Think about the enormity of this fact: there is a small group of people in this society which basically controls the evolution of popular culture, the formation of archetypes in the individual, even some of people’s most basic beliefs about themselves. I am talking, of course, about script writers and directors; the people who create the contents of the television, newspapers and movie media.
Apart from the imbecilic and juvenile rating system, this power is essentially an unchecked power, a blank check, exerted on societal narratives and beliefs. This is extremely powerful stuff, a power on par with that of the recognized major hierarchies in our society.
Certainly I am not saying that the power of the script writers towards the average person is hierarchical in nature. However, they tell us the lies and delusions that make those hierarchies palatable. And if we are serious about eradicating hierarchies, not just suppressing them for a time, we need to understand how they arise and what sustains them. Just as it would do no good to eliminate government just to have another one emerge from the muck, it would do no good to eliminate hierarchies as a whole without also nullifying or counter-balancing those tendencies in people and groups which create and sustain them.
If you look at television shows, for instance, the lies and delusions are hard to miss. The most popular shows on television right now are those which present narratives which glorify policemen and their work, as well as the “justice system” as a whole. Even though our “justice system” as a whole is a corrupt, authoritarian, unjust system, and policemen are basically nothing more than a legitimized mafia which routinely attacks innocent people, the picture that we are presented, and which penetrates the realm of our imaginary on a daily basis, is that policemen are stalwart agents of justice, and that the “justice system” is a fair and impartial system. How can this not fail to affect popular culture, and support for the law in general?
Consider the “reality shows,” which are half-fabricated, half-edited monstrosities; their basic goal is to portray man’s interests as being constantly in conflict, as a constant competition, that’s the reason why they’re interesting. Even those that have some sort of “redeeming” ending make a point of showing as much struggle as possible.
Even the so-called “news” are more entertainment than facts: the very structure of the news, much like the newspapers, dictates what sort of events are shown and not shown. There is a strong emphasis on crime, political bickering and rhetoric, unproven or even fake emergencies, and rarely do we see anything about what makes life worth living. More importantly, never are these news put in any kind of context or perspective, because they wish to appear “value-neutral.” This is a popular conceit amongst journalists, even though it is patent nonsense: the presentation of any event or phenomenon is necessarily and crucially value-dependent (this is perhaps the one good thing about politically partisan television, like FOX: at least you know what their values are, no matter how ridiculous those can be).
Most importantly, through their portrayals of modern archetypes, they create the ways in which we view others, which means in practice that they dictate the way people will act towards each other; through their portrayals of the past, they create most of our beliefs about history; they forge our present, but also our past and our future. Such a level of power, and especially power of this nature, should not be granted to any individual or group.
Some may argue that my position is inconsistent with a belief in total freedom, and that I am merely demonstrating that I’d rather “enforce” some artificial concept of equality rather than let people be free. But this is a misunderstanding. No one seriously argues that we should let people be free to defraud each other, and that trying to stop fraud is inconsistent with a belief in total freedom. Likewise, few Anarchists will disagree with me when I say that concentration of wealth in the hands of an elite is both inegalitarian and necessarily entails attacks on the freedoms of those who are not part of the elite.
Neither of these examples entail “enforcing” equality above freedom: in fact, this is impossible, since freedom and equality are merely two sides of the same coin. So it is with the power to mold people’s imaginary. The extreme concentration of this power, which we observe through the increasing concentration of mass media, necessarily will, and does, support attacks against our freedom, and therefore inequality as well.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Francois Tremblay: Against Free Speech
Posted by Nick
The following excerpts are from Against free speech by Francois Tremblay at Check Your Premises.