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Narrative Reification: Confluence between the State and Media - Part 1
In part one, we examine the question of whether it is possible to have a media that is independent of the state.
This is Part 1 of a three part series where we explore function of the Media in the United States and their role with regards to the State Department in accomplishing their foreign policy tasks. we introduce the controversy and explain the role of the State Department throughout history.
A few weeks ago, a controversy erupted on Twitter when it decided to award the label of “state-affiliated media” to western outlets such as NPR, BBC and CBC. Previously, this label had been reserved for state media that had fell out of favor with the US State Department like Press TV (Iran), CGTN (China) and RT (Russia). This mild move at a more uniform application of standards created a collective meltdown among the western punditry class. NPR, which every year in front of Congress, proudly proclaim that federal funding is essential to their operations, was also simultaneously claiming that the state-affiliated media label was unjust since federal funding was such a small part of their operations. More comically, they wrote an article expressing this outrage, at what they deemed was an unfair label, which presumably must apply to only the “barbarian hordes from the east” and not to “respectable western outlets.” Most recently, Twitter has decided to scrap the labels of “state-affiliated media” all together, which provoked further outrage from the many of the stenographers in our liberal media class.
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An outside observer unfamiliar with conventions that permeate the political lexicon and nomenclature of the western media would be forgiven for assuming the events of Twitter's “State/Government-funded media” soiree were a completely innocuous update to the new Organization Verification processes being put into place or, at worst, a tempest in a teapot in its totality, though the minor update to a social media company's internal media categorization policy sparked a fury among the objectively state/government funded and affiliated organizations that were now determined to assert their status as “victimized” and/or “targeted” by the allegedly heinous application of a definitionally correct label — what in any other situation would be a fully inconsequential banality was, within western media machine, its cogs and sprockets powered by winks, nods and pure euphemism, was seen as a grievous injustice worthy of outraged, sophomoric petulance.
Prior to this policy update, within the Twittersphere, designation as “State-Affiliated Media” served as the clear and precise demarcation between Occident and Orient; the line dividing the free and democratic West with its open-flow of information and “editorial independence” from The State where information can be taken at face-value, and the oppressive and despotic East where all information is clearly curated/controlled.
The distinction between organizations and publications you can trust, versus organizations and publications that are Asian.
Malignant formations designed to advance preferred narratives of tyrants doing tyrannical tyrannies by overseeing the nationalization of oil fields or dropping the USD as their reserve currency — openly murdering freedom and democracy, as it were.
If one, however, ignores the encouragement of this chauvinist system to simply accept a priori the validity and “independence” of western media, clear and obvious patterns of “reporting” within Occidental media outlets emerge, to a degree that results in utterly palpable sense of deja vu. The near simultaneous outpouring of effectively one single headline of an “incredibly photogenic” Syrian “freedom fighter” saturating the media outlets from Foreign Policy, to the Daily Mail, to Buzzfeed — sweat formed on the highest to lowest brows to advance identical coverage of a failed meme in identical language; more examples were to materialize like a hallway of funhouse mirrors distorting and dragging one's concept and perception of “journalism” ever farther away.
There remain historical examples that are of a more serious nature, such as Saddam Hussein's "human shredders" and the infamous "Kuwaiti incubator baby" testimony, disseminated through the country by these “free and independent” media apparatuses with eerily similar language.
In 1990, just before the first Gulf War, the public was not receptive to the idea of a long, drawn-out campaign in the Middle East. On September 5th of that year, the Daily Telegraph in London published the first version of the "Kuwaiti incubator baby" story. They claimed that an exiled Kuwaiti minister had made claims of Iraqi soldiers throwing babies in Kuwait incubators. Two days later, Reuters repeated the story, this time with a witness in the form of an American woman named Cindi, who lived in Kuwait.
These stories had gaping holes and were cloudy on details. There were no Kuwaiti victims who could tell their personal story. However, that was soon rectified when, on October 10th, 1990, a 14-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah testified in front of the Human Rights caucus in Congress. She did not give her last name because she claimed it was too dangerous. She tearfully recounted how "The Iraqi soldiers took the incubators and left the babies to die on the cold hard floor." This tearful young woman's story was plastered all over the news. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post all repeated this story without doing even the most basic fact-check. Worse, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed the authenticity of this story. All published by investigative journalists and editors that uniformly missed or omitted that the testimony was being delivered by the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador. Worse, it was later revealed that the publicity firm hired by the Kuwaiti Ambassador to help with the PR campaign, Hill and Knowleton had ties to the Bush Whitehouse.
Later on, during the second Iraq war, a British MP named Anne Clywd claimed that there were witnesses who saw Saddam Hussein put in dissidents through human shredders and once again, these stories were dutifully repeated and only later to be found out that they were full fabrications. These examples reveal a breakdown in the conveyance of vital information stemming from either total incompetence reaching levels that are utterly unreasonable to expect from grown adult humans, or a stunning example of how these organizations have managed to earn themselves the nickname “stenographers of power.”
Like with the propaganda against Saddam Hussein during the run-up to the Iraq war, the media was in perfect lockstep with the policy of the State Department such that conspiracy theorists among us would be justified in wondering if there was something more sinister going on.
