I was watching a biopic of The Beatles the other day. In 1964 young girls were shown screaming with adoration, collapsing in ecstasy and being carried off by smiling, paternal police. In 1967 young girls were shown fighting the police to get near their idols with grim policemen fighting back. In three years society had changed. What had happened?
The Beatles were the apogee of the entertainment media in the twentieth century. They were the focus of stories consumed by magazine and newspaper readers and television viewers as well as the engine of major music media organisations. The story told by the media changed from loveable lads to heroes of the Civil Rights movement, from gifted musicians to long haired figureheads of teenage rebellion. Of course, The Beatles themselves were just four gifted young men and the story gained a life of its own to reflect what sold stories the best. Only media stories have the reach and speed to change social behaviour in a couple of years.
Like all industries the media offer a range of products and those which sell form the basis for further product development. The difference from other industries is that the media can retail a way of life. This makes the media fundamentally political.
Prior to the rise of the media industry information was spread to children by family, village and church. The church was the prime connection from the state to the individual. Once the printing press had been invented the media began to influence society. In the nineteenth century, after a couple of hundred years of anarchic information distribution and revolution, State Schools returned the power to distribute information to the the State. The State became capable of wielding the masses. This State domination of information fell apart in the middle twentieth century, especially as a result of popular music sales and the peripheral stories they generated. Music infused the media with money and attention. The Church attempted to resist, at first it managed to prolong censorship and limit the number of channels, the amount of advertising and timing of television programming but the media had become too powerful and swept the Church away. In the late twentieth century the media was dominant.
The Media Industry is dominant in global politics. The Media is run by multinational corporations that are determined to keep this dominance.
Recently the Media have been challenged by independent content on Social Media. A similar phenomenon occurred when printing was first invented and individual pamphleteers caused chaos. However, this time around the medium is controlled by international corporations and these are responding rapidly.
As an example, most Twitter users in the UK support the EU (Remain):
This is unlikely to be the result of the demographics of Twitter versus Facebook:
The demographics are not vastly different and cannot account for an over two to one preponderance of Remain voters on Twitter. Anecdotal evidence amongst Independence activists suggests that they are being shadow banned and suspended from Twitter. The activists recruit followers and only Remain activists are given a free ride by Twitter.
The Corporate Media are aggressively suppressing viewpoints that they consider will damage their business model and are providing a platform for viewpoints that favour their business model.
The Media are the source of terrorism. This statement of the obvious sounds outrageous to most people because the Media always portrays itself as on the moral high ground. Reflect for a moment on whether terrorists acts would occur if we never heard about them. The objective of the terrorist is to get a prime slot on the News and the journalists rush to the latest terrorist event to give it a prime slot on the news. Terrorism is a Media production.
The Media are the source of polarisation. Simply presenting the policies of opposing politicians and discussing them does not sell Media. Politicians are painted as evil racists versus middle of the road. Films portray evil islamists or far rightists versus those who will save the world. Polarised stories sell media.
The Media even seems to be able to wave a magic wand and invert reality. As an example large corporations, especially multinational corporations were always believed to be the darlings of the Right but now they are the darlings of the Left despite being the evil that all left wing philosophers warn about. The centre ground of politics was always national well being but now it is international trade and international well being (ie: multinational corporate territory). That multinational media corporations present these views and suppress all other views is not surprising. What is surprising is that our politicians have let them get away with it. This ascendancy by the corporations will not last.
Media Corporations cannot resist profit and they will follow and exaggerate stories that are profitable, eventually they will portray the world as so anarchic that the State will intervene to “save” us all. Paradoxically the Media will be glad to be controlled because they will then be free to operate without conscience or condemnation in China, potentially the largest market in the next 20 years. Microsoft are already operating controlled media in China and Facebook is keen to do so but finding it difficult whilst still posing as “free” media. China and Chinese capitalism are the future and it looks bleak for us.
This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: