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Moving backwards in every way. Stop and think!

Face book activity has been off the chart lately with the regressive policies being signed off by the 45th president of the USA, the seg...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The basics of Locke and Marx contributions to the theory of the state

At least three main types of power exist in all of the states. It is cannot be a state if it does not have these types of power. These powers can be Legislative (Parliament in UK), Executive (Government in UK), Judicial (Courts), Sovereignty (Permanence)

Most state population will also identify with the state and accept its authority, giving the state legitimate power; known as authority in democratic states. Sometimes, however, this is not the case, for example; the people of Basque rebelled in the early 90’s and their rebel core, the ETA refused to recognise or identify with being part of the Spanish state. A state usually has defined territories over which it can exercise its power. Often there is a misconception that the government is the state. State and government are not to be mistaken for being the same, they are two very different sources; however, the government is an important feature of the state.

There are three types of State Apparatus, each with their own model of support supplied to the state, not the government. There are the Coercive State Apparatus (CSA) which incorporates Executive governments, legislature, police, secret police, courts, prisons and military. The Ideological state Apparatus (ISA) includes Education, Media and religion. Finally there is the Administrative state apparatus (ASA) which deals with sectors such as the civil service, the welfare state and social work. The state apparatus are all intricate parts of the key features of a state however breaking them down into their actual apparatus structures allows you to see each detail as a separate sector.

Compared to most institutions for instance, a government who rely on limited time based on public voting, the state exists as permanence or under longevity. The British state has been in existence since 1707 since the act of Union. The sovereignty of the state differentiates the modern state from the medieval or feudal state. Instead of a King passing his land down to lords in order that they control their own territories a modern state utilises centralised power over all sectors.

The theory which makes the most logical sense was created by John Locke, a Pluralist. He argued that power is shared between various groups to create a democracy or democratic state. He also believed that the elected officials, the government of the state, had accountability for their actions. This accountability gave the people, the electorate, the power to renounce them if they did not act responsibly for the benefit of the state. He called this “The social contract”. In return for looking after the state, the people were also obligated to uphold the law and return in kind, the responsible actions of an individual of the state.

In days gone by this theory fit the time well but has this theory aged well? Has it become outdated due to sheer mass of human expansion, compared to the 1700’s? Where does our system fit into Locke’s’ theory?

Locke must have been visionary in his day as the system still works. The social contract is still a vital feature in today’s society. The ability to vote through choice, not coercion, gives us the authority, through voting, to renounce current government if they are not accountable for their actions or do not act in the best interest of the state. In this area of Locke’s theory it still stands extremely solid.

Locke’s theory of separation of powers is also still a working model in today’s’ modern state. We have many groups with power over specific sectors such as religion, politics, military, education, judicial, legislature and Executive. Although one government does govern these for its term, these sectors are in effect kept separate. Each sector has its own policies and budgets to work with so no one party alone or individual official can dictate objectives to them. Every decision has to be agreed and negotiated, often voted on via a referendum, before conclusion.

Marx was an idealist. Marx believed that there was no state before Capitalism and that Capitalism was the state. He believed that the proletariat were oppressed by the Capitalist class. He argued that there was no choice for the proletariat but to go and seek employment in order to live. He argued that there should be common ownership or equality of condition. He believed that resources should be shared equally and that only the limitations of human ingenuity or recourse availability itself should impact on this.

 Both Marx and Locke were seeing the state from different concepts but both were looking at a fairer system where the people of the state would have benefited. Marx’s theory was a sound theory but the world is not ready for his utopia as yet and I fear it will never be ready.

Locke’s theory has potential to carry us much farther through time. The state definition by Locke was a precision theory for its time and has withstood mass growth of the human race with ease. Our society has become more complex however it is simple to assert this theory to any sector of the state, even in today’s modern world. Take media for instance, something that never existed in the 1700’s and yet it has been integrated into society using this theory with ease. John Locke’s theory has held solid since our sovereignty in 1707 and holds solid in many other states too such as America, Canada, and France. States all over the world are still influenced by his theory and until we see another visionary such as Locke, it will continue to work as it has stood the test of time and no doubt will work for many more centuries to come.

What is the Medias Role today?

In order to understand the following very different theories on Media we need to understand that the media, 70 years ago, was incredibly different from today’s mass of media outlets. Radio and Newspapers were the key media in the 1940’s and 50’s. From the early 1980’s however, satellite helped to globalize news via television. The birth of the internet also opened up even more media avenues than ever previously possible. In this essay we will look briefly at the audience response to media today and I will be comparing the Marxist Theory against the Pluralist Theory whilst discussing what the role of the media is in today’s world according to both perspectives.

