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Media Reform and Democracy

Quotable Quotes: ALEX CAREY

On propaganda and its impact on liberty

"The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." - Alex Carey, Author Sources of Carey Quotes and Reviews: 'Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty' (1996) 'Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Propaganda in the US and Australia' (1995) Extracts from a U.S. review of Carey's writings by Dale Wharton (See full review):  "Carey argues that US society leans toward a binary view of the world. Its symbols tend to be Good or Evil, Sacred or Satanic. Blends of the two require study. Action-loving Americans prefer to do first and ponder later, if at all. (Thought may hinder deeds.) Their native pragmatism tests a belief by its result. One needs no prior grounds, no moral code, to justify the test ..." (Undermining a capacity for critical thought.) "These biases expose a society to subtle controls, says (Carey). Though safe from the naked power of a slave driver, we must still serve interests other than our own. How does this come about in the USA?  "By associating welfare [and public health care and other goods] with Socialism/Communism and ... [equating] the Free Enterprise System with Loyalty, Patriotism, Freedom, the American Dream, [and] the American Way of Life, propagandists [work] Satanic and Sacred symbols" (p 16). They play on powerful emotions and may even summon "threats to national security." Domestic propaganda keeps nationalist feeling both intense (easy to excite) and shallow. Carey rejects these tricks as undemocratic ... Without their propaganda machine (the free-enterprise corporate system) would collapse." Extracts from an Australian review by Linda Kaucher: "Do you remember a time when our culture had other values besides economic rationalism ?  Do you remember when workers generally believed that unions were on their side, defending them against exploitation? Things changed. Unions came to be seen often as coercive forces, operating against workers' interests. Any social values not based on corporatism and economic rationalism became marginalised, and difficult to support. The "collapse" of communism in the Eastern Bloc was, in the eyes of the economic rationalists in the West, proof that there was no alternative to unrestrained capitalism. So how did this cultural change happen? Taking The Risk Out Of Democracy attempts to show how Australian corporate propaganda has deliberately created this cultural change over the past 20 years in Australia, and how this is a flow-on from the free- enterprise propaganda that has shaped US society this century." "... Using the terms "grassroots and treetops propaganda" Carey defines the different levels on which public opinion manipulation operates. The purpose of what he has called "grassroots propaganda" is to reach "as vast a number of people as possible in order to change public opinion so that it is sympathetic to business interests". This includes: discrediting unions, diverting worker's attention from pay and working conditions by introducing worker participation in low level decision making, and creating a perception of a connection between free enterprise and patriotism. "Treetops propaganda" is aimed at "the leaders of society". "Its immediate purpose is to set the terms of debate, to determine the kinds of questions that will dominate public discussion - in a word to set the political agenda in ways that are favourable to corporate interests." It includes the activities of think tanks, which produce, promote and disseminate market oriented "policy research", the pressures placed on government to introduce legislation and on academics to produce research that suits the corporate purpose." "... Spelling out the tactics, organisations and key people in the manipulation of public opinion, Carey reveals the patterns in a coherent form, allowing readers to recognise the forces that affect the direction of our society.  Recognising and naming propaganda is a vital step in defending against it."

Quotable Quotes: R. CRUMB   

On the media’s influence on people's lives

"About the only power you have is the power to discriminate ... you have to make choices ..." Illusion: "What we kids didn't understand was that we were living in a commercial, commodity culture. Everything in our environment had been bought and sold. As middle class Americans, we basically grew up on a movie set. The conscious values that are pushed are only part of the picture. The medium itself plays a much bigger part than anyone realizes: the creation of illusion. We are living surrounded by illusion, by professionally created fairy tales. We barely have contact with the real world. Commodity culture: Mass media is a fairly recent development, only as old as the Industrial Revolution, and it is spreading over the whole world and turning the last proud, independent, tribal populations into consumers. We are products of this industrial commodity culture. It's hard to make a value judgment about it, but certainly the world wasn't always like this. ... Most people are very passive, they are like children. They just accept, they don't discriminate much at all.  About the only power you have is the power to discriminate. Living in culture like this, you have to make choices, and search out what has the most authentic content or substance." In the Sixties: "... I realized that my mind was a garbage receptacle of mass media images and input. I spent my whole childhood absorbing so much crap that my personality and mind are saturated with it. God only knows if that affects you physically!" Cultivating our intelligence: "My generation comes from a world that has been molded by crass TV programs, movies, comic books, popular music, advertisements and commercials. My brain is a huge garbage dump of all this stuff and it is this, mainly, that my work comes out of, for better or for worse. ... The way I see it, we are all just so much chopped liver. We have this great gift of human intelligence to help us pick our way through (a predatory universe's) treacherous tangle, but unfortunately we don't seem to value it very much. Most of us are not brought up in environments that encourage us to appreciate and cultivate our intelligence. To me, human society appears mostly to be a living nightmare of ignorant, depraved behavior ..." (Source: 'The R. Crumb Handbook', R. Crumb and Peter Poplaski, MQ Publications 2005)