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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this passage suggests, the bias of Western media coverage of the Bosnian war was obscured by appeals to the universalist notion of humanitarianism – a keyword in the lexicon of Western imperialism in the 1990s. The hypocrisy of these appeals was most notable in the liberal media of the period: NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 was announced by such forthright headlines as The Sun’s ‘Clobba Slobba: Our Boys Batter Butcher of Serbia’ and the Daily Star’s ‘Serbs You Right’; yet the same attack

some other countries, such as the US, Germany and France (as evidenced by the high sales of Newsweek, Der Spiegel and Le Nouvel Observateur in those countries), not least because of the relatively high level of newspaper readership in Britain. Yet modest as its circulation may be, New Statesman occupies a distinguished position as the guiding voice of the political and intellectual left in Britain. While television broadcasters are obliged to maintain party political impartiality, the editorial

homophobia often proves politically useful to capitalists, it is perfectly possible, in theory at least, for capitalism to offer formal equality to black people, women, and homosexuals. It follows that feminism, civil rights and gay rights movements do not in themselves threaten capitalism as class struggles do. The attempts of New Left theoreticians and contemporary hegemony theorists to posit the replacement of the working class as a revolutionary subject with a coalition of identity groups are

by what Žižek calls the ‘objective’ or systemic violence of capitalist social relations, which finds expression in work-related ‘accidents’, poverty, ‘stress’, environmental damage, genocide and warfare. But there’s not much entertainment value in discussing any of that. 11 An ever-changing sameness: countering the myths of media pluralism The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent – Elmer Eric Schattschneider, The

era – was accompanied by a widespread rejection of the notion of ‘false consciousness’, which came to be seen as an expression of pessimistic elitism. This is unfortunate in some ways. As Steven Lukes proposes in Power: A Radical View: ‘False consciousness’ is a term that carries a heavy weight of unwelcome historical baggage. But that weight can be removed if one understands it to refer, not to the arrogant assertion of a privileged access to truths presumed unavailable to others, but rather to

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