Author Archives: comm397ss-jsaxe

About comm397ss-jsaxe

I teach at UMass in the Dept. of Communication and am an artist-educator-in residency in Mass. DYS facilities.

class 24 assignment:  neoliberalism & visioning alts

 This assignment has two parts:  1.)  It introduces two contrasting perspectives on the role of government in promoting the common good:  neoliberalism vs. the New Deal.  The conflict between these two ideologies helps to understand why the dominant U.S. power structure abstains from regulating the entertainment industries for the common good.   2.)   Envision directions for reshaping an entertainment industry based on principles of economic democracy.  

  1. Noam Chomsky Interview:  Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism.  Truthout, April 1, 2020.  

  1. Read Principles of Neoliberalism and watch video.
  1. View FDR’s Second Bill of Rights speech.


————————————————————————————————————————————- Brainstorming journal notes  — written response required.   From a youth POV, select a particular entertainment industry (including social media) you think needs to be changed, e.g. FB, Amazon, Netflix, sports, fashion, fast food, etc.   Discuss on two levels:  

  • Benefits and disadvantages of democratizing this industry for the common good. 
  • Apply the models of cooperatives and co-determination to envision how to re-organize these industries towards a horizontal rather than hierarchical model of power.  
    • Start with a grassroots, decentralized perspective
    • How might existing local and regional institutions, e.g. schools, city government, sports teams, serve as the basis for democratic governance. 

NOTE: Submit your response notes to instructor as a Google doc via email:

class 22 coops


  1. Farhad Manjoo.   A Plan in Case Robots Take the Jobs: Give Everyone a Paycheck. New York Times, March 2, 2016.
  1. Gar Alperovitz. Socialism in America is Closer Than You Think. The Nation, February 11, 2016. Retrieved from Solidarity Economy.Net
  2. Shaila Dewan. Who needs a boss? New York Times magazine. March 25, 2014.
  1. History of Cooperative Movement profiling 1844 Rochdale Cooperative   [youtube][youtube]
  1. Cabot Cheese. Cabot honors the Rochdale Cooperative Principles. Retrieved from
  1. Cabot Cheese. About Us. Retrieved from
  1. Mondragon: A Better Way to Go to Work? The Oklahoma City Catholic Worker.[/youtube]

Reading questions

  1. Outline (5) different elements of what Alperovitz (reading #2) characterizes as an emergent, decentralized form of homegrown American “socialism.”
  2. From readings #5 and #7 to create a list of 5 principles that guide cooperative economics.  Use you own words; do not copy and paste.
  3. What are your responses to these readings? About the possibility of creating a social order guided by more democratic forms of organization?

labor pov

A labor point-of-view favoring working people goes against hegemony:  how the owning class projects it’s worldview to become “commonsense.”

The fundamental bias of what gets labeled “the news” endorses and reinforces a capitalist worldview, favoring the interests of the upper-income classes, and the so-called “free market” from which they profit, own, and control.

Signified by the scarce utterance of the word “capitalism,” this unquestioned commonsense is completely normalized as the way it is:  “always has been, will be.”  

The victory of this cognitive battle is seen in the demonization of terms and concepts that favor the interests of everyday working people to ensure the provision of basic human needs:  food, housing, healthcare, education, transportation, culture, community.

Such demonized terms include:  big government, welfare, food stamps, public assistance, the public good, public teachers, public workers, trade unions, socialism, communism, share the wealth.

The absence of  “news” and a wider public discourse critical of capitalism and sympathetic to the needs of everyday people robs the public of cognitive resources – language, history, concepts – that suggest the benefits of and possibilities for building grassroots movements for resistance based on a vision of a transformed, positive* future that seeks to safeguard the common good, the collective interests of all.

* vs. dystopian: “it’s easier for Americans to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”


  1. neoliberal-conference-poster-finalTHE RULE OF THE MARKET/MARKETPLACE FUNDAMENTALISM:  Sacred belief in the market as the best provider of human needs.  “Big government” and trade unions are vilified as corrupt and self-serving to justify cutting corporate regulation regardless of social damage.  It’s also called “trickle-down” economics;  but due to outsourcing, contingent labor, and tech-based productivity hikes, all that trickles down are greater levels of income inequality .
  2. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that diminishes profits for the corporate elite including environment protection,  job safety, and marketing to children.  Attack unions to reduce wages by eliminating workers’ rights to organize.
  3. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors.  Privatization concentrates wealth in a few hands while making the public pay more for its needs; the shift in financial aid from grants to loans exemplifies privatization as banks profit off massive student debt.  Massive bailouts for Wall Street banks while Main Street homeowners go into foreclosure.
  4. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Cut public expenditures for social services like public education.  While safety nets for the economically-marginalized are slashed, corporations are granted subsidies and tax benefits.  Those on the lower end of the economic spectrum suffer the failure of the marketplace to provide for their basic human needs:  lack of health care, affordable housing, quality education, transportation.  To justify this lack of societal empathy, they are branded as “lazy” and “welfare cheats,” and blamed  for systemic inequities.


