“We shot them under Article 301.”

An Armenian/Turkish journalist and ‘person of interest’ to Turkish authorities, Hrant Dink, had his funeral a few days ago, after having been murdered by a Young Turk. More than 50,000 people filled the streets of Istanbul in mourning (Turks and Armenians mourn journalist in rare show of unity, Sebnem Arsu and Susanne Fowler, International Herald Tribune, January 23, 2007):

…Dink’s weeping daughter, Sera, carried a picture of her father as onlookers tossed flowers and applauded in tribute. At one point, the entourage passed a billboard several stories tall advertising blue jeans with the headline “Make History”.

Many mourners held red carnations distributed by the local mayor’s office or waved black and white placards reading, “We are all Hrant Dink” in Turkish on one side and in Armenian on the other.

Still other signs read “Murder 301”, a reference to the Turkish law under which scores of writers and intellectuals, including Dink and the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, have been prosecuted in lawsuits filed by [Turkish] nationalists.

Many of Dink’s friends and colleagues hold the government responsible to a degree for Dink’s death because it allowed nationalist groups to sue him, forcing him to stand trial where he was convicted on the charge of insulting Turkishness, and earning notoriety among [Turkish] nationalists…

Dink is not known to have collaborated with Turkish police in their efforts to apprehend anti-Summit protesters, but investigations are continuing. Other investigations have revealed that, late last year, four Turks were prosecuted under ‘Murder 301’ laws for publishing a Turkish translation of the book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. Publisher Fatih Tas said that “he had some 26 cases opened against him. A previous case for publishing another book by Chomsky in Turkish was dropped after the author flew to Turkey to attend the trial.” As with the prior trial in 2002, the publishers were acquitted.

Well, the title is actually borrowed from a book by Walter Lippmann, written back around 1921, in which he described what he called “the manufacture of consent” as “a revolution” in “the practice of democracy”. What it amounts to is a technique of control. And he said this was useful and necessary because “the common interests” — the general concerns of all people — “elude” the public. The public just isn’t up to dealing with them. And they have to be the domain of what he called a “specialized class”…

But when the State loses the bludgeon, when you can’t control people by force and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have this problem. It may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don’t have the humility to submit to a civil rule [Clement Walker, 1661] and therefore you have to control what people think.

And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda. Manufacture of consent. Creation of necessary illusions. Various ways of either marginalizing the general public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion…

Ross Reynolds : You write in Manufacturing Consent that it’s the primary function of the mass media in the United States to mobilize public support for the special interests that dominate the government and the private sector. What are those interests?

Chomsky : Well, if you want to understand the way any society works, ours or any other, the first place to look is who is in a position to make the decisions that determine the way the society functions…

Societies differ, but in ours, the major decisions over what happens in the society — decisions over investment and production and distribution and so on — are in the hands of a relatively concentrated network of major corporations and conglomerates and investment firms. They are also the ones who staff the major executive positions in the government. They’re the ones who own the media and they’re the ones who have to be in a position to make the decisions. They have an overwhelmingly dominant role in the way life happens. You know, what’s done in the society. Within the economic system, by law and in principle, they dominate. The control over resources and the need to satisfy their interests imposes very sharp constraints on the political system and on the ideological system…

David Barsamian : When we talk about manufacturing of consent, whose consent is being manufactured?

Chomsky : To start with, there are two different groups, we can get into more detail, but at the first level of approximation, there’s two targets for propaganda. One is what’s sometimes called the political class. There’s maybe twenty percent of the population which is relatively educated, more or less articulate, plays some kind of role in decision-making. They’re supposed to sort of participate in social life — either as managers, or cultural managers like teachers and writers and so on. They’re supposed to vote, they’re supposed to play some role in the way economic and political and cultural life goes on. Now their consent is crucial. So that’s one group that has to be deeply indoctrinated. Then there’s maybe eighty percent of the population whose main function is to follow orders and not think, and not to pay attention to anything — and they’re the ones who usually pay the costs.

In other news, Perth-based uranium mining company Paladin “plans to increase its production profile to 7.5 million pounds per annum by late 2008 after it brings its second project, Kayelekera, in Malawi, online. Paladin also holds a swag of assets in Australia. In 2003, Paladin shares were trading at about one cent.” Paladin also plans to keep pesky journalists away from Kayekelara.

With the full co-operation of local police, naturally.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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