We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

‘Corruption’ as a Propaganda Weapon

Click here to access article by Robert Parry from ConsortiumNews.

I have in recent years frequently expressed my astonishment at the deterioration of corporate news into what looks like pure capitalist ruling class propaganda. This perspective is based on my experience as an activist over the past 60 years. Corporate news reports have never been free of such bias, but now this mainstream media appear to be used almost entirely as a propaganda weapon against enemies of the US ruling class. 

This article by Parry was apparently provoked by the recent reports carried all over corporate media about the release of the so-called "Panama Papers". The coverage was mostly framed as a Putin corruption scandal except that Putin was never named in the released papers. This coverage caused Parry to conclude that US corporate media are now being used for political purposes:
Sadly, some important duties of journalism, such as applying evenhanded standards on human rights abuses and financial corruption, have been so corrupted by the demands of government propaganda – and the careerism of too many writers – that I now become suspicious whenever the mainstream media trumpets some sensational story aimed at some “designated villain.”

Far too often, this sort of “journalism” is just a forerunner to the next “regime change” scheme, dirtying up or delegitimizing a foreign leader before the inevitable advent of a “color revolution” organized by “democracy-promoting” NGOs often with money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy or some neoliberal financier like George Soros.
It appears that our ruling class masters are seeing signs that many people are doubting the reports of corporate media especially because of discerning articles by bloggers such as Parry carried via the internet. Hence the recent piece carried in the US capitalist mouthpiece Bloomberg News which framed a report about one person, Andrés Sepúlveda, using the "Internet", but in reality he was using mostly social media carried via Internet technology, to rig elections in Latin American countries. (Of course, this never happens in the US.) Bloomberg authors describe what a former employer said about Sepuvida:
Sepúlveda, saw that hackers could be completely integrated into a modern political operation, running attack ads, researching the opposition, and finding ways to suppress a foe’s turnout. As for Sepúlveda, his insight was to understand that voters trusted what they thought were spontaneous expressions of real people on social media more than they did experts on television and in newspapers. He knew that accounts could be faked and social media trends fabricated, all relatively cheaply. He wrote a software program, now called Social Media Predator, to manage and direct a virtual army of fake Twitter accounts. The software let him quickly change names, profile pictures, and biographies to fit any need. Eventually, he discovered, he could manipulate the public debate as easily as moving pieces on a chessboard—or, as he puts it, “When I realized that people believe what the Internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything.” [my emphasis]
The Bloomberg article mixed social media manipulation (which has happened) in with World Wide Web articles (which can be true or false or somewhere in between) carried via the Internet to cast doubt on the latter in favor of "experts on television and in newspapers" owned by major corporations.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Ron!
    Most people don't bother to use the real internet these days. (Many can't even be bothered to log into a website.) People tweet and twitter and text and fakebook - all of which use the internet, but people see them not as "the internet" but as "Social Media". The fact that the latter could not exist without the former is overlooked in the rush to "talk with" their 317 "friends", half of whom aren't real separate people at all but online identities created to manipulate and mold (no matter how titillating their "tweets"), while another third wouldn't be able to recognize them on the street.

    "Ideas" are "shared" via pixel bytes (exponentially smaller than the old "sound bites"), rendering meaning superficial, comprehension low, analysis unlikely, and synthesis unheard of. No time U no? Such "expression" is the new "global" "democracy" at work, the great "leveling" of the playing field - hey, even presidents tweet. (Would that it were not so!)

    War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.
    + Brevity = Brains.

    And, every month the bill comes for this "service"! Corporate capitalism at its zenith: complete surveillance, control, and profit in packages people love, become addicted to, and happily pay for. Orwell fused with Huxley.

    Those kids who believe they're too smart to be so manipulated can make 6 figures in their 20s for multiplying themselves into myriad fake humans who'll "support" the "opinion" of whoever pays them the most money.

    The internet? You mean blogs, websites, articles, research, analysis, synthesis, independent critical thought? That internet? Let's employ it and enjoy it while we still have it.

    ReplyDelete

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