Friday, 1 November 2013

The paradox of mass media control/ lack-of-control


The paradox of mass media control/ lack of control is that one the one hand:

1. The mass media is the source and enforcement of Leftism in modern societies; therefore the mass media is Leftist in its form and content: its biases, omissions, inclusions, selections, emphases, distortions, inventions and lies.

2. Nobody controls the mass media.


That nobody (no particular, identifiable human or group) controls the mass media is clear from the fact that it is not the kind of thing that can be controlled: it is un-control-able.

This has become undeniable since the advent of the internet, and then social media; which expanded the mass media by (who knows...) a thousandfold? over the pace of two decades - and yet the Leftism of the media has become both 1. more extreme and 2. more pervasive and comprehensive.

It is surely inconceivable that any control system could have been both 1. scaled-up a thousand-fold, while at the same time 2. becoming more effective in its blanket enforcement of an ever-more-extreme monolithic Leftism.


So there is indeed a paradox.

Any other kind of pan-societal, pan-national institution would require an  identifiable, indeed explicit, command and control system (management) in order to fulfil its function; any other institution would require a set of formal regulations and procedures to enforce conformity.

The key is in the phrase: fulfil its function.

The mass media binds together the atomic, individualistic, alienated populations of modern nations; and the nations of the world - binds them in a web of communication.

So the mass media is the one and only, active and effective mechanism of cohesion in the modern world.


Is then cohesion the primary function of the modern mass media?

Not at all, in fact the opposite - the mass media creates a cohesion that is mutually hostile and actively divisive; expansively inclusive through unrelenting exclusion.

We have seen this before, on a tiny scale, in Communism; an ideology which unites a nation, unites the world, in embracing an ideology which continually and necessarily creates more and more enemies.

After a while Communism becomes The Party versus Everybody Else, then The Party fractures and purges into us versus them... eventually it is The Leader versus the world.

International Communism starts as communication and cooperation between The Party of several (all) nations against The People of those nations; but insofar as it succeeds in spreading Communism, national Parties become mutually hated enemies.

The analogous process plays out in the mass media - the more it succeeds, and the closer to its goal of uniformity it comes - the more pressing is the necessity to identify and create enemies, to draw lines, to purge, to begin war. 


But in the world of the modern mass media we have entered a very advanced state of nihilism: far beyond anything achieved by Communism.

Communists tried their best to remake Man by propaganda, to redefine language to enforce current priorities, crudely to airbrush from photographs and erase from historical records the 'disgraced' former leaders so they became Non-Persons.

But the world of Communism had, by our standards, a minuscule mass media; they simply could not continuously colonize the minds of the population - in the way achieved by the modern mass media.

Old style Communism could not overcome the solidity of people's minds; could not overcome their basic motivations, hopes and memories.

But the modern mass media has achieved this.


Notions of mass media control assume that no matter how full of meaningless mush may be the minds of the audience; the minds of the creators remain clear, above the fray. A case of hard-nuts leading mush-heads...

The idea is the mass media is an old-style management system, in which the managers in the mass media manipulate the rest of us into doing things that benefit the managers' ideology (as well as gratifying their personal desires). 

Not so; the minds of the mass media creators are mushier even than the minds of those whose heads they daily fill.


The mass media managers are not hard-nuts, they are mush-heads like everyone else; but in the managers the mush is rotten.

It is a case of rotting-mush-heads leading sterile mush heads - and it is the rot which spreads.

that is, indeed, the nature of modern management: not to manipulate the masses, but to infect the masses.

So the modern mass media achieves pan-national cohesion - but it is the cohesion of a pandemic; the cohesion of spreading a universal plague.


The rot is Leftism, and the corruption is inversion of The Good.

The mass media retain morality, indeed the mass media becomes more and more moral in the sense that nothing matters except moral issues: the whole of the mass media becomes consumed by goodies and baddies, churning morality games with evil - building-up and breaking down, switching identities; at one moment accepting traditional morality, then inverting it, then pointing to inversion then denying it...

The great insight is that this characteristic media generated-and-sustained state of un-patterned churning is not strategic - it is not some kind of clever ploy leading to some particular state of affairs.

The purpose of the morally-focused and morally chaotic maelstrom of the modern mass media is more of the same; ever more, and ever more of the same.


The Old Leftists, who aim at a particular social organization, and who imagine that the New Leftism of the modern mass media will sooner or later benefit themselves or their groups in the medium or long term are grossly mistaken.

What group could have been more favoured by the Left over a whole century or more than The Workers, the Proletariat?

Yet in the mass media dominated Leftism of modernity, what group could have been more comprehensively made into Non-Persons than The Workers?


Such is the fate of all who try to use systematic destruction to create some solid and lasting benefit for themselves and their cause. The same fate as awaited legions of Party officials in the Soviet Union - to be consumed by the fires they themselves fuelled.

In a world of moral inversion, there are, indeed, no winners - there are only the losers of today versus the losers of tomorrow.



heaviside said...

"That nobody (no particular, identifiable human or group) controls the mass media is clear from the fact that it is not the kind of thing that can be controlled: it is un-control-able."

While I still agree with the basic thesis of this post, and this particular statement, if one wants to analyze this situation one can kind certain groups that are very deeply tied to the media, even if they don't participate in a relationship of top-down control, which is very rare nowadays anyways.

The first that comes to mind(other than the immediately obvious such as Madison Avenue, academia, and the USG), is the CIA:

This is the same Carl Bernstein who was part of the famous duo that are known for exposing Watergate, while working at an organization he believes is controlled by the CIA, the Washington Post.

This is not really surprising when one considers that American intelligence agencies tended to view intelligence as creating an accurate view of the world both from classified and public sources, such as newspapers, unlike the Soviet approach of attempting to pilfer as many secret documents as possible. As a result of this there is an incestuous relationship between the CIA, the State Department, foreign policy academia, and big media, and even if there was no formal cooperation between them informal collusion would be a given. The internationalist and leftist slant of the CIA can be contrasted with the FBI's domestic and anti-communist stance, as the two agencies have a longstanding and well known rivalry. NB: It is likely that not only American but also European media outlets are controlled as well, since this was the explicit aim of organs like the USIA. One can go and find much more material on this subject if one is interested.

There is, of course, a certain ethnic group whose influence may be more important than that of any formal organization, and one wonders what this says about them and their culture.

Bruce Charlton said...

@h - For me the key is that all previous analyses of the media are wrong - usually about as wrong as it is possible to be. In particular, the thing I need to understand better is what difference it makes when the media (the Left) have a negative agenda - an agenda of destruction. This is unfamiliar territory for sociology (although familiar for theology).

JP said...

I am unable to think of an example of a group that tried to influence or piggyback on the media in pursuit of a positive (non-destructive) agenda. For example, during the Cold War the goal of US government efforts to influence the media was to destroy or at least weaken the USSR.

And yet the same US government is unable to prevent the media from destroying or weakening the United States in general and the US government in particular. All those "deep ties to the media" can't prevent important secrets from appearing on the front page of the New York Times...

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - Yes, confirming who is controlling whom.

The media weapon is that they know the secrets of all those in control and can broadcast them (that is what surveillance is all about) - or if there are no nasty secrets then they make-up stuff that people are supposed to have said or written (but didn't) and the media addicted population believe it just as much.