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Voices and Power

Written By: - Date published: 1:41 pm, February 28th, 2014 - 13 comments
Categories: International, Media, news, newspapers - Tags: , , ,

Our mainstream media is essentially an assembly line of propaganda that routinely renders complex foreign events down to simple and misleading binaries of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. So with regards to the Ukraine, events are reported in terms of defeat or victory for either ‘them’, Russia or ‘us’,  ‘the west’.

The same simplistic playbook has been rolled out to explain tumult in Syria and Egypt and Libya…’good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ – ‘white hats’ and ‘black hats’.

However, a little simple but critically aware google searching, allied with a willingness to read more than a couple of hundred words, reveals something altogether different to what our media would have us believe constitutes the main elements and drivers behind increasingly frequent popular uprisings taking place in various countries.

Ukraine being a case in point, the two pieces I’ve linked to below are illustrative of  a gulf that exists between people writing, ostentatiously at least, from a leftist perspective. (I’ve also linked to a list of other articles the respective authors have penned that, I’m sure, would reinforce the point)

In one piece, “Ukraine, Revolution or Coup”, we find Richard Greeman offering quite thought provoking and in-depth analyses/arguments and elevating ‘street level’ perspectives and concerns.

In the other “Recipe for revolt: what do Ukraine, Turkey and Thailand have in common?”  we have the depressingly familiar liberal apologist, this time in the shape of Simon Tisdall   writing in ‘The Guardian’, couching argument and analysis deep within the defeatist framework of an orthodoxy that would have us focus almost exclusively on institutional power and treat ourselves; our motivations, our thoughts and our aspirations as, at best, a fleeting afterthought.

I don’t claim to have any deep knowledge of what is happening on the ground in the Ukraine. Neither do I have any deep knowledge on what the various motivations of people were, from Argentina to Egypt to Tunisia, or of what people, rather than institutions and their media mouthpieces, deemed important in those and other situations.

All I know is that liberal commentators, routinely presenting popular uprisings as a cause for angst rather than hope, doffing their caps to established authority,  promoting simplistic ‘us’ versus ‘them’ narratives while peddling tired old clichés about ‘the good guys’ and ‘the bad guys’ are themselves (if such rigid dichotomies are to be used) very much one of ‘them’.

13 comments on “Voices and Power”

  1. aerobubble 1

    As China installs the necessary infrastructure to build state encroachment of the home, the
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World, so ACT cozies up to National. National whose China adoration is without flaw. How can ACT argue its libertarian stances yet will willingly hold up a National pro-China led government? Its doesn’t make sense.

  2. Tim 2

    “When did the left leave the left? Or, perhaps more accurately, why do we continue to regard liberals as being of the left?”

    That’s a bloody interesting question Bill.
    I’d say around the time the Chicago School and its disciples and various others under the guise of ‘liberalism’ (in general – economic and social) managed to invent, collect and develop a series of ideas that eventually became labelled as ‘neo-liberalism’. NOT JUST an ideology, but a way of life that not only captured economic ‘theory’ (unproven at the time), but also social and cultural mores. It so corrupted the language that you had liberalism (without question) capturing the progressive, and all that goes with it.
    Even David Lange, when he saw the damage and decided to ‘have a cup of tea’ stated that the programme was akin to a religion (as opposed to an ideology – take your pick which is worse).
    It saw old trade unionists – trading on left wing creds and various fights (I’m thinking Boilermakers, Tramways Union et al) exercising their sense of entitlement, clipping the ticket whilst driving their way home to panoramic views of Wellington, stopping off and abusing Indian dairy owners in Hawker Street along the way – all as though they were God’s gift to humanity and ‘concerned’ about the underdog workers.
    It saw Tramways Union officials aligning themselves with this new (self-destructive) ideology/religion, and trading on it to this very day from what I hear.
    It saw the son of a Hill becoming a landLORD (with emphasis on the latter sylable), swanning around Ponsonby with the same sense of entitlement, arrogance and supposed expertise in all things ‘left’ – in much the same way a Hooton does these days for “the right” – unchallenged, and unevaluated critically or logically. I’m afraid Toby is probably still rolling in his grave.

    It’s way past time the left (and I mean the political class, the pundits, the self-appointed experts, the “I paid me dues and so I’m therefor entitled”) ekshly got their LEFT back before they become irrelevant. It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, and it’s a new generation that – although they’ve never SAMPLED or LIVED a genuine alternative whereby their is a sense (and benefits thereof) of ‘community’, compassion, collective, etc…… realise that there has been three decades of BS and failed ideology that’s created a legacy they’re now expected to pick up the tab for.

    (No wonder the likes of Bradbury and other screamers have a dislike for those of my vintage).

    mmmm …. the ABC club, its adherents and defenders – it’s almost like they’re the new ‘nouveau riche’ (aspirational darling). Their only defense really is that they’re not QUITE as bad as the Torys – who’ve shown they hardly have two original ideas to rub together and can ONLY rely on failed ideology, whilst still not realising they can’t take it with them; or that they’re the subject of ridicule by their own ‘old guard’ (some of who would be rolling in their graves – I’m thinking the likes of Holyoake and the like), etc.
    …… I mean!!!! FFS Jenny and Burton!
    ……… Ruth bloody Richardson (Limited)
    ………… etc.
    LOL – then there’s John frikken Key ffs! A guy that’s actually feigning hardship growing up (in a comparative sense).
    Do NZers swallow might be a better question than the one you’ve posed.
    Why yes they do

    • Tim 2.1

      Oh btw …. all the above I suspect is something McCarten understands and recognises. Which is why I’ve decided Labour might just get an electorate vote. Not quite a Party one just yet until they prove themselves. But yea – they’re on their way, and they’re certainly putting the shits up ‘the right’

      Just in case they’re interested – there’s a VERY VERY simple way to restore a 4th Estate and Public Sphere, and fuck over that little monopoly.
      It’s so bleeding obvious, I’m surprised that, come a change in government, ….
      Obviously SKY, Paddy et al haven’t thought of it yet (though rest assured there are various that have).
      …… mmmmmmm maybe Paddy has – which would account for his abscences.
      I’d be getting my CV together if I were some of them.

