The fiction is that the media was free until the guy I don't like came to power, here, there, everywhere. Or, to put it, more succinctly, independent media in itself has become stigmatized. Media and journalists are not expected to be "independent" but take sides because that shows commitment to the "cause."

The cause driven media

The cause dominates and that means one has to be partisan to be part of the media. The "independent" is the fence sitter which is a derogatory term to imply that not being partisan is a socio- political crime because one is not fighting the "enemy". Subjectivity reigns supreme. The market for independent media is over.

The so-called independent media probably existed in terms of peace because what we have throughout history as models of independent journalism is Western media. Yet throughout history its cause was to serve its own Western interest which was to fight its enemies. In effect, it was always war media disguised in another name.

The term or the concept of "independent and free media" arose as a challenge to the socialist ideas including controlled media. They were all controlled by the party and therefore subjected to censorship. The counter or contest of that was "independent" media with no such official control. No censor was there to put journalists to jail etc. It was thus argued that the Western media was free media and the rest were not. It was more about the Russo-US cold war than media nature.

The current cold war

The Soviet Union died sometime back -not sure when - but the current version of the country -Russia- is one holy mess. Apart from all the internal shambolic state structure, its external policy scenario is one of the most ridiculous any modern large powerful state has shown. The most glaring example is the Russo-Ukraine war which has not just given Russia a bloody nose but damaged its image badly. It stretches back all the way to Soviet Union history where the seeds of state incompetence were sown.

In other words, Russia is such a weak and poor foe that it doesn't need the West to defeat it. It's quite capable of inflicting serious body wounds to itself. So the cold war does remain but the participants have changed. And in place of Russia has emerged China. However, the nature of the enemy is significantly different.

Soviet Russia was all politics and a global mission to save the world. It was more polemics driven than anything else. But the US's main foe China is far from that. It's more about economics than anything else. And this has significantly changed the nature of the current cold war and media. It's a reality that struck at the heart of the old debate.

Media as a cold war weapon

It's generally thought that media serves as a propaganda weapon but the current international media goes beyond that and is becoming part of the war ideology itself due to its nature of survival. Scanning international media, means basically reading a war situation report because almost or perhaps all the powers that matter are now committed to a confrontational war, whether of high or low intensity.

There is no question of convincing people to go to war because almost everyone is committed to it and are convinced they are going to win. The result is therefore a state of mind where war is considered inevitable. It's not if but when that is on people's mind.

Both China and the US are getting ready for a confrontation over Taiwan though we don't know if it will reach a full scale war. But then the Russo-Ukraine war is also not a full scale war but enough to hurt the entire world. So no matter what, if there is a conflict of the violent variety, everyone will suffer.

Is the nuclear deterrent enough?

It is the weapon of last resort but it can reach that stage rapidly. And that one hasn't seen nuclear weapons in the ongoing war is because the last resort is not there yet. That decision is not just of the defense establishment but of the media as well. And quite possibly the media seems to prefer war.

Media as is conventionally understood is under huge pressure to survive, partly due to the rise of social media as a competitor which has upped the violence ante more than others. Humans may see that in the long run, war leads to another and another, but people like to see the victorious side of the war only. Thus, the World wars, Vietnam war and even Bangladesh war had clear cut victories so each region with its own example likes to believe in war as a solution of conflicts. And social media promotes violence.

The cheer that went up when China experienced the Covid explosion recently shows how much people enjoy the suffering of others. It's seen as a good instance of China's weakness. That translates into greater enthusiasm for a solution seeking war with China.

Media has to support this position because social media has been overwhelmed by this positioning and media by refusing to be independent of partisanship but independently co-partisan has become the great champion of war. If it promotes the media, the media will die in today's environment. Finally, it has become a prisoner of its own imagined self. Independent media must support conflict now, at all levels or perish.

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