Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Have you heard of Texas' Futile Care Law? The hypocrisy of its consequences and cases like the Schiavo case (mentioned in the article), not to mention broader issues concerning stem cell research and abortion, blows open what a lie it is when Bush makes such claims as "It is wisest always to err on the side of life."

And yet, where is the public outrage? Save for WikiNews, which granted, is my only source of news at the moment (unless you count Slashdot...well, and NPR), I've heard nothing of this. But even though I don't have a television, I hear about the unexciting lives of movie stars and the denial of any guilt in Abu Ghraib and how March is a wonderful month to buy pears. Why isn't the media all over this, and furthermore, why aren't more people?

I'm beginning to think that Noam Chomsky was only partly right about "manufacturing consent." There does exist such a device, but I think it's mostly wielded by the corporate elite on matters of consumerism. In matters of politics, however, the weapon of choice seems to be of manufacturing apathy and ignorance. It's a means to consent, but it's far simpler to carry out than having to actively manipulate the way people think because with this procedure, all you have to do is get people to not think.

What's the difference between ignorance and indifference?
I don't know and I don't care.


Blogger matt said...

Sorry, I didn't look up the Futile Care Law, and the only news I get is Guardian.co.uk, spiegel.de, and nytimes.com. I do believe that all 3 of these websites, along with NPR and WikiNews must be viewed as manufacturers of information. The word 'consent' that Chomsky so tactfully applies has to be used either with the strictest of caution or with all possible avenues of media. It doesnt matter if the intention is positive or coercive, any medium that distributes information shapes public dialogue. This ties in to the Hannah Arendt comment I wrote on my post. She believes that the individual is merely a condition of their age. In the modern age, the modern individual has become less and less a biological human being of a biological world but rather a technological being in a man made world (i.e. referring to ourselves as parallel or serial processors in the 50's and 60's). Her worry is that as Man transcends His own biological capacity He will not only be able to comprehend the consequences of His actions but will actually be unable to speak about His actions in a understandable fashion. I'm not sure if I agree with her on this last point, but I think it's an interesting thing to think about. Sorry, I got off-track, my main point about Arendt is that I do agree with her that individuals are conditions of their environment. If this is true I see extremely negative and extremely positive consequences. A negative consequence is that the majority of individuals will be surrounded by what is most readily available to them. In modern Western society that is mass media, which I think at this point it is obvious to say is currently producing manufactured consent with a capital fucking C. (As a side note, the fact that this consent is willfully given is extremely sad but makes sense at the same time). Therefore the majority of people will be subjected to what those with the majority of resources want them to be subjected to, easy enough. The positive aspect is that, to some extent, we have the ability to choose our condition. Don't watch CNBC, read wittgenstein and listen to recordings of Eben Moglen. The fact that we have the opportunity to create our own condition now more than ever should be exciting. But this opportunity also allows for the control of the human condition. The real question becomes, how do we convince people that the manufacturing exists?

9:47 PM  
Blogger Emma Cunningham said...

I agree that any source of information is never 100% objective, and that even more democratic forms of media are still "manufacturers." However, I would argue that at least WikiNews does not have manufacture of consent as a purpose. Of course it changes the way you see the world; everything does. But it does not try to change the way you see the world in order to make you buy some Disney animal sugary cereal or the latest security patch for you computer. The fact that WikiNews gets its articles completely from volunteer contributors who know that others will modify their articles if they are objectionably slanted serves as a pointer to its ultimate objective--the spread of information.

Why do we speak to one another? What purpose was this very blog created for? Humans enjoy communicating with one another, plain and simple. We like to share. It's a testament of our own existence when we can share, when we can say, "Hey! Check this out! Oh yeah, and verify my existence!" There's more to it than that, of course, but that's part of it: we share to exist beyond our own individual microcosm of self.

And that's what the information industry should embrace, as WikiNews has. WikiNews is certainly not perfect, and naturally all contributors have their own biases, even if they try to suspend them while writing and article. But what differs here is that at the top of the chain, there is no human or money-making elite dictating the agenda to raise advertising sales or get more lobbying power. At the top of the hierarchy sits only us, the entire community. There is no individual at the top, but rather a collective.

The notion that "they" create our condition, that we must escape what "they" try to impose on us is the right on for the current state of things. But it musn't always be like that. Because as we form more collective institutions (as opposed to corporate ones), our goal should to become "them." Therefore, we will create our condition together, and we can all as individuals choose both what we will accept and what we will change.

And I have no idea how to convince Mr. Minnesota of his manufactured consent. The problem is, it's not just him, it's us, too.

2:45 PM  

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