a “debate” confined between two false poles

There’s a fascinating post on Dissident Voice about the battle going on in the UK between the BBC and corporate media who are apparently threatened by the breadth of the Beeb’s online offerings.


"The Murdochs of this world are naturally unable to conceive that corporate sponsorship compromises news reporting, showering pound and dollar-shaped sticks and carrots that inevitably cause journalism to slither in corporate-friendly directions."

"In his dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell described the art of thought control called “Newspeak”:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

We are offered a “debate” confined between two false poles: the claim that the BBC is a threat to the “independent news” provided by commercial interests, and the claim that the BBC is a rare source of “independent, truthful” reporting. Modern journalism acts to “narrow the range of thought”, thus serving the powerful interests that control the mass media."

This idea about "a debate confined between two false poles" is something that Chomsky has been talking about for decades. In the West, we’re told that we have a ‘free press’ but, in reality, we have a press that’s owned either by wealthy individuals (Packer, Murdoch, Stokes, et al) or the Government… whose hold on power is often regulated BY those wealthy individuals and their control over the way the population thinks due to their media assets. And so what tends to happen is that our media discusses the happenings of the day in a limited fashion, always confining the debate between two false poles, making it LOOK like we have choice and healthy debate, where in reality we’re only given a small range of options to discuss.

My favourite example in Australia is to look at our election coverage. What is the range of debate and discussion given in the Australian media, during election cycles or any other time for that matter, to alternatives to our consumerist capitalist economic model? Where is the open discussion about the benefits of Socialism or Communism? It doesn’t happen. Why? Because the aforementioned wealthy owners of the media companies don’t want the people thinking about Socialism or Communism unless, of course, it’s to talk about the failures of those alternative models. The reason they don’t want us thinking about these alternatives is that if we moved towards them, they would lose their wealth, power and privilege.

This is why we need a NEW media that isn’t controlled by corporate interests.

Joshua Levi Galleries

Joshua Levi Galleries, located in Woolloongabba, is an art space revamped from an old antique shop. Josh, an artist himself, seeks out emerging artists that he can explode into public awareness by combining a funky “dero-chic” gallery space with live music and attention-grabbing stunts.


Brisbane Confidential 13 – Joshua Levi Galleries from Brisbane Confidential on Vimeo.

Look for more weekly episodes about the best of Brisbane at brisbaneconfidential.com!

Obama’s America: Hooked On War

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, has written an excellent post up on CBS (surprisingly) about America’s addiction to war:

"The U.S., with $37.8 billion in arms sales (up $12.4 billion from 2007), controlled 68.4% of the global arms market in 2008. Highly competitively speaking, Italy came "a distant second" with $3.7 billion. In sales to "developing nations," the U.S. inked $29.6 billion in weapons agreements or 70.1% of the market. Russia was a vanishingly distant second at $3.3 billion or 7.8% of the market."

And here is what I think is the killer line:

"Few Americans are comfortable thinking about this,"

But the end of the sentence has it back to front:

"… which may explain why global-arms-trade pieces don’t tend to make it onto the front pages of our newspapers."

Perhaps if more newspapers wrote about America’s warmongering more often, then more people might be comfortable thinking about it. It’s been my experience that nearly all Americans I’ve spoken to – including those that are intelligent, well-read and anti-war – find it almost impossible to conceive that America is the cause of many of the world’s tensions instead of the last great salvation. They have been drinking to Kool Aid for so long it’s next to impossible for most Americans to even CONSIDER the alternative view.

Engelhardt finishes with two powerful paragraphs:

"And peace itself? Simply put, there’s no money in it. Of the nearly trillion dollars the U.S. invests in war and war-related activities, nothing goes to peace. No money, no effort, no thought. The very idea that there might be peaceful alternatives to endless war is so discredited that it’s left to utopians, bleeding hearts, and feathered doves. As in Orwell’s Newspeak, while "peace" remains with us, it’s largely been shorn of its possibilities. No longer the opposite of war, it’s just a rhetorical flourish embedded, like one of our reporters, in Warspeak.

What a world might be like in which we began not just to withdraw our troops from one war to fight another, but to seriously scale down the American global mission, close those hundreds of bases — recently, there were almost 300 of them, macro to micro, in Iraq alone — and bring our military home is beyond imagining. To discuss such obviously absurd possibilities makes you an apostate to America’s true religion and addiction, which is force. However much it might seem that most of us are peaceably watching our TV sets or computer screens or iPhones, we Americans are also — always — marching as to war. We may not all bother to attend the church of our new religion, but we all tithe. We all partake. In this sense, we live peaceably in a state of war."

Read the entire article, it’s well worth it.

Book Your Round Trip to the Moon! Guaranteed!

The one thing I love even more than 50s SF stories are advertisements from the 50s for Space Age promises. I bought a few copies of "Astounding Science Fiction" at a secondhand book store in Paddington (that’s a suburb of Brisbane) today. The owner told me that she picked them up in a deceased estate. They are all from the 50s and in near perfect condition.

I love this back cover of the November 1954 edition which promises "A Bona Fide Opportunity to have your name "On File" with the first company embarking on commercial flights to the moon!"

Working in advertising these days, I’m often trying to think up innovative prizes to offer people for taking part in competitions but I’d never thought about guaranteeing a trip to the moon. These guys were WAY ahead of their time. I wonder if the Science Fiction Book Club in NY still have those names on file? Maybe they will pass them onto Virgin Galactic? Assuming, of course, that the people who added their names to the list in 1954 still want to travel to the moon….

The inside cover offers readers a copy of the book "Across The Space Frontier" written by "seven of the greatest living space experts", including former Nazi and then director of NASA Dr Werner von Braun.

One of the other copies of ASF I picked up (December 1950) had this advertisement on the inside front cover which reads:

"Dianetics – the first true science of the mind. Dianetics started in Astounding Science Fiction. It is not the first, nor will it be the last time, Astounding Science Fiction precedes science generally."