Marxists state that Ownership is causing bias in the media due to the beliefs and attitudes of the owner. They state that many companies are involved in synergy which helps to mass advertise their products. Marxists also argue that every epoch is ruled by ruling class ideas, from your tribal chief to today’s Corporation owner. In Marxism this argument along with the following statement from Ben Bagdikan, stands as a testament in the issue of how the media impacts society. Ben Bagdikan (1997) stated that if each of the USA’s newspapers, magazine, broadcast stations, book and film studios were owned individually, there would be 25,000 registered owners. There are in fact only ten major corporations that dominate the American media.

The Glasgow Media Group, carried out research “War and Peace” (1985) and “Getting the Message” (1993) shows the media from the traditional Marxist viewpoint, unlike their earlier research which focused on the Neo Marxism Hegemony theory. The Glasgow Media Group has been conducting research studies on television news since the early 1970’s. The aim of these two particular studies was to evaluate media content and show how this was communicated to the audience. The method included the group analyzing hundreds of television news programs, evaluating the content and how it was delivered. They concluded consistently that the language used within the programs was ‘ideologically loaded’ and would influence an audience. They also concluded consistently that Visuals are similarly loaded with ‘connotative codes’ and that the programs agenda set was to report on the impacts to the audience rather than report on the cause of the event, such as a strike. It was also concluded that the powerful do have more access to the media and that there was a pressure on journalists to broadcast from the establishments viewpoints even if this did not reflect the journalists own view. There is however some criticism from the pluralist perspective, for example, they argue that many journalists attempt to expose the unacceptable capitalist; they use The Watergate scandal (40 years ago) and the Tory sleaze campaign (23 years ago) which helped to remove several MP’s from the benches (these two examples are relatively outdated examples in comparison to today’s media sources and ownership issues). There is a key strength, however, in all of the research that the Glasgow Media Group has conducted overall. This strength is that they have taken much of their studies from a Media deliverance point of view but have also looked at the audience receiving the message in later studies. These show clear UN-bias of the research of these studies.

The Pluralist as you can see from previous criticisms of Marxist views, has another perspective which states that the media is diverse and all society have equal access. They put the impact of the media solely in the hands of the audience.

Katz & Lazarsfeld (1955), carried out the “personal influence” study based on data collected (in 1945) and concluded that the media, in general, have a rather limited influence. They argue that this is because the mass communication process can be impacted by five variables. The Variables are described as the following; one, the type of medium used to convey a message can impact on how the audience perceives it. They go on to state that based on technological advancements some may only have access via certain mediums, i.e. radio. Two, variable exposure is how much you are exposed to that information, such as hearing it on radio and from friends or in newspapers. Three, the nature of the content can also impact how the audience responds to the information. Four, the audience’s beliefs and attitudes can also modify or distort the message being given. Five, lastly, they argue that Leaders or opinion makers can also mediate the message, such as a wife voting the same way as her husband does. From a Marxist perspective this research could be criticised from a view that it was funded by one of the most influential corporations of its time. It was in fact, funded by the Rockerfella Foundation (who supported Lazarsfeld to emigrate to the USA and secured his role as the director of the Princeton Office of Radio Research). The Marxist would also argue that the beliefs and values of the audience are in fact influenced by the media message, based on ownership bias and message delivery. They would also argue that the data used for the research was outdated as it was taken from data ten year previously.

There are assumptions in both theories that we also must look at before looking at any further weaknesses in each theory. The Pluralist Theory of putting the audience in charge of their acceptance of the information given is logical; however, when you consider that the assumption here is that the audience has a perfect knowledge of everything this is not something that is possible. From a Marxist perspective this assumption can only be applied to fringe groups, however in today’s media these fringe groups are often ridiculed to re- adjust focus back to the ruling class idea. This then suggests that information given by the media is not equal or diverse. From the Marxist perspective it is assumed that the audience suffers from a false consciousness and therefore believe everything the media tells us. Fringe groups, however, thanks to the internet, are growing and more “truth seekers” are appearing daily. Choice of information on the internet can be checked and accepted willingly by the audience. This does, to some effect, weaken the false conscious theory, however when you consider that Marx himself states that it is inevitable that the working class will revolt, these appearing Fringe groups actually support that more working class or audiences are “awakening” ready to fight back against today’s media system.

Each theory criticizes the other in what we see as an objective, sociological way however we still need to understand that the media, 70 years ago, was incredibly different from today’s mass of media outlets. Television was a very new concept and access to this media type was limited to the upper class or Cinema houses at that time. Radio and Newspapers were the key media avenue to their audiences in the 1940’s and 50’s. From the early 1980’s however, satellite has helped to globalize the news and world issues. You can turn on your Television to choose from 100 channels or more at any time and have instant access to any type of programming you want. Now from a Pluralist perspective this does give the diversity that they discuss. It soon becomes apparent however that many of these channels are in fact owned by the same people, In other words, the rich have the monopoly on what we see. In the early 90’s however the birth of the internet was a global household phenomenon which has opened up even more media avenues for the audience. Now with the “truth seekers” having access to this type of medium it has caused much displeasure to, as Marx would label, the ruling class. Marxists argue that the logic of Capitalism dictate the contents and effects of the mass media within society however Pluralists state that it is the beliefs and attitudes of the audience that impact on how the media message is received and dealt with that impacts society.

