Monday, June 16, 2008

Media Reform conference in Minneapolis:

By David Walsh
14 June 2008

...The prejudice against socialism, encouraged by decades of officially sponsored anticommunism, goes unchallenged in these circles. And a serious, deep-going critique of American society, including its monstrous media apparatus, is unthinkable without the revival of socialist thought within the intelligentsia and broad layers of the population. A socialist program in regard to the media has to be developed and popularized, involving the nationalization of the major media conglomerates and their transformation into public utilities, democratically controlled. Information, culture and entertainment have to be liberated from corporate control.

Anticommunism, as opposed to socialist opposition to the Stalinist regimes in the USSR and elsewhere, became virtually a state religion in the US in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This resulted in the systematic elimination of left-wing opinion, its subsequent unavailability to the public. This was not simply a right-wing undertaking. American liberalism and the Democratic Party, in alliance with the state, settled accounts with their opponents on the left in the purges. The consequences of that process for political, social and cultural life have been disastrous.

No one in these circles speaks of this history, especially of the role played by liberalism. The Democratic Party was widely discredited in the 1950s and 1960s, identified as it was with anticommunism, corrupt machine politics, Jim Crow in the South and, eventually, the Vietnam War. The angry, mass protests outside the Democratic convention in 1968 did not come out of the blue. The repackaging of the Democrats, their respectability on the ‘left’ is of relatively recent origin.

...“The American people can handle a broad discourse, from left to right, from libertarian to socialist. Unfortunately, our media denies that to them and as a result, I think, causes a stilted discourse which makes it far less likely that we will solve real problems in this country.”

McChesney put in, “I’d like to add one thing. It’s worse than that. The media serves to police the borders of what is legitimate opinion and that’s always the thing that makes you angriest, they’re the border cops ...”

These are critical issues, facing not only the media reform movement, but the population as a whole. The question remains: to what extent will the media reform movement itself function as a “border cop” for the Democratic Party and official politics?

No comments: