Phil Graham on Tue, 22 Feb 2000 01:30:08 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Wark, Criticism, Democracy

Georgie or Daisy or whatever your name is,

Whatever gave you the idea that Wark is "one of the *few* Australian
intellectuals" who has the "audacity" to talk  about media in the media?
What complete and utter rot! First, it takes no audacity to regurgitate an
orthodoxy in an orthodox medium. Second, I won't list *all* of the many
people I know of who talk about media in the media, but I'll name a few who
do actually have an influence on real-world outcomes in the media: Glynn
Davis, Jennifer Craik, Stuart Cunningham, Graeme Turner, Alan Luke, Jim Gee,
Alan Lankshear, John Quiggin, John Wanna, Philip Adams, the list goes on,
and it includes many journalists too, all of whom may be considered
"intellectual", if you must use that term. But all you are doing in your use
of the word "intellectual" is displaying your own ignorance, which most
probably the source of your anti-intellectualism.

As for your gutless slur on my own activities: Yes. I have presented at a
postgrad colloquium on Marxist theory. Yes. I've published in "obscure"
academic journals, as well as more influential ones. I've also been in the
media industries for over 20 years and have been published in many
Australian papers. I've also been called to and given evidence at Senate
hearings on international policy, and I'm actively involved in several
policy arenas that you wouldn't even have heard of, but which are
influential nonetheless. You are an anti-intellectual bigot, at least as far
as I can see, and thus evidence of a disturbing trend.

Perhaps you think I shouldn't waste my time trying to influence academics.
After all, academics have no influence in matters of policy, right? Wrong.

As for your statement that "big decisions" are made in the media, that is
also complete and ignorant rot. The big decisions are merely announced in
the print and broadcast media. Very rarely is debate conducted in the media
about really big decisions, like for instance the GST, GATT, NAFTA, the MAI,
bilateral and multilateral treaties of all kinds - policy directions on
biotechnology, trade, tariffs, foreign affairs, media regulation,
privatisation - all of these are set behind closed doors or made in fora
outside the countries that they will affect. That is not an extremist or
paranoid statement, merely a matter of fact and experience. Once made by
vested interests, decisions are then merely "sold" in traditional media. The
only dissent allowed is narrowed to the terms set by a larger agenda, and
even then, limited by editorial process to trivial commentary or

Mass media do not lend themselves to being fora for debate. They're good for
raising issues and good for obscuring them. That is a fact that has been
well documented since radio broadcasting emerged, and well before that too,
since large newspaper conglomerates emerged as a result of the telegraph's
impact on that industry. Get it straight: mass media are instruments of
propaganda owned by vested interests - nothing else, at least very rarely.

And, if you think I said that the Third Way was inconsequential, look again.
Read my message carefully. I said exactly the opposite. It's dangerous. In
fact you missed the subtlety of my comment about Third Way rhetoric. I have
nbo doubt that it will find the content it so sadly lacks, and that's what
scares me. When people like Wark start bullying people and diminishing their
right to criticism, saying that criticism is useless, the Third Way
trajectory becomes quite clear. It's the same trajectory it's always been

Also, I wouldn't waste my time on mailing lists if I didn't think that they
influenced and affected people: educators, business people, journalists,
policy makers - they are all on mailing lists these days, or perhaps you
think that what is written here matters not a whit, and that what you say
yourself doesn't matter. Wrong again.

Phil Graham

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