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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Five reasons why we don’t have a free and independent press in the UK and what we can do about it

Click here to access article by Ed Jones from openDemocracyUK

I am a bit leery about posting this. On the one hand it does provide information about the intrusion of government secret services into corporate media, but on the other hand it steers people to reformist oriented media that is heavily funded by the rich. No doubt our capitalist masters have learned from their arch enemy Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who has been quoted as expressing this insight: "The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves."

For a prime example, take this website openDemocracyUK which is a part of openDemocracy. In the article Jones writes "Only if alternative/co-operative/investigative journalism is financially supported by its readers will they be able to research and write high quality articles. This is a valuable observation about alternative media. However after looking at the funding sources of openDemcracyUK, it violates this principle. The chart shows that 54.9% of their funding comes from the rich through grants and large donations, and only 5.2% from readers. They list the Open Trust has providing most of its grants. I believe this charity functions very much like the Tides Foundation (notice that Democracy Now!, 350.org, etc are on their 2013 list of grantees) in the US: a clearing house for grant funding by the rich. They make the following very naive statement regarding their independence of the grant money openDemocracy receives from the rich:
The Trust has no direct stake in openDemocracy but conducts regular oversight to be sure that oD is operating in conformity with the Trust's charitable purpose.
And, I have little doubt that these funders make sure that the grantee websites function in conformity with the political views of the rich, and the people at openDemocracyUK avoid any content that might really annoy their rich funders. Thus I don't think you will find any links to radical websites that are devoted to question the system of capitalism. At best, the reformist sites, that the author steers us to, only want the existing capitalist system to function in a kinder, gentler, and more egalitarian way.

However, in spite of my criticisms I strongly support reader supported media organizations that are absolutely independent of influence by corporations or the rich. Too much of alternative media suffers from a lack of financing which interferes with their ability to present accurate news and analysis. To overcome this problem, I think that many of them should merge in order to combine resources and skills. And, of course, we the general public must support them with whatever we can spare. At the same time I think that they must build into their organizations bottom-up authority structures not only to maintain discipline to prevent them from being co-opted by the rich or their secret services, but also to build into their organizations a successful template for future non-capitalist societies. 

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