The Global Context
The global socio-political and economic changes after the demise of state communism and the sell-proclaimed victory of capitalism around 1990 are unthinkable without concomitant ideological changes. Dominant political and media discourse, and hence also public opinion, have undergone sometimes dramatictransformations (Collins 1993; Hollander 1992; Minogue 1993). It is the aim of this paper to examine some of these ideological changes and the role of the mass media in these developments. Although neo-liberal discourse may now be prevailing, it also exhibits conflicts and contradictions. Talk about the free market at least among those who profit most from it in Beijing Moscow and Warsaw may be jubilant, we,at the same time, witness more pessimistic, if not cynical, text and talk accompanying the destruction of the Welfare state in Western Europe and North America and increasing poverty in much of Africa and Latin-America. In light of the horrific events in Bosnia and Rwanda, and after the failure to impose peace in Somalia, anxiety and scepticism, also among the media and the public at large, havebecome widespread. The optimistic rhetoric of a New World Order after the Cold War, thus, seems to be a cover for deep-seated doubts about how to manage current world problems (Chomsky 1992, 1994). While the deeper causes of these various political events in the south and the East also affect the North, we are also facing an Increasing ethnocentrism and racism in Europe and North America, bothtransforming themselves into fortresses against the Southern poor who are clamouring at their gates. Wild capitalism thus combines with wild ethnicism and racism in a frightening mixture of policies and social practices that result in keeping many people or even whole countries and continents, down and out (Castles and Miller 1993; Solomos and Wrench 1993). Instead of the predicted end of history, orthe end of ideology, we, on the contrary, observe a monumental social and political lapsus, a return to more primitive historical and ideological times.
Teun A. VAN DIJK
War lords side with the lords of the market, and ethnic cleansing with immigration restrictions That is, the uncivilised and the more civilised forms of the new feudalism and the new slavery go hand in hand. The maindifference with several centuries ago is that the slaves that come to work for their lords in the North-West now take care of their own transport, and are more than willing to work. This is what is called progress.
The Role of the Media
The question I would like to address here is, what is the role of the media in this complex contemporary framework of social, economic and cultural forces?Markets, politics, policies, exploitation, and marginalization all need an ideological basis. Such ideologies require production and reproduction through public text and talk, which in our modern times are largely generated or mediated by the mass media (Fowler 1991; Golding 1992; Hall 1982). The fortresses of Europe and North America, under construction now at the northern shores of the Rio Grandeand the Mediterranean, are not merely socio-economic palaces of the rich, but also mansions of the mind, that is, ideological constructs. The fundamental question is, whether the mass media are among the architects of their construction or the designers of their destruction? Are the media in the North largely part of the forces of domination, or do they rather contribute to real democracy, that is,to ethnic, cultural, social, economic and political diversity and equality? Or do we find the (usual) pattern of contradictions, placing some media on the bad side of domination, some others at the good side of resistance, and some somewhere in the middle? Examining the evidence, the facts do not seem to give much reason for optimism. To be sure, where ethnic conflict and racism are concerned,...