Manufacturing Consent  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"Walter Lippmann … described what he called “the manufacture of consent” as “a revolution” in “the practice of democracy”... And he said this was useful and necessary because “the common interests” - the general concerns of all people - “elude” the public. The public just isn't up to dealing with them. And they have to be the domain of what he called a "specialized class" … [Reinhold Niebuhr]'s view was that rationality belongs to the cool observer. But because of the stupidity of the average man, he follows not reason, but faith. And this naive faith requires necessary illusion, and emotionally potent oversimplifications, which are provided by the myth-maker to keep the ordinary person on course. It's not the case, as the naive might think, that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy. Rather, as this whole line of thinkers observes, it is the essence of democracy. The point is that in a military state or a feudal state or what we would now call a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter because you've got a bludgeon over their heads and you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have this problem—it may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don't have the humility to submit to a civil rule [ Clement Walker, 1661], and therefore you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda, manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusion. Various ways of either marginalizing the public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion."--Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)


"We compared Cambodia with East Timor, two very closely paired examples. And we gave approximately 300 pages of detail covering this in Political Economy of Human Rights, including a reference to every article we could discover about Cambodia."--Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)

This page Manufacturing Consent is part of the censorship series. Illustration: a close-up of a mouth in the film The Big Swallow (1901)
Enlarge
This page Manufacturing Consent is part of the censorship series.
Illustration: a close-up of a mouth in the film The Big Swallow (1901)

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media is a 1988 book by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, in which the authors propose that the mass communication media of the U.S. "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", by means of the propaganda model of communication. The title derives from the phrase "the manufacture of consent", employed in the book Public Opinion (1922), by Walter Lippmann (1889–1974). The consent referred to is consent of the governed.

The book was revised 20 years after its first publication to take account of developments such as the fall of the Soviet Union. There has been debate about how the Internet has changed the public's access to information since 1988.

In 1988, the book, Manufacturing Consent, was published during the Cold War and has updated several editions. The newest edition for this book is published in 2002. It added several newly happened events and debates, especially in the field of economics. The updated version of Manufacturing Consent revised the propaganda model. The book is a gift for dissident thinkers as it promotes ideas that America is manipulating public opinions.

Contents

Origins of the book

Chomsky credits the origin of the book to the impetus of Alex Carey, the Australian social psychologist, to whom Herman and he dedicated the book. The book was much inspired by Herman's earlier financial research. Since Herman's contribution to the book was so important, Chomsky insisted on putting Herman's name in front of his name, contrary to the pair’s habit of alphabetic listing. Herman and Chomsky were close friends for fifty years.

Propaganda model of communication

The book introduced the propaganda model of communication, which is still developing today.

Five filters of editorial bias

The propaganda model for the manufacture of public consent describes five editorially distorting filters, which are applied to the reporting of news in mass communications media:

  1. Size, ownership, and profit orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large profit-based operations, and therefore they must cater to the financial interests of the owners such as corporations and controlling investors. The size of a media company is a consequence of the investment capital required for the mass-communications technology required to reach a mass audience of viewers, listeners, and readers.
  2. The advertising license to do business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a "de facto licensing authority". Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.
  3. Sourcing mass media news: Herman and Chomsky argue that "the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media's costs of acquiring [...] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become 'routine' news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers." Editorial distortion is aggravated by the news media's dependence upon private and governmental news sources. If a given newspaper, television station, magazine, etc., incurs disfavor from the sources, it is subtly excluded from access to information. Consequently, it loses readers or viewers, and ultimately, advertisers. To minimize such financial danger, news media businesses editorially distort their reporting to favor government and corporate policies in order to stay in business.
  4. Flak and the enforcers: "Flak" refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet's public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.
  5. Anti-communism/war on terror: Anti-communism was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91) anticommunism was replaced by the "war on terror" as the major social control mechanism.

Authorship

According to Chomsky, "most of the book" was the work of Edward S. Herman. Herman describes a rough division of labor in preparing the book whereby he was responsible for the preface and chapters 1–4 while Chomsky was responsible for chapters 5–7. According to Herman, the propaganda model described in the book was originally his idea, tracing it back to his 1981 book Corporate Control, Corporate Power. The main elements of the propaganda model (though not so called at the time) were discussed briefly in volume 1 chapter 2 of Herman and Chomsky's 1979 book The Political Economy of Human Rights, where they argued, "Especially where the issues involve substantial U.S. economic and political interests and relationships with friendly or hostile states, the mass media usually function much in the manner of state propaganda agencies."

