In what can be seen as the evolution of propaganda, for better and for worse the networked public sphere has been Konyfied. This means that slick aesthetics and creative storytelling combined with social networks has the potential to spread any message far and wide.
No doubt, Kony 2012 did inspire eco-communicators to think of new ways to spread the concept of sustainability. But we have also been broadsided by the likes of a video produced by Free Market America, “If I wanted America to fail” (posted above). It pushes a right-wing anti-environment business agenda with slick, youth appeal aesthetics (I can’t wait for the mash-ups!). Though I find this kind of propaganda somewhat disturbing, I’m not sure if it works. It uses a confusing language of irony that contradicts its own messaging. Psychologists have remarked how conflicting it is to say something like “Don’t do drugs” because “don’t” and “do” in the same sentence usually cancels out the negative (“don’t”). By combining “If I wanted American to fail” with all the the actions they don’t support, they in fact are encouraging those behaviors! But then again, most rightwing propaganda is designed to be a mind-frak anyways, so maybe that’s their intention.
Just to be clear, the video offers to expose the “extremist” agenda of environmentalists (and by implication the Occupy movement as well), yet the views expressed here are really those of extremists who are ready to let the planet fail at the expense of an outmoded ideology. The reason why free market radicals are now doubling down on their madness has to do with a psychological need to reinforce an entrenched worldviw in the face of utter contradiction. How can they ignore, for example, that the economic crisis since 2008 basically demonstrated that the free market cannot survive without government intervention or subsidies, or that every year the scientific consensus gets closer and closer to near unanimous acceptance that climate change is caused by humans? Friends, denial ain’t a river in Phoenix (it’s a dry riverbed!).
Apparently Fox doesn’t like the video either, not because they disagree with the main premise (see video below). Rather, it’s because they think it’s a little too over-the-top to convince the non-believers. How’s that for the kettle calling the pot black!