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Day 4th March 2012

Complicity, Traitors, Compromise and Other Media Interactions by Nick A.

It is unequivocally clear that corporate media perpetuates the hegemony of the capitalist state. Ideally, we respond by constructing forms of anarchist communication powerful enough to render the capitalist media irrelevant. However, amongst anarchist communities, occasions arise where individuals and collectives make decisions to engage with corporate media.

This engagement is often met with understandable concern, interest, derision and sometimes outright hostility. In this article then, I explore some of the tensions associated with media interaction by looking at a few brief examples. I conclude by suggesting that outright rejection of all interaction with corporate media limits some opportunities to reach a wider audience.

During the height of the Greek revolt in December 2008, a proposal was put forward at an anti-authoritarian/anarchist assembly in Exarchia, Athens: interrupt a major news broadcast by storming the studio, unfurl political banners, and then escape triumphantly into the streets. The proposal was generally not supported.

Some raised fears that this protest would ultimately serve the advertisers whose product appeared after the political action. Others were concerned that such an action would contribute to the spectacle of the mass media; where instead of living actual experiences, viewers watch representations of their life on t.v. and in doing so become politically neutralized spectators. And yet others were furious that comrades would want anything to do with the dogs of the mass media – they argued that any engagement with the mass media signalled nothing less than complicity with capitalism, the state, and corporate media.

Regardless, the next week a different collective went ahead with the proposed action targeting NET, one of Greece’s biggest TV stations. On December 16th, after manoeuvres reminiscent of an Ian Fleming novel, the 3pm live national news broadcast on the NET. channel was hijacked when activists stormed the studio. For two or so minutes, political banners were unfurled by a group of anarchists, anti-authoritarians and fellow non‑defined activists. They read:

Everyone get out in the streets, Freedom to the Prisoners of the Insurrection and Freedom to Everyone.

With the desired goals of the action met, the activists fled the building before the cops had a chance to finish their donuts.

 

I provide this short anecdote as a way of universalising some of the tensions associated with media interaction. Whether it is in the advanced anarchist milieu of Athens or – as I will shortly discuss – in Sydney, interactions with capitalist and state-owned media are everywhere fraught with complex political issues and are sources of tension.