Lazy Luddite Log

1.1.06

Exaggerated Differences

I had a look at a news item today and it reminded me of something that annoyed me during the media coverage of the whole 'Live 8' thing several months ago.

The media and political commentators regularly exaggerate the political differences that exist between interests. During the Live 8 concerts there were lots of opinion pieces in the media (well in The Australian anyway) from writers condemning Live 8 and declaring that the only way to combat world poverty was via trade liberalisation (rather than things like foreign aid and debt forgiveness).

The funny thing was that once you took a look at the Live 8 site you discovered that one of the key things they were campaigning for was trade liberalisation. Yes they also were keen on issues of aid and debt but nonetheless they were all for the reduction of barriers to trade. In other words the bleeding heart hippy musos and the pro-globalisation economic commentators substantially agreed on a very major issue!

Yet if all you had to go on were the writings of those commentators then you would be forgiven for thinking that they and the Live 8 mob stood for violently opposed things. Why did they do this? Possibly these writers resented the fact that musicians who had never had to suffer as they had in studying for economics degrees were now having a significant impact on economic debate. Possibly they cannot see past assumed or superficial political differences. Possibly they enjoy ranting and raving at the expense of others. And possibly it is because they think that conflict and controversy sells papers and that we the consumers expect it of them.

Anyway this is just one of many cases in which the things that unite us are wilfully overlooked for the sake of things on which we differ. The focus in too much politics is in winning an argument (even if it is a fabricated one) rather than in identifying solutions.

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2 Comments:

  • Superb point in your last sentence, there. May I quote you?

    Your points about why factions exaggerate the differences between themselves and others ring true to me. I would add that it is tribal habit to reinforce group mythos by villianising, denouncing and dismissing (as in your point about G8 folk lacking degrees in ecenomics) those who are not of your group.

    Also, for safety's sake, people say things that they believe their peers agree with. It goes to credibility. If an economic globalisation commentator were to say 'well, actually the wild-eyed hippies make some good points' their credibility would take damage in the eyes of many of their target audience, and that would impair their status and their ability to narrate events to the advantage of their cause. It also helps to quiet self-doubt if one can believe that those whom one seeks to defeat are wrong. The wronger the better, unfortunately.

    Man. I come here seeking the secrets of Nasta, and find much, much more...

    By Anonymous Jac, At 11 January, 2006  

  • Thanks Jac. Nasta... media commentary... old lecture notes... Like they say: Variety is the parmesan of life.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 12 January, 2006  

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