historical memory

Greg Schofield gschofield at one.net.au
Sat May 12 11:58:38 MDT 2001


I might suggest another reason for this phenomenon, for I tend to agree
with Gary on this (we have overwhelming amounts of news from other
sources). It is a perspective that has direct political consequences.

At 09:49  12/05/01 -0400, you wrote:
>Gary says,   I have never been able to understand how something vital
>emerges in
> > the newspapers and then vanishes from popular memory.  When I refer to
>such
> > events in my lectures students regularly look amazed at how I could say
> > such things.
>
>most of my students don't read the news papers. I'm not sure how they know
>anything. perhaps it's because they go to school full time and work 40 hour
>weeks that they don't read. they spend their free time pursuing the good
>life.
>
>George

Fragmented information has very real actual value to anyone - whether our
newspapers, which by extensive networks of news gathering have downplayed
the more thoughtful and coherent news story but more clearly in the
electronic news where a few pictures and garbled facts predominate.

Nor do the news shows do much better, as the experts have more often than
not, base their commentary either on obscure standpoints or standpoints
which if made clear would not be acceptable to many. The effect is the same
that the audience gleans at best some emotive content ladled thinly with
fragmented facts. Forgetfulness, or apparent forgetfulness is an
understandable response.

The media has no interest in presenting things in an objective framework,
which would expose them to criticism on one hand and make some awkward
facts unavoidable on the other hand.

My view is that the left media (what is left of it) follows the same broad
pattern, but with a twist. The imposed framework is so laughably shabby,
that no one takes it seriously, at least the bourgeois media is not so
blatant in its emotional expressions (only implying what the correct
attitude to an event is, while our papers tell people what they should feel
about it).

Either we present events according to their own logic (thus making
available frameworks of understanding) or we present things as we would
like them to be understood (ideological). The two are not compatible, as
the second method requires we always dismiss and slant awkward facts (like
the media) while the former approach means that we will come to conclusions
about one or a number of related events which fly in the face of what we
would prefer the truth to be.

Whatever the event is, takes place within a context that suggests a
framework that makes it understandable (that is predictable in hindsight).
It is the framework which conveys knowledge, not the facts. If people can
grasp the framework (a reflection of reality) the facts are more easily
remembered.

One of the many problems with our movement is the imposition of a single
idealised framework on all facts of news. We do not look for the particular
logic of a news-worthy fact and thus cannot provide a realistic framework
in which to place it - in other words we do just as the bourgeois media
does but we do it badly.

Non-emotive, contextualised news-facts, which determine the framework of
understanding will not always (perhaps only rarely) also be what we would
want to hear (that's life). The news fact in the context of a decent
framework of understanding gives the reader some method for better seeing
the other grey parts of what might be going on with a certain topic and
context - hence there is much more reason to remember the fact and use the
framework to gather and keep other facts.

I don't know how clear this is, but I am attempting to say that we need our
marxism more as a background to our analysis rather than hammer each fact
into its framework. A general theory is not the framework for understanding
the meaning of the latest fight in the Australian Parliament, nor the
differences between one company's actions and another.

One day I would like to see a communist newspaper that does not mention
socialism once, that makes use of no terms of marxism whatsoever, covers
only the news which the bourgeois media has made prominent and simply
contends itself to make these garbled "facts" sensible to the reader. That
would be an achievement and it would be a paper worth selling.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia






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