It is interesting to recall that when Great Britain’s legendary World War Two Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was asked how he thought ‘history would treat him’ he replied that he felt it would be ‘kindly - because I intend to write it myself!’.
I say interesting because when one considers politics even now in the second decade of the 21st Century – both internationally and even in a small, ‘democratic’ backwater like Jersey – never was a truer word spoken. History, of course, is indeed written by the victor not the vanquished – or equally as likely today – by the politically dominant and this is true even when the said recorded ‘history’ is little more than a complete pack of lies. The only remedy is to question and work to raise public awareness.
You really don’t need to read Orwell’s ‘1984’ to understand this: there are countless real examples the world over. Indeed, my decision to write these forthcoming posts actually came about as a direct result of the grateful and highly positive response from a number of people to whom I had leant *DVDs on the true political situation (as opposed to US ‘Washington Consensus’ media propaganda) in countries such as Venezuela and Latin America generally. *I list a few of these well worth anyone seeking out at the end of this piece.
But if that is too ‘in depth’, far a field or philosophical for you at first glance then just think about Jersey for a brief moment and examples also start to come to mind thick and fast…
The shameful rubbishing of the Historic Abuse Investigation and the trashing of the reputation of those trying to bring justice for people who have been betrayed. Half-million pound ‘Golden Handshakes’ to civil servants who should have been sacked whilst even nurses are being told they must take a pay freeze. The shambles of the Waterfront development.
The con of the ‘good value for money’ energy from waste plant. The hijacking of the independent Electoral Commission. Alleged ‘High Net Value’ multi-millionaires actually contributing next to nothing to the economy and community whilst paying less tax than many ordinary workers who are increasingly struggling.
Or even this very week, the Jersey Evening Post itself which has been the rabid cheerleader of the failed politics of the powerful ‘elite’ at the expense of ordinary people for decades - now incredibly trying to reinvent itself as some kind of champion of political moderation! Almost too laughable for words of course.
And I haven’t even yet mentioned the countless examples of Island media working hand-in-glove with the Establishment Party to try and discredit wherever possible any individual who would dare raise his or her head above the political parapet to challenge them as to the anti-democratic and unsustainable folly of their ways…
All people need to do is to begin asking questions
When I think back to my secondary school days (though I obviously did not then have the words to fully articulate it then) it was my growing awareness/suspicion of this fact that on a number of occasions would get me into trouble with teachers who should have known better. My transgression?
Daring to challenge teachers as to the ‘lessons’ and ‘facts’ taught, such as to use one classic example, whether the Allies really ‘won’ the Second World War given the subsequent necessary huge injection of resources to rebuild the country and economy of the German aggressors; all whilst the British people who had given so much in standing up against tyranny simultaneously faced hardships and rationing for many long years.
All too often those few like me who would dare to question would be shouted down; sometimes even ridiculed. Giving the stock or necessary ‘right’ answers to pass tests etc back then was a trait – for those who may not know - of what is sometimes referred to as the ‘banking system’ of education. This thesis was formulised by Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire who I was later to study whilst at University.
Indeed, making sense of conclusions I had struggled toward myself years earlier Freire was to become something of a hero of mine. For at its worst you could say this ‘banking system’ of education is promoting children and young people to ‘learn’ parrot fashion - almost like laboratory rats that giving a certain answer will get you the desired positive response or pass mark. No better is the interrelated consequence that with children and young people ‘learning’ that this is what gets success it stifles both intuitive questioning and lateral thinking. Hugely negative things both! It also says a lot about why so few adults today are politically aware.
But I am probably digressing too much at this early stage. For this first in – hopefully - a series of posts over the coming weeks it is specifically this problem of the victor or dominant political majority spinning their ‘truth’ through abuse of the media and even education that I want to focus on peoples’ awareness needing to be raised to.
