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Response to Rupert Read's latest

 
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David Edwards
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Joined: 26 Jan 2004
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Post Post subject: Response to Rupert Read's latest Reply with quote

Having studied the state-corporate propaganda system for more than 20 years, it’s clear to us that it:

1) presents the UK and its major allies as fundamentally benevolent and well-intentioned. ‘Our’ crimes are perceived as ‘mistakes’. ‘Our’ killing is massively and consistently underestimated, or simply ignored and forgotten. The aftermath of our violence is mentioned in passing and brushed aside. Likewise, ‘our’ consistent support for numerous tyrannical regimes around the world - and the clear logical link to corporate control of human and natural resources – is rarely allowed to interfere with the assumption of benevolence in any meaningful way.

2) presents official enemies of the UK/allies as malevolent, threatening, irrational and intolerable. Enemies’ crimes are presented as horrendous, unbearable atrocities and massacres (‘genocide’ is the preferred label for ‘their’ killing but not ‘ours’). Numbers of deaths perpetrated by enemy states are exaggerated on the basis of sources and evidence that would be deemed laughable if the finger of blame pointed to the West. The template, repeated almost exactly, is of an evil leader threating the West and/or torturing a people desperate to be saved by the West, with diplomacy made impossible by the sheer scale of evil such that military force is ‘our’ only way of preventing or stopping unimaginable horror.

Further, it is clear that military force is understood by senior state-corporate managers to be the West’s ‘trump card’ for achieving its goals. Along with leading allies, ‘we’ have a near-monopoly on high-tech violence, which is used to target obstacles to strategic and corporate dominance. Numerous state-corporate interests have a stake in waging major new battles in the Permanent War every two or three years. Demonisation, threats, fear, militarism, patriotism, war - what are they good for? They’re good for business.

The operation of this crude system of bias – basically, ‘us’ good, ‘them’ bad - reminds us of the way an aircraft wing generates lift. In his book Inflight Science, Brian Clegg writes:

‘The wing is shaped with a drooping curved surface on top… when air blows over this curved surface, the result is to produce a lifting force, pushing the wing upwards.’ (Clegg, Inflight Science, Icon Books, 2011, p.46)

It is the differential between the curved surface on top and the flat under surface of the wing that produces lift.

The flat under surface reminds us of the neutral, undramatic, matter-of-fact media reporting of the violence of the US, UK, Israel, Libya under the ‘rebels’ and so on. And the curved upper surface might be compared to the compassion-filled, condemnatory and damning coverage of the crimes of official enemies like the Soviet Union, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Libya under Gaddafi, and now Syria under Assad. This differential in the ‘shape’ of reporting causes public opinion to ‘lift’, with great force, towards accepting ‘our’ violence as a necessary response to ‘their’ violence. This is crucial in making war and mass killing possible.

It is obvious to us that drawing attention to the crimes of official enemies risks adding to the already massive warmongering ‘lift’ effect. Instead, we try to challenge the false assumption of US-UK benevolent intentions, the hypocrisy in media reporting, and the belief that war is the only alternative. Quite simply, to use Graham Greene’s term, we are ‘writing against the bias’. To interpret this as an indication of our own bias such that we are in ‘full dictator-loving… mode’, as Rupert Read suggests, (https://twitter.com/#!/RupertRead/status/169716608082780161) is utterly absurd.

It is true, for example, that we did not focus heavily on Saddam Hussein’s crimes in 2002-2003. But this did not indicate our fondness for the Iraqi dictator. Rather, it indicated that we knew that emphasising his crimes risked adding to the ‘lift’ effect operating throughout the entire political-media system and empowering the US-UK war machine in Iraq and elsewhere. Moreover, we believe our primary moral responsibility as democratic citizens was, and is, to address the US-UK militarism that, if history is any guide, is far and away the greatest military threat to human life.

It seems incredible to us that anyone would doubt that we support domestic peaceful efforts to unseat Third World dictators – regimes often imposed by the West to maximise Western corporate profits and control. The whole point of Media Lens is that we are working for a compassionate, peaceful, rational world freed from all forms of political, economic, spiritual and psychological slavery. Do our methods and output in producing media analysis over the last ten years look like the work of people who believe tyranny, killing, torture and thought control are admirable solutions to human problems? Our whole focus is to undermine, not just violent forms of control, but even the subtlest forms of psychological and spiritual manipulation. We constantly emphasise the Buddhist view of human nature supported by the likes of Erich Fromm: that human beings tend to be happy, creative and peaceful when they are nurtured with love rather than controlled by force (including psychological force). It should be obvious that our effort is fundamentally liberatory.

