Vladimir Putin with his co-accused, Maria Lvova-Belova
I’ve already written two posts on the ICC warrant against Russia’s president, and had thought that the end of the matter. In itself the move isn’t all that important, and I’ve given – here and here – my view of what it signifies.
Yet here I am, writing a third post. I now think I’ll need a fourth before I’m done.
It’s been my view for a long time that the Western public, its liberal intelligentsia especially, is the most brainwashed in the world. It’s not that the propaganda we are subjected to is more deceitful or intense than elsewhere. Just more developed and all-encompassing. From cradle to grave the ideological air we breathe – in the warp and weft of home, school and workplace … through art and literature, education and entertainment, and pictures of the world constructed by what our news media do and do not tell us – serves in ways gross and subtle, often with wit, sophistication and even seeming contradiction and negation, a barely conscious view, steeped in implicit racism yet Borg-like in its adaptability and capacity to co-opt currents of opposition, that West is Best.
(As that old cold war saw used to have it: “the folks living behind the iron curtain are in better shape than us. They know their media and politicians lie to them.” )
The power of that narrative can be adduced from its ability to shrug off 500 years of colonial plunder with extreme violence as an onwards and upwards march of Enlightenment values. And even more so in the wildly evidence-defiant belief – rampant within the Western intelligentsia – that Washington is not the world’s most tyrannical and blood-soaked regime by a massive and easily quantifiable margin.
More specifically, it is in the West that the dark arts and science of shaping public opinion have been most thoroughly perfected. I mean commercial advertising of course. Just as we all seem to believe advertising “has no effect on me” …
On whom then? And why do billions of dollars change hands each year under the quaint misapprehension that market behaviour can be thus manufactured?
… we all seem sincerely to believe our views of a Vladimir Putin or Bashar al-Assad are ones we arrived at on our own sweet lonesome. Independent souls that we are … 1
… even though few of us take the trouble – not easy, I grant you, given media/web censorship – to study their words in context, expose ourselves to what media in their own countries say, and acquaint ourselves with facts not mentioned by ours. Indeed, most of us would see that as just plain stupid. They don’t have independent media like we have, do they?
(Our media told us so.)
Misrepresentations by systemically corrupt media 2 do include active lying. It beggars belief, for instance, that when Guardian writer Luke Harding claimed – backed by his boss Katharine Viner – that Julian had met Trump gofer and soon to be convicted felon Paul Manafort in London’s Ecuador Embassy, at the time the most monitored building on the planet, they were just being sloppy. Despite the physical impossibility of such a meeting, the lie linked two agendas. One was the all-out character assassination of a courageous whistle-blower, in which The Guardian took a leading – the leading – role. The other was a Russiagate narrative now discredited, yes, but which served its purpose in forcing Trump to back off from his declared intent to work with Russia against Salafist terror in Syria.
More important, however – and subject of a recent post – are media lies of omission. Take the way media favoured by the liberal intelligentsia cite “the international community” to leave us with the robust impression that, a few nut jobs aside, everyone in the whole wide world shares “our” view that Vladimir Putin is the latest “new Hitler”.
Here’s that whole wide world, as understood by corporate media in the West:
To be sure, the (implicit) map’s shedding of a few countries – whole continents even – is not the most important corporate media omission in their Ukraine coverage. That dubious honour goes to their silence on the existence of a US empire driven by its own doctrines of exceptionalism, full spectrum dominance and Project for a New American Century – a God-given right to control global markets and resources, and subdue by all necessary means any obstruction to that end.
Nevertheless, let me leave you with a perspective from one of that map’s many gaping blue holes: an India which, together with China, houses a third of all people that on earth do dwell. Here is M K Bhadrakumar, a former career diplomat, on that ICC warrant. 3
- It’s a fact beyond serious dispute – witness the experimental findings, widely replicated and upheld, of Solomon Asch, Irving Janis, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo and others – that Westerners have a wildly misplaced faith in our own independence. It isn’t (I think) that non Westerners are more independent. Rather, that they have not been subjected for so long to a Robinson Crusoe model of man so useful to capitalism. One consequence being that projecting a rugged independence has mattered less in the global south than demonstrating loyalty and kinsmanship. Since being swayed by the opinions of others is less of a shame, there’s less invested in denying half our dual nature as individuated yet social beings. (Indeed, that those social psychology findings so shocked the West is itself indicative of Capitalist Man’s blindness to just how well our highly evolved impulse to conform has served our species – even if it does at times take us to very dark places.)
- I use the systemically corrupt media construct a lot, I know. It’s accurate. As Chomsky put it: “media are large corporations selling privileged audiences to other corporations. Now the question is: what pictures of the world would a rational person expect from this? For answers, see Britain decides and Monolithic control at the Guardian?
- As I so often am, I’m indebted to steel city reader Dave Hansell for alerting me to Mr Bhadrakumar’s piece.