The mainstream media is a conglomerate of collective corporate thought, designed to make you ignorant and unaware of the realities of the world, of the important issues, and to hide in the shadows the sacredly guarded truths of power. As Mark Twain once wrote, “Those who don’t read newspapers are uninformed, those who read newspapers are misinformed.” Our mainstream media – the large newspapers, radio and TV news stations – are dominated by billion dollar corporations, whose boards of directors reflect the ‘who’s who’ of the corporate, political, and financial elite, with former government officials, industrialists, and bankers controlling the dispersal of information and the perspectives we are given.
This obvious distortion of reality led to the necessity for new sources of information and analysis. Thus rose the ‘alternative media’, which was largely dependent upon philanthropic foundations for support, such as the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, among many others. While more critical and infused with a better analysis than can be observed in the mainstream corporate press, the ‘alternative’ was still controlled by the same interests, as the boards of foundations – which are themselves institutions of concentrated wealth and power – represented elite industrialists, academics, and bankers. They function, essentially, as ‘controlled opposition’: allowing dissent up to a point, primarily focused on criticizing policies and effects, seeking to promote reforms and alterations to the existing system in order to make it more “fair.”
The discourse, however, still lacked a needed element: radical analysis of information, pushing not for reform, but systemic change, or, in a word: revolution. The Internet age provided the outlet for individuals to have better access to more information than ever before in human history, as people could draw from sources and perspectives around the world in order to gather information and interpret reality. As a result, we have witnessed the emergence of a radical new media format of highly critical and largely independent journalism and commentary, which has since been extended through social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, which allow for the extension of reach of this new information and analysis.
There remains, however, an inherent problem: financing. In order for information and analysis to remain free of the restraints and chains of corporations, government, think tanks or foundations, independent analysis is ironically still very dependent, though instead of relying upon powerful financial interests, it must rely upon its readership, upon those who consume the new media.
As a researcher and writer, I attempt to examine massive amounts of information and to bring it together in a radical analysis, and to provide it to readers free of charge. The problem is that I need financing in order to continue this work, and especially with my current project, seeking to finish the first volume of The People’s Book Project as soon as possible, I need support from readers now, more than ever. I don’t particularly enjoy asking readers for money, especially since I know that the majority of my readership – and especially those supporters with whom I am in more consistent contact with – are in precarious financial situations. I sympathize with many of those who are struggling students, who work hard to make ends meet and afford rent, food, and other essentials. This, unfortunately, is the situation for most youth in this world, and indeed, most people in the world.
The first volume of the Book Project is seeking to analyze this very situation: the global economic crisis, debt slavery, poverty and austerity, and the plethora of social and resistance movements that have arisen against this system of domination and destitution. This global crisis – and the response of the powerful to implement ‘austerity’ and ‘adjustment’ (euphemisms for “impoverishment” and “exploitation”) – affects me personally as I am sure it does many of my readers.
I have written a good deal on the student movement in Quebec, struggling against the government’s austerity policies of increasing tuition by over 75%. As an occasional student myself, the increases will effectively cut off my access to the educational system. I see the results of this dominating system of impoverishment and repression among my friends and family and peers of all sorts, and of all places, in Canada, a perceived beacon of freedom, democracy, and stability. I see more young people with less jobs, low pay, huge debts, and immense pressure to meet unrealistic expectations set for us by past generations: get a degree, get a job, move out, buy a house, etc. My generation is consistently failing to meet all of these expectations, and in attempting to meet them, we go tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt, to which we become shackled for life, as our job prospects diminish, as our educational opportunities decline, as our wages are repressed, and as our homes are repossessed.
We seem to be a ‘lost generation,’ doomed to suffer through the ‘Age of Austerity.’ When we stand up for ourselves, we are insulted, derided, and the State moves in to violently repress us. We need hope. We need opportunities. And we need ideas. New ideas. I am hoping to do everything I can to help get needed information and new ideas out to people, who can use these facts and ideas to inform their actions and seek true, lasting change, not the Obama-brand corporate-controlled PR-engineered “change,” but real change, systemic change, and revolutionary change.
If I am to do this, I do need support. I made choices in my life which separated myself from any institutions or individuals of ‘authority’ which could attempt to dictate the terms and substance of my research and writing. I traded financial security for intellectual autonomy, and not a day goes by that I do not feel the unfortunate side-effects of these choices. But still, not a day goes by that I do not know that I made the right decision, and would have it no other way. Due to the support from people all over the world, donations from as far away as Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Malaysia, to much closer in the United States, across Canada, and right here in Quebec, people have generously given what they could to allow me to continue doing what I can and try to do. The enormous solidarity and support I have been lucky enough to receive has allowed me to find – and to continue to find – my own voice through my writing, to expand my research and understanding to new levels, and to undertake ambitious projects. I cannot be more grateful to all of those who have supported me in the past: I would not be here without you. And to those who have been unable to support me financially, but find other, creative, and equally important methods of support, such as sharing my articles, promoting my work, translating my writing, and sending me information and analysis, and even their own writing, I would also not be where I am if not for you and your efforts.
So to all my supporters, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
But now I must request additional support, so anything and everything you can do would be immensely appreciated and for which I would be eternally grateful. If you are able to donate, please consider doing so; and if not, keep doing what you’re doing, it is incredibly helpful!
So thank you all, once again!
Andrew Gavin Marshall