Guardian watch: Propaganda above and below the line.


by Kit

Greece, Tsipras and the lunatic economist

It’s been highly interesting to note the slow intensification of policy when it comes to portraying Greece’s Syriza government, most specifically the PM Alexis Tsipras and the (now ex) finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. When they won the election back in January they were plucky upstarts, opposing austerity and winning the hearts of the Greek people. Naive, but well intentioned – 6 months later, after fruitless negotiations and a pretty rigid defense of Greek sovereignty – they are now dangerous “radical left” lunatics.

The most note-worthy changes are, as ever, happening below the line. The Guardian, once the home of liberals and leftists and the like, now seems over-populated with bilious, pro-austerity Thatcherites. The comments on this piece, an excerpt from Varoufakis’ book are very revealing. Ranging from mildly racist ad hominem arguments:

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To straight accusations of criminality, and insanity – a long with the “other people’s money” argument:

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(NB – Notice the references to Ouzo. Mirroring the constant references to “vodka swilling” rebels in Ukraine last year. I’m not asserting that these people are GCHQ or following an agenda, but given stories like this one, you’d be forgiven for thinking it.)

It basically comes down to this: Your media representation, and consequently your public perception, comes down to a simple question – which side of the banking institutions are you on?

The truth is that most elected officials around the world don’t serve the majority of the people in their country – but instead work to preserve a corporate financial elite. And as soon as you opt out of this system, and start to work in the interests of any group other than banking or business, your media representation tail spins and you become either “mad”, “autocratic” or “nationalistic”. Maybe all three.

It doesn’t matter if you’re elected. It doesn’t matter if you’re popular. It doesn’t matter if you have improved the state of your country, or attempted to help people. Either you’re for the banks – and in line with “western values”, or you’re against them and “uncivilised”, “backwards” or “radically leftist”.

Russia, China and BRICS

Since last year, in the wake of US and European sanctions, Russia and China have been forging ever closer international ties. From trade agreements to joint military exercises. This is totally meaningless and a bit silly, at least according to the Guardian.

The basic tenor of the piece is pretty easy to explain: Russo-Sino pact = bad, BRICS = waste of time, West = awesome, as always. From it’s blatantly emotive language in describing it as an “Axis” rather than just an alliance (or even – to quote Putin – a partnership) to the fact that Shaun Walker’s name appears in the by-line – everything telegraphs what this article is about.

Russia and China are trying to combat “American hegemony”, but they probably shouldn’t be and it’s all a bit silly. Russia and China want to limit American control of the Internet, which is silly and paranoid, because we know America would never spy on anyone. They prop up Assad, which is a bad thing, and only do it to serve their own interests anyway. And they will probably back each other up when it comes to spheres of influence. In short: they are going to be the “bad guys” for a while. They want to find an “alternate policy” to “Western diplomacy”…I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but given the current state of Syria, Libya, Somalia and Iraq I would guess it was a good idea.

Oh, and they stopped using the petro-dollar for energy deals, by-the-by, it’s not a big deal. Everything is fine here.

Meanwhile, BRICS is chuntering along. The BRICS countries (Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa) make up over half the world’s landmass, enormous energy reserves, millions of acres of farmland, masses of industry and over 3 billion people. But they operate largely outside the generally accepted “international community”, don’t have any real economic power and are all foreign, and hence, a bit silly.

It’s fine. Do not think about it at all. Go and borrow some more money.

The West’s approach to Russia, China and BRICS in general has, so far, been to simply ignore it and/or dismiss it. The lunacy of this becomes more apparent with every Brazil-China trade deal, every advance to Iran or Argentina or Greece, every new gas pipeline.

The comments seem to focus on the important aspects, as usual. Firstly they seem, en masse, very keen to point out that Russia is not a superpower, and neither is China really.

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They even range into the downright delusional, claiming that since China has “no scruples”, America and the EU should get them to fight their wars for them and that every war of the last century was started by a non-democratic state. Yes, really:

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I think maybe we’ll leave it there. My lord.


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Categories: Kit, latest, On Guardian