August 1, 2006

Time for Americans to Accept Responsibility for Their Own Apathy and Misinformation

By In Essays

When they kick out your front door, how you gonna come, with your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun? – The Clash

Even a cynic as towering as Gore Vidal let average Americans off the hook in a recent interview in The Progressive magazine by saying the American “people are not stupid, but they are totally misinformed.”

He was referring to the fact that the mainstream news media report only what their corporate masters allow them to report to the American public; as a result, Americans are “totally misinformed” about what is really going on. Who can argue with that?

Naturally, if average Americans only watch television news, or read their daily paper or weekly magazine (if they even do that much), they will be misinformed, and many of them will have a worldview and understanding of current events in line with the corporate elite who control the news and almost everything else in their lives, including the Democratic and Republican parties.

But there is a whole other world of news out there on the Internet, the last bastion of democracy in a country sliding deeper into perpetual war, bankruptcy, and corporate fascism. Some of the news and information online may be a little radical or over the top, I’ll admit that, but a lot of it isn’t. A lot of it is right on target because it is not dependent on corporate advertising or political parties or academic grants. Many of the publishers (and bloggers) of these independent sites are beholden to no one but themselves and are unconcerned about making huge profits. Moreover, they don’t care about being politically correct or playing it safe. In many ways, they are similar to the old colonial pamphleteers, like Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin, who published their own news and opinions on sheets of paper and distributed them by hand to the American public.

As an added bonus, most of these independent Web sites are free! To access them, all you have to do is get online, Google some keywords, and read through hundreds of sites that are filled with alternative news and information that Corporate America and the Bush administration do not want you to know about. Much easier than the “old days” when you had to go to your local bookstore or library to search for these types of publications, which were usually buried behind their glossy corporate counterparts. Also, there were fewer of them to choose from, since it was (and still is) more expensive to print a newspaper or magazine than to have an online Web site.

Which begs the question: If it’s so easy, why don’t more Americans access and read these alternative Web sites? Or more to the point, why don’t they take a more active role in politics in their daily lives and try to change the system for the better? Here are some typical answers: Too busy! Not into news or politics! Doesn’t affect me personally! In a word– apathy.

And because of this apathy, because most Americans don’t bother to be politically informed and proactive, the corporate elite can’t lose. They buy and sell the politicians, they own the mainstream news media, and they control the messages and imagery disseminated to the mass public. They’ve got it all!

As a result, the cycle of misinformation continues and average Americans go on their merry way, not even realizing their way of life is disintegrating and they are being played for saps. This is what distinguishes corporate fascism from political fascism. There’s no front man in corporate fascism. George W. Bush is not Hitler, the corporate collective is, i.e., all the largest and most powerful corporations in the country. Bush is simply their current mouthpiece, their latest bitch. And at this point in time, the only real opposition to the misinformation and propaganda disseminated by the corporate collective via their political mouthpiece is the alternative press.

To illustrate: Take the build-up to the Iraq War. When the New York Times and other “respectable” mainstream news organizations were validating the Bush administration lies about WMD and Saddam Hussein’s links to al Qaeda, who challenged these assertions with the most impact and conviction? The alternative press!

When CNN and other “legitimate” mainstream news organizations were maintaining that George W. Bush won the 2004 presidential election “fair and square,” who uncovered massive election fraud and led the fight against the easily hacked Diebold machines? The alternative press!

There are many other examples, from renewable energy to global warming to national health care. Almost always, the alternative (progressive) press is out front on these issues, and it takes years before mainstream reporters cover them with the seriousness they deserve. And then, only after they can no longer successfully hide the truth or deny it.

Of course the last thing the corporate elite want is an enlightened population of critical thinkers and political activists. It would ruin their rigged game of capitalism and cause Americans to demand a real share of the economic and political destiny of the country.

So to all of you Americans who are too busy or too lazy or too selfish to take the time to access alternative publications online and participate in democracy by organizing or protesting or somehow making your voice be heard, I have a question for you: What are you going to tell your children or grandchildren when they ask you: “What did you do to stop the corporate fascists from taking over the country, Daddy?”

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