Beyond the Left: The Communist Critique of the Media

Beyond the Left: The Communist Critique of the Media

Stephen Harper

Language: English

Pages: 121

ISBN: 1846949769

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub



The ideological distortions of the conservative media, from Fox News to the Daily Mail, are widely acknowledged and often denounced among contemporary critics and commentators. But what if The Guardian newspaper and BBC news, in fact, constitute the most insidious forms of capitalist propaganda? In a wide-ranging and erudite polemic, Beyond the Left analyses capitalist news and current affairs media from a radical perspective. The book rejects the liberal and pluralist paradigms that often underpin critiques of the media, showing how media texts reflect and reinforce the material interests of the ruling class and arguing that the principal ideological menace today is posed not by the right wing, but by the left-liberal media, as it co-opts and obscures radical political positions and reinforces a range of mystifications, from anti-fascism and ‘humanitarian war’ to ‘green politics’. Drawing on the work of radical media critics as well as the writings of revolutionary communist groups and considering the recent reporting of war, industrial action, immigration and the environment, Beyond the Left updates and recharges the Marxist critique of the media.

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however, the nationalist slogans were being diffused and some strikers even brandished banners calling for overseas workers to join the strikes. Indeed, in defiance of the attempts to divide the workforce along national lines, workers from overseas joined wildcat strikes at refineries, building sites and power stations all over the UK. In early February 2009, for example, 600 power station workers, including many Polish workers, went on a wildcat strike at the Langage power station near Plymouth.

world – Edward Bernays, Propaganda (1928) The century since the American ‘father of Public Relations’, Edward Bernays, penned these words has been marked by stupendous advances in media and communications technology. Yet the unequal social relations which Bernays describes – and to whose furtherance Bernays dedicated his career as a US state and corporate propagandist – still pertain. Propaganda constituted a direct response to the socio-economic impasses of US capitalism in the 1920s, as a

by selfishness, this would constitute an argument not against communism but in favour of it, since the fact of human selfishness would necessitate reciprocal social arrangements capable of preventing the exploitation of some human beings by others). The entrenched individualism of many popular television programmes tends to vitiate any sense that the problems faced by working class people and communities can be overcome collectively. In each episode of Channel 4’s reality programme The Secret

capitalism has both produced and, paradoxically, enabled humanity to prevent – poverty, starvation, warfare and ecological disintegration – are worsening, indicating that the global class struggle may end with the breakdown of capitalist society and what Marx and Engels, in a pessimistic moment, called ‘the mutual ruination of the contending classes’. The ruling class may yet be able to unleash a third world war, which, if fought with nuclear weapons, could bring about the end of the human

audiences, lacking control of the media, are largely subjected to the capitalist media’s construction of reality. In his ‘Critique of the Situationist International’, Gilles Dauvé updates the famous formulation of Marx and Engels: As capital tends to produce everything as capital, to parcelize everything so as to recompose it with the help of market relations, it also makes of representation a specialized sector of production. Stripped of the means of their material existence, wage-workers are

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