The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.
A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news "filters," fall under the following headings:
These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns.
Our economy is based on consumption and advertising is the arm of creating artificial demand. And without that arm, we wouldn’t have people aspiring to things that are highly irrational. When advertising presents something that seems to be what some people want, it spreads like a virus and then everybody wants it, because it is an issue of social inclusion, which is a part of our biology, because that is how we identify. We identify and define ourselves by how others see us and how we are included in the group.
So it manipulates our most primal sense of humanity in order to sell things. If we didn’t have that arm in our consumption-based society since the Industrial Revolution, the economy would collapse. That is a very unique point to make because when you first start an economy like in the agrarian society, you’re meeting demand right? That’s the point and that makes sense.
But at some point this had to change because when you have such a highly-efficient, productive economy that we have today, at least in the technical sense of what we can create, you have to have demand created now.
That is one of the central flaws of market economics or capitalism that has come to fruition today, not only destroying human psychology, but destroying the environment simultaneously, because you have an insatiable culture that has been literally generated. And then progress is defined by what we produce. The more you buy, the more you own. That must be progress now.
It’s a kind of cultural violence. The more people promote materialistic values, the more they want more and more this and that, the more they flaunt this type of phenomenon, the more they create cultural violence. Because if you create a society that thrives in this type of self-identification, you are basically also promoting not only the destruction of the environment, but the diminishment of others, because you are saying, “I can afford this. I have the status and I am better for than and this person can’t.” And we see that phenomenally amplified today in the modern world.
I often wonder what a world would be like without advertising, which would be a world without marketing and markets, and I can tell you it would be a far more peaceful and sustainable and amiable and humane than what we see today.
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