Living In An Oligarchy: The Corporate Propaganda Machine Lives On (VIDEO)

Published On April 24, 2014 | By Michael Potter |


by Micheal Allen Potter

Before the advent of social media websites and widespread access to information on the internet, Noam Chomsky’s famous documentary, Manufacturing Consent unveiled the extent of corporate media control in America, which has become quite obvious today, especially in light of the fact that – according to a recent Princeton study – the United States is an Oligarchy rather than a Democracy. The documentary remains very relevant today. If you take anything away from it, it should be this:

In 1988, 23 corporations controlled over 50% of the business in the newspaper, TV, motion picture, book publishing and radio station industries. These corporations included ABC, CBS, Time Warner, Disney, Dow Jones, GE, Paramount and the NY Times.

Many of these corporations are still well known and their influence has only increased as of late. In fact, Comcast Cable has been considering a merger with Time Warner Cable, which would serve to even further restrict competition in the cable television market. Also, during the late 90’s, Disney acquired ABC. They later acquired Marvel, the comic book company, which gave them movie rights as well.

Both Disney and Marvel produced World War II propaganda during the 1940’s. Disney did so in an attempt to help the government raise income taxes and to sell war bonds to help pay for the war. It may have been a patriotic effort but it also likely contributed to the anti-German sentiment of the time. Who’s to say they won’t produce similar propaganda in the future? Would it be even more dangerous now that the company has expanded? Probably.

In addition to the old monopolists who still sit high on their thrones, there are newcomers, including Unilever, which was a large and successful consumer goods company during the 70’s and 80’s but which grew exponentially during the 90’s and 2000’s through a set of mergers and acquisitions. In 1993, it acquired Breyers from Phillip Morris. In 2000 it purchased Ben and Jerry’s and Slim-Fast. In 2010, it purchased the Alberto-Culver company which made Tresemme and VO5 personal care products. Today, the company owns Lipton, Breyers, Dove, Ben and Jerry’s, Hellman’s mayonnaise, Knorr products, Axe body spray, Tresemme and many other products worldwide. While Unilever’s media influence may seem quite small, it is in fact large and potentially dangerous.

Why? One word: commercials.

Commercials are nothing more than corporate propaganda. Commercials influence how people view the world and even sometimes their politics. In an ultra-capitalistic society like the United States, products will usually be advertised in the following manner:

1.) the product will be praised incessantly by a large number of “satisfied customers”

2.) the product will inevitably be hailed as “the best”

3.) working conditions, environmental hazards (in the case of chemical and energy companies) and the wages of laborers making the products will never be mentioned

In other words, companies will churn out positive information for public consumption, which most people will eat up without doing further research on the company. What takes place behind the scenes doesn’t exist because they’ve never come into contact with it (unless they’re an academic or a driven autodidact).

Thus Chomsky’s statement that media in the United States “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion” makes as much sense today as it did when he wrote it in 1988. So take a lesson from this and don’t buy the hype! Support independent media and fight back!

Photo: NPR

Michael Potter
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Michael Potter

Michael Potter is an Anthropology major at UNC Charlotte. He studies History and Politics in his spare time. He is a great admirer of Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt the Kennedys and FDR. He also administers a Facebook group called The New Jeffersonian Democrats, and he also writes for the Examiner.
Michael Potter
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