Manufacturing Consent

My title is nicked from Noam Chomsky. My anger is my own.

In a totalitarian regime, there is propaganda. But, since these regimes have huge spending on state institutions to control the public, press, labour etc. they basically use The Big Stick. The propaganda is glaring and obvious. And the consequences of ignoring it are well known too. Do what your government orders or we'll send you to a gulag, lock you away in a mental hospital or send the disappearers for you one night.

In the bourgeois democracies of the West, we have comparatively much greater freedom. Indeed, countries often enact legislation precisely to guarantee freedom of speech, assembly, organisation etc. This is inherently a much better glove for capitalism because it doesn't need the huge state expenditures that brought the USSR to its knees.

But how then does the ruling class ensure the compliance of the public? With The Big Lie.

We're witnessing the Lie in action now. Every report I see on TV (the only mass media that is important in terms of numbers) is skewed to reflect and represent the interests of the ruling class of the US and UK. Even when we see pictures of civilian Iraqis dancing with guns and shouting their defiance of the invaders, we're assured that these are probably 'Saddam's Elite forces.' Even the 80-year old women and little kids? Good to see he's an equal-opportunity employer.

From before the invasion of Iraq, we were being fed The Lie. 'Iraq is evil since it openly defies UN resolutions,' we were told. What about the resolutions Israel's broken. Oh, they don't matter. Plus, the US always vetos them.

The only way I can get non-censored news is to spend hours trawling around the internet. I find news items that never make it onto mainstream television news. You can find many of them here, marginalised by the mass media.

In its unquestioning repetition of propaganda, the media is complicit in this illegal war. It is complicit in lying to the people of the aggressor countries. It is more than complicit when it picks opinions on the war from a range of sources so tiny and un-representative as to be laughable.

Here in the UK, fve weeks ago, I was on a march with around 1.5 million people who were against the invasion of Iraq. Just four days ago I was on the largest anti-war protest while British troops were already fighting in British history.

And yet, we have expert panels consisting solely of government ministers, soldiers and right-wing think-tank members. The only difference of opinion here is on how hard to hit Iraq, or tactics.

Never once on any of the TV news reports I have seen in the last week has the moral need for war ever been presented as a legitimate question.

That is never even tabled or discussed. Of course we need to be out there, bombing market stalls and civilian buses. This is a battle to liberate the Iraqi people and if we have to kill them all in the process of liberating them, well, that's the price of freedom.

Another part of The Big Lie is that we can't make a difference. This is the most insidious part. Don't bother protesting – the war's started, nothing you can do will stop it now. Hello? Vietnam?

None of the rights we have were given to us by our ancient feudal lords or latter sweatshop bosses. They were all fought and won by acts of civil disobediance, from the Chartists to the Wobblies to the Poll Tax Riots. It is our collective power that cannot be stopped. When Blair saw London brought to a halt by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, this certainly affected him. And I believe it's subsequently affected how far the UK government feels it can be seen to toe the US line. Blair knows every civilian casualty on TV will make the anti-war sentiment in this country grow and therefore the Stop The War movement may already have saved civilian lives by reigning in the UK military.

You have to ask yourself – is this war just? You may think it is. In which case, though I disagree with you, fine.

But if you think it is unjust, do something!. Not everyone can march but everyone can play a part by speaking out against this terrible slaughter of innocents. Attacked by their own vicious leader (installed by the US & UK), starved to death by 12 years of US-backed sanctions and now blown into bits by another "smart" missile while trying to shop for food – is there no end to the misery which we visit on the Iraqi people?

Do something. Anything. March. Protest. Harrass your MP. SPEAK OUT