Saturday, October 31, 2015

Escaping the Broadcast

"The broadcast is state media, their institutional infrastructure, their political economy, the culture they create, and the social control the culture serves through the socialization it administers." Gene Youngblood
"Fantastic doctrines (like Christianity or Islam or Marxism) require unanimity of belief. One dissenter casts doubt on the creed of millions. Thus the fear and the hate; thus the torture chamber, the iron stake, the gallows, the labor camp, the psychiatric ward." --Edward Abbey
"Until they become conscious they will never rebel and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious." George Orwell
"The greatest success of propaganda is the belief there’s no propaganda." Gene Youngblood

In Secession From the Broadcast: The Internet and the Crisis of Social Control, Gene Youngblood makes the case that culture in the United States and most of the rest of the world is dominated by state media and its associated agendas supported and defended by a corporate oligarchy.

As we've seen in the case of climate change, the message is totalitarian, in that it does not allow dissent, skepticism or denial. Opposing or even questioning voices are disallowed, removed from the discourse, marginalized, ignored.

Escape from the message promulgated by state media domination, The Broadcast, requires awareness of alternatives. It requires the fish to become aware of the water.

Daniel Quinn wrote about becoming aware of the broadcast in his 1992 book, Ishmael. He called it becoming aware of the invisible bars of the cage. Until one can see the bars, one is unaware of being in captivity.

In a world dominated by the broadcast, generated by people who have become expert at defining the message and inserting it ubiquitously in every medium, it's difficult to step outside the cage and look back at the reality of the bars. Once one becomes aware, it is evident that our civilization is driven by two great myths that are so much a part of the fabric of our lives that we accept them unquestioningly and consider them unexpressed reality rather than mythology.

Myth #1: The Universe was made as a place for mankind to live out his destiny as the pinnacle of evolution, bringing order to the chaos in the non-human world, having dominion over all other life forms, in control of all natural processes.

Myth #2: Our civilization and our culture is the one right way to live and all other cultures must be reshaped to conform with our own, the pinnacle of civilization.

How do we become aware? How do we become aware of the need to become aware?

Youngblood looks to the Internet for a direction and a model. Today, the Internet is the source of all knowledge, the conduit of economic activity, the preferred advertising medium, the propagandist's dearest tool. It holds and distributes our cultural memories, our civilization's dreams, our imaginarium, our exercise book where we do our sums and scribble on the pages.

The Broadcast is distributed liberally throughout the internet, in all the mainsteam news and information sources, in Wikipedia, in official government and corporate web sites, on Facebook, in chat rooms, on blogs and forums. The Internet is an echo chamber of the status quo, the place where thoughts are formed and dreams shaped.

It is also the place where dissent, skepticism, rebellion and alternatives are revealed and developed.

Youngblood suggests that one can avoid the broadcast, yet shape an alternative world view by careful selection of Internet content and contributions. He holds the hope that control of the Internet can be avoided long enough for "us" to create networks of connections that allow us to step outside the Broadcast and form an alternative, perhaps the first real human civilization.

I have my doubts, though I have my hopes as well. As long as I can sit here and pound on this poor defenseless keyboard, I'll continue to escape from the cage and build a meaningful life as free as possible from the dominant mythology.

Coming up on Words Arranged: Ways to avoid the Broadcast and live a life of greater freedom.