Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gabrielle Carey and a Western Australian story of isolation and familial connections

There is an excellent review (here) of Gabrielle Carey's new book Moving among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family about her family connection with Western Australian author Randolph Stow.
 Other reviews of the book are here here, here.
Carey's book intertwines the histories of the West Australian writer Randolph Stow, and that of her mother, Joan, and father Alex Carey, all of whom grew up in and near Geraldton in Western Australia's midwest.
Gabrielle Carey writes:
"Randolph Stow and my father first crossed paths in Geraldton, the small Western Australian town where both men grew up. Both men rejected their colonial family heritage and both travelled to England to begin academic careers. While Stow retreated to rural Suffolk ‘to rusticate’ and write fiction, my father returned to Australia, and to the life as an academic and an activist. The final point of common ground for these two talented men from rural Australia was a suicidal impulse. Where Stow fortunately failed, my father succeeded"
Gabrielle Carey is a distinguished author in her own right (aka Puberty Blues)  having published eight books and numerous articles.  She has previously written books about her father Alex Carey (In my Father's House) and her mother Joan (Waiting Room).
The story of her father Alex Carey the WA born distinguished academic, writer and political activist, who had a significant impact on Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, has always intrigued me.
Carey was an academic and anti-war activist at Sydney University. He took his own life in 1987  partly as a result of financial losses from the 1987 stock market crash and a struggle with depression in later life. Gabrielle Carey wrote about her father in her 1992 book In My Fathers House.
Alex Carey's pioneering work on corporate propaganda and corporate power is little known in Australia, but had a profound effect on many distinguished writers, journalists, academics and campaigners including John Pilger and Noam Chomsky.
Noam Chomsky dedicates his seminal work with Ed Herman Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media to the memory of Alex Carey. Chomsky wrote  that his dedication was a:
"bare and inadequate way to express our indebtedness to him for his uniquely important work on the idea of a propaganda managed democracy that the highly class conscious business community had sought to achieve".
Chomsky acknowledges that Alex Carey inspired his work:
 "The real importance of Carey's work is that it's the first effort, and until now the major effort, to bring some of [the history of corporate propaganda] to public attention. It's had a tremendous influence on the work I've done"
 John Pilger compared Alex Carey to George Orwell. In a 2004 article on propaganda and the war on terror Pilger describes the contemporary relevance of Alex Carey's work
"The late Alex Carey, the great Australian social scientist who pioneered the study of corporatism and propaganda, wrote that the three most significant political developments of the twentieth century was, and I quote, "the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy". 

Carey was describing the propaganda of 20th century imperialism, which is the propaganda of the corporate state. And contrary to myth, the state has not withered away; indeed, it has never been stronger."
Much of Alex Carey's writing only appeared posthumously in the book Taking the Risks out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty  published after his death.

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