A Freeway in Hell

My thoughts on the nature of our late capitalist society. The title should give some clue what I think of that! US 101 or I-80 as metaphor for our imperatives. Besides worrying about what sort of black hole we are speeding into, I like airships. One reason being the almost inescapble desire to have one to get out of a traffic jam!

Location: Sonoma County, California

Grew up a military brat, Californian-in-exile, reactionary libertarian-essentially spent the 70s on Mars, for I am hearing impaired and I did not know what the music was saying. Generally still don't unless I listen to it over and over or find the words captioned on a movie or somewhere on line. Came "back" to California to begin my adult life, have not lived elsewhere since. No regrets there despite our problems here. Have studied physics, more math than most human beings will ever need, worked on spaceship projects (well, one) at JPL. Lived with a wonderful disabled person who lives no more--L Natasha Littletree RIP October 2004. I have a life plan, just kind of vague on some of the short-term stuff.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Digby on the need for a Left Wing press

I don't know why I don't read Digby every day--because I have to tear myself off the Net sometime I guess?

In response to laments from some who claim to be lefties, who worry that insofar as we are establishing our own trusted media channels and abandoning the so-called mainstream, we are falling into the same wicked, postmodern error as our dear friends on the Right have been wallowing in for decades now--Digby had this to say.

And I had this supportive reply for him:

In the days when a bunch of folks left outside of the process that formed the Constitution intruded their democratic heads back into the process and said, "Put this Bill of Rights in there right now or we ain't gonna let you do this!" the free press they had in mind had none of the pretense to objectivity and balance that we children of the 20th Century came to think was our God-given right. Back then, the Federalists had their papers, the Democrat-Republicans had theirs, and each side's portrayed a world where they were decent and wise folk and the others were the spawn of Hell. That kind of freedom of the press is what they had in mind--the freedom to say any damned thing and let the reader judge what they wanted to believe it really meant, and whose lies they wanted to read.

Mind you, I think that the rise of a press with standards of objectivity and balance was a fine and noble vision, and one whose passing I do regret. But professionalism is not an adequate basis for standing up to powerful, entrenched interests. What America needs and has not had for generations is a genuine, hard-core Left with a firm basis and claims to real power; a bunch of people who are not ashamed to say that capitalism is the problem and real power over property to the people is the solution. Part of the rise of professional journalism was the process of shutting down the left--the real, organized left in all its fraticidal but significant diversity--Wobblies, Socialists, anarchists--the lot. The generation of middle-class readers who favored the respectable news feeds of the AP and UPI and revered the NYT, also favored J Edgar Hoover's police state tactics. For quite some time, we could delude ourselves that the mainstream press was providing "All the News That's Fit to Print"and that was not "Fit" was just too indecent--and irrelevant to the big picture--to worry about. Objectivity about important matters was supposed to arise via vigorous competition for market share and fear of the "scoop" by the rival paper. But in reality there were always huge gaps and distortions in American mainstream coverage and no amount of reportage in lefty rags brought some of those stories into the mainstream, no matter how true they were.

But, I think it was fear of the possibility of a revival of a genuine Left that kept a generation or two of mainstream journalists middling honest. There were stories you just didn't print and knew no other mainstream paper would print either; but in the field legitimately open to public view, by golly real journalists dug out the story! That way, we in the middle classes could believe our press served us well enough, no reason to doubt and go off and read weird stuff. And we could believe we had the information needed to make informed political decisions and not that we were being herded. George Orwell had a few words to say about it. And now we are living in times where everyone who lived before the Wilson Administration is dead, and the people who remember the Depression are leaving us, and there is no fear of a Left that no one has ever seen here among our propertied rulers, and they think they can just bloody well rule without all this pantomiming.

The rise of a genuine Left press, if that is at hand, and insofar as we have one here on the Internet, is the only hope I see for a revival of the old middle-of the road mainstream journalistic ethics we were all raised to believe a free press was all about. Actually it is not, freedom is supposed to mean freedom, not adherence to a quest for truth. But a believable quest for the truth would be nice to see again, and as long as we have it I will exercise my right to believe what seems sensible to me--which means I read the lefty stuff because a radical socialist analysis is how I understand things. And I do hope that if we can keep our freedom and dislodge the propertied from their dead-hand monopoly on power so they have a healthy respect for the need to gratify and benefit the public if they want to keep us Leftists at bay--then out of this process may emerge again a revived mainstream, fact-oriented, balanced press, hopefully one with _no_ blinders reliably on its vision. That would be a new thing actually. But if it doesn't happen--it wasn't the Left that killed it, and it is not our obligation to do the balancing for those who did.


Blogger MistahCharley said...

I think you are quite correct here, Mark. In fact, it was your comments at Digby that led me to your blog. I just want to urge you to start using the term "corporate media" for what has been too long misleadingly called the "main stream media" - "corporate" is denotatively as well as connotatively more accurate.

3/20/2005 7:41 AM  
Blogger Mark H. Foxwell said...

My reply is the next bog entry above! It got long...

3/20/2005 9:20 AM  

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