Since 2019, when Corbyn announced he would be stepping down as leader of the Labour Party, the claim that people feel politically homeless has been heard a good deal on social media. Whilst I don’t doubt that’s true for many, my experience of not feeling represented in mainstream society extends even further back, by almost 20 years. I remember in 2002 getting increasingly angry and frustrated at mainstream media (MSM) coverage of the build-up to the Iraq War. I found myself drawn to news programmes as I actively sought to learn more about what was to unfold in Iraq as military intervention became increasingly inevitable.
The diet of MSM news that I consumed back then left me feeling that something wasn’t quite right, that something was missing, almost as if half the story was being intentionally left untold. I think I realised then that the MSM had an agenda, but I couldn’t discern what it was and certainly didn’t have the tools to uncover in whose service it operated. This was until I found books by Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky. Only then did I appreciate that I lacked a wide and deep knowledge of history, geopolitics, imperialism, colonialism, and class consciousness and that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted to educate myself. School, in this sense, had quite clearly failed me and had left me woefully lacking in the skills needed to analyse and critique society, capitalism, and the raw militaristic aggression that I saw unfolding around me.
Fast forward twenty years and, whilst much has changed (I’ve read a lot!), much has also remained the same. This short piece of writing is for those who have more recently found their way to ‘the left side’ of the political spectrum, towards socialism of one form or another, and who most probably have come from what we unhelpfully call ‘the centre’ (a nondescript term that simply means neither communist nor fascist) and, through no fault of their own, have been weaned on a diet of MSM lies and half-truths.
Just think about it: if you were hoping to find coverage of Julian Assange’s continued illegal and immoral incarceration in Belmarsh Prison by the UK Government, then you’d be disappointed – the MSM won’t cover it. If you wanted to understand why the UK Government continues to supply arms, munitions, and military maintenance and support contracts to Saudi Arabia to directly enable the Saudi Government to impose famine conditions through horrific bombardments of Yemeni civilians and infrastructure, then, again, you’d be surprised to find that the MSM won’t cover it. If you wanted to understand how, and why, Israel continues its 73 years-and-counting apartheid and occupation of Palestine, as well as why it continues to murder Palestinian children and civilians in Gaza through indiscriminate drone bombings then, you guessed it, the MSM won’t help you find out.
Let’s be crystal clear here: if you’re a socialist, of ‘the left’, or just simply question why there is so much war and destruction in the world today, be of no doubt – the MSM is actively working to withhold these truths from you. You need to cut it out of your news diet immediately, actively refuse to listen to it and resist the temptation to embroil yourselves in the media-driven celebrity and personality cults that the MSM would have you believe is politics. If you think the MSM narrative can effect meaningful change, it can’t and it won’t. The only question that remains is what do you replace MSM news with?
One answer that I have found is the world of politics-inspired podcasting as a tool for political education. Podcasting truly is one of the last remaining internet-inspired platforms from ‘the good old days in the ‘90s’ that is still managing to hold out against capitalist corporate takeover and greed and resist being subsumed into the handful of MSM behemoths that now make up 95% of the media landscape today.
The socialist podcasting landscape is peppered with articulate, well-informed experts (of all ages and backgrounds) who are driven by their passionate socialist beliefs to make their content clear, accessible and free to all, regardless of how much or how little theory you already do or don’t know. These are friendly, knowledgeable and approachable people (mostly men, it must be said: representation is still an issue!) who either alone or with co-hosts deliver, week after week, long-form discussions of contemporary political issues, conduct interviews with guest speakers and authors, host left-inspired book readings and explore Marxist & anarchist political theory, and all in bite-sized 30-60 minute chunks – a perfect accompaniment to washing the dishes, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, or a commute back from the office/gym.
So, starting soon, I will be focusing on some of the most impressive examples from the podcasting world. I will take you on a journey of discovery and believe me, by the time we have finished you simply won’t have time for the MSM with their lies, distractions and establishment supporting narrative.
Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Critical Mass.