First, apologies for the gap. Much going on. Now to the plot.
There is a noteworthy trend in contemporary politics: the leaders have not adapted to the new technological age. They still believe that it is 1950, where what you say behind closed doors stays there. Or that there is no way to factcheck, in real time, their often false claims. For them, the ability to lie to achieve their goals is still the order of the day. They have not adapted to the technological reality: every person has a video camera and a microphone in their hands and can use it to provide a record of what you actually say. The public can use this evidence to question or refute claims you make. Your response is often to blame the source, an illegitimate tactic. As the evolutionary imperative says, adapt or go extinct.
A Political Generation Gap: AOC vs Trump
In another place, I wrote about AOC’s use of social media to promote herself and more importantly her policies. Since she is a millennial (she is 29), and has grown up with social media, AOC is aware of its power, as both a communication tool and more importantly as an archive. Social media is an archive of what an individual has posted online. Their very words can be used to refute current claims, and no amount of screeching fake news or ‘media bias’ is going to change that. To paraphrase Keith Olbermann, quoting your own words back to you is not a cheap shot, nor is it media bias. AOC knows the archival power of social media. The current President does not.
There are a plethora of Trump tweets that have not aged well. Whether it was his claim that the electoral college was ‘a disaster for democracy’ when it looked like he would lose in that vote, to praising the electoral college as ‘actually genius’ when he won. Or his claim that Mr Obama would ‘start a war with Iran’ because he was ‘desperate’ to now seriously escalating towards his own war with that country. Now you might argue Trump’s stream of consciousness approach disregards hypocrisy. Maybe. But the wider society (excluding the MAGA cultists) does not. They have the opportunity to look at the evidence and see his thousand-and-one backflips, hypocrisies and outright lies. Trump’s 1984-style ‘we have always been at war with Eurasia’ approach might work on the older generation, but the social media generation is better informed than any before them. This will not work on them.
Tonkin to Hormuz: Some Suspicious Events
Governments have often taken advantage of the lack of information available to the people. It was long suspected that the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to US involvement in the Vietnam War, was a false flag incident to justify yet another foreign war. Recently, declassified documents proved that this was the case. Times have changed and so has the nature of available evidence. In the 1960s it was not so easy to challenge the government narrative. If they said something happened, counter-evidence was not usually ready to hand. The government narrative was usually the only version of events available.
More recently, however, the nature of the available evidence has shifted to the point where it is possible to create counter-narratives to the official position. This often takes place in the field of independent media (frequently on youtube), since corporations own establishment media and so the coverage tows the line on the latest foreign adventure. Examples of such counter-narratives include Jimmy Dore and The Real News Network. The use of social media as a means to get actual facts out there to counter the government propaganda is noteworthy.
This brings us to the recent attack on two oil tankers in the straits of Hormuz off the coast of Iran. The Trump Administration seems eager to turn this incident into another Gulf of Tonkin to justify going to war. The politics of this are complex, with the Iran Nuclear Deal signed under Mr. Obama subject to violation and ultimate scrapping by Trump and his goons. However, after the recent incident in Hormuz, a counter-narrative came forth disputing the Trump Administration’s claim that ‘Eye-Ran done it’. Great independent media reporting from Kim Iversen on youtube seriously calls into question the government narrative, and I encourage you to check it out.
Bringing It Home: Australia
This very network is an example of independent media running facts counter to the outright lies our government pedals. Morrison and his regime do not have good relations with the facts, so printing facts provokes their ire. The go to case here is Emma Alberici’s searing critique of the great lie that is corporate tax cuts are good for the wider economy. Greg Jericho aptly responded in the Guardian, skewering the government for its attack on Ms. Alberici. These pseudo-fascists forced the ABC to pull the piece and publish a ‘revamped’ version of it. He who controls the past, controls the future; he who controls the present, controls the past.
Conclusion: The Role of Independent Media
Governments’ reactions to critical coverage clearly shows that it hits a nerve. Whether Spud screams media bias, or Trump screeches ‘fake news’, this should encourage us. We should continue to speak truth to power. They know they are losing the war and so they screech louder. Forward, my friends. Let us show these dinosaur politicians the true power of the information age.
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