Herman was a professor of finance at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Chomsky is a linguist and activist scholar. He wrote Towards a New Cold War and other books. The two authors won the Orwell Award for Manufacturing Consent.

Before Manufacturing Consent was published in 1988, the two authors had collaborated on the same subject before. Their book Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact & Propaganda, a book about American foreign policy and the media, was published in 1973. The publisher for the book, a subsidiary of Warner Communications Incorporated, was deliberately put out of business after printing 20,000 copies of the book, most of which were destroyed, so the book was not widely known.

Further developments

  • In 2006, the Turkish government prosecuted Fatih Tas, owner of the Aram editorial house, two editors and the translator of the revised (2001) edition of Manufacturing Consent for "stirring hatred among the public" (per Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code) and for "denigrating the national identity" of Turkey (per Article 301), because that edition's introduction addresses the Turkish news media's reportage of governmental suppression of the Kurdish populace in the 1990s; they were acquitted.
  • In 2007, at the 20 Years of Propaganda?: Critical Discussions & Evidence on the Ongoing Relevance of the Herman & Chomsky Propaganda Model (15–17 May 2007) conference at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Herman and Chomsky summarized developments to the propaganda model on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of publication of Manufacturing Consent.
  • In 2011, the book was translated into Chinese; the publisher of the translation is Peking University. However, the real insights for this book and the U.S.'s role on the international political media are not consistent with Chinese education on the communication theory. Thus, Chinese students only learn the propaganda model as the theory to learn about the media in the United States.

Film adaptation

Four years after publication, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media was adapted as Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992), a documentary film that discusses the propaganda model of communication and the politics of the mass-communications business, as well as a biography of Chomsky. The film was directed by Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick. The length of this film is three hours and was firstly opened in the film forum. The film was conducted in English and was released in several English spoken countries. The origin-country for this film in Canada. The documentary film for this book is a visual version to express the ideas from the linguist, Noam Chomsky.

Citations

  • Perhaps this is an obvious point, but the democratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth, and that they do not merely reflect the world as powerful groups wish it to be perceived. Leaders of the media claim that their new choices rest on unbiased professional and objective criteria, and they have support for this contention in the intellectual community. If, however, the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to “manage” public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality.
  • Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits, in the classic formulation. Now, it has long been understood, very well, that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist, with whatever suffering and injustice that it entails, as long as it is possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can. At this stage of history either one of two things is possible. Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests, guided by values of solidarity, sympathy and concern for others, or alternatively there will be no destiny for anyone to control. As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elite should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must—namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena. The question in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured; they may well be essential to survival.
  • Walter Lippmann … described what he called “the manufacture of consent” as “a revolution” in “the practice of democracy”... And he said this was useful and necessary because “the common interests” - the general concerns of all people - “elude” the public. The public just isn't up to dealing with them. And they have to be the domain of what he called a "specialized class" … [Reinhold Niebuhr]'s view was that rationality belongs to the cool observer. But because of the stupidity of the average man, he follows not reason, but faith. And this naive faith requires necessary illusion, and emotionally potent oversimplifications, which are provided by the myth-maker to keep the ordinary person on course. It's not the case, as the naive might think, that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy. Rather, as this whole line of thinkers observes, it is the essence of democracy. The point is that in a military state or a feudal state or what we would now call a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter because you've got a bludgeon over their heads and you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have this problem—it may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don't have the humility to submit to a civil rule [Clement Walker, 1661], and therefore you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda, manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusion. Various ways of either marginalizing the public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion.
  • States are violent institutions. The government of any country, including ours, represents some sort of domestic power structure, and it's usually violent. States are violent to the extent that they're powerful, that's roughly accurate.
  • If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.
  • We're not analyzing the media on Mars or in the eighteenth century or something like that. We're dealing with real human beings who are suffering and dying and being tortured and starving because of policies that we are involved in, we as citizens of democratic societies are directly involved in and are responsible for, and what the media are doing is ensuring that we do not act on our responsibilities, and that the interests of power are served, not the needs of the suffering people, and not even the needs of the American people who would be horrified if they realized the blood that's dripping from their hands because of the way they are allowing themselves to be deluded and manipulated by the system.
  • Going back years, I am absolutely certain that I have taken far more extreme positions on people who deny the Holocaust than you have...Even to enter into the arena of debate on whether the Nazis carried out such atrocities is already to lose one's humanity.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Manufacturing Consent" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools