It is Wednesday so only a couple of snippets today. I was going to write about the BBC’s ridiculous attempt to portray Jeremy Corbyn as a sort of Russian-spy-type-dude in its Newsnight segment last Thursday (March 15, 2018). They manipulated his peaked hat (via Photoshop or through lighting) to make it look like a typical Lenin-type “Soviet stooge” hat and presented him against a red Kremlin skyline of Red Square (Source). The BBC denied they had altered the hat but then admitted the BBCs “excellent,hardworking) graphics team … had the contrast increased & … colour treated) but it was only accidental (not!) that he was made to look as Leninesque as possible. Amazing how deep the anti-neoliberal Groupthink has penetrated. This is the public broadcaster! But Groupthink is alive and well in Europe and doing its best to pervert, distort, stifle and suppress debate on important matters relating to democratic freedoms and the failure of the EU.
Neoliberal economic Groupthink alive and well in Europe
A Tweet today from Eurointelligence (Wolfgang Münchau) – The declining interest in macroeconomics – reminded me of some stories I had read about 12 months ago in the French press.
The Tweet reported that:
La Tribune, the weekly financial newspaper with half-a-million readers in France … Yesterday they closed down their macroeconomic service. It is a sign of the times, and a sign of convergence in the eurozone – of the wrong kind. Europe’s second largest economy is converging towards Germany where newspaper coverage is also mostly uninformed by macroeconomic analysis, and where the high priests of ordoliberal doctrine remain firmly in charge.
This decision goes back some time.
In late February 2017, there were several articles in the French press relating that the French business weekly La Tribune had decided to abandon coverage of macroeconomic issues following a change of ownership.
1. Motion de défiance à La Tribune contre la suppression du service macroéconomie (February 15, 2017).
2. Suppression du service macroéconomie à La Tribune : le pluralisme assassiné (February 28, 2017).
3. Suppression du service macroéconomie à La Tribune : le pluralisme assassiné (February 28, 2017).
The stories tell us that the workers at La Tribune passed a vote of no confidence in the management of the media outlet in protest of the decision to remove the “macroeconomic service”.
The motion stated that the workers:
… redoutent que cette suppression ne nuise à la visibilité et, à terme, à l’existence du titre en tant que média d’information indépendant. Ils s’interrogent sur l’avenir d’un titre économique qui ne traiterait plus de l’actualité économique et politique
Or: the workers fear that this deletion will harm the visibility and, ultimately, the existence of the title as an independent news media. They wonder about the future of an economic title that would no longer deal with economic and political news.
The decision came after a new shareholder, Franck Julien, boss of the giant of Atalian business services, took a 37 per cent stake in La Tribune.
Five journalists regularly contributed to La Tribune on macroeconomics issues and the decision by Julien was in line with a push within the media to “normaliser leur ligne économique pour en extraire ses éléments subversifs” (“standardise the economic narrative and weed out any subversive elements”).
The struggle didn’t start when Julien took over. There had been a struggle at the media outlet since 2015 to maintain a macroeconomic voice.
In this story – Suppression du service macroéconomie à La Tribune : le pluralisme assassiné – a journalist from La Tribune spoke anonymously and said:
La direction cherche à s’aligner sur le « consensus néolibéral …
Or: the management wants to align the media publication with the neoliberal consensus.
Le nouvel actionnaire veut à tout prix éviter se fâcher avec les entreprises dont il vise les abonnements
Or: Julien wants to avoid antagonising companies that he is targetting to be subscribers.
The workers went on strike in February 2017 and claimed:
Nous ne voulons pas que la Tribune devienne une plateforme publicitaire des entreprises, pour les entreprises
Or: We do not want the Tribune to become an advertising platform for companies, for companies.”
The macroeconomics commentary in La Tribune had been of a heterodox nature and had become incompatible with the neoliberal leanings of the shareholders.
