Understanding the Role of the Media in Advancing the Corporate Agenda from Palestine and Syria to Ukraine and Iraq
Few realize how controlled the US media, which the American citizenry gets its information from and hence forms its opinions, views and biases, is and how it functions in the service of the corporate class. Those who do realize may not know how massive, widespread and efficient this control is. The views and biases that the media helps shape have serious consequences, as they determine people’s reaction – or rather, lack of reaction and indifference – to the policies of the Empire. These policies cover a whole range from wars, military interventions, neoliberal policies, massacres and military spending to banking, jobs, education, healthcare and social safety nets. The results speak for themselves. Despite the fact that the brainwashing method does not “appear” to be dictatorship, in reality and in essence, it is because of its real nature and character and the results it produces, which are the same as obtained through a direct or forceful way. In one case, what’s used is deception; in another, coercion, and any time the first ceases to be effective, they use the second.
The corporate rule is thus imposed in one of two ways: dictatorship by force and dictatorship by mind control. In either way, the rule of a small minority – the proverbial 1% (actually even smaller than that) – is imposed on the vast majority or the 99%. Effectively, the nature of the rule is dictatorship precisely because the minority rules over the majority, which is the antithesis of democracy, which is the rule of the majority over the minority. The two forms of imposing the interests of the corporations (which should be understood as the owners, major shareholders and CEO’s) are not static and permanent. As the public’s awareness rises, their freedoms and civil liberties are curtailed, spying on their activities goes up, and police are given more rights and latitude, as well as, more presence in people’s lives and neighborhoods. We could see this in practice in the aftermath of the 2011 “American Spring” – the Occupy Wall Street movement – which prompted the government to take several steps in order to stay one step ahead of the people, including passing into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2011 (signed by Obama on December 31, 2011), which authorizes the military to detain anyone indefinitely, without any charge or explanation, without any legal representation, without any visitation rights and without informing his or her family or relatives, amounting basically to a disappearance. The “defense” in the title of the Act wasn’t against terror, as it was claimed – as any such curtailment of rights, or waging of wars is attributed to – but against people’s activism.
The second defensive step taken by the government was to go after whistle blowers and even journalists to send a message to others to back off and stop exposing government wrongs. Also, warrantless spying, eavesdropping and interception of private communications and Internet activities were ramped up. This was all due to the real or perceived rise in political awareness and understanding of the public, which was considered a threat to the status quo. So, you see, there isn’t a big chasm separating the two forms of dictatorships: as the situation changes, one is replaced with another. Again, what matters is the nature of the rule, rather than the form. This is the key point that makes Professor Chomsky’s understanding of democracy and dictatorship different from that of revolutionary left, and leads him to criticize “lack of democracy” in Cuba, because what he sees in Cuba is the inability of advocates of capitalism and hired agents and provocateurs of imperialism to organize and set the grounds for overthrow of a government that despite 55 years of US economic and trade embargo, is focused, to the best of its ability, and with little resources they have, on meeting its people’s needs, rather than those of foreign corporations, or billionaires, as was the case before the revolution. In other words, they put people’s lives and livelihoods above the “freedom of speech” for the exploiters, oppressors and agents of imperialism, who would use any opportunity to revert the society back to the old days and open another potential source of cheap labor, resources and market for their products, as they did in Eastern Europe and former republics of the Soviet Union.
In its drive to take over the world for its corporations for the purpose of controlling and profiting from finances, natural resources, cheap labor and markets for selling their products, including those of weapons manufacturers, banks, oil companies, pharmaceuticals and others, the US government, as the representative of the corporations, as a collective, constantly finds it necessary to go to war to remove governments that are an impediment to its achieving global economic, military and political hegemony, which also leads it to make alliances with brutal and corrupt dictatorships and even partake in massacres and genocides. The mission is global domination to maximize profits for corporations, with all means necessary. Such narrow-minded, self-serving, and dangerous objective, which will naturally lead to atrocities, wars, bombing campaigns, military coups, assassinations, torture, renditions, disappearances, and even aiding and abetting genocides, such as exercised by Israel against the Palestinians, cannot possibly be done by being honest and leveling with the public. They have no choice but to lie and deceive the population. This is where the corporate media comes in. A class of powerful individuals – in this case, the class of multi-billionaires, who own the corporations – have many tools at their disposal. For those citizens who will not accept and give in to their rule, they have the police, the FBI and the NSA. For foreigners, they have the CIA, the NSA and the military (which at times also help the police, depending on how serious the domestic front becomes, as happened during the Vietnam War). For the less coercive and deceptive method, they have the media. My point is that we must view all these as parts and organs of the ruling class. The list of their institutions also includes the three branches of the government, as well as international entities such as the NATO, IMF, World Bank, etc.
