If only we could put a mirror in front of us and look at ourselves together. If we could give ourselves more time to listen to each other and to talk in pairs, in threes, in the trade union, at school, in our communities, with our neighbour who lives next door to us, whom we often don’t even know his name, everything would probably be better. However, nowadays, the more media there are, the less or less deeply we communicate with each other.
We must remember that the word communication derives from the Latin comunicare, which means “to share something, to put in common”.
In this sense, the book “El Comunicador Popular” (Communication – Dialogue – Participation) by Mario Kaplún, who was an edu-communicator, radio broadcaster and an Argentinean writer, is a text that I recommend reading to analyse and understand how education has been, how the mass media and also the popular media act.
Mario Kaplun argues that there is a concordance between the existing Models of Education and Models of Communication:
- On the one hand, there is education that emphasises content. Paulo Freire, in the book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” defines this type of education as banking education. The teacher comes with the pretension of depositing subjects, dates, concepts, heroes, etc. in our heads. He wants us to “learn”. There is no debate, there is no exchange of ideas, there is no questioning, there is a vertical truth that comes to us from the top down.
- Then there is an education that puts the emphasis on effects, modelling our behaviour, like a programmer, like a guide. This model of education has a domesticating effect, of adapting to the status quo, of preparing us for competition, for the market, never for cooperative and supportive action.
- Finally, there is also education that emphasises the process. That is to say that “it is not so much concerned with the contents to be communicated, nor with effects in terms of behaviour, but with the dialectical interaction between people and their reality, with the development of their intellectual capacities and their social conscience”.
It is this latter model of education and communication proposed by Mario Kaplún, who is known for promoting the concept of transformative communication as opposed to banking education.
In an interview carried out by the magazine Acción Crítica, Mario Kaplún was asked: “What would communication be?
“For me, there is communication when there is exchange. When there is interaction; as long as we maintain these categories of a sender and a receiver, who, at most, receives a reaction, we are still not talking about communication, we are talking, at most, about information”.
“We propose an education made in dialogue, and that is why we believe that communication is directly imbricated in these dialogical processes, whether they are done interpersonally or at a distance”.
We live in times in which the concentration of media ownership is still very marked. The richest families in Chile also own most of the major media. While during the dictatorship we had opposition media, sadly, when democracy arrived, someone from the government said, it is no longer necessary and ended up taking away the life of these media: Revista Análisis, Apsi, Cauce, Fortín Mapocho, Diario La Epoca, Radio Umbral, Radio Tierra, then Punto Final and Diario La Nación disappeared.
Our dear Eduardo Galeano has written that “The number of those who have the right to listen and to watch is constantly increasing, while the number of those who have the privilege to inform, to express themselves, to create, is dizzyingly decreasing. The single dictatorship imposes the same way of life everywhere, and confers the title of exemplary citizen on the docile consumer, on a planetary scale, according to a model proposed for American commercial television”.
The predominant narrative constructs stereotypes, of good guys and bad guys. Have you noticed who the bad guys are in American films, the Latinos, Russians, Chinese, Muslims?
There is another book, which I liked his perspective, “Journalism and Class Struggle. Information as a form of political power” by Camilo Taufic who says, in a nutshell, that we have to “destroy a myth: the innocence of information”. We are informed for a certain purpose and the predominant ideology of a society is the ideology of the dominant class that imposes its narratives. It is very true then, I think, that we must decolonise the coloniser within us.
Despite the concentration of the media, quote-unquote “free”, access to cyberspace has made possible the existence and creation of many popular, alternative, citizen, counter-information and rebel media. On the internet, there are many: El Ciudadano, Mapuexpress, Resumen, Piensa Prensa, El Quinto Poder, Liberación, Resumen Latinoamericano, Pressenza, Rebelión Kaos en la Red, for example. There is still Le Monde Diplomatique in Chile, which is still printed monthly. We also made the programme Que el Pueblo Viva (May the People Live) on Youtube.
In the town of La Victoria, there is Radio Primero de Mayo, which broadcasts our music, stories and protests: those that don’t exist, those that don’t fit, those that don’t matter to the mainstream media.
In December, for example, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Frente Patriotico Manuel Rodriguez, we shared the stories of rebellions and the names of the rebels who took up arms against the military dictatorship of Pinochet, who exercised the “supreme remedy of rebellion against tyranny and oppression” as the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts it.
Names like Raúl Pelegrin, Cecilia Magni, José Valenzuela Levi, Esther Cabrera, and so many others, sisters and brothers, who gave their generous lives for freedom and so that one day the dignity of Chile would rise higher than the Andes mountain range: Present!
Together with the support of various comrades we have a magazine, “The Right to Live in Peace”, whose themes are human rights, militarisation and peace.
As Noam Chomsky said “The general population does not know what is happening, they don’t even know that they don’t know”.
Many don’t know, and many don’t want to know, jaded by the ways of politics and television. However, those of us who resist must continue to raise our voices in defence of human rights and peace.
We must continue to denounce the continuing role of the United States in world conflicts, for example in Israel’s war against the Palestinian people or in the war in Ukraine. Yesterday, in the coup d’état in Chile.
I would like to end by returning to Mario Kaplún, who in his book challenges us to popular communication, to dialogue, to not only communicate for the convinced, to not only make denunciations to vent our anger, to talk to our neighbours, to be in solidarity with the other and in our communities.
“True communication begins not by talking but by listening. The first condition of a good communicator is to know how to listen,” he says.
What do you think?
Pablo Ruiz is a journalist, editor of the magazine El Derecho de Vivir en Paz, and coordinator of the Observatory for the Closure of the School of the Americas in Chile. This text was his presentation of the book “El Comunicador Popular” (Communication – Dialogue – Participation) by Mario Kaplún, Luis Emilio Recabarren editions, held in December 2023 at the Aldebarán bookshop, Ñuñoa, Santiago de Chile.