Sunday, November 24, 2019
Newly liberated people Essays
Newly liberated people Essays Newly liberated people Essay Newly liberated people Essay What small prospects for success would face a society which openly announced its intention of imposing a second imperial tutelage on a newly liberated people?Ã -Mass Communications and American EmpireÃ In many respects, the second Bush administrations efforts at information control are too heavy-handed for the late Herbert Schillers subtle model of mind mold. From Lynne Cheneys American Council of Trustees and Alumni to John Poindexters Total Information Awareness, 43 makes no bones about a hyper-patriotic process of inculcation in the service of a powerful ruling class. What is unusual, as a feature article this month in the Connecticut Law Tribune avows, is the extent to which President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft are the chief cheer-leaders in this movement, equating legitimate dissent with supporting terrorism.While Schiller is no longer here to parse current events, he might be surprised at the extent to which the notion of a veritable carpet-bombing of the public consciousness informs todays critical literature. Indications of a political economy at work in the newsroom abound, from outspoken Tom Guttings dismissal from the Texas Sun within two weeks of 9/11 to Exxon Mobils withdrawal of support for PBS announced last month2. And Schiller could easily explain the FCCs new quest to regulate the Internet backbone (so that we can limit any service disruption in these troubled times) or The Rendon Groups no-bid contract with the Pentagon (to help the Joint Chiefs achieve their policy objectives). Even the five networks agreement to censor videotapes of Osama bin Laden reminded observers that, For some time, communications and space satellites have been providing intelligence that is of great tactical value in what is now euphemistically called counter-insurgency.3 Bin Laden does not have the capabilities for an operation of this magnitude, Egyptian journalist Mohammed Heikal told The Guardian, in October 2001. When I hear Bush talking about al Qaeda as if it were Nazi Germany or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, I laugh because I know what is there. Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al Qaeda has been penetrated by American intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organization and sophistication. Here at home, where police and the military trained their electronic eyes on protesters at Ws inauguration, Schillers predicate marriage of economics and electronics goes largely ungoverned.5 Video surveillance and facial recognition are easy to sell to a public more paranoid than ever before about terrorists, murderers, rapists, child molesters, cop killers, robbers, and prison escapees in our midst. What could be less objectionable than catching terrorists?6 Schiller would appreciate the forthcoming bailout in the name of homeland security of the telecoms industry, which by 1966, he wrote, had morphed from being an essential support to our international activities to being an instrument of foreign policy. In the meantime, Lewis Lapham believes, foreign policy has become a cash cow for our politicians friends in the defense industry-with predictable results. The attack was an attack on American foreign policy, he said a year after 9/11, which for the last 30 years, had allied itself, both at home and abroad, with despotism and the weapons trade, a policy conducted by and for a relatively small cadre of selfish interests. Quoting George Ball, who extolled MNCs as the engines that give thrust to American expansionism, Schiller cynically agreed that the power structure found few things more hopeful for the future than the growing determination of American business to regard national boundaries as no longer fixing the horizons of their corporate activity.9 Juergen Habermas made this now-common knowledge his point of departure two months after 9/11. Instead of a globalization that consists of a market without boundaries, he told an audience of German publishers and booksellers awarding him a peace prize, many of us hope for a return of the political in another form. Not in the original form of a global security state, tied to the spheres of the police, intelligence services and now even the military, but instead as a worldwide, civilizing power of formation. Today, the language of the market penetrates every pore and forces every interpersonal relation into the schema of individual preference. The social bond, however, is based on mutual recognition and cannot be reduced to the concepts of contract, rational choice and the maximization of utility.Ã Finally, we find echoes of Schillers ideological quandary in contemporary efforts to understand our national dilemma The cultural puzzle that remains is why Congress and Americas citizens, given the opportunity to dissent, instead consented to Bushs new doctrine of pre-emptive war to be undertaken by the president entirely at his discretion.For fellow theorist J. Michael Sproule, the popular quiescence is no mystery. Any explicit statements that the Administration makes against dissent, he writes, are relatively minor elements in the panoply of a cultural propaganda of war and crisis. Propaganda in an open-information system works best when people are induced to acquiesce without immediate pressure. The key element in the Bush Administrations public-opinion campaign RE the Iraq war is Bushs having assumed a general mantle of a War President, extending an immediate, yet diffuse, crisis of terrorism to a wide-ranging program of confronting selected unfriendlies. From this fundamental position, the Administration has made it difficult for opponents to establish a basis for an effective challenge. The vagueness of the crisis, combined with its having been framed as a War, induces avoidance on the part of the public and self-censorship on the part of opinion leaders. And everything feeds into what de Tocqueville observed as a cultural trait of Americans to praise the abstract idea of free speech but to shrink from articulating opinions that they believe may not be universally shared.