Monday, October 3, 2011

The Media and the Protestors

A week ago it seemed as if only the BBC was willing to recognize the Occupy Wall Street campaign as newsworthy.  Those associated with the campaign itself seem to have accepted this negligence, partly because they realize that they have the resources to manage without it.  Thus, we have the following fragment of an on-the-scene interview documented by Verena Dobnik of the Associated Press and filed last night:

The growing, cross-country movement "signals a shift in consciousness," said Jared Schy, a young man sitting squeezed between three others who participated in Saturday's march from Manhattan's Financial District to the bridge.

"We don't care whether mainstream media covers this or people see us on television. What counts are the more than 30,000 viewers following our online live stream," he said. "We heard from a lot of them, and they're joining us now!"

Personally, I like Schy’s selection of that noun “consciousness,” since it cuts to a key question of whether or not the “consciousness industry” of mainstream media is living up to its reputation for controlling what the majority of our population (or at least that segment of our population responsible for generating electoral votes) thinks.  After all, the consciousness industry is not just about the distribution of propaganda;  it is also about limiting the flow of information that might challenge any of that propaganda.

This is not to say that the consciousness industry has given up the ghost.  Now that last week’s gambit of neglect has failed, it has been replaced by one of bemused perplexity.  We see it in the following sentence from Dobnik’s Associated Press account:

They lack a clear objective, though they speak against corporate greed, social inequality, global climate change and other concerns.

The fact that very similar wording surfaced on last night’s ABC news broadcast should surprise no one.  Apparently that turn of phrase in last week’s BBC report about the objective of calling attention to “corporate greed and corrupt politics” was not clear enough for either the Associated Press or ABC to grasp (or to present to the public in its own terms).

However, if this message is too sensitive, there is a more general one that has surfaced in both the Middle East (including Israel) and Europe.  Until now we have viewed these actions of protest from a distance;  and the consciousness industry has evaluated them in terms of the self-interest of those they represent.  Now that things are happening closer to home (including Wall Street, which is the “home” of those who control the consciousness industry), we need to call attention to the underlying existential question, which has been raised in the media by only a few voices.  Regardless of where it has been happening, these acts of protest have all emerged from what I have called “an educated younger generation facing the prospect that it may not have a future.”  That future has been snatched away by a system so controlled by the elite of a financial sector that the overwhelming majority outside of that sector no longer signifies.  Those smart enough to recognize this all seem to embrace the conclusion that change can only come about through active protest, since the electoral path of supporting Barack Obama has not only failed to produce change but also pretty much blown away any fragments of hope.

Will it work?  We currently see signs of rethinking the foundations of government in at least a few areas in the Middle East, which is more than we can say for any regions of Europe.  Those with a sense of history may liken the extended encampment in Zuccotti Park as a latter-day Paris Commune;  but even the last holdout in Belleville ultimately succumbed to the Versailles Army.  Wall Street has the clout to call out Federal troops to quash protest;  and, were they do to so in this case, it would hardly be the first time.  Those, like Schy, who believe that protest is sustained by the alternative media of the Internet need to remember that even the Internet can be brought to heel by our government.  Those who wish to strategize for the stakes of recovering a future must remember to be bold enough to think the unthinkable when preparing for the worst.

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