Friday, 10 December 2010

BNP declares media bias as people pay attention to real issues

What I'm about to write probably classes as "feeding the trolls." The BNP, after all, is a dying organisation and I've dissected its insane ramblings countless times before. However, their absurd take on yesterday's events provide a novel angle from which to discuss media propaganda.

I'm referring to the recent article on their website, where the party claim;
The communist and anarchist hijacking of the student protests in London — which have included a physical attack on Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall — have highlighted once again the vicious bias of the media and establishment in favour of all causes and ideology of the far left.
Yes, that's right. The BNP genuinely believe that there is a media bias in favour of the protesters we saw yesterday, and of anarchist and communist actions in general.

Their reasoning is that "time and time again the British National Party has been the subject of media infiltrations, secret filming, disruptions and subversion" when "the “worst” that the BNP has ever been accused of in all of these subversive media attacks is one or two individuals making comments which are politically incorrect." Meanwhile, "far leftists have seized the opportunity to create chaos and proceed with the plans for “class war” ... and general anarchy" [sic] and yet "not once have any of these far leftist and clearly criminal organisations ever been the subject of a media investigation."

Thus, there is clearly some kind of conspiracy at work. The fascists believe that "the establishment actually wants the public to be distracted by the sight of mad anarchists in London city centre." Indeed, "it is just possibly the panem et circenses (‘bread and circuses”) which the establishment needs to keep the public’s eye off the real ball, namely the destruction of Britain by the EU, mass immigration and globalisation."

There is some truth in their thesis. The only problem is that you have to pick through madness to find it. In Fascism and the "propaganda model", on my other blog, I have explained how fascism relates to the "free-market propaganda model" sketched out by Noam Chomsky;
The likes of the BNP feed into this propaganda mechanism in two ways.

The first is as foils, or “convenient pantomime villains,” who demonstrate a supposed “contrast” between the mainstream parties and the extreme-right. This allows the most acerbic elements of the right-wing press – such as the Daily Mail and the Sun - to publish article after article that demonises the most vulnerable elements of society (refugees, the poor, Roma gypsies, etc) and stir up racial tensions and hatred before exonerating themselves by condemning the “racist” BNP. It also allows commentators such as Richard Littlejohn to justify their fascistic tendencies by claiming that those who expose and counter the distortions of the far-right are “helping the BNP.”

The second way that fascists serve the propaganda model is by serving as a new arm of the flak machine. In numerous articles and diatribes, the BNP refer repeatedly to the “controlled media,” repeating both the propaganda line that they are “biased to the left” and the right-wing myths perpetuated by the media themselves, without the slightest hint of irony.

Of particular interest is an article titled “the ‘Free Press’ is not free but a biased propaganda machine.” Here, as well as condemning the “barrage of easily-disproved lies against the British National Party” – “lies” I managed to demonstrate the truth of with little difficulty on Truth, Reason, and Liberty – the party condemns the “corporate press, which pushes a defined political line at the behest of its owners.” However, in doing so it turns the propaganda model inside out whilst serving its fourth filter. The analysis on offer is over simplistic and itself relies on parameters and presumptions fashioned by the model.

This is just one example of how, in the words of Antifa, “the strength and popularity of the BNP can also lead to the political agenda being pushed further right” because, “while in essence being a staunch supporter of the status quo and the state the BNP has been made to look like a progressive party in the context of Labour’s continued attacks on the working class.”
Thus, the BNP are right that they have been the subject of far more attention by the media and authorities than they perhaps deserve. But this is because they are the "bread and circuses" that distract from the real issue of class conflict.

Or, in the words of the Brighton Solidarity Federation;
The threat of the BNP isn’t that they will recreate the holocaust (they wouldn’t) or seize power and destroy democracy (they never will), but that they represent the culmination the same official policy that has left our communities divided and in tatters. It will push a minority of resentful angry people down the stupid zero-sum-game of racial politics, and away from politics which could serve to find real solutions to these problems.
As for the idea of "the media's cover up of the far-left," the notion is plainly ridiculous. Over the course of the student protests alone, we have had a veritable witch-hunt from the media which has included the Telegraph "exposing" anarchists and berating the police for "failing to monitor anarchists' internet chatter." Indeed, all around the press invoked "anarchists" for anything of which they disapproved.

Yesterday, the police battered and kettled protesters. They charged at them on horseback, gave one lad brain injuries, and pulled a disabled protester from his wheelchair. Yet the media narrative was one of protester "violence" and outrage at the suffering caused to inanimate objects.

So, what about media investigations? According to the BNP;
Not once has the BBC sent undercover filming crews to record internal UAF or SWP meetings to record their members making plans (which obviously include public violence).

Not once has the media trawled anarchist or far leftist websites looking for anonymous “quotes” with which to smear the UAF or the SWP.

Not once has any TV channel decided to make a “fly-on-the-wall” documentary about the far leftist anarchists who hurl petrol bombs at the police, deface statues with spray paint and desecrate the Cenotaph.
To which the first point to make is that after the November 10th demos the Telegraph did trawl the internet, essentially reading forums and websites and declaring their findings an "investigation."

The second would be that, unlike the BNP, left-wing meetings aren't generally ripe for quote-mining. And, as we're up-front about our ideas and aims, there is no "hidden truth" to dig up as there is with the far-right's attempts to gloss over racial hatred.

But, more than that, there's the obvious point that the media wouldn't want a documentary about anarchism or communism. Like the far-right, it is happy to bandy about terms in a negative context, assuming that the label automatically discredits somebody, and to argue with a strawman rather than with a real person holding a considerably well thought-out political philosophy.

The plain fact is that the BNP is not upfront about what it represents, and that what goes on behind the scenes utterly belies the public face. Most fascists will not admit to being fascists, whilst anarchists and communists are generally upfront about what it is they stand for.

Not to mention that broken glass and grafitti pales in comparison to assault, racial hatreds, and a hideous back catalogue of criminality just as it does next to massive violence by the state.

But, looking at the papers, you would be forgiven for thinking the opposite. The Daily Mail, for one, screams about "anarchists" getting close to Charles and Camilla, how "young thugs at student protest broke every tabboo," amongst other hysterical ravings. But the student who needed brain surgery gets just one mention. And photo captions credit police with "carrying injured protesters to safety," or "restraining" the dangerous bleeding young people, but never with inflicting the injuries.

The fascists, by repeating the same line about "the far left organise in large numbers to create mayhem and public violence," fulfil their propaganda function well. They maintain the pretence that everything rests on the shoulders of the protesters (state violence being a footnote) whilst serving as flak to pull the political agenda rightward.

The only problem is that, as they are sidelined by genuine radicalism, they are becoming less effective at leading people up the blind alley of nationalism.