An Organized Crime of Capitalism Ignored Shipwrecked Migrants

An Organized Crime of Capitalism Ignored Shipwrecked Migrants

3 min. read | By John Clarke

The massive search for a missing submersible was a stark contrast to the treatment of a ship packed with people fleeing conflict. Evidently, mass media is in complicit with crimes of the capitalism which require revolutionary actions to save humanity.

An Organized Crime of Capitalism in the Ocean
An Organized Crime of Capitalism in the Ocean | © Kiri Vadivelu

In Chomsky and Herman's 'Manufacturing Consent,' the way the capitalist media controls the flow of information and massively influences opinion is charted. The comparison to recent tragedies at sea involving refugees and billionaires is an amazing example of what they talk about.

The message was driven home that we should be deeply concerned about the lives of rich thrill seekers but pay little heed to the deaths, on a very much larger scale, of people fleeing poverty and violence. However, there was no direct censorship at work. In large measure, the goal was achieved on the basis of the sheer volume of coverage devoted to the deaths of the rich people. The period before their fate was confirmed was used to create a sense of expectation, with every detail explored. News on the safety issues with the sub was put in in enormous detail. Human interest pieces on those who died were cranked out at an astounding rate. The message was driven home that this was a huge issue we should care about.

The two factors that worked to limit concern over the refugee deaths were a considerably smaller volume of coverage but also the removal of the incident from any context. You got a whole series of analyses of why and how the rich people died but the refugees just sank beneath the waves and it was one of those things that seem to happen to people from poor countries.

I'm talking here about the dominant forms of coverage and I again stress that there was no direct suppression of news. A discerning reader could find articles that looked at the condition of the vessel, how crowded it was and the fact that many people were locked below as the tragedy unfolded. The deplorable failings of the authorities could be discovered if you searched for the information. There were some articles that did actually explore context and that looked at the broad pattern of these disasters. A very small number of articles even acknowledged the underlying factors driving the refugee crisis.

The difference is, however, that the overall media coverage of the billionaire sub mishap constituted a campaign to generate sympathy and concern, while that devoted to the refugee deaths was an effort that reached less people and that certainly wasn't intended to produce outrage or calls for action.

If you compare the two situations, what strikes you is how much more a supposedly sensationalist media had to work with in the case of the refugees. They didn't pay obscene amounts of money for adrenaline rushes. They were fleeing hunger, poverty and violence. They died in much greater numbers and under much more horrible circumstances. It is reported that perhaps one hundred children were locked in the hold of the vessel when it sank. If the international media had chosen to promote that, imagine the outcry they could have unleashed.

The incredible thing is that all this works effortlessly. No sinister group of conspirators had to manipulate anyone to get this result. The ownership of the media, its chain of command, its reliance on corporate advertisers and its normal methods of working all created an entirely predictable outcome and the message was successfully driven home that the lives of billionaires matter a great deal, while those of refugees are entirely expendable.

For more information, please contact
Municipal Socialist Alliance
Call: 647-986-1917
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