The Ideas of anarchism have been in existence since the French Revolution but people still are not clear about the expectations of these people (Anarchist), this is because the minds of people have been set to believe that it is a necessity to have government, these people are also the one's who complain about the abuse of power, taxes, rules and regulations which are laid down to them by the State.The purpose of this essay is to discuss how well the alternative media fits as an answer to anarchism and in discussing this I would include ideas and argument from notable academic theorists and scholars such as Michael Trabue, Stephen Duncombe. Also in this essay, I would use the term 'alternative' rather than 'radical' media because saying alternative actually involves more than just radical or social change publishing: it can also include lifestyle magazine, small press, and fiction publishers.I would explore the riddle, that is, "anarchism" as the most subtle element to grasps yet; a very widely recognized act which has been welcomed by different theorist and scholars as an important way with which the society would be refined thus leading to the betterment of people living in and around the place.
This essay would also draw on the idea of alternative media being different from its opponents which is the main stream media and how these differences could be likened to the theories of anarchists.The anarchist society, one which is free from authority and all which anarchists are against, is already in existence, this can be seen in the form of "Alternative Media". What then are the theories or expectations of anarchist? And to what extent is the rise of Alternative Media an example of Anarchy in action, these are some of the questions that this essay seeks to address.Definition of TermsAnarchism- it is the description of a mode of human organisation rooted in the experience of everyday life which operates side by side with and in spite of the dominant authoritarian trends of our society. (Gustav Laudauer)Alternative Media- These are media (newspapers, magazines and internet) which are alternatives to the business or government owned mass media or mainstream media (Wikipedia)What are those things that Anarchist actually wants? First and foremost one should note that within anarchism there are many different but related ideas. There are complete systems of anarchist political theory going by names like federalism, mutualism, individualism, syndicalism, anarchist-communism and so on.
But the one thing which they all mostly have in common is the goal of a "society free from the clutches of the State", a society were people have the freedom and liberty to make decision for themselves without been coerced to do so, a society without the authority. Anarchists see society as the natural condition of human being which brings out the best in them, in other words, the society is like a circulation system of the human body; it is self regulating and performs better when there is little or no interference. When these been achieved people can then live together in oneness and share common interest, which in turn minimize conflicts.To clarify an important point, we should note that anarchists are not saying that there should be no government; on the contrary the argument is that there should be no State.
They argue that the State should be extinct and in its place should be a another form of social organisation; the State is known as a specific form of government which has now become a part of the society, that is people are born into it and have to recognize obligations, it claims total authority to the rights of its subject and it doesn't allow competitors as such one does not have a choice.The attempt of the anarchist is to build a society which is free from chaotic and disfiguring features which are present (violence, war) all this chaos, they believe, arises from authority and the State. Without the ruling class and its need to keep people in bondage, there would be no State. Without the State people would be in a position to organise freely for our own ends. Free organisation could provide a much greater orderliness than a society that concentrates on the systematic robbery and suppression of the majority of its members.One recurring question that people have asked is if the ideas would work in a large society, the answer which anarchist gave, is that the society would be broken down to bits and pieces so as to make them comprehensible to small groups of ordinary people.
It is a noticeable fact of organisation, as well as a basic principle of anarchist theory, that small groups of people can work efficiently together, and co-ordinate with other such groups; whereas large formless groups are gullible and easily dominated.Now that we have a fairly reasonable idea of what anarchist's propose the problem is how to get from here to there and the only visible solutions which may be a slight answer to what they propose, would be the Alternative Media. To what extent is "alternative media" a rise in anarchy in action?Alternative media is that form of media which expresses its attitudes 'hostile to widely-held beliefs'. It espouses views or deals with subjects not given regular coverage by publications generally available and also deals with opinions of small minorities (The Royal Commission of the press; 1977).Above is a brief definition of alternative media which brings us to the question: Why is there alternative media? The answer is that the alternative media is that form of media which is the opposite of mainstream media, it makes people aware of information which are usually not suppressed by mainstream media; that is tell the world those important news and stories which would never be gotten from any other source, this type of media is not profit oriented but to allow for the free flow of information. The anarchist wants a stateless society because the state tends to control everything from the people they govern to the information which is let out to them and this shows that Alternative Media can be likened to anarchy in action.