Viewed in this light, we see that a politician that rises through the system and gets corporate backing, whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Rand Paul or Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, will do nothing to change “the direction of the country”, as it’s often put, or the long-term policies and plans of the corporate Empire. Nothing will fundamentally change, as long as the corporations remain in power. And it goes without saying that no individual candidate can or will unseat the corporations and take power away from them. This can only happen by the people in the millions, through a mass movement – precisely the kind that panics the ruling class and prompts them to raise the level of surveillance and curtail individuals’ freedoms. They know what works and what doesn’t. As it’s been said, “if voting were effective for achieving change, they wouldn’t let us vote”. That they encourage us to vote is a good indication that it won’t work. And that which they discourage us from doing is what does work. We already have lots of politicians in Congress. There are one hundred of them just in the Senate who unanimously voted to stand by and support Israel, and pledged more aid to the Zionist state, even while it was bombing defenseless people, including apartment buildings full of women and children, schools, hospitals, ambulances, UN shelters housing mostly children, mosques, water facilities and power plants that provide electricity to hospitals and water treatment facilities and keep people’s refrigerators and shops’ freezers running.
A government that’s literally owned and controlled by corporations will naturally meet the profitability needs and requirements of the corporations, not those of the people. It’s not in anyone’s interest for example – any group of people, on either side of an apartheid wall – to support an ongoing genocide, but it is in the long term interests of the corporate Empire to see Israel wipe out the Palestinian people, so they will do just that. It’s not in anyone’s interest to provoke a war with Russia, but the corporate oligarchy requires it, so they will do that. Nor is it in the interests of any group of people to support the so-called “rebels”, whose ranks include the incredibly merciless fighters of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, who are massacring Syrian people. But, they will do that and have been doing that because they want the Syrian government overthrown. It matters not to them that those “rebels” they arm and finance are beheading innocent people. It matters none that so far 180,000 people have died and over 2 million have been displaced. Nor do they care that the government they helped bring to power in Ukraine through a coup is allied with Nazis and fascists, who burned hundreds of people alive in Odessa and are killing people every day.
And as they do all these, the media, methodically, systematically and masterfully, manipulates the public’s mind along the lines of the Empire’s goals. We all saw during the massive bombardment of Gaza by Israel, how all the networks presented the genocide as a “war between Israel and Hamas”, instead of a massacre of a defenseless people by a powerful military, using fighter jets, bombers and navy guns. We saw how they repeatedly mentioned that Hamas is a “terrorist” organization that is firing rockets into Israel because they want to kill all the Jews. No mention of the occupation, no mention of the 8 year old siege that has deliberately imprisoned them into a narrow piece of land, sealed on all sides and starved the population. No mention of the apartheid policies of Israel, or the home demolitions, land grabs, building of settlements, the incarcerations, the torture of children, the “targeted killings”, the checkpoints, the discrimination, and frequent massacres, all amounting to a policy of ethnic cleansing and extermination. The situation was presented such that Israel was the victim and Palestinians the villains bent on killing all the Jews who had to be protected. The media kept showing Obama saying that “Israel has the right to defend itself”, never challenging that utter nonsense.
Similar coverage has been given to the situation in Ukraine. Day after day, show after show, on all networks, including the liberal MSNBC, demonized Russia and Putin. No mention of the US and CIA role in the overthrow of the government, no mention of the fascist thugs attacking the federalists, who by the way are presented as “separatists” who want to divide the country and join Russia, which is not the case. Reporter after reporter assumed that the jetliner that was downed by a missile was fired upon by “pro-Russia separatists”, with the assumed complicity and help of the Russians, and specifically Putin, who has become to them what Saddam was in 2003, without any evidence, as was the case back then, too. They were all “outraged” and fired up at such a “crime against humanity” and demanded that justice be served and that Russia pay for the crime of firing at the plane, which they wanted us to accept on face value that it was done by the “separatists”. Compare that kind of indignation and outrage about something that hasn’t even been proven with their total silence about the massacre of hundreds of people in Odessa, who were burned alive by pro-US fascist thugs. No outrage or call for punishment by Chris Mathews, Rachel Maddow, Ed Shultz and others, who still keep screaming about Russia! We also saw no such outrage from them about the genocide in Gaza, not even a fraction of that.
In short, a situation has been created through the controlled media of the Empire right now that allows the US to simultaneously create or help create conflicts on several fronts, all dangerous and all amounting to potential loss of many lives. In Ukraine, with the cooperation of the media, they are busy creating the grounds for war with Russia. In Syria, they are aiding Islamist fighters of ISIS who are massacring people. In Palestine, they are aiding and abetting a genocide and extermination. In Iraq, they are getting involved militarily once again, with the excuse of helping trapped Yazidis, to prop up their friends in the Kurdish state within Iraqi state, which has good relations with US and Israel and is providing Israel with oil, while they are continuing to use drones to kill anyone who’s against their policies and interventions, in the name of “war on terror”. In all these, the media is moving in lockstep with the Pentagon and the military industrial complex, performing its duties impeccably and flawlessly, controlling people’s minds and creating their consent for their policies. The result is that the corporations remain in the driver’s seat and push their agenda for world domination, causing many wars, deaths, devastation, hunger and poverty and ultimately pushing the world towards another world war with unspeakable and unfathomable consequences. The system in place has nothing in common with democracy and all the hallmarks of a corporate dictatorship, which continues to move decidedly towards creating a police state and ultimately an openly coercive dictatorship of the corporations. This move will continue, regardless of who takes the White House in 2016.