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Narratives in the Media

Over the past few days I have been reading Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, and even though I've previously read about a few of the cases he describes, the sheer scale of the duplicity Chomsky presents here is still shocking. If even one of his narratives about the complicity of the Media in covering up or spinning atrocities is true, then it ought to rock people's beliefs about the way political power and the Media operate. I agree with Aaron Swartz's view, that it really does change the way you look at the world.

It's something I've been thinking about recently, as there's a narrative within the NZ Media that I've been following, and it's annoyingly contrary to reality. It doesn't even register as a blip on the scale of nastiness and groupthink that Chomsky describes, but the very banality of the situation highlights for me just how plausible is Chomsky's narrative. On their own, each one of his stories doesn't seem believable, and frankly anyone sane would rather not believe them. Yet when see how the Media is willing to twist something that seems harmless, that isn't one of those situations so horrible that one would rather believe the exact opposite, then those stories do become all too possible.

Now, the aforementioned banal story that irks me in NZ Media is that the Green Party are a bunch of loony socialists, with far-left monetary and tax policies, that will lead the country to economic ruin. I really don't think that could be much further from the truth. If you actually look at the Green's policies, there's really not much (if anything) that's outside the policies of conventional economic theory. Yes, they are on the left leaning end of accepted theory, but well within limits of policies that have been, and are still being, used successfully by other (non-loony, non-socialist, possibly right-leaning) countries elsewhere.

For example, we've been subjected to the ridiculous narrative that Quantitative Easing is loony nutjob stuff that will turn us into Zimbabwe or Weimar Germany; yet the US, UK, and Japan have been engaging in it wholeheartedly since 2008 (to debatable effect, but the point stands). Likewise, a Capital Gains Tax is used by Australia, Germany, Canada, the US, and others. For all the various faults of those economies, I doubt many economic commentators would describe them as basket cases. In the same vein, if you look at the Green's proposed tax rates, they're really quite conservative and still relatively low by historic standards.

Like I said, the above examples are quite petty and banal when compared to the stories of covered up genocide, economic (and literal) terrorism, and the Media complicity involved. But apart from being a pet peeve of mine, these examples do show that it doesn't really matter what the truth is, if the establishment doesn't like it, they'll make up their own story. I'm personally not at all against business, as long as they don't behave in the stereotypical corporate sociopathic way, so I can well understand why the business community is not so hot on the Green Party. They're by far the most business unfriendly party in the NZ Parliament, though I think that reputation is somewhat overblown. So it's not at all outside the realms of possibility that the Media, being a business itself, would spin falsehoods against the Green's policies.

Really, that's what the story of Understanding Power is all about. Western Media, being a business, and beholden to business, seeks to further the cause of business by whatever means. This of course means that those whose opinions fall outside the orthodoxy don't tend to get coverage (apart from the odd token dissident for appearances sake), and as such any Politician who wishes to succeed must also eventually end up toeing the line. After all, I've just been saying that the Green's policies aren't really so different from everyone elses, of course they have to be, or else they would be taken even less seriously, and would never have gained their current status if they hadn't moderated their message.