To understand the uniformity and the confluence that forms itself in a leminscate between the press and the State Department one must understand the common driving force: Corporate Power.
The media, are not disparate independent entities. About ~90% of media is owned by one of six different enterprises. All of these are under top-down dictatorial control from a single executive, whose sole function is to direct the business towards delivering the highest possible return on investment for their shareholders. But, the confluence does not end here. Thanks to deregulation and complete non-enforcements of monopoly legislations, the parent corporations of these media companies also have their hands in hundreds of other businesses. The most obvious being that defense contractor General Electric owned NBC until 2009.
In other words, the media is owned exclusively by the ruling class and operating in their interests. It is used to advance a narrative that explains why it is necessary, in a foreign country, implement fascist violence in order to facilitate that capital penetration. The system itself is an arrangement of tools that create a self-powered leminscate of narrative reification - the process where they reinforce each other's narratives and thus bringing it to life. The State Department is a foundational tool, which the ruling uses to facilitate capital penetration into foreign markets.
To accomplish this, the State Department uses every single trick in the book from installing friendly governments who sign away their citizens well-being for corporate power to more violent means.
In Part 1, we look at the actions of the State Department through the past 100 years with historical examples.
Fat Cats in the State Department
These facts of fascist aggression of course, remain unsurprising; political theorists from Cesaire to Zak Cope have long contended fascism to be an expression of colonial violence turned inward on the peoples of said colonial powers. Following the Bolshevik seizure of power within Russia in 1917, among the great many corporate entities infecting Russia under the Tsar so as to allow foreign powers to fat themselves by the extraction of Russian mineral wealth was the Russo—Asiatic Corporation, a British mining interest with, on its board of directors, one future president Herbert Hoover serving as its US representative—the revolving door policy of employment within the US bourgeois state does not extend only to the “Human Rights” industrial complex but far into the realm of private capital, a tradition as old as the country itself—and this cohort of capitalist vultures would for their own parts go on to back Kolchak and “Allied Intervention” in the Russian Civil War with Hoover participating in efforts to literally feed the beast of White Terror, providing food aid to the White Army as the head of the US Food Administration1.
Zak Cope in “Divided World, Divided Class” wrote that on foreign soil, the expression of a country's fascism is “imperialist repression employed by comprador autocracies”2, in a thesis formed along lines originally and famously laid by Georgi Dimitrov in the late 1930s before the seventh congress of the Comintern (that in addition to fascism being marked by acts of “retribution” by the bourgeoisie against the proletariat, that fascism is foremost simple anticommunism), and if both are taken as sound reasoning (the contention here being of that they are), then as a matter of historical record, according to the following cable the from the US Bogota Embassy, the United States empire would quickly establish itself as the global vanguard of fascism, far advanced in many respects relative to what, at the time in the late 1920's, was occurring, developing, festering on the European continent, quote:
Referring to my former reports concerning the recent communist uprisings, I have the honor to state the Colombian authorities have been demonstrating unusual zeal for the protection of our interests: additional troops were despatched at once to Santa Marta for the protection of the properties of the United Fruit Company as well as to Barrancabermeja for the protection of the properties of the Tropical Oil Company. These precautions, together with the arrest in the banana zone of the most notorious radical leader, (last paragraph of me Despatch No. 463 of August 1), have had the most salutary results: whereas uprisings took place in a number of other centers, Santa Maria and Barrancabermeja have been entirely quiet.
General Carlos Cortés Vargas, the butcher who ultimately ordered the massacre, attempted to offer as an excuse for his actions a reported threat from the United States, according yet another State Department cable:
He (Cortés Vargas) called Colonel Diaz, commanding the Córdoba regiment, to his office and said to him: 'Prepare your mind to face the crowds of rebels and to kill before foreign troops tread upon our soil.' —— 'Now, reviewing matters calmly we still believe in the imminence of that peril when we read in the New York Times of December 7 which reads (in English): 'Secretary Kellogg said he understood the Colombian Government is fully capable of maintaining order and that he does not contemplate asking the Navy Department to LAND Marines to protect American lives and property ....' The Secretary of State did not speak of sending but of disembarking, that is to say that the marines were near, ready for such a maneuver upon receiving the proper order.
On a three day tirade in the senate against the butchery perpetrated by the Colombian government, the preeminent left-reformist of the Liberal Party, Jorge Gaitán issued on the record a proper denunciation and emasculation of Cortés Vargas and his pathetic logic:
If there had been in this country that sense of dignity which exists in others, this army officer would have been demoted immediately because his words clearly indicate that his sword would have been readily surrendered against the attack of American warships in defense of foreign interests.”
That is to say, “were we not a Banana Republic run by cowards on behalf of the interests of foreign capital, the coward Cortés Vargas would have turned his forces against the true threat, the imperial parasites.”
Of course, this was not to be the case, and by the State Department's own admission, over a thousand people were slaughtered in response to United Fruit's displeasure that its workers were demanding to be paid—in money—on a weekly basis.
In Part 2, we further examine the role of the State Department through history and we also examine the role of the media plays in helping the State Department get its tasks done!
Patenaude, Bertrand M.: “Herbert Hoover's Brush With Bolshevism,” pp. 5
(2014, pp. 294)