UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper LXIV December 8, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader
(San Francisco:City Lights, 2007).
Assistants, editor (vii).
An assortment from “across forty yearsand covering a wide range of subjects”; texts have been“revised, expanded, updated, and, I like to think,improved” (x). Web page:www.michaelparenti.org.
“Everything on the pages that follow is meant to cast lighton larger sets of social relations” (xi).
I. THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Ch. 1: Media Moments.
BBC report on asthma ignoreseconomics (3-7).
Ch. 2: Liberal Media Yet to Be Found.
That media areliberal is a myth (7-10). They are not free but rather “arean inherent component of corporate America” (10). In2007, six corporations (Time Warner, General Electric,Viacom, Bertelsmann, Walt Disney, and News Corporation)owned most media (10-11). Spectrum of opinion is “farright to moderate center” (12-13). But the claim of liberalbias serves a purpose (13-14). Reporters self-censor (15-16). “[R]eal liberalism and everything progressive havebeen excluded from the picture” (17).
Ch. 3: Methods of Media Manipulation.
Suppressionby omission (18-19). Attack (19-20). Labeling (20-22). Taking as given (22-23). Face-value transmission (23-24).Repetition and normalization (24-25). Slighting of content(25-26). False balancing (26-27). Avoiding follow-up (27).Framing (28). The social order is not described (29-30).
Ch. 4: Objectivity and the Dominant Paradigm.
Background assumptions condition perceptions (31-33).People resist “contrary notions” (34; 33-36). If necessary,events can be suppressed (37-39). Struggle is possible(39-40).
Ch. 5: Repression in Academia.
Universities in the U.S.have been run since the 1880s by boards whose membersare drawn from the corporate world (40-43). They are“seldom . . . receptive” to antiwar and anticapitalistthought (43-45). Orthodoxy is closely guarded (45-49).Professionalism is used as an excuse to dismiss dissenters(49-51). Radicalism causes problems for scholars (52-54).Right-wing views are arrogantly maintained (54-58).
II. STEALING OUR BIRTHRIGHT
Ch. 6: The Stolen Presidential Elections.
The 2000election (63-64). The 2004 election (64-70). Exit polldiscrepancies (70-71). Touchscreen electronic votingmachines (71-74).
Ch. 7: How the Free Market Killed New Orleans.
In avariety of ways, the free market was responsible forthousands of deaths from Katrina in New Orleans (74-80).Offers of help from Cuba (which managed to survive aCategory 5 hurricane in 2004 without losing one life) andVenezuela refused (81-82).
Ch. 8: Conservative Judicial Activism.
For most of itshistory, the Supreme Court “has engaged in the wildest
judicial activism in defense of privilegedgroups” (83, emphasis in original; 83-90).
Ch. 9: Why the Corporate Rich OpposeEnvironmentalism.
Because “they experience adifferent class reality” (82; 90-97).
Ch. 10: Autos and Atoms.
The automobile “is not arational and survivable form of technology” (101; 97-101).Neither is nuclear power (101-03).
Ch. 11: What Is to Be Done?
Subsidize “needyfarmers” instead of agribusiness (103-04). Build masstransit (104-05). Tax progressively (105). Make electionsfair (105-07). Create jobs programs (107-08). End thedebt and deficit spending by taxing the rich (108). Enddiscrimination (108-09). Provide universal health care(109). Enforce fair labor laws and “[r]epeal all ‘free trade’agreements” (109-10). Reduce the defense budget by twothirds (110-11). End covert action, stop aiding repressivegovernments, and enforce the Freedom of Information Act(111). Open public air time to all political points of view(111-12). Reform Social Security by reducing the 12.2%flat tax and raising the cap (112).
III. LIFESTYLES AND OTHER PEOPLE
Ch. 12: Racist Rule, Then and Now.
A history of “ethnic violence” 117-18). Ida Wells-Barnett’s accounts of mob atrocities in New Orleans circa 1900 (118-20).Progress has been made, but “terrible ethno-classinequalities and oppressions . . . still persist” (121; 120-22). Racism depresses wages and serves class interests(123-24).
Ch. 13: Custom Against Women.
Women areoppressed around the world (124-27). Abuse of women iswidespread in the U.S. (127-29).
Ch. 14: Are Heterosexuals Worthy of Marriage?
Heterosexuals have defiled marriage (129-36). Same-sexcouples honor marriage (136-38).
Ch. 15: That’s Italian? Another Ethnic Stereotype.
The media display an ethnic bigotry toward Italians that isalso class bigotry(138-43).
Ch. 16: La Famiglia: An Ethno-Class Experience.
East Harlem, 1933 (149-50). Author’s grandmothers (150-52). Grandfathers, who came to the U.S. in 1887 & 1909(152-59). Father died at about age 73, mother 47, bothoverworked by a patriarchal class society (159-61).Coming to terms with roots (162-63).
Ch. 17: Bread Story: The Blessings of PrivateEnterprise.
Parenti’s father, having taken over hisuncle’s Italian bakery in 1956, was driven out of businessby big companies with mediocre products in the 1970s(164-68).
Ch. 18: My Strange Values.
Lack of interest inproducts, money (except having enough “to get by”),success, exercising authority over others (168-72).Interested in the good of others (172-74).
V. A GUIDE TO CONCEPTS AND ISMS