In conclusion, looking at the pluralist theory we see the role of the media is to inform and educate all audiences equally but as I sit writing this essay, listening to a song written about the media very recently, the words repeated in the chorus are “therapy, advertising causes therapy……advertising’s got you on the run” (System of a Down, Steal this album, Chic n Stu, Serj Tankian, 2010), I have to question this theory for two main reasons. Its information comes from a time where media was miniscule in comparison to today’s media outlets and as proven by Ben Bagdikan, also concluded by the Glasgow Media Group, Ownership is indeed centralised and biased. It is therefore logical to conclude that Marxists have a much better understanding of the media and its role today, in this instance, this tells us that the role of the media today is to supply the audience with ruling class ideas (influencing and pressuring the audience - the consumer),to keep capitalism as the key priority for the ruling class.

The Road to Dictatorship in the UK

I truly fear for the future of the UK under the tyrannical rule of one Mr David Cameron. When looking at what he has succeeded in doing since his "shoulder barge" to the political throne in may of 2010 it seems very clear to me that Mr Cameron is indeed an authoritarian dictator determined to destroy the poor and make the rich richer during his reign.

This may sound harsh however we need to remember that firstly The conservative party were 20 seats short in the elections so they are in fact (although it is hard to see this right now) a coalition government. The definition of Coalition states that it is "An alliance for combined action, especially a temporary alliance of political parties forming a government or of states."

I, personally cannot see an alliance anymore, I see a power, money hungry man stamping on everything and everyone who opposes him. Think about it, even the Labour leader yielded to the policy of refunding all of the sanctions to people who were unfairly made to work (under an archaic law of slavery-may I add). These people had their payments sanctioned for standing up for their belief that slavery was outlawed centuries ago. In turn they suffered, some of them starved, some of them lost their homes, some of them would have lost their families; because let’s face it, fear of challenging the government and loosing the only income they had would have stopped them supporting their partners beliefs even if they knew it was basically illegal. Cameron has already stated that they would look at re-wording the act. The act is immoral and if re-wording it makes it legitimate we have serious issues. 

April the first 2013, or April fool’s day.  This is truly named correctly as we are all fools in the unluckiest year of the century. Today will be remembered by many, not for the pranks or the funny news stories, but for the beginning of the destruction of the welfare state, Bedroom tax introduced, disability living allowance scrapped for some watered down version called PIP and council tax benefits are now in the hands of local councils who have no funding as it is. The NHS can now buy privately (as long as it meets regulations-and we all know how that will work, they have minimal budget already. We will see less and less state of the art medical advancements unless we choose to go private...on minimum wage?)

Legal aid is being severely limited and will hit two key things that will cost lives in the end. Child custody cases, Fathers and mothers, carers all will be hit as legal aid is denied. Children stuck in the middle of these custody battles will suffer, what happens when a parent cannot afford a lawyer and the child is inadvertently handed to an abuser? It’s too late for the child then. What happens when the poor parent knows that but can't prove it fast enough? I am truly sorry to say it but suicide and child abuse will rise. It is very sad to say but I feel I must emphasize this, some parents fight over the children only to score points with each other, these are the types of cases which are treacherous for the child, but David Cameron doesn't care about this at all. Another addition to suicide attempts will be the Employment legal aid which is being vastly reduced. The larger corporations are already taking advantage of their staff having fear of being fired and sent to the unemployment line which they see only as another oppressive system. This will give them cart Blanche to do whatever they like and no-one will be able to fight back, this will cause stress, depression and add cost to the NHS on prescription medication and again I foresee a rise in suicide.

For every action there is a reaction and Mr Cameron is not accepting the reaction to his actions which will come, either that or he just doesn't care as long as he continues to live in his beautiful house and eat out in the best of restaurants with his happy little entourage of yes men. He has started dissecting our welfare state and it will not be long before we are left with nothing, no homes, no food, no security for our families and no protection from the very people that are meant to look after the state and its citizens, ALL state citizens. I see a man who has done nothing but blame the unemployed and the poor for the countries so called debt he persecutes them and is ensuring that they disappear from the statistics but he does not help to create jobs, so how is he planning to make us disappear? That is the fearful question.

