An Evaluation of the Debate About the Mass Media Between Hans-Magnus Enzensberger and Jean Baudrillard.

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By Sadie Shine

The biggest component in the debate between Hans-Magnus Enzensberger and Jean Baudrillard is the conflict between different views on the same subject: The media. Enzensberger believes that the media is a capitalist machine used to make money in a capitalist, elitist society. He doesn’t believe in the communication side of the mass media as he believes that the media the way it is at the moment excludes and isolates the majority. This is because he believes that the forms of the media that we have at the moment are exclusive to only a few people. Without the proper education or resources it’s near impossible to access the media and communicate your ideas and points. He believes that this is down to capitalist society and in his ideas he aims to make media more accessible to the masses. Baudrillard, in comparison to this believes that the mass media, be it books, internet, television, etc is an outlet of mass communication for society. He believes that the media system is a way to bridge the gap between the producers and the consumers. Both of their ideas contradict each other except for one point where they both believe that we need to simplify our means of communication in order to communicate with the larger masses. Enzensberger views the media in a radical Marxist way, he believes that capitalism controls the media and that they are using it not as a form of communication but as a form of capital gain. To Enzensberger, the media is an unstoppable force in terms of revolution. He thinks the only thing holding us back is the fact that the capitalists control the outlet instead of the socialists. As he says, “There is no such thing as unmanipulated writing, filming, or broadcasting. The question therefore is not whether the media are manipulated, but who manipulates them.” (Enzensberger, 1974) This means that no matter what we do the media is going to be manipulated, every form of communication is manipulated in some way, there is no way to change that. What Enzensberger suggests is that instead of the capitalists manipulating the media for their own capital gain, the socialists take control of it and convert it so that it can be used as a more accessible form of worldwide communication. He maintains that radio could be an exceptional form of communication if it was changed from a form of distribution to a form of communication this is because it’s such a large inter-connected forum that just about everybody has access to and that means that it doesn’t alienate the masses from receiving the information it emits. What Enzensberger wants for the world is mass manipulation of the media, what he wants is for the masses to have complete and utter control of the media and to manipulate it in ways that it can be used for communication and revolution. He believes that if capitalists lost control of the media which they have at the moment then the socialist masses would have more of a chance to communicate with each other globally. He wants democratic manipulation to become possible so that they can work towards the goal of an equal utopia in the future where censorship doesn’t exist and communication is openly available to the masses. He fears now that the reality of censorship will hinder the freedom of speech that he thinks is owed to the masses. With censorship, the masses lose the majority of their freedom and opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas. This censorship comes from the producers of the “consciousness industry” which have begun to achieve the most power in the realms of production. He accuses the left of having a defensive, defeatist attitude he proclaims that this will give all the power of manipulation to the enemy, losing any chance of power that the Left might have. He sees the mass media as a revolutionary idea where ideas and opinions could be spread by word of mouth. With the media we reach a blockade in which it becomes inaccessible to some of the lower-classes, he wants to...
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