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Making Volcanoes Out of Molehills

by John Powell

posted in News and Society

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Looking back, there seems to have been a time, perhaps apocryphal, when everybody took it for granted that all states spied on all other states, and peace was maintained by nothing being said about it. Under these conditions, all that appeared in the newspapers about espionage was an occasional review of an Ian Fleming novel. In recent times, this universal tranquillity has been shattered by the eruption of internet hackers feeding an already voracious international news media. Now we are told by a fugitive sheltering in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and wanted by jurisdictions in Sweden and the USA, that 'The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally.'
The reporting of such emotive statements serves no useful purpose. Most French people, and especially those in government, already know that everybody spies on everybody else. The surveillance is not regarded as 'hostile' because it is routine and helps maintain understanding between the world's major powers. And the USA is not France's 'supposed' ally, but a country that has treasured a close alliance with France since it aided the thirteen colonies in their war of independence from Britain in the late eighteenth century.
The modern media knows that by publicising the issue it will provoke a public response which keeps the news story going. It is prepared to risk causing hostility between nations in its frantic drive to sensationalise extreme statements by people such as the ambitious antipodean, the long-term guest of the Ecuadorian Ambassador. The media's incessant feeding frenzy seizes every opportunity to make volcanoes out of molehills without regard to the deleterious effects of such exaggeration. The world has bred an over-powerful monster of global proportions, a huge distorting mirror in which every trouble is magnified and corrupted in pursuit of profit.
The international media has become one of the most overt manifestations of multinational corporate exploitation. It is the means by which commercial interests are promoted in benign messages that conceal their rapacious intent. Insurers are allowed to say that they are interested in 'what is really important to you,' and international shippers can claim that increasing world trade can benefit everyone!
National governments have in recent years begun to realise that they must assert global control of multinational banks. Now international sporting bodies, long the tool of commercial interests, have been shown to be beyond the control of individual states and acting largely in their own interests. Hopefully, there will come a time when the United Nations will assert proper control over every multinational organisation. The international news media must not be overlooked. Perhaps the current furore over spying between friends will be one more spur to national governments to assert effective control in the interest of the maintenance of peace.
About the Author: John Powell
To learn more about life in general and the intriguing story of the grassroots industrial revolution in the turbulent Ghana of the second half of the twentieth century, read John Powell's novels The Colonial Gentleman's Son and Return to the Garden city or his non-fictional account The Survival of the Fitter. More details of these books and photographs of the informal sector artisans of Suame Magazine in Kumasi will be found on the following websites.
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