A week before Michael Parenti’s arrival, sidewalks chalked up with the words, “Get Political!” urged students to experience one of the most progressive activist speakers CSUN has had in years.
On April 17, award-winning author and lecturer Michael Parenti spoke about the political perceptions and deceptions in America. Parenti is known for his progressive views and criticism of the American empire.
“In this age of empire, how do we arrive at the truth and achieve objectivity?” Parenti asked, “The problem is much of our personal perceptions are just not that personal, rather, they’ve been shaped by things outside of ourselves.”
Social values, traditions, the media and peoples’ position in the social structure are a few of the influences Parenti spoke about. As individuals, we don’t just “sponge up information,” because perception itself is an act of editing, Parenti said.
“If you live on Wall Street you have one perspective of reality, if you live under Wall Street you’ll have another,” Parenti said. “We’ve all observed that if something doesn’t fit what people believe, they have reserved defenses. Rather than getting an agreement, you’ll get an argument,” Parenti joked. “It’s sometimes called, visiting relatives.”
“Parenti isn’t looking for you to embrace his opinion, but does want someone to think critically about their own,” Amy Ulloa, junior CSUN student, said.
The event was hosted by Consensus, a new student organization which began with a dedication to expanding the discourse on current political and social issues.
“With the elections for president coming up at just the end of the year, this really is an excellent opportunity to really critique the way we perceive the political process,” Consensus President Josh Clark said.
Other topics discussed were class powers, the media and democracy.
Parenti’s latest book, “Contrary Notions” covers several of these issues. According to Parenti, the media does not have any kind of analysis of class interest or class power.
“They prefer to make a liberal complaint about how bad and stupid the policy is instead of a radical analysis about how successful and ruthless the policy is for certain interests,” he said.
In regard to the media, Parenti views the press as wanting to stay on the good side of those in power.
For some students, like Ulloa, seeing Parenti lecture gave out a message for students to be “true to themselves and always be open minded even if you might not agree.”
Parenti also talked about the national debt, which he said was created by “right-wing reactionary republicans.” During Reagan’s presidential reign the national debt went from $800 billion to $2.5 trillion, and has increased to $9.5 trillion this year.
“Every year the government spends millions of more dollars than it takes in. Who does it borrow from?” Parenti said. “From the rich creditors of America that like to buy up treasury bonds.”
Parenti criticized the cost of war. It’s expensive and funding cuts are been seen everywhere from public hospitals closing to Cal State Universities tuition increasing each year, he said.
“Every time they keep raising your tuition, you have less of a public institution and more of a private effort of having to buy and pay for each of those credits,” he said.