Media, Politics and Culture: A Socialist View by Carl Gardner

By Carl Gardner

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Certainly many of the songs were little more than balloons with slogans scrawled on them and nothing inside. The ones that made the hit parade- 'Blowing In The Wind', 'If I Had A Hammer' (which dated back to 1950, when it was a different song), 'The Times They Pop Music: Mobiliser or Opiate? 45 Are A-changing'- were vague liberal sentiments that had little bite. Out of context, removed from their social base and transformed into media fodder, these songs were harmless- as they always will be. But there were more specific songs that probed deeper- some of Dylan, a few of Ochs and Paxton.

If you look at the situation, the resentment or the contempt or the sense that these are other people was very skilfully incorporated. The whole language of the Mirror through that evolution from the 1940s to the 1950s was a very skilful miming- it is miming- of colloquial English, to reassure people that these are not the all-too-familiar voices of the established culture but these are people like yourself. You knew you couldn't even say, as Richard Hoggart pointed out years ago, something like, 'It's going to rain', which is colloquial enough.

You had to include their interests- the crime was there, the scandal was there, because people wanted to read them. The sport was there as organised sport developed. Without these interests the old independent political papers of the first half of the century could not compete, although when it came to political opinion on its own, whenever it could be tested, they still held the majority of the class. But when it came to buying a paper, there were all these other competing interests. The very fact of a politically campaigning paper, the independent paper, excluding the existing cultural affiliations of the majority of its potential readers, has this self-defeating effect.

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