In the past, there had been some great stories from La Tribune on the shameful austerity imposed on Greece; the bank scandals and etc.
The narrowing of focus to sit within the neoliberal consensus is a general trend in the European media as a result of the strain the traditional publishing industry is under and the increased concentration of shareholders who seek editorial control.
The article concludes that:
La suppression du service macro-économie de la Tribune est un autre symptôme de ce processus qui traverse la grande presse : son uniformisation idéologique qui vise à faire correspondre sa ligne éditoriale à la vision du monde des actionnaires qui la financent.
Or: The suppression of the Tribune’s macro-economy service is another symptom of this process that is going through the mainstream press: its ideological standardization, which aims to match its editorial line with the world view of the shareholders who finance it.
That, ladies and gentlemen is Groupthink in action.
Standardise the narrative. Repress alternative views. Control information to suit the ideological putsch.
Goebbels did the same thing.
The only question I have now is why Eurointelligence is bringing this up now.
Of the five journalists who wrote macroeconomic articles for La Tribune, the economics editor at La Tribune Romaric Godin left the paper soon after the February 2017 strike, Matthias Thépot has left La Tribune, Fabien Piliu left in September 2017, Ivan Best left around June 2017 and Jean-Christophe Chanut doesn’t appear to have filed a story at La Tribune since mid-November 2017.
It is true that La Tribune has had stories on macroeconomics in recent weeks.
One that caught my eye (March 9, 2018) – was an interview with economics writer Philippe Simonnot – Rien n’est pire qu’un économiste qui prétend dire le bien et le mal – who said of John Maynard Keynes: “ses théories sont fausses, comme celles de Marx, et elles sont pétries de contradictions” (“his theories are false, like those of Marx, and they are full of contradictions”).
It was straight neoliberalism.
But somehow I missed the final announcement that Eurointelligence seems to be conveying.
Democrat leader loses it
Yesterday (March 20, 2018), the billionaire deficit terrorist Peter Peterson who has continually sponsored his think tanks to pump out deceitful propaganda about macroeconomics died.
Paradigms ultimately change when the Groupthinkers start to die off.
This was a man who started life getting thrown out of university for plagiarism but somehow crawled his way to the top of Wall Street and into government positions.
The 1985 book (by Ken Auletta) – Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman – which was based on many interviews with the key players in that bitter brawl to take control of the company, which Peterson was co-CEO.
Auletta quotes Lewis Glucksman who was the co-CEO of Lehman’s at the time with Peterson as saying (Source):
Over the last five years, Peterson didn’t play an active role in the management of the business … I brought him up to date. We played a charade with him … I got sick and tired of Pete always saying the same thing … Pete was a guy totally obsessed with the world hearing the name Pete Peterson.
And his Peterson’s tiresome tirades against public spending, fiscal deficits and public debt became equally boring although given his money they were probably influential in shaping public opinion.
So no progressive person should be coming out praising the man.
Which tells you everything about the American Democrats.
Its Congressional leader, Nancy Pelosi wrote this about the death yesterday of Peter Peterson (Source):
It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my friend Pete Peterson. Pete was a clarion voice for fiscal responsibility and a strong moral conscience in Washington.
Pete was a consummate public citizen, who dedicated his life to ensuring strong and sustainable economic growth. Whether serving in government or at the helm of think tanks, he was never afraid to speak truth to power. His prophetic voice on the unsustainable trajectory of the debt was invaluable for generations of policymakers on both sides of the aisle. His strong moral leadership to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a healthy fiscal future leaves a remarkable legacy …
“truth to power”.
More accurate would have been “He had power and used it to spread lies”.
A major purge in the Democrats is required. Pretty much now. She should be the first drummed out in shame.
And music to stay calm with
This is what I have been listening to this morning. One of those albums that come out when I dig into my box of records.
The track – a ‘New Day Yesterday’ was the first song on the 1969 Jethro Tull record – Stand Up. This was their second album.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.