The mainstream has arguably become the modern voice of a modern form of imperialism. If so, it must surely amount to one of the most effective and devastating voices that that particular form of domination has employed. Because it infiltrates almost every area of our banal lives. And because it passes almost undetected.
The former is possible, because there is not a medium that the mainstream doesn’t have at its disposal. As for the latter, this is possible because the mainstream’s preferred semantics are those of our own largely (albeit, purely cosmetic) ‘progressive’ values. For, just like the world of marketing that is its natural model and ally, it has learnt that for us to believe in and buy into its message, it has to represent back to us our own values (however shallow).
As this kind of cosmetic progressivism comes increasingly to define our mind-sets in the West, we can expect much more of the shady geo-political designs of the ruling powers to reach us under its guise. A lethal mix of narcissism and identity-projection that the new marketing-honed elites know all too well how to work. If recent experience is anything to go by, literally anything can (and has been) sold to us through this new marketing ploy. From right-wing coups to lethal sanctions.
Perhaps one constant, however, in this tragically on-going history of domination/imperialism is that the dominating culture (in this case ours) is smugly proud of itself and its values. Once you have reached that level of cultural narcissism and fatuity, the conditions are ripe for carrying out domination on others. Or, as a population, being duped into doing so by your rulers.
It’s no coincidence that, as the ruling powers of the West ramp up their geo-political machinations (in reaction to a perceived threat to their hegemonic position on the world stage), we find a reassertion (and misappropriation) of ‘our’ values right across the mainstream. From democracy and, recently, freedom of speech, to even the ‘Enlightenment’. The latter being part of the original banner of the old-world form of European imperialism.
Of course, it might be argued that to attack the mainstream is in itself a form of elitism. But surely it’s the contrary. As the mainstream, through its very real domination of almost all channels of communication and even expression, will always be exactly that: a form of domination. The mainstream has nothing to do, in any meaningful sense, with any individual’s or group’s self-expression, identity, culture or values. In fact, it more often than not constitutes the silencing of all of those things in order to inculcate in a population a mind-set that is compliant with the interests of an elite.
Adam Warren is a journalist living in Paris.