Syria, Alternative Media, and the Political Matrix: An Interview with James Corbett
This is a transcript of an email interview I had with James Corbett of Corbett Report. In it, we discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, the role of the alternative media, and how people can break free from the current system of oppression.
Devon DB: What is your opinion of the ongoing crisis in Syria?
Mr. Corbett: The crisis in Syria can only be understood through the lens of what the mainstream Western media is leaving out of their reporting, namely the ongoing, on-the-record support of outside actors in arming, equipping, and training the so-called "opposition" that is currently waging a ground war against the Syrian government.
This help is coming in the form of equipment and tactical involvement from the US State Department and the CIA, arms and supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, logistical support and operational bases in Turkey, and armed militants associated with Al Qaeda and other Wahabbi Sunni terror organizations from Libya, Iraq, and elsewhere. In this context, the constant demands of Clinton and other Western representatives for Russia to "stop arming Assad" can be seen as the hypocritical and deeply dishonest position that it is.
In fact, the entire conflict can only be understood when it is seen not as the spontaneous outgrowth of a popular internal resistance, as portrayed by the West, but as a foreign-funded and armed terrorist insurgency whose open terror campaign of car bombings, ethnic cleansings and other war crimes are consistently praised as heroic by the new "humanitarian interventionists" of the neoliberal imperialist set. Given what has taken place in Libya in recent days, those gung-ho interventionists who are currently praising the "Syrian freedom fighters" would be well-served to contemplate who it is they are helping to bring to power in Damascus.
Devon DB: Many in the alternative media are focusing on the actions of the rebels, while, some would say, ignoring the actions of the Assad regime. This usually results in one being accused of being a regime supporter. Why do you think that the focus is so much on the rebels rather than on the regime and how would you respond to such accusations as being a regime supporter?
Mr. Corbett: Selling war to the public has always involved portraying the issue as a clear-cut case of black and white, good and evil. Once the issue is framed in that way, anyone who opposes the war can be portrayed as a supporter of evil. In every instance, the case for peace is effectively taken off the table by arguing that "if you're not for the war, you're supporting X," where X is the boogeyman du jour.
This has transitioned easily from the Bush era "axis of evil" and "war on terror" to the Obama era of "humanitarian intervention." The rhetoric and reasoning are virtually identical, but they have been transposed into a liberal-friendly context. This thinking necessarily begs the question of who gets to decide who to "help" and what groups will take over in the aftermath. I do not support Assad any more than I supported Gaddafi or Assad. But neither do I support Mugabe, or the Al Khalifa dyansty in Bahrain, or the House of Saud, or Netanyahu, or any of the other leaders of repressive regimes. Why is one leader demonized and the other feted? The answer is obvious.
So the question is whether refusing to support the bombing and military invasion of a foreign country is morally equivalent to supporting that government's leader. This comes down to the question of moral responsibility. As a Canadian citizen in Japan I have absolutely no control over what happens in Syria. I do have a say over what the Canadian government does, what actions it takes, and what its military does. When it lends its support to the bombardment of Libya, I become implicated in the deaths of those civilians who were killed in those strikes. So it is up to us to stop the violence, bloodshed and power grabs made by our leaders under the guise of "humanitarian intervention" as it is up to the people of Syria to deal with the Assad government however they can. This is the nature of moral responsibility.
Devon DB: In the alternative media, we have read and heard time again that the situation is Syria could lead to “a World War 3 scenario,” do you actually think that this is possible?
Mr. Corbett: If NATO were to roll into Damascus tomorrow with guns blazing, there would be military repercussions. Russia has face to save in the Syria situation as well as strategic interests to protect in the country, so it would not sit idly by while the country is taken over by a foreign military. This is precisely why there has been no direct military intervention by any outside military, nor is there likely to be barring some international outrage like a false flag event.
More worrying, perhaps, is the relentless, years-long campaign by Israel to drum up support for a military strike on Iran. Such an event is very much on the table, very much a possibility, and would almost inevitably draw Russia, China, and other military powers into armed conflict with the NATO powers, which very well could lead to a third world war scenario.
Devon DB: Switching gears now, how would you define alternative media and what do you think its purpose is?
Mr. Corbett: There are two types of alternative media. There is the establishment alternative media and the real alternative media. The establishment alternative media is usually funded (at least partially) by the big name foundations and NGOs with ties back to the usual cast of behind-the-scenes oligarchs. They will present differing views from the mainstream media, and often offer more balanced, thoughtful and contextual reports to their audience. When it comes to key paradigmatic issues like the necessity of R2P or the responsibility of Al Qaeda for 9/11, however, they will circle the wagons and defend the system.
The real alternative media is independent and grassroots, and is not funded by the NGOs or foundations. As a citizen journalist movement, it cannot be defined by any particular ideology or viewpoint; it is a representative of the population at large. Given this media landscape, it is tempting to portray the mainstream and establishment alternative media as inherently bad and the real alternative media as inherently good, but this is too simplistic.
The establishment media occasionally does good work and often reports true facts (with heavy amounts of spin and lies by omission). The establishment alternative media contains some of the best critiques of the prevailing mainstream opinion, even if those critiques are careful never to cross certain lines.
