Legacy of Edward S. Herman, Author of Manufacturing Consent

The legacy of Edward S. Herman, who coauthored the book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. If you haven’t looked at the Manufacturing Consent book or documentary, I recommend doing so.

Edward Herman, the co-author (with Noam Chomsky) of Manufacturing Consent, has died. He was 92. His work has never been more relevant.

Manufacturing Consent was a kind of bible of media criticism for a generation of dissident thinkers. The book described with great clarity how the system of private commercial media in America cooperates with state power to generate propaganda.

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We can make a few deductions about the new “manufactured consent.” The thrust of modern media isn’t as simple as cheerleading for the flag and ignoring atrocities, although we clearly still do that.

There seems also to be a massive emphasis on political division as a route to profit. Since getting people to discuss and argue is how companies like Facebook get paid, driving us toward ever more divisive media is an obvious imperative. But to what end?

Herman and Chomsky’s work was a great gift to a generation of thinkers trying to make sense of how power in the West sold itself to populations. The late Herman should be honored for that critical contribution he made to understanding American empire.

It’s a shame he never wrote a sequel. Now more than ever, we could use another Manufacturing Consent.