Friday, February 11, 2011

America's Media, Advocating a Suppressive Ideology, Is Pravda's Cousin

Don't confuse Pravda with Prada.  Pravda was the Soviet Union's newspaper, and its Orwellian name means  truth. Prada, in contrast, is the Prada family's fashion label. It was publicized by David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada.

The American news media is Pravda's cousin, even while it writes about Prada.  Wall Street influences it as well as the federal government.  It is not that the United States has a Pravda-style state controlled media, it is that Wall Street influences the media, the government and the university system so that American political debate is monotone: "Bailout, bailout, bailout."  Progressivism, the variants of which are Rockefeller Republicanism and the Democratic Party's progressive-liberalism, is a totalitarian ideology that suppresses dissent in a more sophisticated way than the Soviets did. It permits but ignores dissent, suppressing dissenters through carrots such as academic jobs and sticks such as refusal to air dissidents' views.

Last night I was reading Robert McNamara's memoirs that focus on the Vietnam War, In Retrospect.  McNamara paints a picture of government decision making that ought to be of interest to organizational scholars.  He and his cabinet colleagues got strategy in Vietnam wrong because they were unable to think coherently. They reversed their assumptions in 1965 for no explainable reason.  Prior to 1965 they believed, for good reason, that the South Vietnamese had to fight the war.  In 1965 they took over the fighting for the South Vietnamese because the South Vietnamese would not fight, committing themselves to a conflict that would, in their own view, have the same ultimate outcome as retreat.   They themselves did not see their own strategy as leading to success.

According to McNamara, the cabinet's inability to think rationally about Vietnam was not due to the military's manipulation, as David Halberstam claims in The Best and the Brightest, and it wasn't due to groupthink as Irving Janis speculates in Groupthink.  Rather, it arose from inability to come up with an imaginative, effective strategy of the kind that Col. Thomas X. Hammes describes in The Sling and the Stone.  In other words, the decision making was a failure attributable to bounded rationality that James G. March and Herbert Simon describe in Organizations.

This explanation differs from any that appeared in the news media at the time and from any that appears in the news media today concerning government policy making. The federal government is unable to solve problems because it is corrupt and because it lacks the ability.  But progressivism is based on the assumption that government can solve problems.

News media personnel are educated in universities that respond to Wall Street's needs and then work in firms that Wall Street owns.  To advance they must please managements whom Wall Street hires.  The American news media, like Pravda, offers a steady stream of propaganda that defends the interests of a failed political establishment, a totalitarian state and a corrupt elite.

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