The real alternative media is completely unmuzzled, but it is also unfiltered. There will be brilliant examples of truly independent reporting and analysis, and there will be dreadful examples of unreasoned speculation. No one medium is inherently good, and it is up to all of us to do the (sometimes laborious) work of piecing together the truth from a myriad of sources, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, good points and blind spots.
Devon DB: What role would you say the Corbett Report plays in the overall alternative media scene?
Mr Corbett: The Corbett Report is nothing more nor less than my own attempt to fill in the context that is being left out of much of the so-called debate in the mainstream and establishment alternative media. Initially spurred on by the dreadful lack of contextualization of the events of 9/11 in the media, I have branched out my own investigation into economic, social, geopolitical, scientific and philosophical matters. Through my tendency to link back all of my factual statements to source documents, I hope to be in the process of creating a resource that will be valuable for those who are seeking to come to a better understanding of the world at large.
Devon DB: Why do you think more and more people seem to be turning to the alternative media?
Mr. Corbett: The internet has surpassed newspapers and is the process of eclipsing television as the main source for news and information for most people. This means necessarily that more people are turning to the types of alternative media outlets that can only be found on the web to keep them informed about the world. There are a number of technological and social factors that are playing into this transformation, but the number one issue has to be the public's growing awareness of the information controls that exist in the traditional media. With the internet, people are suddenly able to become their own editors, deciding what stories are important, what sources are reliable, and what pieces of information are worth pursuing.
Why would anyone relinquish the power that comes from this very liberating experience of the world of information back into the hands of a few corporations run by the same few rich, well-connected men who have a vested interest in keeping the current order the way it is? And now that social media and blogging are making the tools for creating media platforms accessible by nearly everyone on the planet, the very idea that "news" is something that is organized by some centralized company in New York or London or Tokyo is being overthrown. The end of the old media paradigm is already here, the newspaper, magazine and tv companies just don't know it yet.
Devon DB: In your podcasts and radio shows, you have used the term “global enslavement grid” or variations of it. What exactly do you mean by that term?
Mr Corbett: The global enslavement grid is an interlocking system of economic, social, political and psychological controls that have been put in place to direct society toward a planned future global government structure. Although it has existed in some form or other for centuries (and, presumably, millennia), its modern form can be traced back to the British eugenicists of the late 19th century and the Fabian socialists of the early 20th century. One can trace a line stretching from Francis Galton to Paul Ehrlich, going through such figures as H.G. Wells, Julian Huxley, Walter Lippmann, B.F. Skinner and Bertrand Russell, amongst others, who were all obsessed with the problem of how to create a well-ordered society through scientific methods. To one extent or another, they all wrestled with the question of society and how it is to be governed, as well as the possibility of using scientific methods to control the lower strata of society for the benefit of a ruling elite.
We see this coming to fruition in the creation of the modern surveillance society, where the centuries-old idea of the panopticon is being implemented at a societal level, and in the modern environmental movement, which has produced in many the conviction that humanity itself is a cancer and that the control (and eventual eradication) of humans is in itself a good thing. The history of the development of this enslavement grid and the ways that it operates is too large to encapsulate in short form like this, and it's difficult to do justice to an idea this expansive in so few words. Articulating the enslavement grid has been one of the primary goals of my website, which has so far produced thousands of hours of media and will hopefully be able to produce many thousands more, exploring this idea and its development, as well as fruitful forms of resistance for those who are opposed to this agenda.
Devon DB: How do you think people can unplug from this matrix that has been created by the elites and is fed to us on a daily basis?
Mr. Corbett: The most important thing people can do (and what I have come to believe is the only thing that people can do) is to realize that the power to change society truly rests with you. We tend to shunt off the big questions about "how to change the world" to the political arena, where we can support this or that political movement or put our hopes in this or that political candidate. This is part of the global enslavement grid itself. By constantly focusing on what is outside of us and waiting for a savior to come and put society back in order, we are ceding our power over our own lives to the very corporate-military-banking-governmental superstructure that is creating the global dictatorship that we are seeking to resist. Worse yet, we continue to support that very structure in the most straightforward way possible: by buying their products, shopping at their stores, banking at their banks, and voting for their politicians. How can we possibly presume to have any effect on changing the current course of society when we are still supporting the very corporations, businesses, governments and institutions that are behind it with our time, money, and energy on a day to day basis?
The only solution is to begin to create the alternative society that we want to live in. That means beginning the long, hard process of decoupling ourselves from the corporate/retail/banking system that we are born into and transitioning into a local, independent economy that bypasses that corporate structure altogether. There are thousands of ways to do this: growing your own food, buying what you need at local markets and independent retailers, participating in local alternative currency systems, supporting independent alternative media and detaching ourselves from the technology that is increasingly embedding us in this matrix. It is not an easy process, and in all likelihood it is a generational project. But it will not begin unless we take those first steps.
Devon DB is a 20 year old independent writer and researcher. He is studying political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He can be contacted at devondb[at]mail[dot]com.
James Corbett is an independent journalist who has been living and working in Japan since 2004. He has been writing and producing The Corbett Report, an online multi-media news and information source, since 2007.