Lifting The Veil

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The vast majority of us do not become engaged in political dialogue until trying to fill our pockets with money becomes preocupación número uno. By then our engagement in politics is regulated via the mainstream media and the main stream media is big business. There are profits to be had, allegiances to be forged and hearts and minds to be won over. For instance, the editorial direction of the BBC’s output is headed up by Rona Fairhead. Fairhead was a cabinet office member for the Conservative party, she is David Cameron’s business ambassador, an old friend of George Osbourne and was on the board of directors for HSBC bank. Other examples include, The Sun, the biggest selling newspaper in the UK (for reasons more counter-intuitive than superstring theory) which is owned by the infamous Rupert Murdoch, a republican billionaire Australian-American who also owns Newscorp UK (including The Times), 21t Century Fox (including Fox News) and Sky PLC (including Sky News) and has been quoted as saying with regards to The Sun that he is a “traditional proprietor”; exercising editorial control on major issues such as which political party to back in a general election. The Daily Mail, the 2nd biggest selling newspaper in the UK, is owned by the humbly named, Jonathan Harold Esmond Vere Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere; a conservative supporting billionaire with a non-domicile tax status and media businesses owned through a complex structure of offshore holdings and trusts. The Telegraph is owned by brothers David and Frederick Barclay, two conservative supporting billionaires who lease one of the Channel Islands and whose companies have been accused of tax avoidance.

The proprietors of these mega-media outlets have profited from a system that nearly everyone else loses from, but through cunning propaganda they socially engineer a response from the public that conditions us to unknowingly and passively accept it. However, the unjust and damaging consequences of this system manifest themselves through austerity, immigration, crime and scandals such as tax evasion and so these bi-products are themselves marketed as problems of their own making, providing a scapegoat and an energy consuming distraction to veil the real culprits, the ruling class and essentially the system itself. Whether it be the tiresome theatrics of personality profiling, in-party squabbling and scandals which are quickly forgotten and the culprits rarely punished, the tribalistic exploitation of immigrant blame tactics, the culture of ‘conspicuous consumption’ in which over production and over consumption keep us over-working and endlessly wanting, the anti-intellectualism of superficial, materialistic, mediocrity celebrating cultural values propagated through television, magazines, social media and music, or even the caricaturing of the socially compassionate left as impractical and naïve, we are collectively distracted and unaware.

For those of us that are aware and voice our concern we are sometimes met with the damaging and regressive approach of the apathetic rhetoricians whose anti-intellectualistic brow beating of those engaged in political debate on social media aims to silence what should be considered imperative discourse and a celebration of free speech, something that many are still not afforded. I have encountered this behaviour first hand as my polemic ramblings have been criticised because I am not “an expert”. I would be the first to concede that I do not consider myself an expert, although considering the calibre of my opponent I would not be wrong to reconsider my position. To demand a stop to political discussion because one is not considered to be an expert on the matter is akin to stopping someone trained in first aid from resuscitating someone else because they are not a paramedic. At first this analogy may seem a little far-fetched, but trying to shame proponents of political discussion into silence, as previously stated, is damaging and regressive for reasons I believe are far too obvious to have to highlight. Another common condemnation is that Facebook is not an appropriate arena for political discussion. This completely arbitrary and increasingly clichéd viewpoint perplexes and vexes me in equal measure, especially when considering that Facebook has been a very useful tool in organising political rallies and demonstrations of late. Maybe our critics would be more appeased if we posted a photo of our political concerns spelt out on a dinner plate in Alphabites with a defaced Potato Waffle as a gastronomic hashtag.

Ideology should always come before politics; one must have a clear vision of how they would like the world to be, before obsessing over the details. For the preservation of humankind, morality must be fundamental in shaping one’s ideologies. Those of us not suffering from sociopathy or psychopathy are moved by human suffering when confronted with it, more often than not in modern western life, on television. However, when removed from that suffering either through lack of stimulus proximity or inability to relate, we are much more like to display the indifference to suffering that a sociopath or psychopath may demonstrate. As one’s psyche is bombarded with the aforementioned plethora of distractions, overindulgent self-interest, misdirected fear and resentment take hold, and so an almost impenetrable barrier of cognitive dissonance is erected, making any collective change in the ideological landscape of current generations close to impossible to alter. An avid return to a system that was solely responsible for the global financial collapse of 2008 is the best example of cognitive dissonance in action. A collective change in the ideological landscape would be necessary to become fully aware of the detrimental effects of neo-liberalism, which would be a step towards dismantling it. Consideration and compassion for your neighbour and your neighbour’s neighbour, ad infinitum, would lead to a perspective which is intrinsically much more long-sighted in terms of the preservation of humankind. Over-consumption and exploitation are inevitably short-term, they disregard the finite nature of things and the well-being of those that deliver those finite things in favour of immediate profit. When resources such as oil run out or people revolt due to a standard of life they can no longer tolerate, the system comes crashing down. Of course this can have vastly negative consequences in itself and a deliberate deconstruction/reconstruction would be the ideal. Neo-liberalism is not self-sustaining and it will eventually be the author of its own demise. That is not to say that this will be any time soon, there is a lot more juice in the old lemon yet. I wonder though, how much of a sour taste must be left in our mouths before we all realise that this system is not on our side and neither are those in power who advocate it.

