Thursday, 25 February 2016

Don't believe the newspapers

One of the most amusing things about running the Another Angry Voice Facebook page is the way that it makes right-wing blowhards so furious that they can't resist impotently blurting angry diatribes directly onto my wall. In February 2016 I had one of these types advise me that I should "try reading a newspaper and stop being a angry little old man".

Physical characteristics

My friends and family would assure you that I'm neither "little" (6ft+ actually), nor particularly "old", and even if I were little and old, it would be pretty damned difficult for me to simply "stop" having those physical characteristics as suggested!

I've never put up a photograph of myself in relation to Another Angry Voice because I think my appearance is pretty much entirely irrelevant to my political writing, so you'll just have to take my word for it that I'm not the short, old, balding, red-faced, permanently furious old man that some people might imagine me to be. 


It always amuses me that people project anger onto me simply because I chose the name Another Angry Voice as the name for my blog on the spur of the moment all those years ago, long before I had any idea that one day I'd reach an audience of millions on a weekly basis with my work. In those days I thought I'd be lucky to get 50 people interested in my political opinions!

It's as if some people imagine me as being a permanently furious individual who is incapable of relaxing, having a laugh with friends and family, meditating, enjoying the natural environment, reading a good book, listening to relaxing music, enjoying my hobbies ... simply because the title of my blog contains the word "angry"!

It's only actually when it comes to politics that I get really angry, but not with the furious bile-spitting type of anger that makes right-wing blowhards blather furious diatribes directly onto Facebook pages that have caused them to suffer cognitive dissonance.

I try to avoid this kind of crude emotional anger as much as possible because it completely overrides our higher brain functions. When we allow ourselves to get that emotionally angry, our cognitive skills (like reason and logic) get completely lost in the fog. I prefer the kind of calm analytic anger that allows us to develop coherent criticisms and reason based plans of action.

Emotional anger and propaganda

Furious, irrational, emotionally driven anger (of the kind that drives enraged right-wingers to dribble their impotent diatribes onto my Facebook page) is probably the most powerful tool of all in the guidebook to mainstream media propaganda. Once people allow themselves to get riled up with emotional anger they completely lose the ability to use the rational parts of their brain. They just want to lash out. This makes them extraordinarily susceptible to fallacious reasoning, misdirection tactics, repetitive propaganda soundbytes, cherry-picked statistics, misrepresentations and outright lies.

It hardly takes any complex analysis to understand that people who try to make you furiously angry about the likes of immigrant workers, Muslims, refugees and the unemployed are simply trying to divert your anger away from the powerful people who are really to blame for most of societies' ills (self-serving establishment politicians, the reckless bankers who trashed the global economy in 2007-08, mainstream media propaganda barons, unscrupulous buy-to-let slumlords, asset-stripping corporate fat cats ...).

Neither does it take a great deal of brainpower to understand the furious anger experienced by people who have spent decades uncritically rote-learning the output of the mainstream press when they happen to come across a source of information that contradicts the worldview that has been carefully crafted for them.

Read a newspaper!

The advice to "read a newspaper" seems utterly bizarre, but it's pretty obvious where it stems from. The fact that the items I tend to post on Another Angry Voice conflict with the mainstream media narratives of the day must make people with the tabloid rote-learning mentality think that I'm completely wrong about pretty much everything. Thus their solution would be for me to join them in uncritically rote-learning the output of the mainstream media in order to cure myself of my wrongness! It makes an amusing kind sense in a crude, sub-juvenile, pseudo-logical way. 

I actually read various newspapers almost every day because it would be pretty much impossible to provide counter-narratives to the mainstream media without establishing what narratives they're pushing in the first place. But instead of rote-learning what they have to say I read them from a critical perspective.

There's actually little harm in reading newspapers as long as you remember that newspapers are propaganda devices and that you must engage your critical thinking skills at all times (who is telling me this? Why are they telling me this? What evidence is this based on? Is it reliable evidence? Who actually owns this newspaper? What is their political agenda? ...) rather than uncritically rote-learning whatever it is that press barons like Rupert Murdoch/Jonathan Harmsworth/The Barclay brothers/Richard Desmond/Evgeny Lebedev want you to uncritically rote-learn.


I'll leave you with a few quotes about newspapers:

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X
"If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." - Mark Twain
The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors." - Thomas Jefferson
"Mainstream news wants to keep you as a useful idiot. Instead, try being a non-useful idiot." - Jarod Kintz
"I don't read newspapers anymore - I just lie to myself and cut out the middleman, but I think it's important to note that the press themselves are not actually outraged by what they report on as being offensive. No tabloid journo -whose life is invariably a shattered kaleidoscope of prostitutes, gambling, cocaine, self-loathing, literally going through a strangers bins, erectile disfunction and cocaine - is genuinely offended when some students dress up as the Twin Towers for Halloween. Outrage just makes good copy. It's easier to write, and simpler to understand. A tabloid hack knows that their average reader can barely read and they're not going to try to communicate anything like ennui in the vocabulary of a ten year old." - Frankie Boyle
 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

The lamentable decline in the standard of public debate
David Cameron's Orwellian word games
Why I want you to question everything, even me

Dog whistles and dead cats
How the mainstream media frame the political debate
How depraved is David Cameron?

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