Posts by D

A People’s Media Takeover?

May 18th, 2013
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Last night a friend showed me this activism attempt, thinking it might be something I’d be into. You can go watch the video if you like, for those who don’t here’s the idea: there is a large media company up for sale, and two current bidders for it– Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers. Whichever one controls it, this media company will continue to be an anti-human corporate trumpetpiece for a long time to come. To avoid this fate, we apply the idea of crowd-funding, raise 660 million dollars across millions and millions of humans, and put in a bid to buy the company, ensuring a pro-human media source. Certainly the concentrated corporate control of media is a major problem in America: ideas are power, and the larger the markets one company or individual is able to spread their ideas to, the greater the concentration of power. There’s plenty of evidence that this is already a serious problem in America; as one example compare the percentage of Americans who believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the percentage in other countries. While you shouldn’t trust polls too greatly the discrepancies are so great as to represent one indication of the power of misinformation. So yeah, two of the worst people in the world taking full control over a large media group is a very scary thing, and I fully sympathize with the instinct to want to take action against it.

But this is absolutely the wrong approach. You have to look to where you have some strategic strength if you want to win a battle. In general human populace v. Koch brothers, our advantage is certainly not the size of our collective wallet– in fact wealth is their only advantage. Though I did go and check and find that the bottom 60% of America does have more wealth than the Koch brothers (they only own about as much as the bottom 40%), it’s not feasible for us to deploy all our wealth towards this end: that would entail giving up our homes, furniture, food, clothes, etc. I don’t think it’s practical for us to get into a bidding war with the Kochs or any other super rich or corporations. Even if it were, it would be neglecting all of our strengths in order to fight on our weakest terrain– gutsy but stupid, if you actually care about winning. And as an example of how well auctions are going for us, consider the sale of hundreds of politicians over the last couple decades: how many of them did normal Americans manage to nab with tons of small contributions, and how many did the rich and corporations get?

The most obvious thing we have over the Kochs is human numbers, and human capital. There’s probably not very much they know how to do. We on the other hand have a mind-boggling array of skills. We know how to write, to edit, to research, to format, to operate printing presses, to bike local routes and deliver papers, to talk to people, to analyze, to make moral choices, and the list goes on. In fact, we have all the skills and manpower to operate a media company. Which ought to remind us…. that the media company already belongs to those who do the work. They just need to take control over their own lives. Whether the Kochs “own” the company or whether it’s Oaktree Capital, Angelo Gordon & Co, etc. as now or the other bidder Murdoch, the employees and customers of The Tribune can always reclaim the true ownership of the company very easily by this simple realization.

Stop giving any of your money to any of these bosses. Do your work as before, without the financial entanglements that have been imposed on you. Do it for the sake of journalism. The people will give money and support for the workers. If you find this unimaginable it’s actually very simple; just try to imagine it! For example, the workers could all quit their jobs, start a cooperative, and then continue doing the exact same work, with all their customers transferring their subscriptions. If the Koch brothers first spend 660 Million before the company evaporates in one day, all the funnier.

Now of course any such action would require a bunch of planning and organization. I don’t want to give the false impression that the emancipation of humanity will ever be easy or depend on a single action, but just to remind us to think strategically about how to win. Remember, to win: know your strengths and your weaknesses; they are the weaknesses and strengths of your opponents. And also, to win: think exactly those thoughts that you have been conditioned to find unthinkable; learn a new habit that every time you start censoring a suggestion out of hand, you stop, and review that idea. Winning!