Testimony and Communication: A Way Toward *La identidad*
by Miguel Barnet
Translation by Brian Francis Redman
Domination relies on force and the lie is its sign.
With the mass media firmly monopolized, from the printing press
to television and video, the democratization of culture has been
no more than an illusion and a mirage in the Capitalist world.
The workers, the exploited, have been made to systematically
disappear by a system whose only interest is the mass production
of material goods and the conjunct mass production of ideas.
The true artistic and cultural creations, those that would have
filled the deeply personal needs of the people, that would have
helped them in their search for self-knowledge, have not reached
the masses. On the contrary, the mass media have served rather
to poison our consciousness and to standardize a sense of
enjoyment that today serves as the acceptable model. All of the
media paraphernalia have served only to block the development of
a sensibility and taste in accord with the truest needs of the
common man; they have created an endemic evil instead of a
The worst of all is the *appearance* of truth. With gallant
models of bourgeois conduct, with the latest automobiles and
tears of glycerine, they have innoculated us with the greatest
and most atrocious lies, the cruelest deceptions, the most brazen
blackmail of one group by another.
Without a glimmer of their own spiritual autonomy, subjugated by
a dominant mode of being and alienated from their legitimate
self-interests, the peoples of our America have had to endure a
merciless barrage of sleeping pills so that they can have dreams
that are not theirs. The channels of communication, like a
modern Dr. Faustus, insure that strange ideas that dazzle the
eyes are accepted.
The pathology of alienation has become something common and
familiar. It is now almost impossible to distinguish alienation
from a normal state of being.
We are a manufactured product. A merchandise.
What has the modern Capitalist society given us, with all its
technological apparatuses? It has converted us into machines
that reproduce ideas that have already been commercially
processed. This is the equivalent of a psychological war. The
mass media have been employed in order to promote this war, just
as diplomacy has been employed for the other war that is its
sister: politics. And marching arm and arm in the plot have
been the Capitalist anthropologists and social commentators who
have utilized their methodologies against the people, using their
techniques to keep us submissive.
The myriad of scientific, ethnologic and sociologic reports swarm
out from the think tanks and intelligence agencies of the entire
Capitalist world. These reports have served for nothing except
as a platform for the use of sophisticated methods of
exploitation and colonialism. The psychological war which uses
these studies has sucked the life out of all spontaneity and has
strangled the human conscience. The greater the familiarity with
our various idiosyncrasies, the greater the strangulation and
Bourgeois anthropology has defined social conglomerates as if
they are static bodies, ruled by implacable laws and
incontrovertible schemes. Thus, the people can be perfectly
processed by magic mechanisms of modern science into total
inaction when confronted by colonialism and domination.
On the other hand, the bourgeois press has portrayed the people,
at the same time, as if they are an inexhaustible source of
crimes and rapes, especially when the enlarging of these types of
events can serve to turn attention away from more edifying acts.
In spite of the fact that we know that art is not pure and that
its nature is changeable, we should in any case dig into the
depths of the soul of man. We are, today more than ever, able to
do it. Modern technology simply cannot touch this depth.
Computers will not here find earth to plow. This mission is put
into the hands of man. We know that nothing is certain. But we
have a greater consciousness and a more real possibility to
overthrow the walls of lies and alienation.
The Capitalist communication systems will be able to put all of
their resources into exalting the joys of tomato soup by means of
advertisements showing a beautiful, gorgeous tin of Campbell
soup. We desire that the only model for our culture should be
the soul of the people.
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Preceding first appeared as "Conspiracy for the Day", 10/08/93