Linda Wallace on Wed, 30 Jul 1997 09:50:19 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> mahathir mutation

I don't read this series of posts as an adversarial or oppositional
debate (as Peter L. contends) though I thought that Teo's original
comment that all previous posts on the issue were 'defending Soros with
messianic zeal' was a misreading (or more bluntly, a nonreading) as
these largely weren't about Soros at all, but pointers to other ways of
thinking about the issue ie other articles/angles which provided more
background information.  And yes, as Teo says, all media is infected by
various vested interests, so it is up to us to attempt to sort the wheat
from the chaff, to select credible sources of information in order to
piece a more coherent picture together (while also trying to remain
alert to one's own assumptions). I think that nettime can be counted on
to provide and point to relatively credible information sources. 

Mackenzie is incisive to describe soros as 'global media virus'.  If it
is so that Mahathir returned from two months travel whispering the name
of George Soros under his breath, and then tried to start a Soros
epidemic to do with currency crisis, it appears to have backfired.

As to why this thread -- the global soros virus -- was picked up by
nettimers, I would argue that it wasn't so much the soros virus but more
the fact that it found a home within the Mahathir media virus, where it
mutated, launched from the mouth of Mahathir, and then lodged somewhere
(or was rejected by) those who responded. 

One reason that this global soros media virus was so conveniently used
by (the extended machine) Mahathir could be the ASEAN leaders'
fear/distrust of (further) linkages between human rights issues and
trade and investment  -- which they successfully lobbied against at a
recent GATT round (nb. supported by the Australian government), and now
is being played out again by current efforts led by Mahathir/ASEAN for
the UN to dilute its charter on human rights. If it is so that Soros has
been outspoken in his criticism of Burma, then planting the soros virus
into the ASEAN media landscape seems to me a convenient way of killing
his voice in the debate (regardless of whether soros was involved in
currency speculation or not). Another reason for this mutation by
Mahathir of the soros virus over burma indirectly helps keep a lid on
discussions that Burma's admittance to ASEAN is a strategic hedge
against China. 

It's ok that this dialogue has caught fire on nettime, lots of
interesting comments, pointers etc have emerged -- but I don't think it
is so very different to any other thread -- as to why now, it must have
been an extended and multifaceted conversation just waiting to happen. 

linda wallace
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