You read a lot about the platonic Media on the Internet (hence the platonic 'M').
You also read a lot more about the the “mainstream media” or MSM.
Leftists, generally, are profoundly obsessed with the Media and they tend to see it as one solid block of uniformity, agreement and “obedience to power”.
For example, take this account of the MSM in the aptly titled website ElusiveTruth.com:
“... the government uses it [the MSM] as a tool to influence how people view the 'facts' of torture ... the obvious brainwashing that is purposefully being executed by government through media.... the government and mainstream media are willingly involved in controlling the thoughts of the American people.... we are being fed along with the facts. Amazing.”
(Yes, I'm well aware that some on the Right make almost identical comments about the MSM.)
When Leftists complain about the media - or the MSM - you can't help thinking that what really angers them is that there are any newspapers at all which advance positions they disagree with. This is the Gulag (or anti-freedom of speech) mentality of so many Leftists/progressives.
Chomsky, for one, gives the game away when he says that “you would need a transformation of society to change the media”.
What these people also seem to forget is that this very same media – if not always the MSM - also includes the following British Leftist and Left-Liberal newspapers, magazines and websites/blogs:
The Guardian the New Statesman, The Independent, the Daily Mirror, Red Pepper, Left Foot Forward, Liberal Conspiracy, Harry's Place, The Huffington Post (UK), Islamophobia Watch, Socialist Worker, Counterfire, Press TV (UK), Al-Jazeera English, Stop the War Coalition, Indymedia (UK), etc.
As for the United States (though I'm open to being corrected on some of these), you have:
The New York Times, CNN, Time, Salon, Indymedia (US), The Huffington Post, Loonwatch, CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations), Al-Jazeera America, Politico, the Daily Kos, CounterPunch, The Nation, etc.
In other words, there's more to the MSM than Fox News and the Daily Mail. Though, of course, there will by lots of aggressive and (politically) virile young Leftists who will find The Guardian, the New York Times, etc. far too right-wing and namby-pamby for their tastes. Indeed Chomsky himself is a critic of both the New York Times and The Guardian; both of which also belong to the evil and omnipresent MSM.
Clearly, these Leftist and Left-Liberal organs simply aren't Chomskyite enough for Chomsky and his disciples! Here again we see that some politicos have a big problem with any newspaper advancing any position they disagree with.
As I've just hinted, Noam Chomsky - with his endless references to the “mainstream media” - is largely to blame for all this MSM talk.
He explicitly states his general position in the following passage:
“... what the media do... is to take the set of assumptions which express the basic idea of the propaganda system, whether about the Cold War or the economic system or the 'national interest'... the debate only enhances the strength of the assumptions, ingraining them in the people's minds... in our system what you might call 'state propaganda'.... [is] implicit, it's presupposed... ”
Chomsky also has the sheer effrontery to refer to those who dare to disagree with him as having their “consent manufactured”. He even believes that soccer and soaps are domains in which uninformed people “internalize the values of the elite”.
All this basically means that Chomsky has cleverly adopted - and then slightly modified - the Marxist notion of 'false consciousness' .
Chomsky gives his own slant on false consciousness when - in a supremely patronising manner - he says:
“... there are a lot of people who just look a the world and say, 'Don't confuse me with the facts...' or 'I don't want to know about reality...'...”
Let's not forget that the Marxist theory of false consciousness is an an essential part of Leftism. It purports to explain - to take just one example - why members of the working class (almost all of them) - as well as all the members of other “oppressed groups” - fail to embrace revolutionary socialism (or Chomskyian Leftism).
Thus this massive Leftist conspiracy theory about the MSM (as well as about - by inference - false consciousness) contains two mind-blowing assumptions:
i) That all non-Leftists are massively stupid and without free will.
ii) That all capitalists conspire together to bring about exactly what the Leftists say they've brought about: a society made up entirely of “sheeple” whose only concern is to consume and obey.As you can see, the arrogance here is blatant. It's also nauseating. It becomes even more loathsome when first-year students start lecturing you about the MSM after having only embraced Chomsky's Leftism - or some other strand of Leftism - a mere two weeks before. In other words, such zealous acolytes are clearly in the first flush of their conversion. (A few weeks before reading Chomsky they were probably still going to bed with their teddy bears.)
The Omnipotent & Omnipresent MSM
The thing is, if the MSM is so powerful and manipulative, then why are there literally hundreds of blogs/websites (some of which were mentioned earlier) and thousands of Internet commentators telling us exactly how manipulative and powerful it is?
Of course Leftist will now argue that it doesn't matter if there are hundreds – perhaps thousands – of Leftists blogs and dozens of Leftist newspapers because they have no political impact on the “central power structures and hegemonies of the capitalist system”. But if Leftists truly believe that, then why do they bother with their blogs and newspapers at all? In addition, considering that Leftists have already had great success in “taking over the institutions” (e.g. the law, the universities, the race 'n' rights industries, charities, local councils, police bodies, etc.), how much more power do these people actually want? Total power? Of course they do! (And to think that Chomsky deems himself to be - in his own words - a “libertarian socialist”.)
The other question that can be asked here is this:
How did these Great Leftist Minds miraculously stop themselves from developing false consciousness or from being “brainwashed by the MSM”? Are they all intellectual Houdinis?
