By Ray Hall
Do we live in a country where citizens are precisely informed on the issues of the day by a media who operate independently of government? Or do our political leaders deliberately plant a false view of events and issues in the mind of the public using media to broadcast and amplify in order to generate public consent for government policy?
This is a basic test of democracy for the citizens of any country. But the very nature of modern propaganda systems is that they masquerade as independent while functioning as the opposite,(example RTE, Irish Independent, TV3) so the question is not as straightforward as it appears.
In Democracy Incorporated; Managed Democracy and the Spectre of Inverted Totalitarianism, how did political parties in Ireland turn “managed democracy” into “inverted totalitarianism,” concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a small ruling class more efficiently and sustainably than ever before.
Instead of sweeping away the structures of constitutional government like Fascists or Nazis, this “political coming-of-age of corporate power” has more cleverly preserved and co-opted democratic parties and adapted them for its own purposes.
Self-serving politicians and parties compete for funding in election campaigns run by the advertising industry, to give political investors the most corrupt Taoiseach, administration and Seanad that money can buy, while courts uphold new corporate and plutocratic political rights to ward off challenges to the closed inner circle of wealth and political power.
Oligarchic corporate control of the media is a critical element in this dystopian system. Under the genius of inverted totalitarianism, a confluence of corrupt interests has built a more effective and durable propaganda system than direct government control could ever have imagined or achieve.
The editor or media executive who amplifies this government and corporate propaganda while suppressing alternative narratives is not generally doing so on orders from the government, but in the interest of their own career, their company’s success in the corporate oligarchy or “marketplace,” and their responsibility not to provide a platform for radical or “irrelevant” ideas.
In this context, a common pattern in a recent case illustrates how the Irish government and media systematically deceived the public on critical policy issues, to generate public hostility towards peaceful assemble and suppress domestic opposition to a private company using the threat of Garda and Army forces. I refer to Irish Water, the company, policy and implementation.
The contrast between image and reality, so essential to Governments role, represents a new achievement in managed democracy, enabling them to maintain and expand policies which are the polar opposite of the change their supporters thought they were voting for.
On our domestic front, as the lies that clothe our taoiseach, tanaiste and cabinet become more transparent, People are inevitably growing more skeptical than ever of government politicians and media. Skepticism in the face of propaganda is vital, but the low turnout in the May 2014 local election suggests that more and more of the electorate are reacting to the corruption of our political representatives and media with disengagement rather than activism that could awaken the sleeping giant of real democracy.
But this is only one stage of a long and complex history to come. Growing democratic activism and independent media are the green shoots of a grassroots renewal of democratic politics that offer real solutions to our country’s problems. Social Media, Blogs, Internet Radio & Internet Television are now places where a growing percentage of people now get their news and views contrary to what media hacks will have you believe and over the coming years the media as its known today will slowly fade and die.
In the mean time one thing we can do, is to let the masters of propaganda, lies and media hacks know we can see through their masks of deceit, by refusing to watch listen or read their misleading information and starve them of the attention they so badly desire.