Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Worst Inequality

As we head toward the mid-term elections, progressives will wring their hands in vain until some of its fat cats put their money where their inner beliefs are, breaking the spell of Seditions Acts, HUAC, (think McCarthy), and un-Ameri-canism.

As the Tea Party gobbles up what’s left of the Republican Party, Goebbels would be proud. At first it seemed that the Palin-inspired movement would declare itself a Third Party, with good chances of winning elections as an emanation of one of the two established parties. Either because they didn’t believe a third party could win, or because they feared it just might this time, the leaders of the Grand Old Party, caved and joined the rebels.

Why can progressive democrats not respond? How much cour-age does it take to declare loud and clear that this country needs less flag-worship and more social-democracy; that we fail at our peril to join the rest of the civilized world in recognizing that freedom must go with responsibility, that creativity is not impeded by solidarity? As fascism rears it ugly head, neck and arms, our loudest, most desperate voices, such as Chris Hedges and Curtis White, can only rail hyperbolically at the powerlessness of the many to effectively demand that we turn this ship around: apparently, Soros, Gates, and other philanthropes believe money can buy immunity from witch-hunting. By failing to lead the people, they break the chain Che Guevara referred to when he told me, with that tone of patient exasperation that was his specialty: “Its always been the bourgoisie that has made revolutions.” Our top-of-the-line apparently believes luck will protect them, when freedom to speak and to write disappears, and their wealth is comman-deered for whatever folly the Tea Party decides that God - ‘our God’ - commands. Yet they have been complicit in the failure of the press to combat a 70 year-old court decision that jour-nalists may not belong to a union. After firing a reporter for taking the workers’ side in his writing, the Associated Press was able to impose the following principle:

The reporter’s job is to present facts as an objective observer, avoiding partisanship....News can only be presented to the public with objectivity if newspaper owners are free to choose those it deems best qualified to report and present the facts.

In other words, journalists must have no opinions, much less an ideological preference, for then they would no longer be objective. They must disregard family environment, their conscience and convictions in order to present the facts ‘objectively’. Generations of journalists have been trained in this ethic - in turn training the public to believe that objectivity really exists.

And yet, aside from the human factors, four other things make true objectivity impossible. First, choices are made throughout the publishing process: What news will be covered? Who will be assigned to twhat? How much space will each story be granted, what page will it be on, will there be a picture? etc., etc. Obviously the most important thing in all this is not the fact that these constraints exist, but the journalist’s and the public’s failure to recognize that they affect objectivity.

Second, the paper - or the news channel - relies on investors and advertisers. The media having become less a purveyor of news than of advertising, the information it carries must not contradict the opinions of its advertisers - or shareholders.
Third, as governments and companies become increasingly adept at constructing events, the line between news and propaganda is fatally blurred. Last but certainly not least, the media loves to amplify the importance of passing events without explaining the processes which led to them. They never tells us why other people attack us - or refuse to do our bidding - providing carte blanche to the military-industrial complex to continue its deadly business. See Andrew Bacevich’s latest book: Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.

Can wealthy progressives still tip the balance by funding mass media with a different message? One thing is certain, they will not be able to ward off the coming fascist state by organizing protests, because progressive protestors lack the ideological education and tradition of workers’ rights required to command attention. The Democratic base needs a crash course in the history of democratic worker’s rights, and their implementation in the social democratic countries which are our allies. Only then will they be able to stand up to the Tea Party and its selective and often erroneous interpretation of our two-hundred year Constitution.

The worst inequality is ignorance. In the end, it’s always about fairness. The American tradition calls for freedom to pursue happiness, while the rest of the world wants liberty, equality and solidarity. Not only Communists, but many Muslims as well, in particular those inspired by the original martyr, Mohammed’s cousin Ali, whom the Shi’a worship and the Sufi dance to.