Not a day had passed since white supremacists attacked counterprotesters in Charlottesville and articles of pure speculation began to flood people’s newsfeeds. Such articles are spreading narratives with no origins in reality and only muddle any possible political discourse . The murder of one peaceful counter protester by white supremacists and 19 other counter protesters with serious injuries still can’t silence the conspiracies on the right. The Alt-Right has constructed a boogeyman out of antifa and major news networks have taken the bait. The bait must be working when so many people still believe that anyone protesting in the street is a “paid protester” or is “Soros backed” Every live Facebook stream of a solidarity demonstration has been met with comments such as, “Where’s a speeding car when you need one” or “Why are they marching!? Don’t they have jobs or school tomorrow?” It is not surprising when the same conservatives demonize Black Lives Matter every chance they get. This will not stop until conservative political pundits are actually challenged and a new critical media channelling the same anger against the establishment takes their viewership from them. Any critical analysis has been hi-jacked by the entertainers who have sucked the philosophy out of political discourse, the echo chambers that have been very carefully created through neoliberal policies, and large growing media networks. These information networks are devoid of any real analysis and only play the role of taking advantage of the universal information overload that has swept every mind embedded in the multitude. Original thought, genuinely critical analysis, has died. The conspiracies and scapegoating offer only easy answers. The creators of the echo chambers such as the deceased Fox News founder Roger Ailes was very aware of this. This is what put the neoliberals into power: Simplicity is sinister. A politics devoid of philosophy is soaked in simplicity and we can no longer take simple answers. The whole purpose of this blog is to find others interested in transforming media theory into an organized school of thought that will write the language for future struggles. Our answers lie in a multi-faceted approach to liberation. First, the liberation of our reality must be realized in order for us to fight the mass propaganda that bombards us on an everyday basis.
- Trump’s focus with denouncing protesters “on many sides” is the signal of his complacency and denial of the social decay within a country of failed class politics.
- To be clear, this is the rhetoric of both liberals and conservatives: Painting anything as extremist if it shines light on the contradictions of the American dream.
The echo chambers of mass media, most notably conservative tinged media are dominated with conspiracy and they have replaced actual critiques of power. However, liberal tinged media is just as guilty for a similar echo chamber effect—the main issue with liberal media is how it chooses to remain indifferent ,which leaves many of it’s readers feeling the same. This liberal strategy only encourages more complacency and it doesn’t invite it’s consumers to take any specific action. More popular liberal tinged media is riddled with snarkiness and comedy instead of any real motivating substance. The collective power of a full analysis of the social and political is stunted by the agents of media. Because of this, information contributed to every news network only contributes to spectacle. Is journalism destined to fail? Or do we currently lack the ability to deliver information in a way that will motivate people to act? These questions will likely elicit many different conclusions BUT they must be asked in leftist circles. Who is asking these questions? This is the realm in which we must organize. What strategies can we construct that will challenge the cultural hegemony and the passivity found in the current exchange of information?
The accumulation of signs from mass media and social media has created a universal information overload. This overload has led to our society’s mass complacency and the negation of the real from the social. This is how white supremacy has re-emerged as a newly packaged mass movement. It is not merely irony that the alt-right uses but it’s a disconnection from the material world. Conservative pundits and shock jocks only used irony as a means to offend listeners. The disconnection is what allows the movement to grow and tap into the paranoia of it’s followers. Conspiracy theories work to nurture the paranoid and the Alt-right funnels in it’s recruits with promises of action against these conspiracies. Sites like Infowars or Breitbart aren’t in cahoots with Richard Spencer or the Daily Stormer but they virtue signal the same encoded messages to the fearful consumers—disguised in different nuances with different rewards for their agendas. Racism is validated as patriotism and misogyny is excused as defending masculinity. Such a spectacular inversion of meaning has been brought with the process of what Baudrillard coined as symbolic exchange–this has brought the end of real meaning. Signs don’t collide with reality, only creating an endless transfer of signs. This process can also be called sign exchange. This exchange is a further fetishization of objects themselves and the meaning assigned to them in consumer society. The construction of assigning a concrete meaning to symbols/signs is what every empire has waged wars over and what battles of cultural hegemony have been waged for. The hegemony of meaning in a culture is the ultimate prize and it will define the reality for all born into it it’s reality. When information is turned into a commodity, what matters is it’s exchange value. These values can be anything from political power, prestige, monetary gain, or, even satisfying nihilistic curiosity. The mass consumption of signs is what generates our simulation and it is what traps us. The simulation is where signs become soaked in meaning and then the hyperreal is the meanings played out in our reality. The theory of simulation goes far beyond media distraction or even strange theories of alternate universes. Simulacrum, Simulation, and the hyperreal are all concepts of power. They are ways to construct reality and to further perpetuate oppression in societies. Information today needs to be observed in this manner as well as every aspect of our social and political reality.
Since our perceived reality is shaped by whatever information we consume, it’s very easy for the freshly “red pilled” to transform their beliefs from half serious jokes on message boards, into the absolute truth. Irony used as a tool for rhetoric allows it’s nihilistic believers to float between ownership or denial of what they say–the disconnection from reality allows the believers of the alt-right to envision the most illogical ends for society. This is where they actually find validity in such illogical conclusions.. No joke is too offensive and everyone is a crybaby. This new addition to existing white supremacy has been created on the internet and it’s bursting into our flesh and blood world. It is truly an ideology of the hyperreal. As we have seen, the effects of this have created a chain reaction that will continue to damage the social consciousness if it remains unchallenged. In other words, even if the alt-right dissolves tomorrow, there will still be a threat created from a world that is situated in the hyperreal. Not a computer simulation, like in the movie the Matrix, but in the sense that mass spectacle has taken place over the universal exchange of awareness. A universal exchange of awareness is how I’m choosing to describe: our relation to the global social struggles and the resources we are being deprived of to take action on behalf of these struggles–A universal consciousness yet to be awakened. We are trapped in a world of information and no tangible way to engage it. We do not live in a computer simulation, but the simulations created out of our own boredom with life. The simulations are appearing to us more real than real. They are what is hyperreal. Now, how do we disrupt the hyperreal and summon the means to weaponize our ideas? This is another key question all of us should be asking ourselves. A good start will be to develop a new media strategy that will allow us to break into public consciousness.
Information dissolves meaning and dissolves the social, in a sort of nebulous state
dedicated not to a surplus of innovation, but, on the contrary, to total entropy. – Jean Baudrillard
This emerging project traces developments of the hegemonic media, evolution of capitalist thought, and policies that have been created to further this process. This is a new school of media theory.
If you would like to contribute to this blog and to our future projects please shoot an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org