Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Propaganda and Patriotism: "Imperialism is Freedom!"

How are the views within nation-state populations shaped, especially consisting of an uneducated mass of working class people or a mass of people unfamiliar with history and current events around the globe? The history of propaganda in the form of inorganic popular culture has influenced the way domestic citizens (the masses) view imperialism. Many Americans make a solid comparison between the propaganda of the British Empire and the United States today. The main difference between the two forms of imperialism and how it has been consumed and digested by the people are distinguished by two technological stages of the two empires. During the zenith of the British Empire, the majority of propaganda was ingested through newspapers, theater, and literature (granted that beginning in the 20th century radio and screen began to appear). Of course, in the modern United States today, inorganic popular culture (to include inorganic patriotism and politically biased news reports) can be mass produced by the elite owners of capital and broadcast over thousands of cable television channels, radio stations, and the internet. A conscious person must be able to identify who is mass producing propaganda and what interests lay behind their mass production of propaganda. One must be able to research the corporation owners and alliances that are mass producing their popular culture (propaganda), mass producing their patriotism, and basically shaping their fears and hatreds. During the age of colonialism, and especially in today’s capitalist globalization structure, it would be hard to argue the point that the elite groups, who possess the most capital, produce the inorganic popular culture.

The examples are quite numerous, but I will post two examples, and follow it with a question.

Early Propaganda Networking: Zionism in the Ottoman Empire

During the early infiltration of Zionism into Palestine under the Ottoman Empire and the beginning waves of Zionist land purchases, which used inflowing capital not only to buy mass land but to import agricultural technology, we can note an early attempt to regulate the press by wealthy Zionists: “The formation of a press network aimed on one hand at the Ottoman intelligentsia and at middle officials, and on the other at different social strata of the Jewish community, was one of the first objectives of local Zionist activity. By the purchase of already existing periodicals or by the creation of new newspapers, an important press complex was organized. It was a question not only of making Zionist positions known, but also to neutralize those who were apt to thwart Zionism – Moslems as well as Jews.” [1]

World War II:

The Emergence of the 4th Arm

As technology advanced, so did the dissemination of visual and audio propaganda. What seemed to work well for Britain in World War I, was increased with new broadcasting technologies in World War II: “During the Second World War propaganda constituted an essential instrument of 'political' or 'psychological' warfare – the first term preferred in British usage, the second in American. Having tested it in the Great War with considerable success, the British government proclaimed this form of waging war in 1939-45 to be its 'fourth' or 'fifth fighting arm” [2]

Anyone can jump on Google today and type in ‘Hitler’ and select images in order to see some of the historical Western propaganda during World War II. You can also find propaganda, conscious and subconscious, concerning slavery and racial segregation in the United States during this time period.

I'm Glad the United States Doesn't Use Propaganda:

The previous two examples, and there are many others that can also be made since the inception of imperialism and increase of technology capable of mass-creating and mass-disseminating propaganda, bring is to the point of considering today’s United States. How do media outlets such as Fox News and CNN produce domestic propaganda that consciously or subconsciously promote patriotism, xenophobia, and the support of imperialism? Who owns these corporations and what are their economic, political, social, ethnic or religious affiliations? How do words such as ‘terrorist’ or ‘radical’, words that are constantly repeated used during heavily rotated reports, impact viewer consciousness? Are these news corporations selective about the news reports they cover? The pro-Israeli position of American media is certainly worth consideration. When a stray rocket is fired into Israel, the story gets hourly rotational coverage on the American news networks while illegal settlement activity on the part of Israel, house demolitions, or Palestinian civilian death counts are barely mentioned on these networks.

[1] Benbassa, Esther. “Zionism in the Ottoman Empire at the End of the 19th and the Beginning of the 20th Century” Studies in Zionism 11, no. 2 (1990): 134 http://www.estherbenbassa.net/SCANS/ZIONISM.PDF

[2] Stefanidis, Ioannes D. “The Fourth Arm” History Today 62, no. 9 (2012): 28-34

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Liberal Policies of the Ottoman Empire Concerning Immigration and Foreign Land Purchaching

The greatest weakness of the Ottoman Empire, a weakness that greatly deteriorated the overall structural integrity of the empire, can be found in the liberal policies surrounding immigration and foreign infiltration. In the West, Islamic states are often portrayed as hardline dictatorships or caliphates by Zionist media sources which succeed in subconsciously influencing uneducated minds with the impression that all Islamic states and empires have operated throughout history in this manner. The Ottoman Empire was quite the opposite and actually contributed, through liberal foreign and immigration policies, to self-imposed interior sovereign fragmenting. Let’s look at some of these policies.

The first policy which began to open the door for foreign infiltration was the mistake of granting “European states privileges that permitted their agents to trade within Ottoman lands under the protection of legal immunity” [1]. Keep in mind that during the 17th and 18th century that the European states, especially the British empire, were making great advancements in technology, especially military technology, and economic leaps through colonial imperialism. The early stages of Capitalism were also a growing, and expanding, element on the international stage during this period. Treaties such as the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 and the Treaty of Kuchuk Kanarji in 1774, treaties aimed at commercial interests, allowed a flow of European Christian and Jewish immigrants, protected by foreign European states, into the Ottoman Empire which increased the amount of “dhimmis” communities afforded citizen rights through payment of taxation.

Another contributing entity that weakened the structure of Ottoman consolidated sovereignty came in the form of Muhammad Ali Pasha, viceroy of Egypt during the first half of the 19th century, and his son, Ibrahim Pasha, who governed Syrian territories and Palestine. These leaders, especially Ibrahim, “encouraged European trade and the influx of Christian missionaries” and “granted Christians and Jews effective political and religious equality with Muslims” [2]. In addition, Ottoman land reforms during this period, and during the reign of Ibrahim’s son Ismail, eased restrictions on foreign land purchases and absentee landowners. These liberal trade policies and land reforms were the beginning of Zionist infiltration and mass land purchasing within Palestine.

The land grab in Palestine, made possible by foreign capital and a combination of liberal Ottoman policies listed above, was eventually identified as a serious issue and the overall Ottoman policy was amended to reflect that “Jewish immigrants will be able to settle as scattered groups throughout the Ottoman Empire, excluding Palestine”[3]. This policy was often circumvented as Jewish immigrants, supported by international capital which could buy the corruption of local authorities and administrators, “entered the area as tourists or pilgrims; once there, they acquired the protection of foreign consuls as the European powers were eager to protect their own rights under capitulations laws”[4].

1. Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israel Conflict, 7th ed. (Boston-New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010), 13.

2. Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israel Conflict, 7th ed. (Boston-New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010), 17.

3. Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israel Conflict, 7th ed. (Boston-New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010), 36.

4. Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israel Conflict, 7th ed. (Boston-New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010), 36.