In an increasingly media-driven age, language is everything and is often used by officialdom to tyrannise meaning. With the deaths of millions on its hands since 1945, the US has become the world’s number one terror state. By the 1980s, former CIA man John Stockwell had put the figure at six million. As a recent article has indicated, from mass bombing in Southeast Asia to employing death squads in South America, the US military and the CIA have been directly and indirectly responsible for an updated figure of an estimated ten million deaths (1). But it’s not called mass murder these days. Ironically, the US has hijacked the word ‘terror’ to justify its brand of tyranny through a war on terror.
You can also add to that ten million, countless others whose lives have been sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit, which did not rely on the military to bomb peoples and countries into submission, but on a certain policy. It’s not browbeating. It’s structural adjustment.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have taken their own lives over the past decade and a half largely as a result of US agribusiness manipulating global commodity prices courtesy of policies enacted on its behalf by the US government or due to the corporate monopoly, or frontier technology, of terminator seeds that also landed farmers in debt which was just too much for them to bear (2).
The plight of Indian farmers is not unique. How many lives have been cut short across the world because of the inherent structural violence or silent killing of the everyday seemingly benign functioning of predatory capitalism? The built-in inequalities of the system have effectively stolen years from people’s lives, the health from their bodies, the livelihoods from their hands, the water from their taps and food from their plates. From the UK to Africa, the subjugated classes – the now often discarded economic fodder, the cannon fodder during times of war or the returning heroes to be thrown overboard by the system on coming home, the people who are to be manipulated and exploited at will via bogus notions of nationalism or the national interest – have had their lives cut short or stripped bare of opportunities due to the hardships imposed by the iron fist of capitalism (3).
The appropriation of wealth through a system that funnels it from bottom to top via a process of accumulation by dispossession (4) is celebrated as growth, prosperity, and freedom of choice, despite evidence that, from Greece to Spain, the reality for the majority has been increasing poverty, the stripping away of choice and misery.
You wouldn’t know much about this if you just used the mainstream media for information, though. Sure, you may have been told to tighten your belt because we are all in it together and must make some sacrifices in these difficult economic times.
And just for good measure, as much of the country (any country) is thrown onto the scraphead because it is surplus to requirements now that their jobs have been outsourced abroad, we simply must attack Mali, Syria, Libya, Iran (the list goes on) because not to do so would let the evil-doers take over the world. And then where would we be without such high-minded notions? It’s not resource plunder. It’s humanitarianism.
Well, we would be precisely where we are right now because the evil-doers are already in control and waging war not only on the people of those countries just mentioned, but on the people within their own countries too via the tools of surveillance, the penal system, the comotosing effects of spymaster imported illegal drugs or the infotainment industry and the barrage of legislation that is serving to strip away civil liberties. The game is up, the dominant Western economy (the US) is broken beyond repair (5). Imperialism and militarism won’t save it, but dissent won’t be allowed.
And as private bankers entrap us all even further via their licence to print and loan currencies to national governments then also loan them the interest on it that spirals out of hand so it can never be paid back (6), they are able to line their pockets even further by buying up national assets on the cheap from the countries they bankrupted in the first place. It’s not racketeering. It’s austerity.
“And now they’re coming for your social security. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all sooner or later because they own this place.” Gorge Carlin, writer, critic and comedian.
And where is the mainstream media in all of this? Where are those journalists whose claim to respectability is their rigid professionalism, their accountability, their objectivity? If you can call professionalism, accountability and objectivity being in the pocket of and not wishing to offend advertising interests, officialdom, lobbyists or corporate think tanks then they are paragons of absolute virtue!
Peddling their high salaried lies, they have failed and continue to fail the public. By shining their dim ‘investigative’ light on ‘parliamentary procedures’, personalities, the rubber stamping of policies and the inane machinations of party politics, they merely serve to maintain and perpetuate the status quo and keep the public in the dark as to the unaccountable self-serving power broking and unity of interests that enable Big Oil, Big Banking, Big Pharma, Big Agra and the rest of them to keep bleeding us all dry.
Looking back to the BBC’s reporting of the NATO bombing of Libya provides quite revealing insight into the mainstream media. The coverage was disgracefully one-sided. Is the public to pay for a ‘public service’ broadcaster in order to be misled and for it to secure our compliance for illegal state-corporate policies? There was little analysis of ‘mission’ drift’ or of where the insurgents where getting their arms from despite a UN-sanctioned arms embargo. Much less of NATO’s moral right to bomb a path into Tripoli. No talk there of what University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg said was NATO’s violation of international law or of the 200 prominent African figures who accused western nations of subverting international law.
On the other hand, though, what we are served courtesy of the mainstream media each time Britain decides to wage war is a tasty dish of nationalistic sentiment and the old colonial mentality of ‘our boys’ going out ‘there’ to help civilise the barbarians.
But that’s the role of the media: to help reinforce and reproduce the material conditions of an exploitative and divisive social system on a daily basis. It’s called having a compliant, toothless media. It’s liberal democracy. That’s the role not only of the media, but the education system and the political system too.
And that’s why former British PM was some years ago told by his financial masters to sell of what was laughingly regarded as ‘the nation’s gold’ at a knock down price on behalf of bankers’ (not the nation’s) interests without being held up to genuine public scrutiny. Some say that was the first ‘bail out’ (7). That’s why taxpayers’ money, unbeknown to most of the taxpayers, is being used unaccountably and undemocratically to help prop up banks and to topple various countries and bring death and destruction to thousands via ‘covert ops’. Covert – hidden from the public who remain blissfully unaware of where their hard earned dollars, pounds or euros are actually going.
That’s why the state-corporate fraudsters, murderers and liars who wrap themselves in the language of freedom and democracy have been getting away with it for so long. Sadly, that’s why they continue to do so.