It beggars belief that Rebekah Brooks, one time chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s criminal media empire, would have known nothing of the industrial scale phone hacking that was taking place across the News International organisation that she was charged with running. Even more unbelievable given that she was shacked up with Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor and now a convicted criminal for that very offence. If, on the one in ten million chance that she was genuinely unaware of this vast criminal network, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that she was asleep at the wheel. Or more accurately, comatosed in charge of a global media corporation. Guilty or incompetent are the only two possible conclusions. And somehow, whatever Brooks maybe, an incompetent does not spring readily to mind.

 Common sense would suggest that Brooks would almost certainly have known and sanctioned the phone hacking regime, as would her boss, Rupert Murdoch, who should himself be immediately hauled in front of a court of law. But behind this web of criminality, which has engulfed politicians and police officers alike, lies a fundamental truth that even Rupert Murdoch would find difficult to refute: that ‘news’, like all things and relationships under capitalism, has become a commodity, whereby the owners of global media concerns can enrich themselves irrespective of any form of regulation, morality or ethics.  

It is apposite to refer to Karl Marx in this respect. Marx was always adamant that the prevailing culture would mirror the underlying economic system. The essence of capitalism is best described as the production of commodities for private sale and profit, and so it is little wonder that virtually everything that falls under the sway of capitalism should mirror that socio-economic relationship. What we end up with is the commodification of everything including people themselves. We’ve seen the ugly side of this ongoing phenomenon in the sporting world, the entertainment world and most debilitating, in the world of work.

We shouldn’t be in the least surprised that news itself has become a commodity to be bought and sold for personal gain. Once this reality is understood and accepted, all the wheeling and dealing, and underhand criminal shenanigans falls into place. Capitalism has always, from the very start, had only one logic; that of the maximisation of profit. The bottom line as they say. The commodification of ‘news’ like the production of all other commodities, will circumnavigate statutes, laws and generally agreed ethics in pursuit of profit maximisation. It cannot but do otherwise. Even post- Leveson, British corporate media interests insist on rejecting any form of independent regulation. They would. It would get in the way of end of year profit margins.     

So the big question is not so much can the press ever be regulated without strangling its so called independence.  No, the really big question is whether any branch of capitalism, be it banking, manufacturing, energy supply or transport can ever be successfully regulated so it operates to create a publically regulated ‘use value’ as opposed to creating a privately controlled surplus value? Britain’s National Health Service and its partially constructed comprehensive education system suggests what is possible but both these once socially valued services are now under sustained attack from corporate interests. The vultures are circling. Even the much lauded ‘independent’ BBC is being softened up for dismemberment and privatisation. Enter one Mr Rupert Murdoch and his avaricious News International empire. 

In one sense we ought to be thankful to the likes of Rupert Murdoch because they show us, in no uncertain terms, where capitalism must always lead – to socially useless commodities that degrade, desensitise and ultimately,  disenfranchise. That’s precisely what capitalism wants and the owners of capital understand this only too well. Capitalism’s idea of paradise is ten billion atomised consumers, each locked into their own egotistical and alienated world, blindly consuming everything that is thrown at them; mass produced entertainment, mass produced trinkets and mass produced ‘news’. Rebecca Brooks was a two-bit pawn in that dehumanising game. Rupert Murdoch, like the top bankers that so recently brought the global economy to its knees, is a much bigger fish that need to be hauled in and given a good public frying. But he, like the bankers, is a tricky fish to catch.

End JPK copyright.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 28 June 2014 12:42 )