our mission statement: THE WAY WE SEE IT
BY PATRICE GREANVILLE, founding editor
Sometimes we are asked if we are "one of those media watch" organizations, constantly tracking the mainstream media doings in order to present detailed analyses of their numerous biases and shortcomings in favor of the status quo. The answer to that is yes and no. Cyrano is a media watch organization all right (it was created as an independent radical media review in 1982), but its topical focus is a bit broader, far more theoretical, than the one used by other organizations that now cover the same field. As such it does not intend, nor desire, to compete with or duplicate the work of simply superb media watch organizations born in the last quarter century. These organizations—which, just in the English-speaking world, now include FAIR, MediaChannel, MediaLens, MediaMatters for America, and Free Press — have all carved up a necessary niche in the public arena, and we at Cyrano wish them all continued success. In fact, we have formal fraternal bonds with practicaly all of them, and are happy to crosspost many of their terrific articles. For they are already tracking, blow by blow, as it were, the misdeeds of the corporate media, whose guilt as apologists for the corporate system in most of the greatest crimes of the last 100 years, is now pretty much undeniable.
So, if we are not, in strict terms a "media watch" organization in the mold of FAIR, MediaMatters, or MediaLens, which engage in minute-by--minute analysis and controversy, what is our purpose?
Our purpose is simply to present in one place a dynamic anthology, a "media core curriculum", if you will, of analyses of lasting interest exposing the propaganda methods of the global capitalist system, a curriculum embracing history, politics, culture and media; materials capable of detoxifying the minds of most fair-thinking people today, tomorrow, and maybe 5 or even 10 years from now (given the way the world is going we'd hope to be obsolete by then!). I admit that that sounds like a mouthful and a pretty tall order. Maybe too academic for some. If such is the doubt, don't fret and don't get discouraged, because no matter which way you look at it, there are no shortcuts to real effectiveness as an activist. It takes time, and it takes work, but clear political consciousness is not a luxury for anyone wishing to defend and expand democracy: it is a necessity.
But, what kind of democracy? The kind of badly eviscerated democracy George Bush and his ilk prattle about? The democracy of rigged ballot choices commanded from above by the reigning plutocracy? Obviously not. We are fighting here for true democracy, a democracy reflecting the rights and needs of the vast, overwhelming majority of human beings in this nation and abroad, and a democracy willing and capable of stoppig and turning around the murder and plunder of our planet and the obnoxious tyranny we continue to visit on all helpless non-human species. Yes, we are not embarrassed to say that even in the so-called hard world of "pragmatic politics" there is plenty of room for kindness as an indispensable overarching value. As Abraham Lincoln, by far the greatest president the American nation ever had, put it in his inimitable way, we want "a government of the people, by the people and for the people." Try to improve on that.
Thus we work to hasten the arrival of a people's democracy whose mainsprings will be a genuine egalitarianism guaranteeing social peace through social justice, and international peace through honest, fair, and generous exchanges with all other members of the human race. Utopian? Not at all, when you consider the alternative.
So our focus is on media work, on the broader "culture struggle", because the mainstream media are— as many insiders will privately admit—in their role as "ideological gatekeepers", the prison inside our heads, the first line of defense of a system that is dying, that is morally rotten to the core, but which won't stop dragging the world through chaos, endless war, and the plunder of nature until the masses have risen to institute a genuine democracy based on more enlightened values.
It sounds radical because I'm afraid it is. It has to be. Problems of this magnitude are deeply rooted, and it is the root we must address. The cosmetic changes normally recommended by comfortable centrists won't do; they never have. Plus, if yesterday we had the luxury of having some time to waste, to squander in applying pseudo solutions (painful as they were to the countless victims) today, with the accelerating unraveling of the Earth's own environment as a result of blind and selfish human agency, we have none. Humanity is now finally looking into the abyss, and that's no hyperbole.
Media work is therefore—at least in the developed world—essential to real social change. And—remember—the right to institute any kind of change is inherent in the rights of free people. No one should tell you otherwise.
Look at this quote:
"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right—a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world."
Karl Marx? Lenin? Maybe Fidel Castro? Nope. Our dear Abraham Lincoln again, in a speech in the House of Representatives, January 12, 1848.
Goes to show you that great souls tend to think alike.