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Invisible Crises

Invisible Crises

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Published by: rjmaris on Apr 16, 2012
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keyvano c7 g5 m8
INVISIBLE CRISESWhat Conglomerate Control of Media Means for America and the World
edited by
GEORGE GERBNER HAMID MOWLANA HERBERT I. SCHILLER
WestviewPress A Division of HarperCollinsPublishers
ContentsIntroduction
, George Gerbner, Hamid Mowlana, and HerbertI.Schiller1
PART ONETOTAL CONTROL1 Brave New World Minus 400
, Ben H. Bagdikian7
2 Information Deprivation in an Information-Rich Society
,Herbert L Schiller15
3 The Hidden Side of Television Violence
, George Gerbner27
4 Speaking Volumes: The Book Publishing Oligopolyand Its Cultural Consequences
, Leah F. Binder35
PART TWOTECHNOCRATIC FANTASIES5 Computer-Assisted Crises
, Rick Crawford47
6 Freedom, Fun, and Fundamentals: Defining Digital Progressin a Democratic Society
, Nicholas Johnson82
PART THREEGAPS THAT DIVIDE US7 Writing About Poverty in the Age of Plenty
, Stanley Meisler93
8 Race Relations in the Suburbs
, Rosalyn Baxandalland Elizabeth Ewen99
9 National Amnesia, Cultural Darwinism, and the Pursuitof Power, or What Americans Don't KnowAbout Indians
, Jerry Mander120
PART FOURGLOBAL FAULT LINES10 Beaches Without Bases: The Gender Order
, Sue Curry Jansen131
11 The New World Intellectual Order
, Johan Galtung145
12 Whose Whispers Are in the Gallery?
Erskine B. Childers164
13 The Crisis of Political Legitimacy and the Muslim World
,Hamid Mowlana18514 The Crisis in Mobility, Nancy E. Snow207
PART FIVETHE NEW TYRANNIES15 Let Them Eat Pollution
, John Bellamy Foster221
16 The Silent War: Debt and Africa
, Jill Hills229
17 Global Drug Scourge: The Hidden Story
, Stephen E. Flynn249
Selected Bibliography
About the Book and Editors
Index
283GEORGE GERBNER, HAMID MOWLANA, AND HERBERT I. SCHILLER
 
We see around us a profound unease and the crumbling of the vision of a good society.Bombarded by eruptions of surface consequences (often presented as unique events strippedof historical context), people are bewildered, fearful, angry, and cynical.The collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European governments ushered in not a rebirthof hope but a rebirth of greed and a series of power grabs resulting in new tyrannies and civilwars. Civil wars rage at home too, disguised as wars on crime, drugs, youth violence, andimmigrants.We have come to the end of the illusion that the post- World War II order can realize theexpectations that greeted it or justify as Cold War necessities the repression that dominated it.The new political shifts, touted in
 
mediacover stories--with unintended irony--as a"revolution,' mark a turn to deeper, more deeply disguised, and thus even more criticaldelusions.The crisis in the West may be less visible but is no less serious than the collapse and itsaftermath in the East. And, as in the East, it represents not just the corrosion
 
of thedemocratic process but the corruptionof the democratic idea itself. How else can we permitand even promote practices that drug, hurt, poison, and kill thousands every day?Mediaformulas that dehumanize and stigmatize? Cultsof violence that desensitize, terrorize, andbrutalize?How else can we build theme parks and palaces of commerce but conceal the growing siegementality of our cities, the drift toward ecological suicide, the silent Crumbling of ourinfrastructure, the widening resource gaps and the most glaring inequalities in the industrialworld? How else can we accept total control of communication, technocratic fantasies of aninformation superhighway, or destructive global fault lines and new transnational tyrannies as"free market" benefits?Even the language we speak has been corrupted by the uses to which it is put. Not onlyrevolution but words such as
democracy
,
 freedom
,
 justice
,
capitalism
,
socialism
,
liberalism
,and even that misbegotten
media
have been twisted out of shape to serve strange purposes of powerful users. Of Course, one of these words is
crisis
itself.In his chapter "Global Drug Scourge" in this volume, Stephen E. Flynn explains why "crisis"is difficult to define. "The word has become so much a part of popular parlance," he writes,"that on any given day we are likely to hear people speaking of their identity crises, midlifecrises, and crises in their families." The mass
 
