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Monday, 23 April 2012

Democracy, Corporate Media and Internet Freedom

"The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed" is a quote often attributed to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany. It is also often claimed that he was referring to Nazi disinformation techniques when making the statement. In fact, the 'quote' has been paraphrased from the following:

"One should not as a rule reveal one's secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous."

I give the quote in full not to have a dig at the English - to Goebbels the term would presumably have been synonymous with British and he could just have easily applied his assessment to any of the Great Powers - but only to demonstrate again, if proof were needed, that truth can be twisted by history's winners and by those in authority.

The big lie being pushed at the moment is that we still have a mainstream media that safeguards the health of our democracy.

The first part of the lie is that we even have a 'mainstream' media. Let's look at the definition of mainstream. Most dictionaries define it as 'the prevailing current of thought, activity or influence'. Consider the media that you are exposed to everyday. Can you seriously claim that it embodies your 'prevailing current of thought', or of those you know? No, what we now have across the developed world is a 'corporate media' which is a different animal entirely.

The 'corporate media' do not do mainstream. What they do is operate within a narrow band of acceptable corporate interests; that narrow band of interest sitting comfortably with those of our major political parties. In effect it means we receive all our 'corporate-mainstream' news within a pre-determined and controlled range.

Anyone who still listens to radio (by actually using a radio) will know that, in the UK, the FM broadcast band spans from 88 - 108 MHz. If Conservative party policy can be said to be at 96MHz and with Labour positioned at 100MHz, that means we are only exposed to a range of opinion and ideas covered by 4MHz while four times that amount of relevant information is denied to us. It is precisely because they are in thrall to the same corporate interests that we see so little difference in policy. Labour were unelectable in this 'brave new world' until Tony Blair ditched the progressive, social democratic policies of the past. He created a party so akin to the Conservatives that even Margaret Thatcher could rest easy in the knowledge that Blair was 'one of us'.

That's why we have seen Labour distance themselves from the unions (though not their money); ditch their opposition to nuclear weapons; continue the previous administration's sell-off of publicly-owned utilities; introduce tuition fees for the ConDems to later multiply; attempt to introduce an ID card surveillance society; embrace foreign conflicts and the never-ending War on Terror against the wishes of the electorate; and raid our pension funds whilst bailing out the bankers with trillions of our pounds and ineffectually regulating utility companies who have introduced the term 'fuel poverty' into our lexicon.

How many Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters thought they were electing MPs who would turn over the National Health Service to private companies who would insist that twelve-week foetal scans were unnecessary? How many thought that, having fought Labour's ID card bill, those same parties in power would be introducing their own draconian attacks on our civil liberties? How many thought the Government would embark on stringent austerity measures while continuing to spend hundreds of billions on conflicts abroad, upgrading Trident and throwing good money after bad to the IMF? Who knew they were going to spend billions more of our money to upgrade infrastructure in industries that have long since been privatised - when do their corporate friends who were sold the 'family silver' take responsibility for the costs as well as the profits of these enterprises?

Those who do not believe that our national Government have sold out to corporate interests have not been paying attention. Admittedly, it is made more difficult to remain aware when the 'corporate media' attempt to obfuscate what is really happening. Where is the outrage in our 'free press' who are meant to be the guardians of our democracy? How many in the media are warning about this creeping corporate influence? Is Government now merely a tool to divest us of our incomes for corporate gain?

As I've stated before in these pages, when corporate interests merge with those of the Government's we have Fascism. It is not a statement I make lightly but it seems to me the only deduction one can currently make.

All of us, then, must become the 'mainstream' media. On social networks, blogs and alternative news sites we must share information and hold the authorities to account, if others will not. It also means that we must resist any government moves to clamp down on internet freedoms.

We will only ever get the democracy we deserve. If we give it up through apathy not only will we have ourselves to blame but our children and grandchildren will rightly join in the condemnation.

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