  3. Tigger 3

    Part of the problem is that corporate influence is overlooked/covered up. Corporations and big money meddle in politics all the time but are rarely unmasked.

    • karol 3.1

      That, Tigger, and the way the US government intervenes to try to get the kind of government it wants – in the interes of both their power, and the corporates.

      As explained in this article: “How the Media Got Played … Again – The US Played Hardball Against Ukraine…and the EU”

    • Bill 3.2

      Well sure, the influence of ‘big money’ and corporate agendas are ignored. But that doesn’t explain why liberal commentators genuflect before established authority and never wander from ‘official’ explanations or analyses for popular protests – or why they happily demonise leaders of genuinely left wing governments (Venezuela being only the most obvious example) – or why they keep on this bullshit about ‘bad’ Russia in relation to the Ukraine, thereby implying that the EU or/and the US are somehow benevolent.

      Ever read a liberal columnist (note – columnist, not an occasional opinion column) that calls the European Union, the US, Chinese and Russian establishments for the pack of bastards that they all are? I haven’t.

      Seems that in the world of the ‘intelligent’ liberal, the bastards are all permanently based in Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela…and then sometimes Syria or Libya or wherever the benevolent establishment so beloved by them is thinking of bringing its iron fist to bear promoting womens’ rights and democracy and cotton candy freedom for everybody.

      And they never give voice to our concerns…just those of the benevolent masters, their institutions and their worry and fear over the unwashed (us!) being unleashed.

  4. Lloyd 4

    I guess the “left” got lost when the neo-liberals (neo-fascists?) claimed to be “centre-right”.

    • aerobubble 4.1

      I can see it soon, a jury will haggle over whether someone was committing burglary when they entered and stole from a enclosed yard, and it will hang on whether the gate was open at the time. Being a third strike the cost to the tax payers of this subtle difference will be huge when the young person ends up in jail for the rest of their natural life (or whatever nasty punishment the ACT go for). Instead of dealing to the poverty that led to the criminal gangs, and on to a criminal life (because its not measured properly) and a job paying taxes, the ACT party want to press our youth into yet more four heavily taxpayer paid for walls. Its dumber than dumb, pure fascism, IMO.

  5. adam 5

    Bill just for clarity. Are you saying liberal as in liberalism?

    And by liberalism – I mean the method of thought and ideology.

    • Bill 5.1

      I’m meaning ‘liberal’ as in Chris Hedges ‘Death of the Liberal Class’- not right wing neo-liberalism or any such like. (sigh) Fuck the US (clarification – those in the US who are responsible) for allowing such a twisted and confusing bastardisation of language and meaning to gain traction!

      Liberal as in the English sense, not the US sense.

      • thechangeling 5.1.1

        I thought i was just coming to terms with the concept of liberal, liberalism classical liberalism and neo liberalism (not to mention social and then economic liberalism and democratic liberalism). It seems I’m back to the drawing board again.
        These terms seem to get used far too liberally for most people to get their heads around!

  6. swordfish 6

    Although it varies somewhat from Country to Country, I would suggest Chomsky and Herman got it more or less right…….

    Corporate financial interests of media owners / the interests of the advertisers funding the media / Senior journalists seeing themselves as a key part of the elite (and often emerging from a privileged establishment backgound – BBC staff are, for instance, disproportionately from Oxbridge backgrounds) / A corporate media system that strongly selects these editors and senior journalists for their compliant views / the media’s inherent symbiotic relationship with powerful political and economic elites (as news sources and interpreters who set the agenda) / Threats, pressure and punitive action from Lobby groups set up by elites = all means that criticism of the (domestic or foreign policy) status quo by Liberal journalists and Liberal media outlets occur within very tightly circumscribed parameters: at best, they reluctantly internalise the limits of dissent acceptable to established interests, thereby practising self-censorship.

    And so even at the supposedly “liberal” Guardian and supposedly “neutral” BBC, you get coverage that’s often systematically biased toward the official British and US framing of events. So often, the BBC, for instance, comes across as an unofficial spokesman for British Military / Foreign Policy interests.

    And I might add that the New Zealand media rely heavily on British and US sources. The DOMPOST, for example, relies almost entirely on Murdoch’s THE TIMES and the former Conrad Black vehicle THE DAILY TELEGRAPH for its news and opinion pieces on world events.

  7. captain hook 7

    Liberals and their allies try and portray communism and capitalism as two polar entities when they are two different beast entirely.
    Liberals say that anyopposition to them is communism while those on the left are just as intent as anyone else in gathering up as much stuff as they can.
    goods trump ideology anyday.
    It is up to the left to protect the values and the well being of the masses and not to indulge in useless turf wars with the destroyers of the envirnoment and the exploiters of anything they can get their hands on.

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