Politics, Fake News and Detoxing from the Media

Maddy Harland
Monday, 30th January 2017

Maddy Harland explores how media influences our worldview and suggests ways of media 'de-toxing'.

What does permaculture have to do with politics? The original contraction of permanent agriculture to permaculture is also the contraction of permanent culture. Having identified perennial systems (treecrops and agroforestry, for example) as vital techniques to restore ecosystems, co-orginators, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, quickly turned their attention to the ethics of earth care, people care and limits to growth/sharing surplus. It is evident that permaculture is more than a design system or eco toolkit as its essence is nested in an ethical worldview.

How can we then have a permanent culture – one in which freedom of speech, intellectual vigour, diversity of opinions and worldviews, and an economic base that embraces the triple bottom line – planet and people before profit – in a neoliberal economic world designed to put profit before anything else? We cannot. Permaculture may not be a political movement but it cannot put its head in the sand and say that it has nothing to do with developing an alternative to neo-Keynesian economics that is raping the planet’s ecosystems and impoverishing the vast majority of its people. We have to stand back from our current economic and political systems and seek true democracy. Otherwise we will quickly destroy what is left of our home and ourselves with it.

Manipulation By Media

A huge impediment to our imagination is that we live in a world where media shapes our thoughts. From kindergarten, we are selected to succeed based on our malleability to fit in with the predominant system. The mainstream media is a vehicle designed to advance the causes of those who own and run it. There is a monopoly of wealth and power in our society which translates directly into a monopoly of the media. The result is a dangerous lack of diversity and pluralism of voices and opinions in the mainstream space. The media has become little more than a monotonous, relentless monologue – when as a country, and a world, we need to be having a conversation, as Noam Chomsky observed. Wonder why people have been whipped up into a frenzy of racism recently? Because they are fed a toxic drip feed of lies by the media and their puppet politicians working towards an agenda of command and control.

Who owns the media? Three companies own 71% of national newspaper circulation in Britain. Of this, Rupert Murdoch owns The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, the Press Association (plus The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Australian, Fox News and many more). Five companies own 81% of all UK local newspaper circulation.1 The BBC is expected to act as a counterweight to biased media, but Cardiff University researchers found that:

* Whichever party is in power, the Conservative party is granted more air time.

* On BBC News at Six, business representatives outnumbered trade union spokespersons by more than five to one (11:2) in 2007 and by 19:1 in 2012.

* When it comes to the financial crisis, BBC coverage was almost completely dominated by stockbrokers, investment bankers, hedge fund managers and other City voices. Civil society voices or commentators who questioned the benefits of having such a large finance sector were almost completely absent from coverage.2

Carl Sagan, 1934-1996, once said, “The visions we are offering our children shape the future. It matters what those visions are.” Never has it been more vital for us to collectively decouple ourselves from media brainwashing. I therefore urge you to:

1) Check who owns what you are viewing/reading.

2) Educate yourself but treat the information with a healthy pinch of salt. 

3) Ask if its effects are toxic? Take a break and switch off. Your attention is an investment in their corporation.

4) Discriminate. Your trusted media may not be so ‘independent’. See Professor Noam Chomsky on media propaganda.3 Education and discrimination are powerful tools. (No surprise then that further education in Britain (excluding Scotland) is becoming ever more inaccessible for low income families.)

5) Support independent media by giving your custom to intelligent, independent news sources, magazines, websites and channels. They are often free or just the price of a cup of coffee.

6) Tell your friends about trusted sources. It is tough surviving out here.

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References

1 www.mediareform.org.uk/who-owns-the-uk-media

2 downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/breadth_opinion/content_analysis.pdf

3 www.youtube.com/watch?v=suFzznCHjko

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