Contesting the Mechanisms of Disinformation, Part I. Contemporary Developments in Latin America: A South African Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

In the context of spiralling decay that, in recent decades, has engulfed all spheres of the human condition, this article seeks to endorse Tomaselli's essentially ethical position, advancing that the foremost contextual launching pad for cultural studies should be based on a socio-political moral framework that embraces concepts of truth, fairness, and freedom. It is argued that the rigorous questioning of--and hence, confrontation with--dominant beliefs, perceptions, norms, standards, and rules embedded in a neo-liberal, corporate-aligned 'democratic' global order will, by its very nature, contribute to the demise of human misfortune and injustice. As a viable start, cultural studies should return to the basically moral project of inquiry into injustice, oppression, and deception, and concretely undertake to have global influence in a world that has fewer and fewer margins separating truth from myth. The so-called 'industry of deception' has stringently endeavoured, and continues to endeavour, to thwart the political awakening of Latin America's erstwhile dormant masses. As mandatory foot soldiers in imperialism's battle against this process of mass radicalisation, the dominant media have sought to preside over the voiceless by putting lies across as truths. In this manner the global media industry seeks to sustain imperialism's hegemony over not only the Latin American continent with its 500 million struggling subjects, but the great majority of the world's wretched masses. Contemporary developments in a range of Latin American countries--Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Venezuela, and others-show quite demonstratively the emergence of a new, radical political ethos amongst the continent's ordinary, struggling subjects, evoking both a measure of optimism amongst oppressed subjects elsewhere and overpowering responses from reactionary agents. By looking at the Latin American continent critically and truthfully, and more so, by contesting the 'mechanisms of disinformation', scholars of culture hopefully could reclaim their authentic purpose in the intellectual sphere and meaningfully contribute to the invention of another world.

Keywords: contemporary Latin America, culture and ethics, global colonial policy, popular protest and politics, post-apartheid South Africa, US media and imperialist policy

Introduction: regarding justice, ethics, and culture

Set in two parts, the article critically explores what it deems are globally significant developments underway in some key Latin-American and Caribbean territories. Contemporary political developments on the Latin-American continent offer the world's oppressed masses (and rational-critical thinkers) not only some serious, cautionary lessons, but also some measure of hope and inspiration. Structured as a broad overview, Part I endeavours to draw attention to, on the one hand, the repressive role performed by the corporate establishment--particularly its media--in sustaining the status quo and, on the other hand, emancipatory responses that have emanated from a new, radical political ethos amongst the continent's struggling masses. Long overdue in South African scholarship, Part II inspects an established revolutionary political model that, in its fight for survival, has set itself the historic task of opposing and contradicting neo-capitalist/imperialist ideology, in other words, the philosophical schema that underpins those power schemes outlined in Part I. In this instance the discussion explores key aspects of revolutionary Cuba's political culture as formulated, espoused, and defended by its historic, aging leader, Fidel Castro. Inadvertently perhaps, the essays attempt to bring together a diverse range of studies, drawn from the media, historical, cultural, rhetorical, identity, and political scholarly fields. The principal reason behind this approach lies in the notion that, since 'social problems ignore disciplinary fences', 'solutions, therefore, should traverse disciplinary boundaries' (Tomaselli 2001: 53). …

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