Peter Pavimentov is one of our most original and appreciated commenters. A onetime editor for our sister precursor publication, Cyrano’s Journal, his restless, iconoclastic mind roams easily across cultures and topics. The following will be of interest to many of our readers, and probably many people beyond TGP. This article by Paul Street [Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People] provoked the following response:
Mmmmm, sticks and stones….as I have written Street about the pejorative terms that he cannot help spouting about Trump leave most people cold as they do little to help fight this man’s real danger and unfortunately strengthen the personal nonsense of the diversion tactics brought by the media against the president that are meant to distract viewers and readers from his reality.
“The US is a petty-bourgeois society of the poor and downtrodden from other lands who through hard work and dedication succeeded in reaching a modicum of living which is indeed envied elsewhere and living by the standards and economically driven determination of that class. Little can they care about social equalization as they are trained to be competitive and of necessity self-seeking. That principle is being reflected in the ads, in print, in movies and on the television screen. No indoctrination needed…”
In that vein I am not entirely convinced that propaganda shapes people’s thinking to the degree that Street and the people he quotes are convinced. Looking at US television since I came to this country made me rather think that US television (the newspapers and ads fulfill the same function) are an exact mirror of what this society thinks and feels (much like Warhol’s silkscreens hold a mirror up for us about what we feel and think by his colorful images of the electric chair and Jackie’s distressed figure after the JFK assassination).
People who survived WW II in Europe (and I was a very young child) saw and were revolted by the Nazi propaganda. It was so twisted and cruel that it was beyond acceptance, but for the most part it showed healthy Germans loving their children, dogs and nature. To assume that vile images and text influenced viewers and readers to accept all its premises and become more fervid clean-living Nazis is a superficial assumption and frankly never has made sense psychologically.
To convince someone of certain values is impossible unless a fertile ground is already present just as it is impossible have someone under hypnosis do things (s)he would refuse otherwise. A Swiss psychologist studying very young children observed that the baby recognizes itself as a person when (s)he sees itself reflected in a mirror. Just so do people react when they see or read that what reverberates within them readily and they will say: ‘Yes, that is right for me’.
The US is a petty-bourgeois society of the poor and downtrodden from other lands who through hard work and dedication succeeded in reaching a modicum of living which is indeed envied elsewhere and living by the standards and economically driven determination of that class. Little can they care about social equalization as they are trained to be competitive and of necessity self-seeking. That principle is being reflected in the ads, in print, in movies and on the television screen. No indoctrination needed.
From child onward, the USA-er is taught to compete, to see objects as necessary proofs of success and to realize that (s)he is a lone individual in that pursuit. It is imbued in the social familial environment and that (s)he is more successful and virtuous than people elsewhere in the world are a given, otherwise the whole premise for this country would be null and void. It is also by the way why a real revolution here is well-nigh impossible to contemplate.
To make the media more socially responsible is a pipedream because they would not sell (they are after all corporate products of necessity just like toilet paper or deodorant). In all their callousness they show the real face of the USA as do movies and all advertising. They are commercial enterprises and products for sale ruled by capitalist principles and are not meant to change minds and hearts. To read and look at them is to understand the country.
As for that the whole Trump episode and saga is a tragicomedy for the ruling establishments. In fact, they were hoisted by their own petard, namely by the outdated political rules for control such as the electoral college, which queered their plans to have the grifter Clinton play her role as commander-in-chief. That said, they are desperately trying to re-balance the scales by invective via the media and by threats of impeachment. They underestimate Trump whom they see as a bluffer and a showman only. But he is backed by Wall street, no small boys there and by the army, which he flatters by higher loans and he is not easily intimidated. The US left chimes in with the opposing party which thus substantially weakens their message and will evoke more support for Trump in the hinterlands which already envies and resents the coast regions as elite self indulgers.
Has the political left then never learnt that identity politics such as hating and/or killing the dictator, king, emperor or president does not amount to much. The French Revolution after they killed the king went on merrily towards the Directorate and Napoleon. Killing the Czar was entirely unnecessary as Lenin clearly stated because it did not prevent the white army with the help of the West from invading Russia. “It is the system stupid”. Grass roots simply means exactly that, namely working with the lower echelons of society to undermine and topple unbearable structures that oppress and immiserate, not working from the top on down. Leave that practice to the liberals, the ideological bottom feeders, the opportunists.