Venezuela's RCTV - Much Ado About Nada
Much has been made of late by corporate media – and liberals who ought to know better – about the Venezuelan government's refusal to re-new the license of a TV station. Everyone is bellowing about "censorship" and "authoritarianism." This station was instrumental in propagandizing for a coup d'etat against the Chavez government. One can imagine how a TV station that helped organize a coup against the American Government would be treated. The owner would do an eternity in Gitmo as a "terrist" and not have the wrist slap of license non-renewal. Hilarious hypocrisy, eh?
What is overlooked by liberal critics of this action is how the corporate media is used as an arm of the state, or where the state is controlled by folks the ruling class dislikes, as an agent of counter-revolution. This first came to people's attention in a big way in Chile just prior to the Golpe. The main newspaper, El Mercurio, and a major TV channel, Universidad Catholica, were both instrumental in fomenting support for a coup and spreading hate propaganda against the Unidad Popular government. Once again, in Nicaragua during the US-sponsored Contra terrorist attacks, the right-wing Nicaraguan media sought to undermine the Sandinistas and aid the US.
Liberal critics are upset with Chavez because they lack a class perspective, not realizing, or hiding from the reality, that an irreconcilable contradiction exists between the minority who control most of society's wealth and the vast majority who work for this minority.
The state need not be controlled by revolutionaries for the corporate media to go into attack mode. Any government that seeks to improve the lot of working people, no matter how moderate that party might be, comes in for similar treatment. Here in British Columbia, the social democratic NDP government of Dave Barrett (1972-1975) was pilloried by the newspapers for minor cost over-runs and a climate of hostility generated, resulting in the NDP losing power after only one term. When the right took power, billions were squandered on corporate welfare, but the media ignored this.
The corporate ruling class are consummate class warriors and their media are weapons in that war. While they demand a "loyal opposition", from the people, they do not expect the same of themselves. Any lie, any slander, any crime, is permissible in maintaining their power. Their only loyalty is to their stolen wealth and perverse will to power. Government, people, nation, and tradition ultimately mean nothing. We cannot expect any mercy from them, and should show them no mercy in return, not out of vengeance, but a sense of self-preservation. Note that this is not a call for violence, but expresses the need of the working people for united, concerted, forceful measures against the ruling minority, to advance our liberty and defend ourselves against attack.
If the Chavistas are to be faulted, it is not for shutting down an enemy propaganda machine, but taking so long to do so. Refusal to renew a license is also a somewhat wimpy and bureaucratic way of dealing with the enemy, far better to let the people occupy the station, throw the US-mouthpieces out in the street and run the show themselves. Working people have an instinctual way of dealing with corporate media, if allowed to. During the Quebec General Strike of 1972, workers seized newspapers, radio and TV stations. Those they could not occupy and run were simply shut down. Recently in the Oaxaca Commune, radio and TV stations were occupied and self-managed. This is the way to deal with the reactionaries.
There is no role what so ever for a corporate media in a free society. Only living, breathing, individual people have rights and freedoms, phony state-granted, paper constructs like corporations do not. The media should reflect the views of 95% of the population, not the interests of the wealthy and powerful 5% of exploiters and oppressors. The only way we can have genuine freedom of expression and freedom of the press, is for the people to own and control the mass media. This cannot happen via state ownership, one merely substitutes one giant corporation for several big corporations. The only free and democratic way is to turn the various mass media into a mass of stake-holder coops - democratic institutions run by directors elected from the various groups that make up the populace – by profession, social origins, political viewpoint, ethnicity and gender.
See also this excellent Narco News analysis of the RCTV controversy