America’s Warped Political Reality
The current leader of the free world seems to be obsessed with tackling Anarchy on the streets, as he calls himself the ‘President of Law and Order’. To the average American, it seems like preventing Anarchy is a no-brainer. But the true meaning behind the word Anarchy is a lot deeper; no political ideology in history has had its name so far removed from its original meaning to the point of being unrecognisable. One can suggest that this is because the ideology of Anarchy has always been regarded as a threat to people in power: for example, the U.S government murdered anarchists in the red scare campaign of 1919.
More recently, however, it has been used to describe the Black Lives Matter protesters. The mischaracterisation of the mostly peaceful BLM movement speaks to a deeper problem in America’s system; that of a relatively subtle, but still dangerous, warping of the American mind. To use the example of Anarchy again: there isn’t much to separate Anarchism and Libertarianism and yet one ideology is seen as deeply American and the other has a name that is synonymous with chaos. This is most likely because those who call themselves Libertarians are usually just people who want an unbridled Capitalist system and have very little in common with the European Libertarian tradition. Yet again, we see a perversion of truth in the American psyche. (Noam Chomsky’s ‘On Anarchism’, more specifically the section: ‘‘’Anarchism” and “Libertarianism”’)
To use an example of this in the media, we can look to the vanguard of Republican state propaganda: Fox News. Their coverage of the Portland protests to an outsider seems almost laughable, with Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson calling the protesters “Joe Biden voters” in a worryingly clear attempt to increase political divisions and possibly shift swing voters towards voting for a second term for Donald Trump. Furthermore, the campaign of Bernie Sanders was also met with such adversity, with the label of ‘socialist’ seemingly being used as a dirty word. Even Sanders himself had to clarify during town hall debates that he was not merely a Socialist but a ‘Democratic Socialist’. As a candidate running in a supposedly left-wing party, calling yourself a socialist shouldn’t seem such a controversial issue, but the stain left by McCarthyism in the United States is still visible. This anti-socialist paranoia reached an insane degree very recently when a pharmaceutical company ran an advert against the President for backing a bill that would lower the cost of medication, claiming that the move was that of a ‘socialist’. No man, woman or child with even the most juvenile wisp of political understanding would call Donald ‘loadsamoney’ Trump a socialist, and yet the bizarre advert only gained the public’s attention when it was spoken about by none other than the President himself.
The distortion of the political landscape is not merely an American problem; whilst we in the UK are privileged that our television news services cannot openly hold biases, the same can’t be said for print journalism. Whilst clearly marked opinion-based journalism certainly is nothing to be worried about, the problem arises when the lines are blurred between fact and opinion. When media institutions like The Sun or the Guardian can openly endorse a political party, one can call into question whether they have an influence over elections. Looking at how Fox News operates in comparison with The Sun, one can also argue that they aren’t too dissimilar. Both go lightly on facts, both have clear biases, and both share an owner: Rupert Murdoch. Whilst the distortion of our political landscape may not be as heavy as across the pond, the case can still be made that allowing this one man to have such a vast media empire, which he clearly uses to further his own agenda, is a problem. Needless to say, it may not be the best thing for democracy.
This absurd warping of political reality is nothing new but, in an era, where it is becoming increasingly harder to discern fact from fiction, it should be the job of traditional institutions to help make clearer our sense of reality rather than to distort it further.
Student at London Screen Academy, studying film. Interested in film and politics