cj#400> re: media manipulation; bread & circuses


Richard Moore

Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996
Sender: •••@••.••• (Alan Dawson)
Subject: Re: cj#381> re: media manipulation

Arun Mehta <•••@••.•••> wrote:
>Subject: Re: cj#375> education; blunders; connectedness
>>Alan Dawson said:
>> You can talk to thousands -- minimum, thousands -- of people at ONE
>> time in a "newspaper" *you* control and you find this tightly
>> managed and difficult. Why do you find this?
>I've made this point before, so forgive me if this is old hat. A German
>friend used to make the point in the old Iron-Curtain days, that in the
>East, people queued up all night to buy books, painfully distributed them
>via samizdat, whatever, but basically read them.
>In the West, on the other hand, everything's available, but nobody reads
>them. The government doesn't need censorship, it operates via saturation,

I agree that in many ways the "information glut" is a modern-day
bread and circuses. Surely there is no reason to celebrate that "more
Americans get their news from ABC than from any other source."

But this is exactly why to get attention you must *create* news. Even
the wankers who blew up the World Trade Center only got a
metaphorical 15 minutes of fame. Who needs that? Yasser Arafat
parlayed a couple of airline hijackings into constant fame and real
change. I don't find that publishing a Web Page is a 1996 version of
being Tom Paine.

>The difference is attributed to TV. Who needs to jail dissidents in these
>media-manipulation days, you just cut off their support base. Of course,
>the communists and the colonialists also tried media manipulation, but
>they were so awful at it, nobody trusted what they put out.

Colonialism in the bad old days only required the colonists to
control trade, foreign affairs and defence. All other fields could be
(and often were) left in the hands of the natives. Today, control of
the media is essential -- BUT as you point out there are more ways
than one to get that control, and ONE way is to let a million web
pages bloom.

The Internet is a revolution, right? Scoff-scoff. The quintessential
Web Page is Yahoo, fer crissakes. Give me a break. "Get your news,
three items to the screen, direct from a multi-billion-dollar news
agency and then, and THEN ladies and gentlemen, for a limited time
only, connect directly to ... are you ready to be amazed? ... the
Microsoft Network."

People today say -- and I believe it is true -- they distrust the
mainstream media. Yet no one comes up with a truly outrageous, truly
attractive alternative such as the pamphlets of old or the samizdat
of just 10 years ago.

Sure, if people really *are* apathetic, then we might as well just
put on our ties and go to work, screw it. But if they're so
apathetic, how come I can get up a conversation about politics in any
checkout line at any supermarket?

The information glut is a problem to be overcome, not an excuse for
choosing between The Party with Two Names on election day. Voting
isn't democracy; even North Korea has elections. People aren't
involved because they're shut out. Show them a way to break down the
door, or even give them a reason to do it, and that door will
disappear no matter what the mass media says about it.

•••@••.••• (Alan Dawson)

 ... The story so far:
 ... In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made
 ... a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.



        I'd like to second the motion that we reconsider our assumptions
about apathy.  Are _you_ apathetic?  Are most of _your_ closest friends
apathetic?  Isn't it mostly the vague "them" who are the apathetic ones?  A
case can be made that not voting is a sign of pragmatic intelligence, not
apathy.  I believe public apathy is a myth -- it only seems to exist
because (as Alan points out) there aren't any evident productive avenues
for action.  The rampant success of fundamentalisms of various stripes is
evidence that people have a desperate need to join with others, and that
they have energy to devote to a cause, if it has its act together.

        It seems to me the crisis we suffer under on the "left", is a lack
of vision, leadership, and organizing.  As Alan puts it -- "Show them a way
to break down the door, or even give them a reason to do it".



 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 •••@••.•••  | Cyberlib=http://www.internet-eireann.ie/cyberlib
    Materials may be reposted in their entirety for non-commercial use.