Youth Media Council

2002 study of Bay Area TV news coverage

Public derives opinions about crime from the “news”

 77 percent of the public say they form their opinions about social issues like crime from what they read and watch in the news.

Despite a 33 percent drop in juvenile crime since 1993, two-thirds of the public still believe crime is rising.

From 1990 -1998,the national crime rate dropped by 20 percent, but news coverage of crime increased by 83 percent.

In a 1996 California poll, 60% of respondents believed that juveniles were responsible for most violent crime, although youth were actually responsible for 13 percent of violent crime that year.

The disparity between coverage of youth & their real-life conditions has led to the criminalization of an entire generation.

In California, two-thirds of adults are white, while three-fifths of youth are of color.  Such demographics leads to a fear among white adults that provides a backdrop for criminalizing news coverage of youth of all races — “white hot fear”

The 1990s were a period of misperception about youth crime and juvenile justice. Despite plummeting youth crime rates, the fear of youth crime led to public policy decisions that increased incarceration and made the juvenile justice system more punitive.

Coverage of Youth Disproportionately Focused on Crime more than half the coverage of youth we examined was about crime.  63 percent portrayed youth as either victims or perpetrators of crime. Despite the fact that by 1998, the rate of violent juvenile crime had dropped to the lowest level in 25 years, more than half the coverage of youth we examined was about crime. 

For each story on Youth & Poverty, There Were 11 Stories on Youth & Crime  Though youth poverty continues to rise & youth crime & victimization continue to fall, incidents of crime received more attention than conditions of youth poverty.

Stories about pets & animals appeared more than 4x as often as stories about youth poverty – 55:12

Fewer Than 5 Percent of News Stories About Youth Mentioned Poverty  Today, 20 percent of youth live at or below poverty level, but youth poverty is not a focus of news coverage.  As unemployment for teens skyrockets to more than 4x the adult rate, child poverty remains one of news media’s most under-covered issues.

 MISSING VOICES:  Youth voices Missing from News Coverage of Youth Of the 257 news stories examined by youth researchers, youth were quoted in only 30 percent of the stories. Yet police, prosecutors, and politicians were quoted in approximately half of the stories examined.

Stories About Youth and Crime Almost Never Quoted Youth, Especially The Voices of Youth Advocates Were Almost Completely Missing from

News Stories About Youth  In almost 70 % of the news stories, no youth advocates or public defenders were quoted.

In Stories About Youth, Law Enforcement and Politicians Were Quoted More Often Than Any Other Sources Police, prosecutors, and politicians were quoted in approximately half(49.8 percent) of the stories about youth. Public defenders for youth were not quoted in any of the stories.

 LACK OF CONTEXT:  More Than Half of News Stories About Youth Failed to Examine Solutions or Causes for the Issues and Problems



14th St 7th Av  Dec.31, 2013

14th St 7th Av Dec.31, 2013


Music Unleashes Rebellion Pink Grammys 2014 billboard. For another approach to advertising a music awards broadcast, take a look at this special glittering ... billboards were  all over L.A. a the start of the New Year,  photographed from January 2 to January 14, 2014.

“Music Unleashes Rebellion Pink Grammys 2014 billboard. For another approach to advertising a music awards broadcast, take a look at this special glittering … billboards were all over L.A. at the start of the New Year, photographed from January 2 to January 14, 2014.”

The Message Grandmaster Flash

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder

How I keep from going under

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder

How I keep from going under


Broken glass everywhere

People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care

I can’t take the smell, I can’t take the noise

Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice

Rats in the front room, roaches in the back

Junkies in the alley with the baseball bat

I tried to get away, but I couldn’t get far

Cause a man with a tow-truck repossessed my car



Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge

I’m trying not to lose my head, ah huh-huh-huh

[2nd and 5th: ah huh-huh-huh] [4th: say what?]

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder

How I keep from going under

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder

How I keep from going under


Standing on the front stoop, hangin’ out the window

Watching all the cars go by, roaring as the breezes blow

Crazy lady livin’ in a bag

Eating out of garbage pails, used to be a fag-hag

Said she danced the tango, skipped the light fandango

The Zircon Princess seemed to lost her senses

Down at the peepshow, watching all the creeps

So she can tell the stories to the girls back home

She went to the city and got social security

She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own


[2nd Chorus]

My brother’s doing bad on my mother’s TV

She says: “You watch it too much, it’s just not healthy!”

