I need some help.
I’m of two minds about something and I could use some perspective. My problem is related to one large reality. As far as my little brain can tell, it’s really happening. I think Chris Hedges and Richard Wolff are right, the United States is going through the early stages of collapse. It happened gradually, over the past few decades and is now accelerating at an astonishing clip, we are becoming some weird 21st century version of a banana republic.
All you need to do, to see it for yourself, is go on a road trip across the country. Drive east or west from most of the wealthy coastal states and it’s impossible not to witness entropy at work in town after town after town. In many places, it appears as if the land is simply reclaiming everything our ancestors built on this stolen continent. Take a close look at people’s faces, at their body language and you’ll feel like you’ve tripped and fallen into a roiling ocean of anxiety, anger, fear, and desperation. This sad landscape is in plain sight, laid out raw before you… if you have the courage to fix your eyes upon it and not look away.
For many, the reality of collapse is just starting to dawn. It’s hitting folks in their fleeting thoughts, their dreams, the tenor of their relationships, in the pinpricks of emotion palpable on their very skins. A smaller percentage are fully aware of what’s taking place, even if they don’t all understand why (which is not easy, as the reasons are multifold). And they’re beginning to turn away from the stories—increasingly untethered from fact or reality—that our cultural authorities are telling them about themselves and the crumbling world they inhabit. Instead, they’re beginning to turn towards one another.
Some are embracing in resentment and giving birth to age-old collective hatreds. Some are coalescing in compassion and trying to birth something better than cutthroat competition, isolation, and out-group blaming. Others are merely paralyzed. But the turning is happening and whatever direction folks are turning in, they’re realizing how little the plutocrats, the powerful government agencies, the politicians and the media storytellers care about being honest with them. Click To Tweet
This is what I think lies behind the dismal viewership numbers of corporate TV news programs and of corporate newspapers and websites. More and more people’s daily lives utterly contradict what they’re being told by politicians and media elites. So they’re getting news and commentary from motivated fellow citizens and non-corporate media. One telling item popped up on Jimmy Dore’s show the other week when he highlighted a recent Gallup poll that showed that, despite wall-to-wall Russia conspiracies in corporate media, a mere 2% of people considered Russia to be a real concern for the U.S.
So, herein lies my question for you, dear readers. The conundrum on which I’d love you to weigh in. In this context of an American collapse and widespread distrust of our corporate media authorities, how should we proceed? How should we be dealing with news, information and the stories we tell about our world?
Insightful and galvanizing independent journalists like Caitlin Johnstone exhort us to call out, contradict and ridicule the lies and half-truths of the corporate news machine and the elite political class they represent. Aaron Maté, a journalist at the non-corporate Real News Network has been doing an extraordinary job of this on camera and on Twitter, particularly around debunking the flimsy facts of Russiagate. The line of thinking is that the more we call out corporate media, the more we fight them with facts and dissenting views, the faster we’ll be able to break them—and break fellow citizens out of their authority-induced trances. And with that accomplished, we’ll have the numbers to start enacting changes that genuinely benefit the 99%.
Johnstone has been repeating to the high heavens for over a year: “Who controls the narrative controls the world”. This is a compelling and attractive point of view. For those like myself who despise the well-paid shills for mega-corporations and the military-industrial complex (MIC), call-out culture can be emotionally satisfying. Reframing the narrative and making those bastards sputter feels really fucking good.
But, when I consider how deeply entrenched systems of corporate and MIC power are and how this utterly compromises our ability to effect change through those corrupted official channels, I start to wonder. Given the actual dismal viewership and readership numbers of the corporate media, would we be more well-served as citizens and purveyors of independent media to start ignoring them altogether? In the face of what looks like an unstoppable kind of cultural and economic collapse, would it be better for us to spend our time building counter-institutions—in media, justice, economy, energy, civics, agriculture, education—so that as our tottering structures start really failing, we have something to sustain us through the dark period that’s coming?
What if we stopped our constant reactions to the corporate news lie-cycle? What if our best citizen and independent journalists ended the clap-backs on CNN, Fox, MSNBC and the Bezos-bootlicking Washington Post and just focused on our world and what’s happening to it? Not just the bad, but also the news about where we’re starting to take care of each other again, govern ourselves again? Is it possible that this could be an even more effective way of dispelling the hypnotic power of our venal and disintegrating master class and the electronic hallucinations they control?
Why not leave them to their diminishing audience and treat them as the irrelevant talking heads they really are?
Feature Photo Credit: Tee Cee ©2017