According to Michael Traber's, his notion of alternative media, is one which aim is to change towards a more equitable social, cultural and economic whole in which the individual is not reduced to an object (of the media or the political powers) but is able to find fulfilment as a total human being. From his point of view this is almost similar to what the anarchist has always fought for, people should not be pawns in the hands of the elite or government rather; different people should have the liberty of deciding issues of utmost concern.He divides the alternative media into two parts: advocacy and grassroots media. Alternative advocacy media, in it news it imbibes the marginalized, oppressed and ordinary people as the core of it news headlines which makes it different form the mainstream media. On the other hand, the grassroots media, which Traber agrees is indeed is a true for of alternative media as it is produced by the same people whose concerns they represent, form the position of engagement and direct participation.
Thus, in his arguments he says that if ordinary people are given the opportunity for the production and distribution of news, they would be more aware of the kind of news to produce and the most effective ways to present it to the communities. An example of such alternative grassroots media in Nigeria would be TELL Magazine, which was considered as the last vestige for the common man, it was made up of writers who use militant approaches or viewpoints in news coverage. It is one of the few newspapers which were commercial free, its editorial body was not under the clutches of political parties, organisations or the government and it provided the ordinary people with news and information that were directly useful to their daily lives.From Duncombe's arguments, speaking in terms of social change, alternative media should not just be seen as a body of people who merely produce instrumental discourses as a way to bring about change, they actually make change happen, this doesn't have to be just in the form of structural on national level but in the grassroots (local) and even personally, like in the case of Tell Magazine top journalists who worked with prominent media houses but left for clandestine trenches to provide a platform for freedom of expression, reporting the truth and also everyday news essentials.An American study demonstrates the significance of alternative media for radical and unconventional content. He argues that 'alternative media in whatever format is our modern pamphleteer'.
The alternative media employs methods of production and distribution allied to an activist philosophy of creating 'information for action' timorously rapidly. As such, they can deal with emerging issues. The notion of 'radical' social change is a primary aim of alternative media is that they avowedly reject or challenge established and institutionalized politics in the sense that they advocate change in society or at least a critical reassessment of traditional values. (Sullivan: 1994 pp 10).
This is also a branch of alternative media and to fully buttress my points of the fact that the way in which they operate could be likened to the ideas of anarchism; I would throw more light on the main features that characterize the alternative internet. First, internet could be seen as a set of information communication technology produced by a range of individuals or groups which Atton terms as alternative- by this he meant a media project that seek to develop different forms or ways of 'doing' media.Alternative internet privileges a journalist who thinks not just about writing to satisfy the state and those at the hem of affairs but one who has the notion of social responsibility at heart replacing the ideology of objectivity with overt advocacy and oppositional practices. This type of media is different in the sense that it does not look to hierarchical, elite-centred notion of journalism as a business, that is to say that it is the love they have for the people that make them serve the people with information that are of importance to their daily life not the power that controls the state or the rich people who try to protect their image by hiding the truth.
The features of the structure of these independent media (Indy media) which is egalitarian, broadly collective according to John Downing links such features to a continuing tradition of socialist anarchism.Some of the ethics of alternative journalism can also be used as a yardstick to measure the extent to which one can say that alternative internet is a form of anarchy in action. These include:* They are characterized by their explicitly partisan character, that is, they have little interest in balancing reports. They tell it as it happened.
What appears as bias and the absence of balance in alternative media is not a set of absolute truth but rather it is just accounts told from different perspectives. This can be likened to Edgar's (1992: 120) claim that journalism cannot be objective, because if it does then it presupposes that an inviolable interpretation of the event exists prior to the report.* It doesn't discriminate ordinary people who are seen as the marginalized group in mainstream media. There is emphasis on how the unremarkable individual may be capable of extraordinary achievements.
I already noted that alternative media are not simply about journalism differently but organising differently.The ability to express and publish opinion in the alternative media is radically different from the situation in the mass media. And this makes it a form of anarchy in action as it empowers people information which affects their daily life and it is not limited in it words in ways in which the elite group controls. Having set out a number of key arguments in this essay, I can say in conclusion alternative media to a large extent is anarchy in action.