There are many, many other policies and acts that the government can push to have re-worded to their own benefit.  Not least of all the Human Rights Act!  Now; I realise that the ‘snake tongued’ Mr Cameron has said it has to do with protecting the country but somewhere in History you will find that Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini all used the same verbal and tactical concepts to brainwash their own state citizens.  What they actually did is beyond comprehension, but I’m sure you know of the 11 million Stalin murdered and of the tens of thousands Hitler sent to the death camps or the thousands Mussolini had shot.  Their rule caused death, suffering, slavery, inequality, forced labour  and the list goes on.  Women and children were of no consequence and were used as required.  The poor were forced into labour until they were near death or dead.  I ask you to step back and look at the changes made so far, now look at the changes Mr Cameron wanted but were denied.  He lost the cases for forced labour so is re-wording the act but Specifically let us look at the ‘Communications Data Bill’  or more commonly known as the ‘ISP Internet Snooping Law’.  He fed us this proposal because he wanted to ‘tighten the countries security against terrorism’.  This would make sense however they also made 4000 soldiers redundant in the same month that this ‘Snooping Law’ proposal was put forward.  Would 4000 soldiers not give us protection against terrorism if they invested in them more? Thankfully this snooping law was denied, unfortunately 4000 of our countries military lost their careers.

Make no mistake, they did not want this law to protect the country, they want this law to monitor what the citizens do.  For instance, eBay, online work, blogs, ad sense these can all be taxed and without a clock in or out resolution we cannot prove we worked less than 16 hours.  Remember; in Britain if you work more than 16 hours no matter what you earn, you are entitled to next to nothing.  This would mean they could cut further benefits.  This government wants rights to access your private lives, finances and tax you for it.  Morality and legitimacy are not part of their plan. 

They are proving this over and over again via ATOS with their punitive measures against the disabled. Many disabled cannot live their lives anymore, they are barely surviving on a day to day basis.  Many illnesses are getting worse because they are being demoralised and humiliated whilst being accused of NOT being disabled whilst sitting in a wheelchair!  They are planning on taking away free travel and TV licenses from the elderly.  These are the very people that fought for the freedom of the country they are meant to be looking after.  These are the people that gave them their next generation of workforce.  The women of this generation kept this country working while their men went to war and some never returned.  They did this for their country and this government is making a mockery of their loyalty.

Over the last two years I have read about old couples dying of starvation, homelessness rising; including child homelessness, and I myself have been on the rather oppressive end of the civil service also known as the DWP. After 15 years of working we were sent into financial crisis as we waited 6 months to have rent issues resolved, 4 months to conclude we were not to get child tax credits for the only reason that we didn't send in the paper work on time (only we did, we sent it 4 times) , 6 weeks to sort out a joint claim and 8 weeks to resolve it when I went to college. Any one of these delays and mistakes could have contributed to yet another death caused by having no money for a home or food and its going on all over the country.  

To put the icing on the cake I was told to go in for an interview with the DWP when I was 7 months into my college course (one month before exams) I thought it was a mistake, I was told it was not and that if they thought I had other skills that my partner did not they would look at getting me back to work.  I was speechless, a month before my exams and they could take me out of college to put me in work? I asked if they could do this when I was at university and was told if we were claiming in any way they could.  I have to say that this was the beginning of a panic for me as I was doing really well and to be forced out of university into any job they seen fit was not part of my educational plans.  I am happy to say now however, that my partner did get work after 2 years of searching.  I will now be able to go to university knowing I can complete the course (all going well).  This example however only shows that there is no care about education for the poor only a care to get as many forced into work as possible.

I originally thought they were doing this deliberately however, after some research I found that The DWP union were in fact trying to fight to get better benefits for us and better working conditions for themselves, They were highly understaffed by 20% nationwide and were banned for a long time by Mr Cameron's government from hiring more staff.  The civil service is meant to be an impartial body between the state and its people but somehow Cameron has them tied in knots too.  For further information on changes made you can read it here.

Mr Cameron is a Dictator and what I believe, the worst Prime Minister in British history.  He is causing suffering and death across the UK and no-one that has the legitimate power is challenging this. Where are the labour party and where are the Liberal Democrats; they are, after all suppose to be part of this government. 

Only the SNP seem to be challenging this Dictator. The SNP are doing all they can to try and save Scotland from this tyranny but I cannot see anyone fighting for England, Ireland  or Wales.  I say all this because I truly cannot see democracy at work in the UK anymore and sadly believe that soon we will truly be under a totalitarian rule; and this type of rule is not only archaic but it is the scariest in history.  Cameron does not need death camps or guns to control the citizens he is using the welfare state the same way Hitler used death camps and the same way Mussolini and Stalin used guns.

Take independence in 2014 before Mr Cameron gets his way and removes our Human rights.  As for the rest of the UK Vote him out in 2015 and save yourselves the misery and suffering that will follow if you don’t.  

For further info on Camerons plans for the Human Rights Act read here