An Outstanding Contribution of Noam Chomsky
“[The Indian political situation today] does look ominous. Not sure “fascism” is quite the right word, though it all does recall Mark Twain’s aphorism that though history doesn’t repeat, it sometimes rhymes. The article is very pertinent and telling.”
– Noam Chomsky, April 14, 2019
I first heard about the idea of “Manufacturing Consent” (i.e., the process of obtaining “consent” of the people in a “ manufactured” way) from Noam Chomsky. This was the time when I, at 40 years, preferred to study journalism and writing at Columbia University leaving behind science, my former discipline. Two books stirred me the most: “1984” by George Orwell and “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media ” by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, where the authors had the viewpoint that mass media in the United States is a very powerful and profit-oriented establishment. This media serves a twofold purpose, in other words, (1) Their propaganda is directed toward ensuring the stability of the market economy, so much so that people tend to accept market economy as the sole form of economy; and, (2) Unlike the communist style of coercion and repression, they engage in the act of censoring their very own media — i.e., they self-censor news and views that are not complying to their corporate owners, politicians and their agenda.
I was indeed stunned at the various examples, laid out by Chomsky.
Then I found examples in my own life. Media producers like The New York Times, CNN, etc., in their bid to garner mass support for the Iraq War, vindicated the theory that Saddam Hussain possessed the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). This was based on downright false reporting. And this led to the destruction of a Iraq, by bombardment by the US. Saddam was captured and publicly hanged. The truth is that Saddam had no link to the 9/11 terror attack on New York. In fact it was Saudi Arabia that had this link. But the US Media preferred to maintain absolute silence about involvement of Saudi Arabia in the terror attack. The royal family members of Saudi Arabia, on the contrary, were safely escorted to their homeland. Millions of US citizens were thus misled and their consents were “manufactured,” rendering support to the barbaric Iraq war that conspired to effect the annihilation of millions of innocent people. Many such examples of the acts of “manufacturing consent” can be cited.
Since World War II, the US has emerged as a superpower on the sheer strength of it being a war economy. Weapons, bombs, poisonous gases, napalm used in the Vietnam War, the deadly atom bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are its known arsenal. But on top of these, an entire gamut of equipment like the computers and other electronic items such as drones, medicine, food, uniforms, automobiles, aircrafts, helicopters, etc., are all being manufactured and exported for the military. This business has made the US the richest nation in the world. It is only in the fitness of things that since 1948 the US has masterminded one or more wars every year in the world without fail. In the process it has strengthened its war economy by leaps and bounds. In fact, its economy would collapse without warfare.
Therefore, manufacturing the consent of the masses to support warfare constitutes an extremely important focus of the US corporate media. And in so doing it has been actively supported by both the Republican and Democratic parties alike.
This design of the US has become all the more easy in the absence of a parallel force, post dissolution of the Soviet Union. This has resulted in the intrusion of their media model into those of other nations around the world in the globalised economy of today. And India has emerged as the most “deserving” nation in this process. The loyal student. Indian rulers have turned out to be the first in implementing this manufacturing of consent proposition. Modi, Shah, BJP-RSS of today have shown their acumen, skill and ingenuity in adopting this tactics in the most intricate manner. But then surely they are not the sole organisation in this design. Since 1990 India had chosen to quickly adopt the model of a political economy that detailed the ultimate inequality. And the Indian National Congress turned out to be the first rank student of this model. It is Congress that had sown the seeds of what BJP is doing today. Rajiv Gandhi-Manmohan Singh governments imposed a “one percent” oriented economy on the nation in the name of “progress” and got the consent of the people of India towards this end; consent being manufactured through the puppet mass media.
Examples in this regard abound. Yet, the manner in which the BJP Government of Narendra Modi has effectively utilised the media, big and small alike, to spearhead manufacturing the consent of the people in such areas as (1) Demonetisation that caused havoc; (2) Goods and Services Tax that destroyed small businesses ; (3) AADHAAR Card (national ID); (4) recent Pulwama-Balakot was in Kashmir, etc., is indeed unprecedented. To this list have been added, just before the election, the characteristic Modi biopic, fake election forecasts on thousand channels, the Modi-RSS created IT cell and Social Media that act to propagate hatred, violence and innumerable rumours via fake IDs.
At the time when Noam Chomsky wrote his famous book, neither the Internet nor social media was in use. Therefore the imminent task before us, the disciples of this great philosopher, is to unmask the innumerable designs of equally innumerable puppet media aimed at obtaining the consent of the people “manufactured” by these media. I can cite many examples. In fact, you can too. Concurrently, the naked truths of how so many new media are evolving, their political connections, their sources of finance and so on are to be exposed before the masses. Because the vast majority of people usually cannot comprehend these truths easily and in the process, become the victims of such propaganda.
In order to save democracy, the rights of the people therein and finally, the human civilisation at large, there is no other way than to educate the mass along these lines. And whatever has to be done is required to be done right away.