Everything is propaganda

There is no “impartial news”

I feel I need to make a point that seems very basic, and which to me was always obvious, but which doesn’t seem to be so obvious for many people.

All “news” and everything that is shown in the media is propaganda, one way or another. There is no “impartial news”. Even when they report “only facts” (which is an impossibility, as many “facts” can be contested), there is already a partiality in choosing which “facts” to talk about and which not. We are hearing a lot about the war in Ukraine, and very little about the ongoing war in Yemen and the concomitant bombings by the U.S. in Somalia.

Sure, Russian news are propaganda in many ways. But so is the Western media. The big media are controlled by a small handful of people (you’d be surprised how small it is). Many newspapers and TV channels are not independent but are part of large conglomerates. Such large conglomerates have interests. And Western governments have interests too. And, increasingly, as we have seen with Covid, there is growing censorship even in the West. It’s just that they call “misinformation” what they don’t want you to hear, but it’s censorship all the same. (Why can’t I read “misinformation” if I want?)

So of course there is some level of propaganda in Russia, but the idea that “Putin is a crazy dictator that invaded the Ukraine for no reason” is also war propaganda. It’s like saying “Hitler invaded Poland for no reason” or “Stalin killed millions of people for no reason”. There are always reasons. They may be stupid, or evil reasons, but country leaders, usually, are not completely insane (although perhaps some ancient Roman emperors came close to it).

Also remember: “The first casualty of war is truth”.

Since Covid, I don’t really believe half of what I read on the papers, but it seems a lot of people still do. My advice to them would be: first, don’t read so much news, and second, take everything with a grain of salt. In times of war, you have to be even more careful and distrustful. A lot of things in war reporting are really just based on rumours or hearsay. Already lots of stories, from “Snake Island” to the “fire at the nuclear station” were revealed as false news or exaggerations.

I don’t think there will be a nuclear war over the Ukraine. Of course, world leaders appear to be increasingly stupid, so there is a possibility, but I will be surprised if it happens (or maybe I won’t have time to be surprised).

However, the economy is going down the toilet, and that’s going to be bad enough. Energy prices are skyrocketing. Food may end up becoming scarce or expensive in some countries. Things are going to be bad for a long time, even if the war ends soon and doesn’t escalate more.

Then next winter, if things calm down in the Ukraine, they will start talking again about a “new Covid variant”, or maybe some other disease, who knows, and things will go back to normal, or well, the “new normal.” And the economy will still be bad. But people will be happy because at least the war will have ended.

Welcome to the permanent state of emergency. I wish I had more cheerful things to say, but, well, at least I think there will be no nuclear war… So that’s cheerful, I suppose.