And on that subject. You often get Leftists saying “read Chomsky” (as in “read the Bible”). I've even seen graffiti which says “Read Chomsky!” - complete with exclamation mark! - emblazoned on inner-city walls in the UK.
Do these verbatim Chomskyites simply assume that all non-Leftists – as well as the critics of Chomsky - haven't read any of books or articles by Leftists? (Chomsky has written - on my count - around 70 books on politics; which is up to two a year since the late 1960s.)
Of course Chomsky's disciples will now say that the critics of this man (who've also read some of his stuff) will “read Chomsky through the prism of the mainstream media”... Oh no, here we go again! Not more of that false-consciousness malarkey!
Have Chomsky-automatons ever thought – even for one moment - that may be just as brainwashed as the viewers of, say, Fox News? (The only difference will be one of ideologies and political views.) After all, you don't suddenly become an Enlightened One simply by reading a book by Chomsky.... or by Marx. It requires independent and original thought; not a good memory for Chomsky's many soundbites or Marx's theories.
In any case, this is all very silly because most people (at least in the UK) don't rely that much on national newspapers any more. They certainly don't read the same newspaper every day as they did in the days before widespread Internet usage. Most people use various and many Internet sources: often Leftist ones!
1) It's not that I deny that some – or many - institutions and individuals try to “manufacture consent”. Of course they do... in various ways. What I have a problem with is Chomsky's idea that nearly all the people who disagree with him - politically or ideologically - have had their consent manufactured.
Lots of people are stupid and thus easily susceptible to brainwashing – especially by Chomsky (less so by Fox News). However, Chomsky takes simple disagreement as a sign of manufactured consent. The only people he allows free will and intelligence too are those “capitalists” and “right-wingers” who are doing the manufacturing; as well as to those who read Chomsky (as well as other Leftists).
2) Some people think that Chomsky is a name from the past.
If only that were so.
Almost every time I have a debate (or argument) with a Leftist, he either mentions Chomsky directly or tacitly uses one of his terms/ideas. Every time a Leftist mainstream newspaper or website gets theoretical, Chomsky is always mentioned.
And Chomsky still tops the list of “the world's greatest intellectuals”.
3) I don't think there is a way around political bias in the media. I don't really think that we should seek a way around it.
If people fear indoctrination, then they should read more books/articles and visit more diverse news outlets. You can't escape indoctrination simply by becoming an avid ready of Chomsky's books and articles (or by always feeding on Fox News). In fact by doing that you simply swap one source of self-indoctrination for another.
So, again, what is Chomsky's problem? His problem is contradictory opinions. This “libertarian socialist” is still a Stalinist at heart.
His brush-strokes are way too broad. Indeed, they are dangerous.
4) A commentator said that the theory of “false consciousness” has “nothing to do with Marx”. He then went on to say that “the concept, that people aren't seeing the world the way it really is so utterly ubiquitous that its hardly remarkable”.
I partly agree with that.
Marx and Chomsky do indeed have their own slant on an old – usually religious and Manichean – worldview. Indeed Marx and Chomsky's notion of “false consciousness” is very religious in nature.
Basically, Chomskyites and Marxists form a new priest-class: only they can see the Truth. And the Truth can only be found when you use the techniques required to find it (i.e. Marxist theory-theology); as told in the Holy Books of Chomsky and Marx.
5) One commentator put the Chomskyite view in this way:
“It simply puts forward that the MSM is mostly corporate owned, and thus tends reflect their worldview.”
What is meant by the word “corporate” here? Yes, it's yet another Chomskyite buzzword.
Does this platonic Corporate Entity really have the same views on all things? And what does it mean to “reflect their views”?
“Corporate” entities have published anarchist journals. Corporate entities funded punk bands and sold them in 1977 and beyond. Capitalism, in other words, can sell any view. How many books by hard-core Leftists and Chomskyites were produced and sold in the market place last year?
All this MSM talk involves gross conspiracism. That all political enemies believe the same thing and that they all work together. If Chomsky doesn't believe that, then the whole anti-MSM propaganda show falls to pieces.
Isn't the simplicity of the idea part of its appeal? That's why most believers in the-Media-is-a-solid-block theory are aged between 15 and 23. It's only the pushers, like Chomsky, who are older.
6) Interestingly enough, I was accused by one person of having false consciousness. He wrote:
“The thesis in manufacturing consent is in no way a conspiracy theory, and you demonstrate your ignorance and/or insincerity when calling it such.”
Of course I'm ignorant! I take that for granted when speaking to Enlightened Chomskyites. That was the main point of the article.
I'm right-wing: therefore I have false consciousness. This person used the word “ignorance” instead; though he gave me the benefit of the doubt by also saying I may be insincere.
7) All political parties require a degree of conformity and even obedience. Leftist parties certainly do. And the further Left you go, the more “centralised” the party becomes. So much so, for example, that the UK's Socialist Workers Party has a Central Committee. Now how embarrassing is that?
Chomsky goes many steps beyond political parties. He literally deems all people with right-wing or conservative views to have “false consciousness”. That's unless those right-wingers are capitalists or have political power – and then their main aim is to “manufacture” the “consent” of everybody else.
In the end, then, no matter how Chomsky and other Leftists dress it up (with numerous footnotes, academese and theory), they just can't stomach contradictory opinions – even from people outside the MSM and political establishment. I should know, my own free speech has been denied many time by the fans of Chomsky. Ironic, isn't it?