Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mind Managers

Reflections on a Largely Forgotten Book: Herbert Schiller's The Mind Managers (1973) by Paul Street on ZNet.

There's a huge amount of useful information in this piece, and on a topic that I like to think and write about. That is the media manipulation of the psyche of the American public. I'm partly linking to this just so I can easily find this article again. :)

Just a short taste of what you'll see if you follow this link ....
Together these authors and books show how and why domestic U.S. democracy is undermined by concentrated corporate control of the means of communication and culture. As McChesney explained more than a decade ago, meaningful participatory democracy requires three interrelated things to be in place: (1) rough equality in wealth, income, and property ownership, since large class and socioeconomic disparities undercut the ability of citizens to act as equals and confer disproportionate political, policy, and cultural influence on those with superior resources; (2) a sense of community between individuals - a sense that each individual's well-being is positively connected to the common good, since a democratic political culture cannot take root in a society whose members are simply out to serve their own selfish interests; (3) an effective system of communications that accurately informs and engages the citizenry, encouraging their intelligent participation in political life. The need for accurate, un-biased information is especially urgent for viable democracy in a large and complex modern society like the United States, where the scope and scale of political and societal affairs is so vast and multifaceted as to be beyond immediate observation (McChesney 1997, 5-6)

These three critical prerequisites for meaningful participatory democracy are intimately interrelated with each other, McChesney noted. A society in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small elite will see its economic masters work to sustain and eternalize inequality through control of the communications system (media). The masters will own a disproportionate share of that media. They will insist upon a media that filters, shapes, "spins," and otherwise distorts information and shapes popular perceptions and values in ways consistent with continued ruling-class domination. That media system (whose ownership and control becomes ever more concentrated under capitalism) will privilege selfish and authoritarian values over positive notions of the common good and social justice.

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