“All My Children” in the daytime, “Dallas” at night

Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight

The bill collectors they ring my phone

And scare my wife when I’m not home

Got a bum education, double-digit inflation

I can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station

Neon King Kong standin’ on my back

Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacrophiliac

A mid-ranged migraine, cancered membrane

Sometimes I think I’m going insane, I swear I might hijack a plane


My son said: “Daddy I don’t wonna go to school

Cause the teacher’s a jerk!”, he must think I’m a fool

And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper

If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper

I’ll dance to the beat, shuffle my feet

Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps

Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny

You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey

They pushed that girl in front of the train

Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again

Stabbed that man right in his heart

Gave him a transplant for a brand new start

I can’t walk through the park, cause it’s crazy after dark

Keep my hand on my gun, cause they got me on the run

I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jar

Hear them say: “You want some more livin’ on a seesaw?”

[4th Chorus]

A child is born with no state of mind

Blind to the ways of mankind

God is smiling on you but he’s frowning too

Because only God knows what you’ll go through

You’ll grow in the ghetto, living second rate

And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate

The places you’re playin’, where you stay

Looks like one great big alley way

You’ll admire all the number book takers

Thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers

Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens

And you wanna grow up to be just like them, huh,

Smugglers, scrambles, burglars, gamblers

Pickpockets, peddlers even panhandlers

You say: “I’m cool, I’m no fool!”

But then you wind up dropping out of high school

Now you’re unemployed, all non-void

Walking ’round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd

Turned stickup kid, look what you’ve done did

Got sent up for a eight year bid

Now your manhood is took and you’re a may tag

Spend the next two years as a undercover fag

Being used and abused to serve like hell

Till one day you was found hung dead in a cell

It was plain to see that your life was lost

You was cold and your body swung back and forth

But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song

Of how you lived so fast and died so young

Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge

I’m trying not to lose my head

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going


It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going



Yo Mell, you see that girl there?

Yo, that sounded like Cowboy man


Yo, what’s up Money?

Yo, where’s Cooly an Raheim?

They is downstairs coooling out

So what’s up for tonight y’all?

We could go down to Phoenix

We could go check out “Junebug” man

Hey yo, you know that girl Betty?

Yeah man

Come on, come all man

Not like it

That’s what I heard man

What’s this happening, what’s this?

What’s goin’ on?


Don’t nobody move or nothin’

Y’all know what this is (What’s happend?)

Get ’em up, get ’em up (What?)

Oh man, we’re (Right in there) Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

What is that, a gang?


Shut up

I don’t wanna hear your mouth

Shut up

Officer, officer, what is the problem?

You the problem

Hey, you ain’t gotta push me man

Get in the car, get in the car

Get in the god…

I said, “Get in the car”

Why is he?



The Message lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, EMI Music

Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Peermusic Publishing

carnival, Bakhtin

Mikhael Bakhtin,  Rabelais and His World, 1965

A boundless culture of folk humor in the Middle Ages and Renaissance created a sharp contrast to the official serious tone of medieval ecclesiastical and feudal political order. …folk festivities of the carnival type, the comic rites, cults & spectacles,  clowns and fools, giants, dwarfs, and jugglers, a vast literature of parody…linked to the feasts of the Church, themselves drawn from pagan rituals.

Built a second world outside officialdom…a second life of the people, who for a time entered the utopian realm of community: freedom, equality and abundance.

 Carnival celebrated temporary liberation from the prevailing truth and established order; the suspension of all hierarchical rank, privileges norms and prohibitions. People were, so to speak, reborn for new, purely human relations [that] were not only a fruit of imagination or abstract thought, but immediately experienced.

Peter Brueghel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, 1559













For the individual and the group, what expressive resources (creative power) might such practices impart? For the human community, what functions were served by this folk culture of humor and ritual performance? How might these expressive resources – creative practices, social networks – carry over to political realms? In what ways, if any, are comparable expressive resources cultivated by consumerist culture?

public sphere

The “public sphere” refers to a social realm in which private citizens come together to discuss matters of common concern to form public opinions.

A portion of the public sphere comes into being in every conversation in which private individuals assemble to form a public body.

“a sphere which mediates between society & state, in which the public organizes itself as a bearer of public opinion.”  Habermas

  • often oriented toward governing institutions

  • facilitates argument by providing forums for citizen interaction.

The public sphere refers to a space created through discourse.

  • a social space generated when citizens gather to discuss issues of mutual concern.

  • space in a metaphorical not physical sense.

The public sphere does not refer to an institutional structure or physical location.

  • discourse may occur in clubs, workplaces, homes, governmental settings, street corners, etc.