January 15, 2006
Truth as a higher degree of deception
For instance, American progressives are generally unable to see what lies behind the recent statements and opinion pieces by columnists and liberal politicians that call on the American people to resurrect their good nature and reject the evil that has overtaken their government’s behaviour in the last few years. To the progressives, it all sounds like "a good thing," because it sounds like an atonement, and a return to what they have always been told are “the real values” of America, whatever those may be.
I have little doubt, though, that the US journalists and liberal politicians who write the said articles and make the speeches were just as aware of the nature and methods of their government in 2001 as they are today -- not to speak of the rest of the last 60 years. That nature and those methods (irrespective of which party happens to be in government) have not changed. What has changed is that, for the first time, those facts are common knowledge, threatening the legitimacy of both government as such and the media. That is the reason I view those types of articles or statements as amounting to an extreme form of damage control (to protect the interests of both the journalists and the government).
The mass media's real "job,” unbeknownst to the general public, is and has always been to protect the status quo, that is, to protect the interests of the governing classes. What currently threatens their legitimacy (and that of the ruling classes) is not that they have not been doing their job in the last few years, but rather that the public has begun to realize that the real function of the mass media (and the government) is to work against the public interest. This growing realization is a terrifying prospect for the ruling classes. Hence they would do anything, including lamenting their own personal and individual "failures," to prevent such a ruinous outcome for the system.
To restate the matter, there has not been any failure as such. In the last few years, the mass media and the government have been doing exactly what they were designed to do within the context of the capitalist system. The lamentations are meant to keep people from realizing this fundamental fact.
By the way, Bush’s recent confessions about his “failures” fall into the same category, as they are meant to deflect attention from the anxieties of the extreme right end of the political spectrum regarding the declining legitimacy of the system as a whole. Apologies by a man who has never apologized for anything are proof that something much more fundamental than his presidency is in jeopardy. For instance, Bush’s overt criminality has helped raise the world’s consciousness of what “freedom” and “human rights” in the vocabulary of US governments are about. Both terms in fact mean unimpeded hegemony of capital.
Of course, any opposition to Bush's crimes is welcome. Still, I think we should be cautious about the source and the reasons for the opposition.
• My other posts on related topics:
Myth and Myth-take (with Update)
McCain's License to Torture?
What do you care?
Commandress in Chief
Opportunism, thy name is Dubya!
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