Written by Ray Peach
For socialism to succeed, all effective means of mass communication such as press, radio, movies, and television must be maintained as a monopoly of the state. A socialist dictatorship depends on the continuous repetition of official party propaganda as well as its relationship with terrorism to promote the dismissal of personal liberty.
While there are a few independent news sources and personalities, today all major sources of “news” are in fact, part of a sophisticated propaganda machine – even the ones who appear to disagree with one another. As an example, News Corp, the parent company of Fox News, is one of the largest financial contributors to Barack Obama, while contributing regularly to other Democratic candidates. This said, Fox News is necessary to maintain the illusion of choice; but never forget that the Fabian Socialist Tony Blair is Godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter.
It is a common misconception that the purpose of propaganda is to make people “think” what the state wants them to by lying to them. The real purpose of propaganda is to change people’s worldview, so as to embrace a new ideology and willingly do what the state wants at a psychological level. This doesn’t mean that politicians and bureaucrats don’t lie to us; just that lying alone does not constitute propaganda.
To understand how mass media and propaganda works, we need to go back about a hundred years. Gustave Le Bon (1841 – 1931) was a French social psychologist who published, The Crowd: a study of the popular mind (1903). What Le Bon discovered was that in large groups, people became easy to manipulate because they lose their sense of reason. In a crowd the unconscious mind prevails over the conscious mind of the individual, so that people within the group will conform to what they believe the group to be thinking, even if that perception is wrong. For example, if enough people in a group continually point at a deer and called it a horse, eventually others in the group will also call it a horse. Additionally, if the group is repeatedly told by a person in authority, that everyone in the group believed the deer to be a horse, individuals in the group adopt that view, even if everyone originally knew it was, in fact, a deer. This became known as Crowd Psychology and is built on the big lie.
Le Bon’s work is specifically mentioned in Hitler’s Mein Kampf as laying the groundwork for National Socialist Propaganda. It explains why, in a pre-television world, Hitler insisted on such a large crowd at his speeches, and why they were so effective. In National Socialist Germany, the role of Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment was to create and manage a machine that would use psychological methods for controlling and creating public opinion.
Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) extended Le Bon’s work, concluding that people are governed by emotion much more than logic, describing these beliefs in several books including Mass Psychology. Freud hated the common people, believing they are dangerous and incapable of governing themselves, expressing his belief in Civilization and its Discontents (1929). In this book, he said that civilization did not exist to provide for the betterment of man, but to restrain his animalistic tendencies, arguing for a totalitarian dictatorship where people would be told what to do, say, and think. His ideas would have an immediate impact in Europe and America where the elite would put them to work.
Freud’s nephew was the Vienna born journalist Edward Bernays (1891 – 1995), whose family immigrated to New York in 1892. Building on the work of Gustave Le Bon and his uncle, Bernays began his career by working in Woodrow Wilson's propaganda machine called the Committee on Public Information (CPI). His job was to convince millions of recalcitrant Americans into fighting WWI to “make the world safe for democracy,” a slogan that came from Bernays. Do to the public revulsion to the word propaganda, Bernays would invent the terms public relations, and “spin” which are still in use today.
Bernays conducted experiments in America, where he found that providing people with the facts so that they can think for themselves wasn’t as powerful as playing on their irrational emotions, not as individuals, but as groups.
An early example of Bernays’ work occurred in 1929, when the Lucky Strike Company hired him to market cigarettes to women. In many parts of the country, women were forbidden to smoke in public, thus cutting into the sales of tobacco. Working with the psychoanalyst Abraham Brill (1874 – 1948), Bernays decided that if he could come up with a way of linking cigarettes with male power, and then challenged that power, women would begin to smoke as a sign of rebellion.
