After a five-year publishing silence, the fifth book by Uruguayan journalist and communicologist Aram Aharonian is now in (Argentinean) bookstores, they say the last in the saga of Seeing Ourselves with Our Own Eyes (2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013), The International of Media Terror (2015, 2016), The Assassination of Truth and Progressivism in its Labyrinth (2017).
By Ricardo Carnevali
Aram warns that the world is changing, and technology is advancing – today we talk about metaverse, for example -, we are cornered into fighting on the wrong or already outdated battlefields, while the hegemonic media corporations develop their tactics and strategies, on new battlefields, while we continue to demand the democratisation of communication and try to analyse the world with ridiculous tools for this era of platform capitalism and surveillance.
Perhaps no term used recurrently in the public space was so outraged that it was not only emptied of content but lost all meaning, like the voice democracy. Democracy was assassinated in the name of democracy, to use it as an instrument to legitimise structures of power, domination and wealth. Before that, the same people had assassinated the truth, he adds.
And he recalls that progressive governments never believed in the need for an information policy, which would result in information and formation, and in citizen participation. The refrain of the battle of ideas was recited, but always with the syndrome of the besieged square – one must permanently defend oneself against a possible enemy attack – a syndrome that took over the official communication spaces and in the permanent and short-term defensive reaction to hostile attacks, forgetting the proper agenda of dialogue with citizens and debate with political adversaries.
The new conquerors, who came from European universities to sell us coloured mirrors and prevent crazy things like Telesur, which insisted on seeing us with our own eyes after five centuries of colonisation, collaborated in this. Some revive Informer McBride 1980 (43 years ago) when today big data allows information to interpret itself and anticipate our intentions, turning democracy into a dictatorship of information managed by large corporations. We are still at war and there is no neutrality in this war, says the creator and founder of Telesur.
Today, in our America, the media dictatorship is trying to replace the military dictatorship. The big economic groups use the media and decide who has or does not have the floor, who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. The one who shouts the loudest against the changes in our societies, against the economic, social and political model, against the cultural transformations, is the one who gets the most coverage, while they try to keep the great majorities inaudible and invisible, without voice or image, as Ryszard Kapu said.
Ryszard Kapuściński said that when it was discovered that information was a business, truth ceased to be important.
This book, published by Ciccus in Argentina, includes valuable contributions by sociologist and journalist Pedro Brieger, director of Nodal -News from Latin America and the Caribbean- (Democracy: what democracy); researcher, writer and humanist activist Javier Tolcachier (Death and rebirth of Democracy) and Doctor in Communication, journalist and writer Víctor Ego Ducrot (Democracy as burlesque), socialising the book to turn it into a collaborative text.
The third part of the book also includes a series of notes written by him and Álvaro Verzi Rangel at the Observatorio de Comunicación y Democracia, under the title Hay izquierda. ¡Ay izquierda!
Aharonian warns: “We think we carry a personal, intelligent phone. We think the mobile phone belongs to us, but there is nothing less personal. The algorithm is in our beloved mobile phone, where a kind of society is hidden, a society of knowledge, of a system of power, they say sustained by a neutral algorithmic ideology. And you see how, little by little, the mobile phone takes over your being: it requests your fingerprint while it carries out your facial recognition without you asking it to, you have it linked to your digital email account, to your credit or debit card, and you receive notifications and news from institutions and people you didn’t even know existed. And then you remember that there was something called privacy and that you were losing it,
He argues that journalism has ceased to be useful to formal democracy and has become its greatest burden by being subjugated to the interests of any character with a lot of money and few morals, at least in each of our Western and Christian countries.
This phenomenon is called post-truth, which corresponds to the birth of an era in which truth, like everything else, is relative and everything depends on the ideological lens through which it is looked at and the purpose sought by its dissemination. It is worse than a lie, because the latter can be disproved, but post-truth does not need to be corroborated by facts, by reality, he explained.
He also recalls that the context of the Covid-19 pandemic created the right conditions for an institutional and regulatory framework capable of modifying the mentalities, customs and values of our societies, promoting new desires, habits and values, but, above all, imposing the production mode of the digital economy, of platforms, “digital infrastructures that allow two or more groups to interact”, a novel business model that has become a new and powerful type of enterprise, focused on the extraction and use of a peculiarity of raw material: data.
The new deadly weapon does not spread radioactive isotopes: it is called the mass media which, in the hands of a few corporations, manipulates as they please according to their corporate interests, in alliance with the most reactionary political forces they had already murdered the truth. The word “democracy” had lost its meaning. In the symbolic-cultural battle, the hegemonic media appear as military units to impose a collective vision.
Ricardo Carnevali, PhD candidate in Strategic Communication, associated with the Latin American Centre for Strategic Analysis (CLAE, www.estrategia.la).