media have "considerable power to identify,substantiate, bypass, or create crises." Flynn then defines an "invisible crisis" as a situation inwhich "the objective reality that new developments are undermining the stability of a systemor subsystem is ignored or denied and no new initiatives are considered in response."Crisis comes from the Greek 
krinein
, to judge, whence
krisis
, the decisive moment, the timefor judgment. It is in that sense that we are using the word in this book. We explore andexpose some realities that have been ignored or denied either because they are all-pervasiveor because their full disclosure is unacceptable to the systems they threaten.The crises explored in this book are all connected. They range from the local to the globaland from the concrete and specific to the ideological. Any classification, such as evident inthe part headings of this volume, is a somewhat arbitrary device of convenience. It may be
 
suggestive but also somewhat misleading. The whole is not only larger than the sum of itsparts. It adds up to more than the crisis of a system; it adds up to the crisis of vision.Invisible crises can be the results of natural processes, such as the environment or anapparently dormant volcano, that do not reveal their threat to the casual observer until it is toolate. Or they can be social realities that are either hidden from sight or submerged in the floodof distractions an advanced communication and information system can discharge into themainstream of the common cultural environment.A crisis so pervasive that it escapes vision is hidden behind the irony of the transformation of "media" from a plural noun to its singular use. Media used to denote plurality--of senses,modes, institutions, ideologies, and perspectives. But, for all practical purposes, the mediamainstream has coalesced into a seamless, integrated cultural environment that has pervadedour world while it drifted out of democratic reach. Converging technologies fill themainstream with a single perspective to which there is no equivalent challenge.We begin this book with the race toward total control of that media mainstream. Ben H.Bagdikian projects a "Brave New World Minus 400" in which channels proliferate whileownership consolidates and alternatives vanish. In "Information Deprivation in anInformation-Rich Society," Herbert I. Schiller describes how the most powerful suppressorsof free speech hide behind the shield of the First Amendment. "The Hidden Side of Television Violence" by George Gerbner illuminates other aspects of control such as thedemonstration of power and global marketing. And in "Speaking Volumes: The Book Publishing Oligopoly and Its Cultural Consequences," Leah F. Binder explores someimplications of the transformation of what has been the most diversified part of culture.Part 2 projects trendy technocratic fantasies--and their antidote. Rick Crawford in"Computer-Assisted Crises" sounds a wake-up call before the "information superhighway"becomes a super highway robbery of most public and private communication. NicholasJohnson's warning about the theology of the marketplace applied to communication closesthis section with "Freedom, Fun, and Fundamentals: Defining Digital Progress in aDemocratic Society."The narrowing of vision blots out the gaps of class and race that divide us and tear us apart,the theme of Part 3. Stanley Meisler recounts his experience in "Writing About Poverty in theAge of Plenty." Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen report on "Race Relations in theSuburbs," And Jerry Mander tells the story of "National Amnesia, Cultural Darwinism, andthe Pursuit of Power, or What Americans Don't Know About Indians."Other gaps open up global fault lines, traced in Part 4. One of these is genderbased, seen bySue Curry Jansen in "Beaches Without Bases" as worldwide power plays fueling wars andmedia blackouts. Johan Galtung exposes "The New World Intellectual Order" of cosmology,epistemology, and style. "Whose Whispers Are in the Gallery?" asks Erskine B. Childers ashe observes the dangers of media colonialism spreading ignorance and disinformation. Theconflict between the nation-state system and communities based along lines of faith, tradition,and values is explored by Hamid Mowlana in "The Crisis of Political Legitimacy and theMuslim World." A dangerous and destructive fault line running across all borders andproviding new opportunities for repression is the mass displacement and migration of people,discussed by Nancy Snow in "The Crisis in Mobility."

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