The Role of Media in Resistance Culture

Input by filmmaker-journalist Mustafa Kilinc (Germany) for the International Conference on Progressive Culture organized by the International League of People’s Struggles held at the University of the Philippines Diliman Mass Communication Media Center,  July 4-6, 2011.

In order to better understand the role of media in the culture of resistance, we must look at the functions and features of the bourgeois media and the attitudes it has created.

Media today performs many different functions. The most important one is propaganda and influence. Currently, the main function of the media is to shape the people’s mind and behavior. The dominant class shapes and influences the people according to its interests and culture through its control of media.

Today, characteristics of consumerism, passivism, insensitivity and alienation are dominant in the world. The media of monopoly capitalism has created these characteristics.

Capitalist media has brought about a kind of culture of non-resistance. The bourgeois media is going all out in order to influence people not to react against oppression and exploitation. It has been successful in this work.

Media can reach out to many people through the use of technology and interfere in all aspects of people’s lives. Media shapes people directly or indirectly by affecting their subconscious.

Mass media has the power and ability of re-creating, re-shaping and re-producing the structure and order of society as well as the social relations between people. Symbols, signals, features, figures, words and photos not only deliver messages but also shape people’s lives.

Media is used as an effective means of brainwashing the broad masses. The owners of the means of mass communication have the ability to change and distort the news and messages according to their interests and desires. Thus, they keep people’s opinions and attitudes under their control. Media can also be used for cultural exploitation and assimilation.

Another important characteristic of mass communication is to legitimize the state, the dominant classes and their attacks on one hand while delegitimizing those who carry out struggle against them on the other hand.

The bourgeois has been successful in making a non-resistance culture dominant.

Can media play a more effective role in developing a culture of resistance? Of course, media can play a role in this issue too. Media is not the direct creator of resistance culture. But it can play an important role in propagating and carrying the resistance culture to the people. It is not an excuse to not have a powerful mass media. Even with limited resources, it is possible to create some means of communication.

The main question is not whether to have the means of mass communication or not. Today, each organization, party and institution has newspapers, magazines and some even have TV channels. If you want forms of mass communication to play an important role in developing resistance culture, it is important how you use these means. We must create mass mediums that engage the broad masses. And we must make these mediums widespread. Besides the local level, we must create effective means on a national and even an international level. It is important to do this if we want to be successful. People who carry out struggle do not have powerful resources like CNN and BBC. But it is possible to develop different forms. Even a single person can play an important role. Of course, our perspective is to gather people together and create more powerful means. There is a need for effective internet sites, international magazines, newspapers and TV channels. If we can combine the consciousness of journalism with revolutionary confidence, we can carry this culture to the masses in a more effective way.

There are many things we can do even though we don’t have big communication companies. Even an individual can do many things by oneself. I want to give some examples. In today’s world, where imperialist oppression and exploitation has increased and many people think a socialist future is only a dream, there are also some hopeful developments. But many people are unaware of these developments. This is because people are following the wrong information of the bourgeois media. For example, a fantastic hope was born in Nepal. But revolutionaries could not explain this hope to the world adequately. The great success of the people’s war was branded as mere “terrorist activities” by the bourgeois media and its results were ignored. In 2008, I went to Nepal, did some research and shot a documentary film. After coming back to Germany we showed this film in many places and even in some TV channels. The people who saw this film said, “We were thinking everything was over but after watching this film, we saw that there are many people fighting for socialism and democracy.” This film and the book I wrote played an important role in explaining this struggle to different people in other countries. People were informed about people’s war in Nepal in this way.

I carried out similar work in the Philippines as well. The determined and meaningful resistance of people in the Philippines is a great hope for the people in the world. We carried this hope to other countries through a film, book and articles published in newspapers. We showed other people how the resistance culture can be created.

I think carrying out this kind of work will contribute to the development of a culture of resistance.

In contrast to the bourgeois media, alternative media must have positive characteristics for broad masses.

Revolutionary media must present real information to the masses; must be the tongue, ears and eyes of the forces who carry out revolutionary resistance struggle; must carry out hope to the masses; must concentrate on social questions and present solutions; must try to shape people as active individuals, instead of passive; must try to create a tenacious character; must be able to control the state in the name of society; and must lead the people against inequities, oppression and exploitation.

There are many more characteristics of revolutionary media we can speak about. Any revolutionary media that has these characteristics plays an important role in developing the resistance culture. In order to organize a strong media, of course, we must have a strong culture of resistance.

Great resistance requires an established strong consciousness and belief.

About Joanna Lerio

cultural journalist, multidisciplinary artist, educator, traveller, dreamer, yogini, vegetarian, advocate
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