For left unchallenged this will not only be more and more abused with the massive expense governments the world over now commit to employing ‘spin doctors’ wholly lacking in scruples or any sense of morality; it is a problem that can only further undermine democracy.
Believe me Jersey is no exception: indeed, our small size and lack of diverse, competing media as a ‘check and balance’ means the potential for this is even greater. After all, with the sociological reality that so many people form their wider opinions because of what they are ‘fed’ by the media the potential for opinion manipulation is truly frightening. Let us be honest it is largely what has kept the Establishment Party in power for years.
Today our word must be our ‘weapon’…
But there is some ‘good news’. Fortunately, the growing sophistication and saturation of such spin by any ruling ‘elite’ has also brought with it its own Achilles Heel or, to perhaps use a better description potential ‘antidote’. This is the growth of so-called ‘Citizens Media’.
Not the pathetic kind of puerile hate mongers even visible in Jersey via bullying, inadequate internet trolls and right-wing/pro-concealment of child abuse websites not even worthy of naming – but genuine ‘Citizens Media’ the close relative of the truly ‘independent’ documentary makers and ‘investigative’ journalists.
Indeed, with the revolution of the gun hopefully being increasingly supplanted by the revolutionaries of the ‘word’ or of ‘education’ it is not an exaggeration to say that across the world, wherever oppression and inequality is seen as a legitimate tool of government, such individuals and groups who ensure that the real truth does leak out – however slowly - should be seen as modern day Freedom Fighters.
For the easily apparent truth in this statement one only needs to consider the groundbreaking use of the international internet over the past twenty years by the likes of the EZLN (or Zapatistas); struggling under the iconic Subcomandante Marcos against successive corrupt, US-dictated to governments for the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Chiapas region of Mexico to stop their mineral-rich lands being stolen from them. More about this (and, yes, another political hero of mine!) in a later post. But if you are already curious just Google the above names or NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to see what this is all about..
Relevant to Jersey - you bet!
Like many things simply because Jersey is such a small geographic jurisdiction the impact of media manipulation and blatant collusion can be viewed far more easily – if only the populace are made savvy enough to know where to look. As I outline above it is with regard to these issues that I intend to write in the coming weeks. A growing number of people are already beginning to remark how they are increasingly sick of government ‘spin’. These posts will simply be about drilling down a little further.
Let us also consider this. The last election was, in my view, a significant disappointment for the so-called ‘progressives’ or ‘centre-left-leaning’ in Jersey politics. Although to be fair the election of quality newcomers such as John Young, Richard Rondel, Steve Pellett and Michel Le Troquer for example; not to mention the miserable failure of the desperate Establishment Party campaigns to oust people like myself, Shona and a few others are positives that also should not be overlooked.
But much of the missed opportunities it should be accepted were also largely down to our own failures to work to our common ground rather than be divided by our regularly unimportant differences. It is something that must be learnt and taken on board or beneficial change for ordinary working people will never be brought about.
As such for those who really understand deep down that there is a far better way than the greed-driven, virulent ‘free-market’ strain of capitalism pursued over the past decades here in the Island by an ‘elite’ interested only in maintaining their position becoming ‘wiser’ to this aspect of manipulating power through the media is something really well worth doing. In fact it is absolutely essential – for without such an increased public awareness the iceberg of economic, social and democratic disaster will loom ever closer to the Jersey ‘Titanic’.
This is what the posts will be about.
Keep the Faith
*As indicated above, for those who are already interested in looking beyond the propaganda of government and media three acclaimed international documentaries well worth watching for starters are:
1 - ‘The War on Democracy’ by John Pilger
2 - ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ by Kim Bartley & Donnacha O’Brian (there is also a version of this DVD available with an excellent supporting book by Rod Stoneman, ‘Chavez: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - A Case Study of Politics and the Media’
3 - ‘South of the Border’ by Oliver Stone
And should you be (foolishly) wondering… No. They never reached Jersey’s cinemas though two have made it on to TV to my knowledge.