eli5 “manufactured consent”?


I have a hard time wrapping my head around this. What is it?

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A democracy is said to be run by ‘consent of the governed’ – that the people ultimately have the power because they are the ones who vote (even if indirectly) to form the laws.

However, what ‘manufactured consent’ argues is that it is possible to undermine that consent by providing false or slanted information. This is the same basic argument as the concept of ‘fake news’.

In particular, Herman/Chomsky argued for a specific set of biases that affected Western media without regard for explicit biases such a political leanings.

A good non-political example of this would be entertainment media. If you look at the coverage of a new movie, television series or book, it is almost always glowingly positive regardless of the underlying quality of the material. This occurs because the people who professionally cover the entertainment world are utterly beholden to the entertainment producers for access. If you garner a reputation of being honest about upcoming movies, you pretty quickly get frozen out and no longer have a job.

Constantly providing misinformation so that things that might otherwise seem grossly unpalatable become normalized, then acceptable, then desirable.

I would recommend reading “Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky.

It’s a thick book, but the answers to your question are contained in the first couple chapters, which are devoted to that, the rest of the book is mostly detailed examples.