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  December 27, 2017

Paul Jay: Empires Don't Make Their Own Reality

The Real News Network Senior Editor Paul Jay explains what's behind the show title 'Reality Asserts Itself,' and discusses the promise and danger that asserts itself now
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PAUL JAY: Hi everybody, I'm Paul Jay at the Real News Network. On Reality Asserts Itself, I have the privilege of interviewing engaging, brilliant, and brave people who fight against injustice and stand on the side of progress. We hear not only what they think about issues but what motivated them to act in ways that often jeopardized their career or put them at odds with their family. These are people who stick their necks out for what they believe.

The name "Reality Asserts Itself" came to me after reading a 2004 article appearing in the New York Times Magazine by Ron Suskind. He describes a conversation with an unnamed official in the George W. Bush administration before the Iraq war. Suskind wrote, "The aide said that guys like me," meaning Suskind, "were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality ... That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.'"

No you don't, I thought. The leaders of all empires think they wield such power and will rule forever. The dustbin of history overflows with such people. Presidents Bush, Obama, now Trump all justify wars and mass slaughter with mantras about security, democracy, and freedom. Higher ideals must be invoked for soldiers to sacrifice their lives. America might do bad things, but always for good reasons. The obvious reality is that commercial interest asserts itself, especially finance, oil, and guns. Behind all the rhetoric, this interest largely determines foreign policy. American exceptionalism excepts inequality and its accompanying militarism as inevitable in the best country on earth.

The pledge of allegiance users in the first day of kindergarten, begins an education imbued with Americanism. The implicit message: the status quo is inevitable, transformative change is impossible, and consuming ever more shiny goods is happiness and freedom. America is at the center of world history and Americans are superior. Of course, to be a white American makes one even more exceptional. Daily television and radio news are the most powerful enforcers of this world view, pounded into our heads 24/7.

In spite of a massive propaganda machine many people have broken from this narrow nationalist religion. That is the wonder of speaking to the people I have the opportunity to interview on our show. Whether they come from religious or secular homes, with progressive or conservative parents, from wealth or the working class, and from all parts of the world, the journey these outstanding people have taken to try to see the world as it is and not shy away from the problems facing us, inspires me.

We live at a momentous time in human history. The climate crisis, war, and deep economic inequality threaten to destroy society itself. But the human story is not over. We can change the world by finding effective solutions that benefit the majority of people, and with the determination to assert the interest of the many over the elite few. If we fight with wisdom, humanity, and consciousness, reality is on our side.

I hope that the Real News Network and Reality Asserts Itself contributes to this growing awareness, but we can't do it without your support. It takes a host, a producer, a studio crew, an editor, and a studio facility to make an RAI series of interviews. Sometimes it involves travel expenses. We produce the show like a documentary film, with extensive archival footage. All of this is expensive. So, if you value what we do, please make a tax deductible donation today, to make our show Reality Asserts Itself possible. Help us make real news.

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