Editor’s Note: unfortunately, I’ve spent the past couple of days running around to attend to a few personal matters and as such today’s Brief Thought will be a very quick look at an issue that bothers me on multiple levels as both a leftist and an independent critic – the debilitating cost of the western left’s inability to control our own political narrative in a hostile media environment controlled by our wealthier opposition:
Note: Please be reminded that if you’re having trouble reading this info graphic, you can right click on the picture and select “view this image” to pop out a larger version. Additionally, don’t forget to check out my comments after the sources section of this article.
As I mentioned in the above info-graphic, I am by no means an expert on French politics; I primarily followed the 2017 French Presidential election using Google’s translate button and through left wing magazines in North America who hired French writers to cover the campaign. There are no doubt political reasons that Mélenchon was unable to overcome the mainstream media attacks against him; just as there were political reasons that Sanders couldn’t overcome a rigged nomination process to defeat Clinton and there will likely be political reasons why Jeremy Corbyn isn’t perfect enough to overcome neoliberal sabotage from within his own party to defeat Theresa May in the upcoming UK General election. In their own ways, each of these men represents an offer of compromise between the left and the mainstream liberal establishment; a fact that seems largely lost on rich elites who insist they’re dangerous demagogues supported by radical fanatics who believe they can do no wrong.
We can debate whether or not a more purely radical leftist candidate would have done better in these contests until we’re blue in the face, but I believe watching establishment neoliberals freak out and immediately smear even our compromise candidates fully illustrates the futility of waiting for “the perfect left wing candidate” while the establishment destroys our leaders one by one – there can be no peace and unless the western left finds a way to reach the common people directly, changing the system from within though political means remains a pipe dream.
Unfortunately, on that front the reactionary right wing nutjobs are simply light years ahead of the left; both in terms of their ability to control the narrative around their candidates in the relevant voting circles and their understanding that he who controls the narrative, wins the proverbial PR war in politics. While I naturally detest their politics, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the reactionary right has spent the past eight plus years creating it’s own media subculture designed to promote it’s own political narrative while simultaneously discrediting the “liberal” narrative of those who oppose them.
This subculture extends from the top of the corporate conservative media ladder (Fox News) on down through popular Alt-Right websites (Breitbart News Network) and even down to “independent” conservative media figures like Mike Cernovich or Paul Joseph Watson. Furthermore, the end consumers of this subculture have been trained to behave in ways that act to further reinforce the reactionary conservative zeitgeist; when Alex Jones and Infowars drop a ridiculous lie about Obama rounding up conservatives to put them in FEMA camps, thousands of gleeful devotees immediately share that story across social media. When your Christian conservative uncle pops by for Sunday dinner, he practically cannot wait to tell you about Glenn Beck’s latest impassioned plea to put the God back in America. Whether we’re talking social media websites, video or story sharing forums or even video game chatrooms – the reactionary right has found a way to successfully dominate the dialogue through fanatical “oversharing” and they’ve done it without wasting a goddamn ounce of energy on unity; half of these guys absolutely fucking hate each other outside of a few agreed-upon (typically repugnant) political principles.
There are also a number of other fundamental problems with establishing a true, left wing media sharing subculture that would insulate our candidates from mainstream, neoliberal media attacks; the fact that shock-jock conservative media is almost always free, while highbrow socialist magazines often require a subscription or enough computer knowledge to get around a paywall comes to mind for example. The fact that power-mad billionaires are prepared to fund fake-independent conservative media to further their own goals while there are simply no available counter-examples on the actual left is almost certainly another factor here. Finally of course, the mainstream neoliberal media’s fascination with promoting provocative right wing reactionaries for the purposes of mocking them while simultaneously ignoring independent voices on the left likely represents a near insurmountable barrier; after all rubbernecking outrageous bigotry generates far more clicks online for corporate “liberal” media companies than wonky discussions about government policies that will help eliminate poverty.
Truthfully, I don’t know how the grassroots left can overcome these structural barriers and unconscionably vile attacks from a corporate media establishment firmly under the control of neoliberal elites pretty much worldwide; what I do know however is that the cost of failing to do so will be catastrophic. Despite the frantic efforts by rich western centrist to strangle populism in it’s womb, they are already caught in the beginning stages of a global “debtor class revolt” and all that’s left to be decided is whether or not that revolt expresses itself in left wing populist policies or a right wing reactionary nightmare:
- Nina Illingworth
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