Friday, June 01, 2007

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

http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2007/5/27/162742/757

8 Comments:

Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Point of Information: RCTV is not being closed, only its public band being taken away. It can still be seen on cable or satellite.

This weekend will be pro-Chavez demonstrations.

You are correct. The issue is more for foreign media than mattering in Venzuela. It's a YAWN.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Charles Johnson (Rad Geek) said...

"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."

Don't kid yourself. This isn't a matter of "the ruling class" attacking the anti-ruling-class government. The government is a ruling class: that is what governments do. This is a competition between two would-be ruling classes over which one is going to be dominant. I don't know about you, but I am an anarchist, and I don't give a good god damn about which gang of thugs wins, or about whether "revolutionary" or "counter-revolutionary" jackboots end up on the people's necks.

On the other hand, I do care a lot about how far a government can get away with using the force of arms to silence its critics. Which seems to be what's happening here. That's a big deal, even if the critics are real creeps. After all, they always come after the soft targets first.

"One can imagine how a TV station that helped organize a coup against the American Government would be treated. ..."

There's an awesome standard. If the U.S. government might have done even worse, then it's O.K.?

"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."

I agree that that would be a good thing. But there is a question as to how ordinary people can come to own and control media operations. By any means necessary? I sure hope not.

"This cannot happen via state ownership, one merely substitutes one giant corporation for several big corporations."

So why are you cheering this gang of thugs on, since the proprietary control of airwaves by the State apparatus is exactly what they are asserting as the basis for closing RCTV's broadcasts down?

You seem to be blowing a lot of hot air at the anticipated reactions of "liberal critics." But that's like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course liberals are a pack of hypocritical blowhards. What else is new? That doesn't eliminate the obvious danger of a State--any State, not just the ones you or I especially dislike and spend most of our time protesting--becoming increasingly brazen about its rough handling of dissidents, nor does it eliminate the obvious injustice of the government using its usurped control over the airwaves to safeguard its hold on power.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Graeme said...

People seem to have thought they weren't going to get their soap operas. That is the real controversy.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Rad Geek's comments deserve more attention than can be given in this brief format. I will do a blog reply sometime soon.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

RCTV actively took part in a rightist coup. They used their facilities as a coordinating point.

Their management was in the palace with the oligarchy.

After the coup lost, they ran cartoons rather than announce the coup lost.

OT: I have a post related to an ill IWW blogger.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Larry, I sympathize with your reasons for wanting to give Chavez the benefit of the doubt. I still agree that a world with a "second superpower" (a loose coalition of left-populist regimes, European social democrats, the world social forum, etc., all backed by a Eurasian bloc with a credible minimum nuclear deterrent) is one hell of a lot better than a world with uncontested rule by the Empire. I cheer every time I read about a country getting Chinese Sunburn missiles that can sink a US aircraft carrier. Hell, sometimes I'm tempted to say "Thank God for Putin," because a world with Bush+Putin is better than a world with Bush alone.

I also agree that Chavez's caudillismo is a comparatively moderate example of the type and is leavened by a lot of interesting social and economic experimentation. And as Charles said, I don't see his opposition as the "good guys."

But even with all these caveats, I think Chavez has crossed a line here that's indefensible. If he can be defended at all now, it's as a lesser evil. His increasingly authoritarian political style is still somehwat moderated by some interesting cooperativist and decentralist economics. And he's not as bad as the Pinochet wannabees that Bush and a lot of the "libertarian" blogosphere would like to replace him with.

But that's pretty faint "praise," IMO.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Maldoror said...

Larry:

I have to agree with radgeek in this one. First, cause in a final analisis we have to accept that Chavez shuted down RCTV for its political position. That IS censorship. That RCTV are creeps who defend "burgois" or "oligarchic" interests is true, but that cannot be an excuse to shut down their TV stations. Second, cause Chavez uses an argument that we as anarchists cannot accept: the idea that the electromagnetic spectrum belongs to the state. Third, cause if we accept your premise that Chavez goverment is a socialdemocratic one (as you said in other post in your blog), that it represents the left, we as left wingers should keep our standards higher, and more importantly, we must keep faifhtull to our own ideas. We must not allow any self proclaimed left wing goverment to coerce free speech...that is a left wing value by excelence.

On the other side, I suspect Chavez goverment is far more authoritarian than you imagine. Aside from the RCTV affaire, Chavez seems to be targeting other media outlets like globovisión and several radio stations -while pushing for his own state owned set of radio stations-. I think that is something to be worried and we must not ignore it.

Kevin:

If also read about Chavez pushing for cooperativist and decentralist economics...but I am not sure if cooperatives pushed by strong centralist state - or for the record a decentralist economy encouraged by strong centralized state- are going to work out their own inherent contradiction....

4:06 PM  
Blogger cN said...

Shit, Finally!

Thanks for this article.

12:57 PM  

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