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2 thoughts on “Lifting The Veil

  1. I’d agree with some of this except your comment about the BBC. It’s editorial direction is not steered by the BBC Trust. In fact, huge efforts are made to publicly separate the roles of the Trust and the BBC itself. The Charter specifically protects the BBC’s editorial independence from politicians. If course, you’d probably expect me to say this, having worked in BBC News for the best part of 20 years. But speaking from experience, I have acted on dozens of occasions to see off any sort of interference to stories I cover. That’s from politicians of all colours, from bosses of big and small businesses and from idiotic PR people.

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  2. First of all it seems the obligatory disclaimer is called for. I am by no means attacking individual journalists, and I would not dare dispute that there are thousands of impartial, highly professional and talented journalists and broadcasters within the BBC. I believe that a great deal of the BBC’s output to be of the highest quality and a world leader in many respects. Its preservation as a public institution is of the utmost importance. However, all institutions are susceptible to corruption and all minds are subject to bias.

    I served in the Army for five years. We have procedures and rules in place to make sure that all captured persons are humanly treated and shown the greatest respect, that the law of armed conflict is followed at all times and many others that are intended to ensure the safety of ourselves, our colleagues, civilians and even when possible, enemies. The values and standards of the Army are designed to instil humane and professional qualities in each and every soldier and officer and uphold the integrity and moral standing of the Army. However, this does not mean that the reasons to go to war in recent years or the intent are anywhere near as noble as the ground rules and personnel who operate by those rules.

    I believe the bias within the majority of the media (the BBC included) is an acceptance of the neo-liberal system. Political impartiality within these institutions is interpreted as not favouring the Conservatives over Labour and vice versa. Since Blaire, Labour have shown themselves to be a ‘Tory-light’ party and neither party offers a viable option to the rampant privatisation and financialization of our public assets and economy. The BBC (and many other outlets) perpetuate news stories and coverage that is caught up in scandals (to which there is never any justice), political personality profiling and party squabbling (which detracts from much more pertinent issues such as actions and their real-world manifestations) and gives considerable air-time to independent think-tanks such as the IEA that are unwilling to disclose their financial backing but who have a business heavy agenda. These are all distractions and decoys. Democracy is being eroded right under our noses and a lack of ALL the information within our media is what leads me to call it biased. It is not just about being impartial on a particular story, it is about telling the WHOLE story in the first place and calling into question the ethics of government policy rather than just the pragmatics (which ironically are rarely pragmatic for most of us).

    The media’s responsibility is as enormous as its influence and whether it is unwittingly or not, the latter is far out-weighing the former. I appreciate your vast experience and knowledge of the details regarding journalism will obviously far surpass my own, but I believe this to be a matter of ideological conformism. I would ask you; is it possible that many journalists either do not, in any depth, know about political models such as neo-liberalism and its effects/end goals? Or, that they subscribe to it? Because either would be cause for bias, whether intentional or not.

    Furthermore, certain people at the top of the BBC such as Rona Fairhead who has close ties with centre-right politics and banking (both of which are bed-fellows with neo-liberalism) or James Harding the Director of BBC News who was Editor of the Telegraph (a centre-right newspaper) will exercise control and influence whether it be directly or indirectly. In a time when our ex-Prime Minister is profiting from unsavoury tax hocus pocus and nearly every other wealthy and influential person just cannot make enough money by pedalling their own agenda at the expense of everyone else, it would be naïve to think that those at the top of the BBC are not doing the same, just like those that send us to war. No institution is infallible; not the media, not the army and not the government. When all embrace an ideology (neo-liberalism), then the assumption that what currently exists has to exist, stifles visionary thinking and the concept of impartiality becomes a mirage.

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