Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Reporting violence at protests hides everyday violence by austerity

With most of the media busy fetishising pictures of burning cars, Fanny Malinen argues for a Real Media that takes on the rich and powerful

March 19, 2015
5 min read

dailywail1

 

Burning cars and police violence in Frankfurt made the headlines yesterday. The international mobilisation of Blockupy has taken place by the European Central Bank since 2012, but this year’s protests were always set to be big because of the opening of ECB’s new HQ. With a humanitarian crisis and mass unemployment still ravaging much of Europe and the progressive Greek government recently coerced into yet another agreement with EU institutions, there could have hardly been a less appropriate moment for celebrations for the Euro elites.

Violence at protests is media-sexy. But the everyday violence of austerity is hardly news.

Austerity has the same logic in Britain as it does on the continent: it is making the poorest in the society pay for a crisis that the financial sector created. You cannot have financialised capitalism without crisis – hence the financial sector uses crisis to normalise rising inequlity as something inevitable.

Although we have an official recovery, only 1 in 7 people say they can feel it . Food banks and homelessness have become the dominant image of austerity Britain, with benefit sanctions and low pay as the most common drivers. More than one in four children is growing up in poverty. Inequality is not only felt in economic terms, either: women are hit harder by austerity by a combination of cuts in public services  and a widening gender pay gap, especially with women overrepresented in public sector jobs. Also ethnic minorities bear the brunt disproportionately, as unemployment for BME youth has risen by 50% under Osborne’s austerity project.

At the same time, stock markets are booming like before the financial crash. Globally, the 1% is set to own more than the 99% by next year. The revolving door between the financial sector and supposedly public institutions undermines democracy both in Britain and in the Eurozone. This is why a UK group, Debt Resistance, took their Blockupy protest to the Goldman Sachs building on Fleet Street: The ECB, one of the most important institutions pushing for austerity in Europe, is run by an ex-Goldman Sachs man, like many of the Eurozone governments and the Bank of England. Many of the banks and accountancy firms wielding power as financiers, creditors or self-nominated experts are based in London.

But where are the angry headlines? The Sun, Daily Mail and the likes – sadly, Britain’s most read newspapers – are too busy blaming the poor and already marginalised for the economic downturn.

It is hardly surprising that the public’s perceptions of immigration and benefits are highly distorted: In 2013, a poll showed that the British think £24 of every £100 spent on benefits is claimed fraudulently. The official estimate is £0.7%. The public also thought 31% of people living in Britain are immigrants and 24% muslims – the real figures are 13% and 5%.

A “them and us” mentality is also created in Britain what comes to Europe. It’s Britain paying too much in subsidies, our jobs taken by Eastern Europeans or regulation threatening the viability of our flagship financial sector – but never a word on how London-based banks profit from the Eurocrisis, or indeed austerity at home. It is not in the 1%’s interests to write that, and nearly 80% of Britain’s press is owned by five billionaire men.

We cannot tackle inequality and economic violence if we do not change the media landscape. A handful of billionaires – Rupert Murdoch, Viscount Rothermere, Richard Desmond and the Barclay Brothers – will always publish stories benefit the powerful and take aim at the powerless.

In this light, it is inspiring that there are actions taking on the concentration of media power. This week is Real Media’s Anti-Daily Mail week, with each day focusing on different issues corporate-owned media is ignoring, such as climate change, inequality and UK arms industry’s interests driving wars. Every day, the campaigners create covers of what the Mail would say if it was not owned by a billionaire: “The greatest wealth gap ever: and it keeps growing”, “Billionaires control our ‘democracy'”.

It is followed by Occupy Rupert Murdoch’s week-long protest at the media mogul’s new HQ by London Bridge, culminating in a trial of Murdoch for his complicity in wars, political blackmail and tax avoidance. To create alternatives to a political and economic system that oppresses us on a daily basis, we need to expose the vested interests of the corporate-owned press. And of course, strengthen the critical voices that are out there: next month, Real Media will launch a website that aggregates the best of alternative journalism.

For updates on Blockupy, follow @Blockupy

For Real Media’s Anti-Daily Mail week, see dailywail.co.uk and Occupy Rupert Murdoch http://occupythemedia.org.uk/page9.html

Real Media website realmedia.press and twitter @RealMediaGB

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny

Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology

Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke

The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana

Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth

Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company

You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild

Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University

This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback

Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein

Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up

Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement

‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic

Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden

There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright

Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones

‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression

Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death

‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum

The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes

Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference

Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki

Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers

Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project

Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power

What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains

The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going


46