Showing posts with label newspapers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newspapers. Show all posts

Monday, June 03, 2013

Free speech for who?



Marx observed that the ideas of an age are the ideas of its ruling class. In to-day’s contemporary society, we are saturated by vast quantities of words and images conveyed by the mass media. Workers must always remember that the mainstream media (whatever its hue) is an instrument motivated by ideas and interests that are contrary to their interests. Everything that is published or broadcasted is influenced by one idea: that of serving the dominant class and of combating the working class. The ugly truth is this: that the media is owned by the capitalist class to support its pitiless work but the customers and subscribers are those they attack, members of the working class. Most media are obliged to address a working class audience, because that is the largest. Unless they reach this audience they will fail as businesses. To gain profits a newspaper or TV channel must get readers by the million. The media, by their nature, spread certain ideas and . and being such an important asset for making profits, must of necessity defend modern capitalism. This means, in short, that the press must spread those ideas which are opposed to the labour movement. We see here the explanation why capitalist news denounce labour activists and conversely, why they praise those who plead for an industrial truce and who advocate that the interests of capital and labour are identical. The capitalist media must defend the propertied interests for the simple reason that the capitalist mass media is, itself, one of the greatest of the modern propertied interests.

However, they have to present the capitalists’ view of the world in a form that will be palatable to people whose entire life is spent in conditions of exploitation and oppression that are the direct result of capitalism. This is quite a trick, but the media have had more than a century of practice.

Millions buy newspapers, millions watch cable and satellite TV contributing to the power of the rich to determine public opinion. It rarely enters the heads of many workers that what is presented as news and current affairs is artfully cooked up to steer the workers views so they reflect and replicate the media’s own politics. When you read your morning paper or watch the nightly news are you being offered facts or propaganda? Who furnishes the information for your thoughts about life? Regardless of indignant denials the press and TV were complicit and are accomplices with the government in the manufacture of misinformation.

Every day workers can see the fruits of this manipulation that the simplest of facts are presented in a way that favours the ruling class and damns the working class. Has a strike broken out? The workers are always wrong, they are being unreasonable in their demands. Is there a protest? The demonstrators are always wrong, they are always extremists. The government passes a law? It’s always for the best of intentions even if it’s not. And if there’s an electoral, political or administrative struggle? The best candidates are always those of the ruling parties. Facts are falsified in order to mislead, delude or maintain in ignorance the public. The gullibility of workers to the mass media appears limitless. We fall for the same lies and deceptions over and over again.

The media can adopt a wide range of positions, while remaining entirely within the framework of capitalism. Sometimes newspapers or TV channels are directly linked to particular groups of capitalists, and so to the political party they are held to favour, and carry material directly promoting their view of the situation. Explaining why capitalist media has different positions in a bourgeois democracy isn’t difficult – the capitalist class is not united. The media reflect these differences and promote the interests of one group or another. Socialists would expect to find a diversity of views among the capitalist media, not uniformity. But despite being the property of particular capitalists , the content of the media addresses issues that are matters of concern for capitalism in general. The news agenda and op-eds are framed in terms of the needs of society as a whole. It is necessary to remember that a free press is only “free” to a propertied class which has the economic wealth to subsidise and maintain their voice.
The labour movement has stumbled and fallen and risen again; been seized by courts, slandered and libeled by the media to be disowned by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened with brimstone and fire by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by opportunists, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by officials, but, notwithstanding all this, it is today the most vital defence the worker has ever known and its mission is the emancipation of the workers of the world from the thraldom of wages. The most vital thing about the World Socialist Movement is its educational propaganda - its power to shed light and to develop the workers’ capacity for thinking, to teach them their economic class interests, to imbue them with a revolutionary spirit. Workers need a a media as formidable as our class enemy’s to act as a fearless and uncompromising advocate. The State currently control the TV and radio through legislation but it is for every member of the working class to buy and read the printed journals and visit the websites of the socialist movement. The expense and exertion of supporting the socialist media is but a trifle.

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