“The road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference.”
Was Ian Kershaw wrong to focus blame on ‘indifference’? Should we, today, be more concerned about “learned helplessness” or perhaps by a conditioned and inflicted “hopelessness” when it comes to deciphering the invisible forces roiling so much of our current events and politics?
“‘No One Believes Anything!’ Voters Worn Out by a Fog of Political News”
As the New York Times article written by Sabrina Tavernise and Aidan Gardiner proclaims, “Many Americans are throwing up their hands and tuning it all out.” This is exactly no accident. This is what trimp and the GOP idiotically depend upon. And it must not be forgotten that both trimp AND the 21st century configuration of the GOP are shameless creatures of a toxic accumulation of unaccountable concentrated wealth.
What’s even more important to remember is that washing one’s hands of “dirty politics” is also shameful. It is an abject surrender to the worst of us, and the worst in us. Politics and democracy are always so frustratingly difficult because politics and democracy are always as treacherous and confused as we are. Understanding media biases is so treacherous because we humans are ever so proficient in deceiving and confusing each other (and ourselves.)
Understanding media biases is, of course, critical for an informed electorate and the idea of self government. That there are no constantly reliable shortcuts is no reason to give up in despair. What it should be is a spur for us all to struggle on to the best of each of our abilities to make a world where human freedom and dignity is both protected and sustainable.
The Chomsky Herman “propaganda model” is probably the best approach to a partial understanding of how corporate interests have so much (but often limited) influence on the perceptions of various audiences. For example, the respectable mainstream media offers a chorus of condemnation for the GOP’s attacks on institutions, experience, and the rule of law. It does this while also promoting fresh new (“and improved”) faces of relative unknowns like Barack Obama and now Pete Buttegieg.
Ideologies, affiliations, and even critically questioned theories do offer valuable shortcuts for filtering the chaos of conflicting information and sensations. Such shortcuts are actually necessary. But blind faith in any perspective, ideology, or theoretical model is dangerously naive. (Including the Chomsky Herman approach!) Yet what's even more dangerous is giving up on the hope of ANY serious understanding. Fascism requires such hopelessness.
The billionaire class and the institutional structure of profit centered corporations should be the prime focus of serious attention and reform efforts. Billionaires today are dangerously unaccountable and irresponsible in their accumulation and husbandry of concentrated wealth. But ultimately the responsibility is with us all as individuals, family members, and participants in significant affiliations, institutions, and concerted efforts.
Of course, it may be that we are now simply too oppressed and too corrupt to help ourselves. If so, crucial prospects for freedom and dignity will be set back for many more generations—if an insulted planet permits.
Joe Panzica (Author of Democracy STRUGGLES! and Saint Gredible and Her Fat Dad's Mass. He is currently working on his second novel I Wanna Be Evil.