The propaganda model which was developed by Herman and Chomsky puts special emphasis upon the role of the mass media propaganda in manufacturing biases in the public consciousness for preventing the resistance of the masses and achieving certain goals of the privileged minority.
Implementing Madisonian framework for explaining the main principle of democratic states, Chomsky collects evidence for illustrating the instances of propaganda and offering a practical solution for Orwell’s problem of voluntary censorship and intentional confusion of the majority.
Chomsky stated that Madisonian framework was often misinterpreted because of its vague formulations. According to Madison, the main concerns of the government include the rights of persons and the rights of property, while the emphasis should be put upon the latter parameter.
The main priority of the state should be the protection of the rights of property because the majority can endanger them by overusing the power they possess in a democracy. In Chomsky’s opinion, the conclusion that the tyranny of the majority can threaten the rights of persons, including the rights for freedom of speech and conscience, was the result of confusion caused by the vague formulations (Chomsky, “Powers and Prospects” 171).
Thus, Chomsky admitted that Madison’s concern is much more restricted and focuses mostly on the protection of the rights of the opulent minority, while the comparison of the rights of persons and rights of property is merely inappropriate. Theoretically, according to Madisonian framework, there are rights shared by all and there are additional rights that are assigned only to a certain group of persons which always would be a minority and need to be protected by the state.
According to Madisonian constitutional order, the Senate which represents not only the wealth but also the intellectual elite of the nation, understands the importance of protecting the rights of the opulent minority (Chomsky “Hopes and Prospects” 233). Thus, Chomsky points out at the vague formulations and confusion in the following discussion as the main reasons for which Madisonian framework was misinterpreted.
Analyzing the experience of the past generations and the current social and economic modes, a sociologist can make predictions concerning the future tendencies in the world development.
The first tool which is required for making the reliable predictions is consideration of the actual national course as opposed to the analysis of historical records. “Realist scholars explain that appeal to the historical record confounds the abuse of reality with reality itself” (Chomsky “Powers and prospects”146). The national identity and the corresponding functioning of the state institutions and the foreign policy course need to be taken into account for outlining the future prospects.
Thus, along with the analysis of the past achievements and mistakes, a comprehensive understanding of the shifts in the society, the ongoing processes and their main underlying causes is important for making certain forecasts. Thus, evaluating the historical records critically and giving serious consideration to the national values, the traditional sense of national identity reflected in the national course, Chomsky makes predictions, and most of them appear to be correct.
One of the main Chomsky’s predictions was his assumption concerning the escalation of the cycle of violence. Analyzing the level of the American state terror and the chosen course of the foreign policy justified with the peacemaking mission of the USA, Chomsky concluded that the proclaimed war on terror after the events of 9/11 will intensify the violence circle.
Providing evidence that the war on terror is pursued for the reasons which differ from the announced objectives, the scholar claims that the military actions taken by America along with the terrorist attacks create endless circle violence and the urgent measures are required for changing the current situation.
If Madison with his theory of democratic society that was discussed above was sincerely astonished at the fact that the government can overuse its power, at present Chomsky concluded that the tyranny of the privileged ruling class is obvious even notwithstanding their limited public accountability which does not allow estimating the extent of their power abuse.
The American attacks in Pakistan are treated as an example of the military actions of the United Sates which are justified with noble goals of peacemaking or protecting the Israel’s rights for self-defense in this particular case.
The fact that the issues of Pakistan and Afghanistan were omitted in Obama’s election campaign clearly demonstrates the limitations of the public accountability and the lack of the public awareness on the state foreign policies (Chomsky “Hopes and Prospects” 249).
Thus, giving special consideration to the US national identity as the world’s peacemaker and recognizing the hidden goals for continuing the so-called war on terror, Chomsky used his expertise on the US foreign policy and particular military campaigns for predicting the escalation of the circle of violence.
The continuing military conflicts and the dominating mood of desperation and anxiety can be regarded as the evidence that Chomsky’s predictions on the escalation of the violence circle were correct.
The scholar’s assumption that if the traditional strategies of the US government do not change, it can result in long-term consequences of extreme violence and destruction is compliant with the available data on the ongoing military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, the lack of the public accountability and the use of propaganda for distorting the public views and justifying the implemented measures have become effective instruments used by the US administration for pursuing their goals.
The propaganda and mass media played an important role in creating the so-called Orwell’s problem, the term implying the measures which are imposed by the government for hiding their true motives by distorting the public perceptions of reality. Orwell is known for discussing the voluntary censorship as the pattern used by the ruling minority for treating the information at their discretion, either mentioning a certain fact or concealing it.
Thus, possessing the power for making decision what information and in what key should be presented to the masses, the minority group can not only foster the desirable biases but also manipulate and control the masses. The phrases national interest and peace processes can be regarded as typical Orwellisms (Chomsky “Powers and Prospects” 192).
In other words, proclaiming the war on terror for justifying their military operations, the US government justifies its actions and makes attempts to prevent the public resistance to their policies by hiding the truth and emphasizing the fictional noble goals. Along with the excuse of self-defense, the labels of peacemaking can be assigned to certain military operations for the purpose of concealing the true underlying causes and distorting the public opinion. Thus, the means of propaganda are widely used by the US government and played a significant role in the intensification of Orwell’s problem in the American society.
In Chomsky’s opinion, Orwell’s problem requires practical solution, while the construction of a profound scientific theory would be inappropriate. The scholar suggests the practical program of intellectual self-defense for settling the issue of biased mass media and overwhelming propaganda strategies implemented by the government for hiding the underlying causes of the ongoing processes and their political decisions.
Taking into account that the problem is rooted deep in the public consciousness, Chomsky concludes that it cannot be solved through removal of the conventional Orwellisms, such as the terms national interest and peacemaking. The practical solution requires active involvement of the masses.
The program consists of the three main components, including the collection of the information which was distorted by the mass media for complying with the government’s demands. The second stage presupposes exploration of the main motives of the privileged minority to make certain decisions and conceal them from the community.
The third component is the practical implementation of the acquired skills and knowledge in evaluating the TV news and other means of public propaganda. Enabling the masses to become rational observers by providing them with the necessary information is the practical solution which was offered by Chomsky for handling the Orwell’s problem in a democratic society.
The propaganda model developed by Herman and Chomsky can be used for explaining the patterns which allow the privileged minority to control masses in democratic societies. Collecting evidence on illusions and biases constructed by the mass media and explaining the true underlying causes of these strategies, Chomsky makes correct predictions concerning the escalation of the violence circle and offers intellectual self-defense as the practical solution for the problem of propaganda.
Chomsky, Noam. Hopes and Prospects. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010. Print.
– – – Powers and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order. London: Pluto Press Ltd, 1999. PrernaLal.com. Web.