Beyond the Left: The Communist Critique of the Media

Beyond the Left: The Communist Critique of the Media

Stephen Harper

Language: English

Pages: 121

ISBN: 1846949769

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub



The ideological distortions of the conservative media, from Fox News to the Daily Mail, are widely acknowledged and often denounced among contemporary critics and commentators. But what if The Guardian newspaper and BBC news, in fact, constitute the most insidious forms of capitalist propaganda? In a wide-ranging and erudite polemic, Beyond the Left analyses capitalist news and current affairs media from a radical perspective. The book rejects the liberal and pluralist paradigms that often underpin critiques of the media, showing how media texts reflect and reinforce the material interests of the ruling class and arguing that the principal ideological menace today is posed not by the right wing, but by the left-liberal media, as it co-opts and obscures radical political positions and reinforces a range of mystifications, from anti-fascism and ‘humanitarian war’ to ‘green politics’. Drawing on the work of radical media critics as well as the writings of revolutionary communist groups and considering the recent reporting of war, industrial action, immigration and the environment, Beyond the Left updates and recharges the Marxist critique of the media.

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Herald (2 February 2009) also characterised the strike as xenophobic, contrasting the unseemliness of the Lindsey strikers with the integrity of those taking part in populist demonstrations against banking bailouts in France. BBC and ITV news, too, framed the strike as a protest against ‘foreign workers’. The BBC’s editing of an interview with a Lindsey striker even generated an Orgreave-style controversy. In a sound bite broadcast on the BBC News at Ten (2 February 2009), the worker makes a

drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which left 11 men presumed dead and resulted in a huge spillage of crude oil that damaged the ecology of the Gulf Coast. BP had a track record of such ‘accidents’. An explosion at a Texas City refinery in 2005 killed 15 workers and injured 170 others; investigators later determined that a warning system had been disabled. A congressional committee report on a leak discovered in BP’s pipeline at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in 2006 also blamed the company’s

contemporary comparison: the six million slaughtered by the Nazis in the 1940s must ‘never be forgotten’; but the six million slaughtered since the mid-1990s by armies supported by the Western powers in the Democratic Republic of Congo do not even register on the news agenda. Genocide is endemic to capitalism – but only ‘their’ genocides are recognised and memorialized by the media. As the lionisation of Michael Foot shows, left-wing defences of imperialism often garner public support more

war’s largest single act of ethnic expulsion. Yet the suffering of the Serb population elicited no sympathy from those demanding ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Bosnia, since Operation Storm was what Herman and Peterson acerbically describe as ‘benign’ ethnic cleansing – that is, ethnic cleansing conducted by the US and its allies. The media coverage of the notorious massacre of Muslims at the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, a UN ‘safe haven’, further illustrates the bias of the Western media

politics – was the response of specific national capitals to the organisational weaknesses of the state in the period following World War I; but it is hardly a useful mode of capitalist organisation under present conditions. Indeed, for as long as immigrant labour is profitable to capitalists, the BNP, in order to stand any hope of winning political power, would have to abandon those of its policies, such as repatriation, less congenial to the functioning of capitalist accumulation. In any event,

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