Focus

Freedom of Expression? Or, Corporate Greed?

When Charlie Hebdo was targeted earlier this month, the immediate reaction in the Muslim world was one of outrage and shock, the whole community uniting in condemnation of the act. But as soon as it repeated the offence next week, with French leaders openly supporting “Free Speech”, a large number of Muslims and non-Muslim writers started losing sympathy for Charlie.

French leaders have ignored the fact that “Free Speech” has itself become violent, causing severe emotional violence to the people who are even more committed to their faith than the owners and editors of Charlie Hebdo are to “Free Speech”. Emotional violence is only a step away from physical violence.

 The shootings have renewed the call by forces of globalisation for defence of “freedom” and for an all-out war against what they call radical Islam. Radicalisation, by the way, is not limited to religion or any one religion, it also affects atheistic and other ideologies. The most notable radicalisation has been spawned by the ideology of New World Order created and sustained by the West with the force of arms.

Westernism is primarily based on negation of religion as a public institution, but has received an open and tacit support of several religions: evangelical Christianity, Zionism and, to a lesser extent, the forces of Hindutva. The radical West has caused much bigger violence than radical Islam, and it can be easily argued that radical Islam, if there exists any such thing, is the direct result of radical Westernism, which has not only tried to propagate its ideology as the supreme power, but has also used every kind of violence and exploitation to impose it on the whole mankind.

But powerful as they are, they have used the international media only to highlight violence and other problems, which are linked or can be made to appear linked to religion in general, and Islam in particular. They forget to tell the world that the overwhelming majority of acts of violence in the recent years, recent decades as well as recent centuries has been caused by the forces that claim to be the champions of New World Order, and for which the negation of religion has been the basic ideology.

It is because religion is the biggest obstacle in their designs of commercialising human weaknesses to the hilt, and without commercialising everything they cannot attain their desired goal of subjugation of mankind. “Freedom” is nothing but a tool in that process. It is not that “Freedom” is absolute even in West, but it stops exactly where it threatens the survival of New World Order.

 I am reproducing below what I wrote about “Freedom of Expression” more than 15 years back in my book, The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism, which still holds as true as it was then. The corporatisation of media involves the elimination of smaller publications dedicated to the public good. With smaller players out of the field, the big media become free to push the capitalist agenda. Simultaneously, the content is trivialised with soap TV, fashi, soft porn. Advertisers of high value refuse to place advertisements in spaces and TV time where serious issues like poverty or hunger are discussed. Global business interests are thus served at the cost of local and national interest with the help of local capitalist.

 The real goals of multinational capital are much bigger. At the political front, it is to sustain a relentless pressure on governments to follow the ‘desired’ policies and to defeat a democratic government not following the dictates of the economic fundamentalists through vituperative and slanderous campaigns against it, and to assist a new, free marketeering  political group aligned to multinational business interests in ascending the throne by mobilising support for it.  

 Big media, owned by big houses, with large holdings by people in the West is least concerned with the welfare of the people, their education and morals. Whatever information the media disseminates is almost always invested with some commercial motive or context. The overall strategy is to mercantalise human lives as conscientious men and women are garbage for the market. For economic fundamentalists human beings are no humans. They are either commodities, machines or animals. It is the base instincts of humans that fetch the media enormous wealth. No wonder people today know more about film actors and actresses, models, fashion designers, musicians and dancers, than scientists, poets, thinkers and reformers.  

 The topics of discussions on TV are often related to changing social values, that is, our own values giving way to Western cultural values. There are discussions, for example, on “should there be any code about women’s dress, is there anything bad in posing nude before camera or giving “bold” scenes in the films and serials? What is wrong with premarital or extramarital liaisons? Is pornography bad? Should there be any legal measures against smoking and drinking? Should unwed mothers be ostracised by society? Should young girls opt for modelling as career? Is marriage necessary for society? Is homosexuality undesirable? And so on. The presentation of such discussions is usually slick. The moderators engage the participants chosen carefully with the objective of conveying a specific message to the listeners or watchers in a manner that the ultimate message would be in accordance with the specified objective.

The substitution of such programmes appears in magazines in the form of surveys based on a questionnaire that is circulated among a few thousand persons in a way as would give the desired result, confirming preference for Western cultural ways. Recently, for example, some well-known magazines in India carried out surveys for determining the sexual attitude of Indians. The objective of major international networks like BBC, CNN, ABC and For News includes presenting the people of West as developed and civilised and other as backward, belligerent and uncivilised, making every possible effort to malign religion (especially, a particular religion that is considered the biggest challenge to their dominance), beating anti-West nations with the stick of “human rights”, blindly supporting individualism, regarding all social aberrations as natural, impressing upon East that, whatever vices West is blamed for are also existing in their societies and advising them that, if they want to gallop on the road to progress, they have no option but to seek scientific, technical and economic assistance from Western powers and to follow their cultural norms. BBC has always spouted venom on communism, Islam and Indian culture.

The impact of economic fundamentalism on the press has spawned what is aptly termed “gutter journalism”. The market of newspapers and magazines expands in the wake of sensational stories. Scandals are reported with great fanfare; in fact, non-issues are many a time converted with the magic of ink into mind-blowing scandals. Sex scandals have become a routine in West. Till recently such gossips were confined to a few tabloids and the leading dailies did not attach any significance to these stories. But now even the biggest dailies garnish their front pages with reports, often with ‘exciting’ photographs, on the private lives of public figures. The affairs of the members of Royal family are the topics of discussion in bars, restaurants and clubs of England.   

The impact of sensationalism in journalism on business is manifold. It multiplies the sales of newspapers and magazines; diverts the attention of the masses from their real problems that are mostly the outcome of glaring economic imbalances accentuated by economic fundamentalism; fans materialistic desires, the key to consumerism; and changes social and cultural ethos in society. Sometimes it goes to the extent of blackmailing public figures. The increased sales, naturally, brings in more advertisements.

 To justify and perpetuate its style of functioning, the media has discovered the “Freedom of Expression” that has lately assumed notorious proportions. The new maxim has spawned great symbols of freedom of expression for them: to traduce anybody. To malign religions and religious figures. To describe and exaggerate the most private areas of the life of any celebrity. To portray or publish anyone in the nude. To film the lewdest forms of sexual relations. And to engage in misinformation for the furtherance of the desired objectives. Liberty has turned into libertinage and license to express has resulted in licentiousness.

 The author is Delhi-based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest Quranic Paradigm of Sciences & Society (First Vol: Health). He can be contacted at doctorforu123@yahoo.com

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 February 2015 on page no. 1

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