Now Politics

A Friend of the People Opposing Elites; Social and Political Commentary; Publishing and Contributing Editor, Jay V. Ruvolo [all text herein copyright Jay Ruvolo 2018]

How Does Journalism Not Walk Hand in Hand with Propaganda? [a fictional essay by a fictional essayer]

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“All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”

—George Orwell

 

Yellow journalism and the yellow press are terms for journalism that disseminates little or no legitimate well-researched news, instead using sensationalism for sales. .

—A paraphrase of many definitions

of Yellow Press

(or, for instance, any of New York’s Print Journalism)

 

Virtually all news today is Yellow, if it purports to be news, pretends to be news? (There is no news–so everything must be good?)

A question begetting yet other questions

about the quality of contemporary news

by someone, Anyone, today

 

“If you hate violence and don’t believe in politics, the only major remedy remaining is education. Perhaps society is past praying for, but there is always hope for the individual human being, if you can catch him young enough. This belief partly accounts for Dickens’s preoccupation with childhood.”

—George Orwell

 

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES has, in its history, been famously out of touch, a machine in the business of manufacturing received ideas irrespective of true or false, irrespective of Truth. For a singular instance, in itself not proof, but yet indicative, is the following observation made last year in The Guardian by Piers Brendon on 11 March 2017 in an article entitled, “Death of truth: when propaganda and ‘alternative facts’ first gripped the world.” Herein is an excerpt concerning a renowned Times journalist and his appraisal of the enforced famine by Stalin in the Ukraine:

“Stalin suborned western journalists such as Walter Duranty, who famously wrote of the Ukraine famine in the New York Times: ‘There is no actual starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.’ Some journalists did report it accurately, though; among them Malcolm Muggeridge, who also recorded – the axiom of the age – a Russian censor’s exclamation: ‘You can’t say that because it’s true.’”

I do not have to say more than what has been presented here, or do I? I’m not in the habit of presenting so many undigested chunks in my text as the one above, but I must continue with Brendon’s observations, so let me try to weave them into my textual matter: “Truth was further occluded,” Brendon says, “by faith and fear,” although faith in what, I would really like to know? Propaganda is best served by undermining just how and when and for what one must disbelieve. Propaganda, like theater functions in aiding you to suspend your disbelief? There is testimony to this effect. “In the Ukrainian city of Kharkov,” Brendon reminds us, “Arthur Koestler observed some of the worst horrors of the famine but affirmed they were products of the capitalist past, whereas the few hopeful signs pointed to a communist utopia.” Of course, virtually all of the victims were Ukrainian Christians, and Koestler, as were many of the officers of the NKVD who were in charge of tightening the nuts and bolts of man-made famine, were Jewish. This is an unpopular fact among many in my city today; a fact, nonetheless, although it is not part of the our contemporary politically corrected view of this history, particularly in New York’s schools (where history is always best managed and corrected); it is most certainly disputed in our print and broadcast media here in the broadcast and print media capital of America.

What then must I say when others say that fascists in Italy were Italian–however, those who object to any assertion that NKVD officers or the Head of State Security in the Soviet Union under Stalin in the early to mid into the late 30s were Jewish have other history lessons to use in rebuttal of the truth. But then the kind of hop-scotch played with the truths of history leave us opened to more experiences like the one we are undergoing with Trump. We cannot have it both ways . . . academia’s assault on the idea of Truth and what it is, what it could be, how it must be handled in response to how it has been handled and should have been handled . . . the mis-steps in our managing of Truth and truths might be correlative to our complete misreading of Einstein or our subsequent grossly mis–taken experiences with Quantum Mechanics, but these are for other essays.

Brendon writes that even “in the gulag . . . people refused to believe the evidence of their senses[.]” Yes, as he tells us Eugenia Ginzburg wrote concerning one’s sense of reality in the Gulag, ” ‘Anything that appeared in a newspaper carried more conviction with them than what they saw in the street.’ ” An old Russian Stalinist Era joke was, “Lying like an eyewitness.” What then was the world to do based on what it did not know about what it thought? Ah! Yes, how many good Soviet citizens adhered to the Truth according to Pravda?

At this time, as Brendon reminds us, “the artist and writer Percy Wyndham Lewis claimed [that] the masses were “hypnotised into a sort of hysterical imbecility by the mesmeric methods of Advertisement”; all good propaganda works along similar lines of progress and success as does advertising, which we still imagine is benign (for some reason I cannot fathom). Propaganda, no matter how “ubiquitous and ingenious, cannot brainwash an entire people,” though. No, it cannot–not really. In direct contradiction to Grand Conspiracy theories which usually operate on the notion that humans are more cooperative than they prove to be everywhere for all time, and on the assumption that their effects are more greatly pervasive than they could be, propaganda is effective, even if it is not total and complete, which is always the fear inside the operations of all Totalitarian societies, how imperfect they are.

This does not mean that like interests cannot operate in common toward greater and greater effects that have the direst consequences for millions and millions of people. But yes, of course, most “individuals remained free in their heads. But there is no doubt that propaganda was highly influential, particularly when projected on to a screen or over the airwaves, at a time when minds as well as bodies were being battered by the economic blizzard,” assurances of such effects supported by the evidence of just how many intelligent people entrusted with the role of critic and objective observer could exhibit such blind acceptance of the effects of propaganda and become one more after another of the Useful Idiots world communism and the success of the Soviet consolidation of power and order demanded. I mean, media managed masses here in America doesn’t to point to mind control–oligarchic rule by Elites has been able to sustain its control through multiple possible satisfactory outcomes, something like the multi-warhead ICMs we developed to put the Soviets, at least in their minds, on the brink.

Wherever propaganda “did not convince, it confused. It muddied the wells of knowledge and polluted the sources of understanding. It sanctioned the suspension of belief and disbelief. Propaganda helped to make the 1930s an age of obfuscation, of darkness at noon . . .” how so the repetitions of history are made by those who do not learn from it.

In Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, about the Soviet-State-made famine in the Ukraine in the 30s, we read how the Soviet Union “was a multinational state,’ and how it used “a multinational apparatus of repression to carry out national killing campaigns,” something too many educated people in America cannot accept, refuse to acknowledge, oppose vehemently, denounce viscerally. This was a practice enlisted by the Nazis in the Camps, whereby under such conditions as existed in the camps, it was easy enough to turn some of every group into the collaborating Sonderkommandos who would greet their own with kicks, punches, spit in the face and vehemently expressed verbal diatribes meant to dishearten and undermine spirit . . . but to think that Pole betrayed Pole or that Jewish prisoners collaborated with the Nazis to survive the camps when their friends, comrades and bunk neighbors were dying daily is too much for some imaginations. Pathetic, really, although the denial is as understandable as the collaboration.

Yet, as Snyder reminds us, at “the time when the NKVD was killing members of national minorities, most of its leading officers were themselves members of national minorities. In 1937 and 1938, NKVD officers, many of whom were of Jewish, Latvian, Polish, or German nationality, were implementing policies of national killing that exceeded anything that Hitler and his SS had (yet) attempted.” This remains too confusing and confounding for educated Americans used to the received ideas they were raised on, comfortable lies rather than discomforting truths; a narrative corrected and recorrected  . . . and we should know that the term “politically correct,” as it is framed and phrased, was first used in the 1920s in the Soviet Union, and was in reference to judging the correctness or incorrectness of ideology–there were even officers in the Soviet Military, for always, whose chief responsibility was ideological health. For the Soviets and their allies around the world, it was necessary to explicate why the views of certain of the party faithful needed correction to the party line.

It should be noted that “in carrying out these ethnic massacres, which of course they had to if they wished to preserve their positions and their lives, they comprised an ethic of internationalism, which must have been important to some of them. Then they were killed anyway, as the Terror continued, and usually replaced by Russians . . .” nonetheless, the first atrocities were carried out by many of the Russian Empire’s former repressed or oppressed minorities. There was no greater hater of Christians and Christianity than Trotsky, no one who despised Russian-ness more than he. I am not so sure that if Trotsky had been left in power, he would have not done the same or a like intended thing in the Ukraine. And please stop sanctifying Trotsky because he was a victim of Stalin, that’s like romanticizing Salvatore Maranzano because hew was killed by Lucky Luciano.

 

POST SCRIPT

The HOLODOMOR . . . yet another event in history that does not meet the American historiogrpahic narrative? Yes and no to this . . . more no, than yes? For sure, I must say. But just wait until you discuss those who particiupated and those who were the direct perpertraitors. That will become a carnival ride–and this would be the best experience. There will be others far more grotesque and disorienting, a lot more phantasmagorical.

Let me leave it at that because I am not prepared at present to be combating herein our received ideas on who many of the Officers of the NKVD were, or who the Director of the CHEKA was, or who was the head of State Security in the Soviet Union at the time . . . yes, who were they?

Do you think you have an idea? Are you sure you would have to know . . . adhering as you do to the received truths and dogmas of our Post World War Two Historiography, I doubt that. Yes, and I say so, especially here in New York City and what passes for History lessons in our schools, but also in our Universities.

Of course, the pretext, or rehearsal, if you will, for Stalin’s famine in there Ukraine was the man made famine at the hands of the British government in Ireland . . . (I am weary of some peoples imagining they have a monopoly on suffering, especially those who cannot connect with others, either in their contemporaneity or historically, and seek to exclude, almost selfishly holding onto the experience in a way that matches the greed of their oppressors or repressors. Those who do this know who I am talking about, either consciously or unconsciously).

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Written by jvr

August 5, 2018 at 10:28 am

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