Breaking the News Cycle …

2 Apr

Breaking the News Cycle:  Secularism and Reason in an Age of Media Spin, PR, and Marketing


I’m glad to hear the Reason Rally was a success and so uplifting to people.  Even so, I’m catching a sort of disconnect between these testimonials of it and how it was handled in the media.  Was it a tribute to (universal) human fellowship in the spirit of secular values or more a staging ground from which to unilaterally and aggressively declare war on religion instead (in the vein of proclaiming “contempt” for faith as was brought out in Dawkins’ speech)?  I’m no religionist … but I’ve an honest question here about the rally and what it was for … Was it for getting one’s bearings in the culture war and building up enough social capital and power from which to attack religion, spirituality, and faith in all out offensive against these ideas? … or was it about building up people’s spirits in a spirit of universal human camaraderie and liberal values instead (in a climate of religiously-instigated culture wars and attacks on human reason, modernity, and ideals)?

If it’s about staking out an offensive position in the culture wars rather than pursuing a liberal spirit of inquiry and dialogue in human affairs, then this strategem is going to fail and fail miserably.  The culture wars will only end in chaos and destruction, with militant secularism only assuming the role of another religion in the ensuing conflagration and termination of societies and culture in the world (albeit in the style of old order civil religions like the cult of the Roman emperors or new order ones centered around the cult of personality and the notion of the ‘great leader.’)

But if the new, burgeoning secular movement is centered around liberalism and Leftist political philosophy, then there’s a chance for pulling off a secular turnaround in the world and a great humanist social revolution …

Still, this requires a bit of work to make it a reality … Where are the Stephen Batchelors in these reason rallies?  Where are the Noam Chomskys and Gore Vidals? … If REASON is going to take off as an all-encompassing social movement, it has to pull in these other diverse trends of the liberal, secular tradition and not just settle into the placidity of cliquishness, even if the clique is the ATHEIST brand itself.

And, that brings me back to the media reportage of the Reason Rally.  An angry, vitriolic Dawkins SELLS in the mainstream press and the major media.  The docile public BUYS into it and moves obediently onto the next big thing in the news, allowing the Establishment to use that event for whatever social and ideological ends it sees fit to pursue in the world (advancing the culture wars for its own benefits, fostering aggressive war policy in the United States and elsewhere in the developed, Western world, etc.)   Meanwhile, the secular community within its own ranks faces a different problem.  Too many voices maybe … saying too many different things, and therefore lacking cohesion and clear direction … So the task here is to craft a MARKETABLE brand for the atheistic public and secularists in order to organize them into a more effective social unit and pliable political force… Hence, the NEW Atheist tag.

But again, this is just more PR, more marketing, … and why even the Thinking Atheist’s video sounds too much to me like a religious or spiritual testimonial of some evangelical, revivalist gathering.  It doesn’t sound self-actualized, but more like a kind of salable promotions video you might get for entering a church or social club. … It may be REAL, heartfelt, and authentic after all … But from the way it was made, it sounds contrived and almost propaganda-ish.

If the secular community is to get anywhere in the world, it has to break the power of the news cycle and even break out of the news cycle.  Only by doing that can it establish a real connection with the public at large, grow its ranks as a truly grassroots mass movement, and break free of the elite structures and agendas causing it to ultimately languish in the noise/excitement of the news cycle.

As long as secular reason is beholden to commercial marketing, mass media, and the power of the news cycle, it will always founder as a movement when placed alongside the glitz of Hollywood or the nitty-gritty politics of Washington D.C.  Secularism’s real brand should be its own no-nonsense presentation of appeal to the public through un-glitzed, un-rehearsed, un-PR’d arguments to reason and people’s values in a person-to-person way.  As soon as it tries to pull off the pizzazz of cable news, it loses its soul and its way.  It just can’t compete with the TV news personalities or other media stars for glitz and glamor; but if it goes at its mission differently by getting at people through alternative media, the Internet, and in a fashion that circumvents the official news outlets and media channels, then it stands a good chance of success and bringing people around to its position.  Otherwise it becomes another casualty of the culture wars.

As secularists, we can’t afford to that happen.  (Liberal) Reason is the only thing standing in the way of our world’s immolation at the hands of its competing dogmas and authoritarian impulses.  If it succumbs to the ferment of cultural warfare, then the modern world as we know it is lost. … We don’t need a new Dark Age. … The purpose of “secular liberalism” is to see we don’t get it.



I am a secularist and ‘atheist’, but wouldn’t be welcome at the Reason Rally…Posted in General at 12:49 pm by nemo — Here’s the link to the site in any case:


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