During the New York Easter parade Bernays paid a group of women to pull a pack of cigarettes from their garter belts and light up. The entire demonstration was staged to occur in front of reporters who had been paid to write stories across the country about the “Torches of Freedom.” This created an emotional response by coupling the American iconic belief in freedom with the phrase Torches of Freedom, a reference to Lady Liberty. Since no one was prepared to stand in the way of “Freedom” other aspects of cigarette usage were suddenly beyond debate, and flocks of women began to smoke as a way of demonstrating their independence. The idea that smoking made women free was completely irrational, but it didn’t matter because groups are governed by emotion, not logic.
Bernays’ theories are in widespread use today. For example, unions coordinate demonstrators who seem to suddenly appear in front of reporters. who emotionally link a moral message to a non sequitur political agenda. This occurred in Wisconsin in early 2011, when SEIU workers claimed public employs had a right to strike and engage in collective bargaining because it is the democratic thing to do, saying: “this is what democracy looks like.” As public servants, however, these bureaucrats work for elected officials who represent the voting public, giving public employees no right to strike or collectively bargain at all. By pressuring the state legislature to undo a legitimate political process, they are in fact reversing the meaning of representational democracy by rejecting its valid results. This inverts the meaning of representational democracy, replacing it with social democracy where bureaucrats decide what is legitimate or not.
Another of Bernays’ techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of paid “third party authorities” to produce reports, and represent them as independent. “If you can influence the leaders,” he said, “either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway.” An example was the promotion of bacon and eggs for breakfast. To increase the sale of bacon, Bernays paid physicians to conduct a phony survey that concluded people would be healthier if they ate a hearty breakfast that included bacon and eggs – creating the phrase: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” He sent the results of the survey to 5,000 physicians, while publicly touting bacon and eggs as a hearty breakfast; today beacon and eggs is a standard breakfast in America, even though historically this had not been the case. Today we see the use of fraudulent studies to justify such things as the myth of Global Warming.
In his seminal work Propaganda Bernays says, “Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by an intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses,” a concept he called “enlightened despotism.” Bernays’ work would become the lynchpin of mass control by satisfying people’s “innermost selfish desires,” making them happy and thus docile. This created what he called the “all consuming self” – the heart of the socialist faith.
One of Bernays’ protÃ©gÃ©s was Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels who said, “I am very interested in social developments in America. I believe the President Roosevelt has chosen the right path. We are dealing with the greatest social problems ever known. Millions of unemployed must get their jobs back. And this cannot be left to private initiative. It is the government that must tackle the problem.” Today we see the very same rhetoric being employed by Obama.
George Gallop (1901 – 1984) would build on Le Bon’s theory of Crowd Psychology so as to persuade people that the masses supported whatever issue or candidate the elite wanted them to – thus fabricating public opinion. To accomplish this, Gallop adopted Bernays’ propaganda techniques by selling the idea of polling as a need to measure the will of the people – calling it true democracy. Known as the bandwagon theory, Gallop would call it “one of the oldest delusions in politics.”
Today scientific polling is used to manufacture consent, especially in elections where people have been psychologically conditioned to root for the winner, making the election of anointed candidates a forgone conclusion. Today we call this getting on the bandwagon, and it is used to control public opinion on many issues. For example, by publishing polls regarding the electability of a candidate early in the primary, the party apparatus can persuade people to support, or not support specific candidates. Another use of polling is to influence the actions of elected officials by providing polling data that supports or opposes specific issues.
We see Barneys’ technique being used in the current election cycle where supposed scientific polling: controls funding, decides who is allowed into debates, and creates a call for those who lag in the polls to drop out. The problem is the only poll we should pay any attention too is the one at the ballot box.
The end of part one. Part two will discuss Mass Media.
Mr. Peach (visit his website) is a retired engineer who spent a great deal of his life traveling the world to solve problems for fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Government. After serving 8 years in U.S. Naval Air he went to work for Litton Guidance Systems as a field engineer, working in the Middle East and Asia. For the next 12 years he worked as a systems engineer for Hughes Aircraft where he was involved with the F-14D, F-15E, and the F/A-18 tactical aircraft...........read more