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Paul Mason And The Grand Propaganda Narratives


As corporate media continue to haemorrhage ad revenue to websites like Facebook, and credibility to social media activism, dissent seems to be increasingly viewed as a luxury the 'mainstream' can ill afford.

Where once a handful of dissidents was allowed to challenge the Grand Propaganda Narratives (GPN) of the day, modern leftists are tolerated only if they accept these narratives even as they talk radical change.

A Guardian regular who stands out in this regard is Paul Mason, formerly BBC Newsnight Business Editor and Channel 4 News Economics Editor. Promoted to prominence by the corporate system he ostensibly resists, Mason reinvented himself as a vocal left activist who strongly supports Jeremy Corbyn. Mason now has 377,000 followers on Twitter, an impressive total for a political commentator. And yet some of his views are incongruous to say the least.

In a Guardian piece this week, Mason focused on the latest North Korean missile test, which he declared 'a clear threat or a clear bluff... So the question for the world is: how do we contain the threat and detect the bluff?'

Mason was thus reinforcing the GPN that all problems are 'our' business, and that 'we' have the moral credibility to 'do something' about them. This despite 'our' appalling track record, recognised by Mason himself:

'We've been here before, of course, with Saddam Hussein in 2003. Then, the chemical weapons turned out to be a bluff and the biggest threat to world peace emanated from Washington and London.'

In other words, the same 'we' that needs to 'contain' the North Korean 'threat' to peace was itself the actual threat to peace in Iraq. Subsequent Western war crimes in Libya, Syria and Yemen suggest that little has changed.

In claiming that Saddam Hussein tried to 'bluff' the West on WMD, Mason reinforced the GPN that Iraq was more than just a wanton war of aggression. Instead, Western leaders were suckered by Saddam's suicidal braggadocio, by 'faulty' intelligence, and so on.

In an unpublished letter to the Guardian in response to Mason's piece, journalist Ian Sinclair wrote:

'In reality the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told ABC News in December 2002: "We don't have weapons of mass destruction. We don't have chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry". Hussein himself repeated this in February 2003, telling Tony Benn in an interview screened on Channel Four: "There is only one truth and therefore I tell you as I have said on many occasions before that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction whatsoever".' (Email to Media Lens, February 16, 2017)

Not only did the Iraqi government not attempt a bluff, it was telling the truth.

Mason insisted that Britain should work to ensure that the response to North Korea is 'restrained, proportional and done through the UN security council'. But in claiming, as Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen burn, that the US-UK alliance might suddenly, somehow act multilaterally and responsibly - despite its track record of unilaterally pursuing self-interest at almost any human cost - he was promoting a GPN.

Read more: Paul Mason And The Grand Propaganda Narratives

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