by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ November 10, 2020
Some people seem shocked at Rupert Murdoch severing his media empire ties with Trump. Murdoch is an example of late-stage capitalism dedicated to profit in information media without regard for anything else. Late-stage capitalism is profit with minimal or no cost by any means possible.
Trump is probably the most upset at this point, but he was promoted and mined for the bigger goals of massive profit at someone else’s expense. As it evolved in the late twentieth century, media is the centerpiece of late capitalism, manufacturing both resources, demand, and products from the human population.
Media empires learned the value of subscriptions to extract steady streams of revenue from an audience. Not surprisingly, this would come from the UK with its experience during the 19th century. The British East India company stumbled on addiction as the best way to guarantee a market for otherwise renewable and low-cost herbal products.
While BEI learned about tea from its sources in India and China and moved into a huge existing market while developing one in Europe and the American colonies, opium in China was too good to pass up. If profit is your only goal, selling low-cost but addictive things is the peak accomplishment.
There was the problem of addiction, leading to the destruction of the client base and the outrage of the people themselves. In the British case, this led to the Opium Wars in China during the 19th century when China was at a low ebb. China never forgot, and as it replaces the US as the lead culture on the planet, the Chinese dislike for uncontrolled capitalism is being implemented for good or ill.
Fast forward almost 200 years, the consequences of Murdoch’s actions in the traditional late-capitalist form are not important to Murdoch. And Trump’s anger is discounted as he becomes inconsequential.
The rest of us, specifically in America, are facing the sixty or seventy million people who have lost their connection and are facing withdrawal from a much newer form of addiction to heavily manipulated misinformation. These people are frightened at Trump’s loss, not because of any policies, plans, or activities but at removing a strong form of their needed misinformation powering their fantasy world.
Talking about self-interest, economics, and health with an addict facing the loss of their pure supply will, in my experience, only make them angry. Telling them that they should appreciate being cutoff for their own good is dangerous. We are seeing that in America post-election with Biden and Harris as president and vice-president elect.
Back to Murdoch and late-stage capitalist media empires. Building a media audience by identifying an unmet need and amplifying it while simultaneously supplying it is what modern media is all about. I spent twenty-five years in media through its conversion from paper (news and magazine), radio, and television, to cable that was represented as a harmless increase in the quantity of information.
As many of us who lived through the sixties and seventies of the counter culture may remember, a common guideline in the drug world was the difference between use and abuse. That was not just a quantitative change but a huge qualitative one. The difference is between occasional indulgence and daily need.
Murdoch built a new version of opium for the population left out, for whatever reason, from the rise of university education, counter, and post-modern culture. That they were left out of the neoliberal increase in wealth for the rest of the planet was an opening for anger and resentment. These are the usual conditions prone to self-medication.
The media empire built an alternate world to meet that population’s desires and opened the door to fascism, nationalism, and bigotry. Guns, beer, and opioid advertising, along with gold and political scams guaranteed to make things better, have created multiple generations of an addicted population.
As a scammer, Donald Trump, reality TV celebrity, world wrestling, and beauty pageant hustler, was a resource to be exploited, a match made in heaven. He could be shaped into a powerful drug for those embittered, mentally isolated, and looking for revenge. What better than a crude narcissist convinced of his own perfection with none of the required knowledge and tools that his audience didn’t obtain who gets away with everything.
But the world and our information reality move on. The planetwide revulsion to Trump and Murdoch’s empire will seriously cut into profits. The aging white addicts are not a growth market, in fact, exactly the opposite. Time to find a new drug.
The very wealthy can afford to ignore the addicted population that is no longer profitable. They will sort themselves out eventually, but the rest of us left to figure out what to do with people so dysfunctional that no longer recognize reality. And will do anything to get their fix again.