In our latest alerts, along with Seumas Milne in the Guardian (http://tinyurl.com/7l3vn6h), we pointed out that the vetoed Western-led UN sanction on Syria prioritised regime change over a ceasefire; thus making intensified violence more, not less, likely. We pointed to Libya as a recent example providing powerful evidence that greater violence might well have been the disastrous result. The point is that the media ignored even this unmissable evidence in sticking to its Manichean view of the world – West ‘good’, official enemies ‘bad’. That does not mean we are ‘going soft on’ the Syrian government as Read claims (http://tinyurl.com/7uyhhnt). It means we are exposing the ruthless priorities of the West and the hypocrisy of the media in failing to notice.

In the second part of our alert, we showed how media across the corporate spectrum rage against the crimes of official enemies - crimes which we recognised are real and ugly - while soft-pedalling and apologising for the crimes of the UK and its leading allies in the most transparent fashion. The contrast between mainstream editorialising on Syria on the one hand, and on Gaza and Fallujah on the other, is pretty amazing (probably even to the editors, were they to reflect on it).

This, again, was our attempt to disrupt the flow of propaganda hot air over the biased wing surfaces that ‘lift’ public opinion towards the idea that war is natural and necessary. Again, it has nothing whatever to do with our supporting tyrannies abroad or our not supporting peaceful liberatory movements. It is about correcting for the distorted vision of a corporate media system that helps make deeply cynical and entirely avoidable wars happen.

We’re happy to clarify our position – if it really needed clarifying - but the criticism we have seen appears to be totally unrepresentative of wider feeling. We received a tremendously positive response to the latest alerts – New Internationalist magazine thought it ‘excellent’ and published it on their website (http://tinyurl.com/77ybgpp), John Pilger thought it ‘great’, David Peterson thanked us for ‘two amazing performances back-to-back,’ and so on. We have received literally one negative response – from Rupert Read.

DE and DC
Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:21 pm
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David Edwards
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Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 162

Post Post subject: My enemy’s enemy should not necessarily be my friend Reply with quote

On the same theme, Neil commented on the message board April 4, 2012:

'I would have expected that Medialens editors might have learnt by now – with the benefit of 20th C history (and their ages) - that my enemy’s enemy should not necessarily be my friend!'

'and their ages'?!

Are you one of these people who doesn’t offer me adverts for nightclubs in town centres? :o)

We see this kind of comment quite a lot. You have to understand what we're doing - we're exposing consistent, dramatic media bias favouring powerful, violent, greed-driven controlling interests in society. We're exposing conformist, blinkered media performance that promotes conformity and blinkered thinking in media consumers.

These are the primary goals for us when we discuss Iraq, Libya, Syria, Galloway's election - to encourage people to see the manufactured element in the media version of Reality; to think critically, for themselves. You could almost argue (but not quite) that it doesn’t matter what we think of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and so on - we're encouraging people to make these judgements for themselves by critically assessing the ‘mainstream’ version of the world.

Of course people inevitably accuse us of supporting 'my enemy's enemy' and ask us what we think. As we’ve explained, we try hard not to add to the propaganda demonising official enemies, but that doesn't mean we support the targets of Western propaganda. That's an illogical and dangerous argument that we rebutted here:

http://www.medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3285

Of course we do take positions - we thought that attacking the dictatorship in Iraq was wrong, liable to lead to far worse suffering. That was a value judgement based on credible sources (not just our view). We also think Galloway's win is a welcome challenge to our 'guided democracy'. That also is a value judgement. It means we support the challenge, the possibility of change. It doesn't mean we’re ardent supporters of Galloway, although we certainly support his opposition to war - as do the majority of the British people.

‘In his current position he obviously couldn’t arm anyone, but from his behaviour I have no doubt that, in a position where he could (i.e. arm a dictator), he would do so.’

For someone seriously concerned about limiting their government’s atrocities, it’s hard to imagine how crimes by any conceivable Respect government could possibly match or exceed those of recent UK governments. It’s really unimaginable. For one thing, it would be faced by a chain of enemies, led by the world’s superpower, waiting for any excuse to pounce. A Respect government seeking to arm foreign powers would be in a similar situation to the Iranian government – any excuse would do! I know it’s all fanciful, but it’s worth thinking about when people raise the dread prospect of a Galloway march to power.

A lot of this is about taking the crimes of the powerful for granted as normal and natural (they just don’t feel like much to us). It’s also trained paranoia in response to anything challenging the status quo. This is deeply, deeply trained into us. When you take a closer look, it’s usually absurd. And a lot of the commentators warning voters off Galloway are meanwhile urging people to engage with the Labour party (dripping with the blood of 1 million Iraqis) to make it a better party. So why don’t they urge people to make Respect the party they want it to be? And so on…

Eds
Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:15 am
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David Edwards
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Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 162

Post Post subject: Churchill's comment Reply with quote

Winston Churchill:

‘If Hitler invaded Hell [I] would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil!’ (Cited, John Lukacs, June 1941: Hitler and Stalin, Yale University Press, 2006, p.104)

Our related, more cautious point - we'd be wary of making an unfavourable reference to the Devil.
Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:35 pm
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