Reclaiming The Fourth Estate

in informationwar •  18 days ago 

Decades of rampant capitalism has led to the common acceptance of a very dangerous idea, namely that markets are the solution to literally everything. Proponents of this idea often point to the failing of politics to tackle basic problems, and repeat Ronald Reagan's famous slogan "Government is the problem," that started the rapid rise of Laissez-faire capitalism in the First World.

source: Wikimedia Commons

Reagan wasn't completely wrong in his analysis of politics failing the people, he was just wrong about politics having too much influence on the "free markets". In fact, it was, and still is, the opposite; politics fails to exert enough pressure on market forces and capitalists. The idea of a completely free market is bogus to start with, but even if you hang on to that idealism, it's so easy to see why it would always fail. You start with lots of small businesses that fiercely compete among each other, jacking up quality and driving down prices of consumer products; much like the fairy tale all of us have learned about in economics lesson number one, and all subsequent lessons, be it at school in the mainstream media or in entertainment.

This is a win-lose game, not a win-win fantasy. What happens to the small businesses that lost the first round? They get bought up for pennies on the Dollar by the winners of course. This process continues until a handful of winners remain in each segment of the "free market", who realize that it'll only cost them all money if they keep competing and that they can manipulate prices and make mad profits if they cooperate. Six monstrous media companies now own the lion's share of the world's mainstream media outlets. There once were hundreds of car manufacturers. A handful of banks create the world's money. Amazon is a monopoly all by itself, Apple and Microsoft have their equal share of digi-addicts, social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, essentially.

Politics occasionally steps in, sure, to reluctantly enact the antitrust laws each country has, but they're always late and their measures always lack. This is the irony about believing in free markets; they can't exist. They'll always end up in the worst kind of plutocracy, and markets always have moved in that direction as soon as politics stops doing what it's supposed to do, which is to tame the self-devouring beast that is the market economy, to limit the power that capitalists have to shape our daily lifes. And politics has failed bigger than ever before in that essential task, which is why trust in politicians and political parties all over the western hemisphere is at an all time low and why everywhere we hear about the "protest vote"; we live in reactionary times and it's troubling that we find it so easy to express what we're against, but have trouble formulating what we support.

Unfortunately, just like the early 1980s, people vote against their own interests again by demanding smaller government, lower taxes and this time with an additional demand, the protection from "outside influences" to say it nicely. In all capitalist theory there's this irrational belief in some theoretical limit to this process of capital accumulation, most famously referred to as "the invisible hand"; this hand is invisible, completely undetectable indeed, and when common folks occasionally do see a mirage of this imaginary hand, it's sticking its middle-finger up in their faces, courtesy of the plutocrats and their paid-for puppet-politicians. Still they'll defend capitalism, claiming it has raised billions of people out of poverty, even if the west suffers a temporary set-back. They'll criticize China for all sorts of things, like being authoritarian and, well, communist, but conveniently forget that China is responsible for most of the poor people being lifted above the cleverly crafted "poverty-line", the very thing they brag about when praising capitalism.

But however much one believes in the blessings of "free markets," and however blind one is to the fact that markets and politics must go hand-in-hand to paint a human face on a self-devouring monster, it must be clear to anyone that in a democracy the Fourth Estate cannot be left in the (invisible) hands of the markets. In yesterday's post, Inconvenient Fact-Check, I briefly mentioned that there's been a steady bias against Bernie Sanders in the mainstream media for quite some time now. Today I've explained why that is; it's because Jeff Bezos hates what Bernie has to say about him and Amazon, the owners of The Washington Post. Sanders has repeatedly called out Amazon and Bezos for not paying even one Dollar in income tax last year, has repeatedly used Amazon as an example of large corporations' tax-evasion tactics and their influence on politicians to get favorable laws passed. In 2016 the Washington Post published 16 negative articles about Sanders in a mere record-setting 16 hours, as reported by FAIRNESS & ACCURACY IN REPORTING; the transgression I reported on yesterday is just one in a long line of anti Sanders reporting, not just by the Washington Post.

In their defense, the mainstream media published article after article saying that Bernie uses the same media-smearing tactics as Donald Trump, implicitly saying that both are equally populist, that Bernie is as crazy as Trump, accusing him of pushing a conspiracy theory even... I hope the vileness of this tactic needs no further explaining... As if blaming the media whenever they write something you don't like can be put in the same ballpark, in the same sports even as blaming the media for having an easily explainable bias toward politics that ensure the continuation of the status quo. Bernie is unique in the way he exposes the mainstream media for what they are. But the real message here is that we, the people, need to own and control the mass media. The news needs to be paid for by our tax Dollars, however alien that may sound now. The Washington Post will never do an investigative piece on how Amazon manages to pay no taxes at all, and there are no internal orders needed to accomplish this; the mere fact that Bezos owns the newspaper is enough, and this will be true for any privately owned, for-profit media company. The internet is following suit rapidly, with unfavorable opinions on the right as well as the left being de-platformed from the main social media providers. The Forth Estate NEEDS to work for US, and in a capitalist economy that means it needs to be owned and paid for by us. Only then can we hope to get some honest information to base our democratic choices on, only then can we have a better chance to, for once, not vote against our own interests because we've literally been sold convenient lies. As long as that isn't the case, Bernie's main hurdle to overcome won't be Trump, Warren or Biden, it'll be the mainstream media.

Corporate Media Bias Against Sanders Is Structural, Not a Conspiracy

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