Thursday, 10 September 2009

PR death?

(Hat-tip Anatoly Karlin)

Apparently tie-chewing loon Saakashvilli has been spending a fortune on PR companies.

It was arguably money well spent. Most British newspapers were all too ready to get into Churchill mode to deplore the brave little democracy being savaged by the arboreal Russky apemen. As that great historian John McCain said, they want a return of the Russian Empire. So many newspapers went into full on berserker mode and showed Saakashvilli's civilian strikes with captions stating that they were victims of Russians. Furthermore, Fox News demonstrated how wonderful it is to live in the free world:

However, the British and American print media are both going down the pan, economically speaking. Either 1) People are too clever to keep swallowing neo-liberal lies or 2) They are so stupid that they aren't interested in neo-liberal lies.

At any rate, I find the PR revolution one of the weirdest things, which may leave a dangerous ruin rather than a crater when it collapses. The Brits privatised most of their industries and transport systems (whilst spending a fortune in subsidising the free-market, if that makes sense). However, Britain still has vast public expenditure. And from experience I'd say that much of it is spent on paying condescending/ bullying oafs to tell people why things don't work or to tell people to shut up about why things don't work, rather than on getting stuff to work properly (OK I'm a state employee myself, but it seems to be the status quo Brit neo-liberal opinion that getting the state to do something useful= Nazism, getting the state to do something worthless= OK). Subsequently packaging Britain's limited public services is vastly expensive.

Maybe this whole obsession with getting things to look good rather than to be of good quality explains why I find rubbish so fascinating. it is worthless, yet it once gave increased value to something.

For this reason, I find it astounding that many supporters of America's neo-liberal empire have actually beaten me to finding the best symbol of it: the big mac.

Maybe it is because I don't have a TV, but no amount of plastic clowns or plastic letters would encourage me to eat a fried cow's rectum or whatever filth is in these monstrosities. Yet what a wonderful metaphor for the neo-liberal Empire. The Macedonians spread their language and architecture, The Romans built viaducts and capitols, the Brits made railways. The Americans sell fried entrails that are considered edible because they are smothered in salt and fat and marketed as something delicious.

Yet, you cannot fool all the people all of the time. American power is definitely waning. I half suspect that McCain's deranged comments about the Georgian war contributed to his electoral wipeout. And Suckers is increasingly left isolated and discredited. As are we... but that is another story.


  1. 1. Thanks for linking to the PR companies list. Would like to make clear that that list was not my own work, but from a member of Peter Lavelle's Untimely Thoughts Russia Experts Discussion Group who would like to remain anonymous. I just didn't want to let it get buried in archives inaccessible to the general public.

    2. Don't diss entrails. ;) I mean haggis? (being that you're a Scot and all) Also a properly prepared Peking Duck will include entrails.

    3. I disagree McCain's deranged comments hurt him. In fact at the time his ratings rose substantially against Obama's for his "toughness".

  2. hi Anatoly

    Thanks for your comment. It was a very slapdash post, but I wanted to keep my blog going.

    Your third point highlighted what I really wanted to say, which is that whilst people can consume a marketed product (like 'the war on terror') if it does not cost them too much, then they will. They'll have titheads like Christopher Hitchens or Mark Steyn making them feel virile for supporting dropping bombs on people.

    But if it is causing war against a nation that could seriously hurt America, economically and in terms of casualties, then they'll think again.

    Opinion polls are not always the best indication of ultimate intention. Again, I would recommend Century of the Self by Adam Curtis which demonstrated that even AFTER Clinton was elected, his attempts to restructure the economy collapsed.

    There is the argument which I wrote a bit about here (but hope to write on at greater length):

    That conservatives are unlike Hitler because he was not a market fanatic and... well, wasn't selfish enough. I would not even say that there is a grain of truth there (because the Conservatives and Republicans are prepared to disrupt the market for war reasons) but one could say it is parallel to truth: many people vote Conservative/ Republican because they are seen as the parties of 'small government'.

    Subsequently, many might say in opinion polls that they like McCain's assertiveness, but in the voting booth, I think this would not come out.

    Oh yes, and haggis was different... just you wait until the Scottish Empire arrives, then McDonalds will become a home to the thistles and nettles. The smell of roasted sheep stomach will waft above St Petersburg and Beijing whilst the music of the Alexander Brothers and Jimmy Shand will drift across the Mississippi and Amazon...

    Incidentally, molodoy cheloveck, are you old enough to get the berserker mode allusion?

  3. Hi Gregor

    The economic failure of print media may be a combination of both reasons you mentioned but I think they are simply too greedy and slow to adapt to new economic realities. They still think that people are ready to pay for their selective rags. I heard Murdoch now wants people visiting newsoftheworld website to pay for the content, this sense of entitlement is what causes the downfall.

  4. Hi Leos
    I largely agree with you. As I often point out, it is a strange paradox that our neo-liberal media constantly patronises the British people as lovers of liberty for our economic liberalism, whilst in fact British capitalism generally produces very poor products: and our newspapers are an example of this.

    'I heard Murdoch now wants people visiting newsoftheworld website to pay for the content, this sense of entitlement is what causes the downfall.'

    Yes, I think that they would make more from advertising revenues. Which may not be as much as they would hope for, but whilst people idly visit websites for news I think that the will to pay has gone from most people.

    It is the flipside of the McLuhan/ Postman argument. It is a strange irony that as Hollywood and Britain produce very unoriginal films (it seems now there are more remakes than 'original' movies) and TV that the News is probably the most surprising entertainment around. But as long as people can get this free from somewhere I doubt if they will pay for it

  5. I actually found these news about Murdoch's press in one of Czech newspapers online. One of the comments below the aricle said something like this: 'If mafra [the folk acronym for the newspaper's name; Mlada Fronta] thinks we are going to pay for your crapy articles they are mistaken'. I think that is the same case with newsoftheworld.

    The thing with movies is the same with music. The old song about video killing the radio star sums it up. Most artists on MTV can't sing that well but they look good and can dance well. Basically they put on a good show and sell to the majority who does not have a musical ear anyway.

    Mass marketing, no wonder nobody respects the artists by downloading music for free.