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Author Topic: Ideological conformity — an impediment to truth  (Read 6775 times)
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« on: March 03, 2006, 03:09:25 PM »

"Ideological conformity — an impediment to truth
Many of us have learned – with good reason – to distrust the corporate media and have turned increasingly to a host of internet web sites and other non-corporate-controlled sources for news and analysis. Of course it’s in our interest to make all our grassroots information sources as trustworthy as possible. So it’s troubling when incorrect or otherwise misleading information is distributed by our own sources. Initially my focus was on the misunderstanding of the Morales’ speech in the Science for the People group. But then I realized it was probably fairly widespread among those of us who, because of our left-oriented ideology, tend to accept what we learn from our preferred sources without being sufficiently critical.

In this instance various important left-oriented websites, among them Counterpunch,[6] ZNet,[7] and Countercurrents,[8] each posted the Evo Morales talk with a wrong and misleading date. Predictably, many of us came to a wrong conclusion. So far as I can tell from Mike Brand’s post,[3] Walda Katz-Fishman got the “news” item from ‘Labor Exchange’ via the ‘NY Transfer News Collective’, then posted it to the ‘league-discuss’ Yahoo group, from where Mike got it, and he then posted it to the SftP discussion group. Whether or not ‘Labor Exchange’ copied the item from ZNet I don’t know.

Of the first 10 sites listed in the Google search,[1] the following eight failed to include the information when and where Evo Morales made that speech: 1 and 2 are ZNet; 3-Countercurrents was posted 2 days before, hence not copied from ZNet; 4-Infoshop, 6-Rastafarispeaks, 8-Trinicenter, and 9-Americas each reposted the ZNet posting; and 7-Bellaciao reposted the Countercurrents posting. Each site, and Counterpunch and doubtless many others, had a part in causing widespread misunderstanding.

Each of us tries to comprehend the world from a particular ideological vantage point. Mine has been, for the past 35 years or so, the perspective of anarchist communism closely associated with the thinking of Peter Kropotkin.[9] No one can “escape” to a position of objective neutrality with respect to most of the important questions that relate to our lives and well-being. The corporate media of course are dominated by the ideology of capitalism. The picture of the world they project supports that ideology, influencing the thoughts of many people, including people whose ideological inclination is left-oriented but who have not yet replaced their near total reliance on corporate media sources with substantial reliance on non-corporate, radical left sources.

A single crucially important example of how corporate
media influence the ideology of much of the left

Contrary to what I believe, most of the people I know accept as a given that hierarchical structures of power are essential for complex modern societies in today’s world. The preeminent power structures are the giant nation-states, the United States currently at the apex. U.S. corporate media, as integral parts of the power pyramid, never question in the slightest the legitimacy of the U.S. Government as an institution whose purpose is supposedly the well-being of the American people. These media present as “news” endless accounts of the functioning (and misfunctioning) of government agencies, state as well as federal: military forces, police, prisons, courts, legislatures, etc., and of individuals – often corrupt – who hold positions of power within these agencies or in the corporate world.

The emphasis on “important people” and all the instruments of the dominant power structure is natural enough for corporate media. The fundamental status quo, i.e. the overall dominance of capitalism, is the world system they want to preserve and which, since they are a principal instrument of ideological control, they strive to make us accept, unwillingly if necessary, in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population would benefit from suitable fundamental changes in the social structure.

I find it remarkable, though perhaps not too surprising, that much of the liberal and even radical left media share with the corporate media an emphasis on personalities and the instruments of power in their choice of “news” and commentary. Of course the nature of the commentary, especially that of the radical left, is entirely opposed to that of corporate media. But my point is that even when arguing from a radical left perspective, the framework of the discussion, the choice of what is important to argue about, has almost always been established by “the enemy”. When we do this, we are fighting on their turf, a great mistake. "

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