Malediction (28 SEPT 2005; edited 6 JUL 2007)

I just realized today while passing by a TV playing Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” that I hate syndication. At first I thought I just hated Bill O’Reilly, who cannot be accused of being an impartial analyst and is probably the perfect exemplar of petit-bourgeois intellectual philistinism.

I cannot think of anything more offensive to the idea of democracy than the syndication of people like O’Reilly (not to mention Pat Robertson—about whom a friend of mine recently wrote a relevant blog—and those of his ilk) who provide their syncophants with the crudest verbal ammunition to assail every habit of active thinking that has been a part of our ideology since the 17th century.

People like Chomsky in political science and Glassner in sociology have done work in trying to demonstrate that the media is anything but what it likes to say it is. What to my mind is more interesting is work done in the intersection of Hegelian critical philosophy and (post)structuralism that goes under the name “cultural studies”. But whatever perspective from which one chooses to criticize the media, it is not enough to say things like “don’t believe everything the liberal/conservative media tells you”. Nor is it even enough, in the spirit of historians like Ohmann, to ask how the current situation came about. The question we really should be asking is: what conditions made it possible for our current situation to be the way it is and, subsequently, what conditions might make it possible for things to be otherwise? If the German theorists are right, those revolutionary conditions are today impossible, not because the condition of democracy is discourse, but precisely because syndication is so effective at propagating the ideology of discourse.

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