Monday, January 25, 2021

How privileged classes' false narrative is bought by middle-class and the poor through media manipulation

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

How it happens that if there is a talk about subsidy for farmers or support to poor or any weaker section, these steps are seen as giving freebies and a narrative of 'our things snatched and given to them' is created.

We know how rich countries like US, France and others heavily subsidise farming. That here too everyone is a tax payer, there is tax on everything from petrol to the matchbox is known. 

Yet, it is claimed that 'we' suffer due to taxes and poor don't pay and just get the privileges. 

1. It is a complex thing. To understand this a bit backgrounder is necessary. In our society, there has been a traditional contempt for working class, strong belief among privileged who are themselves pampered but manage to create perception that poor are getting away with too much, that they are appeased and get away with a lot. 

2. Certain groups are 'otherised'. Just that who are the 'others', it keeps changing. Vernacular papers' role has been crucial in creating this system and doing it in such a smart way that the middle-class and the lower-middle class too accept these ideas. 

3. The opinions are created in cities [capitals] that represent and run the states. Sense of equality, what basic things every one is entitled, even these concepts are misrepresented. So, those living in slum clusters are seen as land encroachers, getting free electricity et al. 

4. Those earning 10,000 or 12,000 or even 7,000--they all want to feel they are middle class, as it is cleverly linked to a person's ego and self-respect. These fake pride and the feeling that 'many others are below us'. 

It stops people from building solidarity with others who are also like us. So the person doesn't want to feel that he is a 'lower middle-class' person or that his family is poor, just like in terms of popular vocabulary no one wants to claim backwardness at a personal level. 

5. Different sections of similar economic background are pitted against each other, made to feel like 'others'. Then, the religious, regional and caste aspects also come and it becomes easy for newspapers to play this game.

6. If there is suffering, blame just another group, someone like your own. The unique system, not expecting people whom you elect to do a thing, but just shift blame on another section amongst us, has been working for decades now. 

Even in case of a major crisis, just blame ONE SECTION. Everyone's anger is directed in this direction and the rulers too have it easy now as there is no question on their failure. Newspapers are run by barons and they represent interests of the elite.

7. Hence, they push narrative. The poor who want the papers to speak about their issues, believe them. For example, newspaper can say outsiders in this city are taking 'our jobs'. It differs from state to state, people from a region, Biharis or any section, can be blamed. 

When one group is poor but doesn't want to accept that it is poor, looks at another similar group as not its own, and there is no solidarity or feeling that they too need support or affirmative action, the society can never become 'just'. 

8. There are numerous examples. Like people who often belong to middle or backward castes, claim their connection with a certain higher caste even though they are fully aware about their own position in society. 

Also, you know certain beliefs in your family are outdated and backward, but you accept them, stand with them, but don't publicly express support, because good or bad, they are considered 'unfashionable'. The need for 'validation' and feeling better than our real situation, is at the root of this entire system. 

Papers play clever role how opinion is shaped or society's consciousness about issues is kept under check. People want to believe that they are middle class, even if they are really poor, but the deep urge to feel that we better than the 'rest', and 'we haven't done badly in life', keeps you hooked to these papers. 

9. You draw a satisfaction from this and believe that you are entitled to more but not doing as good as you deserved, because of these--'others', any class similar to one self. We always find someone to blame. Because we are and were always great, faultless, things are bad only because of others!

10. The moment few crimes take place, papers write on their own that 'outsiders to be blamed' though reporters, most staff came to region from other state a few years ago, and as if outsiders are devils and locals are angels though no definition of local- 20, 30, 50 yrs! 

If a big issue comes up, blame a 'section', shift the problem, get other sections of the same kind stand against this section. They manage it by creating such perceptions, controlling collective minds, and that's how it continues, always. 

Photo--Mr Yogendra Singh. Pexels