Lots of various cultural studies have examined the role of the media in forming and informing the social customs of the time. This has evident links with politics and elected leaders attempting to influence debate towards the principles behind their policies. Yet too often this is portrayed in black and white terms, left and right, liberal and labor, democrat and republican, rural and urban, free market versus anti-globalisation. The world is far more complex than simple dualities.
Which brings me to a look at a recent John Pilger article on anti-americanism.
What is most extraordinary about the United States today is the rejection and defiance, in so many attitudes, of the all-pervasive historical and contemporary propaganda of the “invisible government”. Credible polls have long confirmed that more than two-thirds of Americans hold progressive views. A majority want the government to care for those who cannot care for themselves. They would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for everyone. They want complete nuclear disarmament; 72 per cent want the US to end its colonial wars; and so on. They are informed, subversive, even “anti-American”.
This links with the earlier work of Paul Ray on cultural creatives and progressives in US society; the “moral majority” who are often portrayed as conservative traditionalists but more often than not are informed social progressives. The people who are:
feminist, ecological, anti-globalization, pro-civil-rights, pro-peace, pro-health-care, pro-education, pro-natural/organic and even pro-spiritual movements that together make up the New Progressives.
From a political point of view, who is representing these people? And do they care sufficiently to make concrete changes in their world, to transform their views from personal beliefs to a social movement?
This article from The National has a different take, questioning whether the rise of disaffection in right-wing traditional areas of the US as a result of the GFC, declining standards of living, globalisation concerns with a loss of manufacturing jobs in the heartland, long-running wars and the election of Obama to the US presidency, could lead to a rebirth of nativist sentiment fuelled by shock-jocks and the tabloid press.
From this uncertainty, one thing is certain though. The future will be decided by how these cultural forces play out rather than by external technological drivers. Will there be a sufficient groundswell of public support for progressive points of view embracing social responsibility, ecological sustainability and a love of foreign cultures to overcome traditionalist perspectives that promote fear of the unknown? Whose spin will win?