-ups of false flag operations, political assassinations and the profound impact of alien intrusions on our little chunk of the time-space continuum are denied anything like air time. The sensible left, it seems to me, always need to maintain the illusion of participatory democracy so that they actually have a function in criticizing it, whereas the loonies, who speak of inside jobs and suppression of alien technology for the benefit of the shadow elite, can, if you follow the money to the sources of deception, show that participatory democracy is, for the most part, a sham, except perhaps at the municipal level, where one’s local amenities can be planned, executed and maintained without outside interference.
With Al Jazeera and Russia Today the slant is more obvious: they both regularly poke holes in the propaganda of the West, much of it deservedly so, but seem to carefully avoid critiquing their own source of funding. Glad as I was of alternates to the mainstream view, I took turns in observing them all in my round of media watching, which often included, not surprisingly, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the New Yorker, to mention but a few.
My angle is to absorb them all and find some neutral space between their competing agendas that might provide some poise and understanding. So far that understanding has amounted to standing in the midway while the raucous carnival of arguments, theories and opinions, mostly manufactured and test driven beforehand, vie for my citizen’s assent. It’s an assent I can rarely give to any, as the reek of subterfuge and manipulative game playing arises from all quarters and the engines of deception can be heard purring behind the excitement and headlines.
A recent example which has struck me as almost textbook in its exposures is the two young women presenters from Russia Today, Liz Wahl and Abby Martin, the first of whom resigned on air after criticizing the Russian Government’s whitewash of Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea, while the second satisfied herself with some barbed sentences of disapproval.
The background is even more interesting. As revealed by Russ Baker on whowhatwhy.com Liz Wahl, ostensibly the outraged grandchild of refugees from The Hungarian Revolt of ’56 and spouse of a doctor who daily witnesses the human detritus of our war culture in military hospitals, had earlier formed a relationship with one Jamie Kirchuck of the Daily Beast, whose paychecks come from the neo-con outfit Foreign Policy Institute, and whose twitter feed seemed to have such advanced knowledge of Wahl’s on-air resignation that a planned insider attack seems more than conceivable. Especially when you hear from Baker that the Foreign Policy Institute is some kind of outgrowth from the nefarious Project For The New American Century, “one of the ‘well connected brain trusts behind the launch of the Iraq War”.
All the usual sleaze I hear you muttering, and I would return your mutter with a nod and a wink. But a further twist awaits. Or two maybe. One: various internet sources reveal that Abby Martin was once, before her Russia Today employment, an active 9/11 truther as they call them, and did speak on-air about the history of false flag operations as overtures to aggressive wars, although she now distances herself from such blows against the empire. And two: in her CNN interview with Piers Morgan, one of many one assumes in the wake of the media kerfuffle, she nabs the moral high ground by accusing Morgan of not being able to tell the truth as his network, like all the others, is beholden to advertisers. Morgan, not surprisingly begs to differ, claiming that he has never been told what to say or dumped on for what he has said. Which may or may not be true, as none of us are privy to any management tirades he may have had to endure.
But what intrigues me about this exchange, with the young woman assuming that the older, more established man is part of some old boy, white guy network of silent assent while the real work of career advancement and spiraling paychecks goes on, is rather undercut by Morgan’s appearance in the documentary Unlawful Killing from 2011, recently available on Youtube, here in North America at least, after many months of libel chill emanating from Britain. In this provocative and iconoclastic summing up of the more egregious holes in the official narrative of the Lady Diana killing, Piers makes his views quite plain at several points. When he says, “When you have the head of the British security services (Sir Richard Dearlove) calmly announcing that they haven’t killed anyone in the last fifty years, I just laughed out loud. What’s the point of it then? And if you don’t believe that, where does this leave the rest of the establishment evidence?” you can just imagine the bridges he’s burning. And as I complete this essay it appears the Mr. Morgan has been quietly let go from CNN, with various sources more knowledgeable than myself guessing at the reasons. Gun Control? Cricket over Baseball? Marmalade over ketchup?
Are these feisty and career conscious young women the modern manifestation of political activism, media strategists expressing their heartfelt idealism, maverick versions of the 60’s activists like Abbie Hoffman and Jane Fonda? When I watch Robert Redford’s recent drama The Company You Keep about aging former members of Students For A Democratic Society and the Weather Underground trying to have a life while keeping a low profile, I am inclined to think so.
How idealism confronts and challenges the many tentacles of paid-off complicity in the ruthless gangsterism of global profiteering continues to intrigue. The fresh young rebels try to reshape the world and the corrupt structures resist, then adapt and finally absorb. Even when we opt out of playing and retire to a comfortable niche, we tacitly admit the supremacy of the game. The game all souls must play.
Take a part and play it to the hilt, as I was once advised in those post college years when the view was ripe with endless possibilities.