Power, politics and propaganda

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”One of the leading intellectual and media figures of the twentieth century was journalist and presidential adviser Walter Lippmann.  He thought that people in general was unable to draw conclusions and come up with solutions without being controlled by an intellectual elite.”

French universal genius Paul Valery once said that “politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.“ (1) Some would argue that this is something that the Power Elite of the world has succeeded extremely well in doing.

But who are the “Power Elite”?

Sociologist C. Wright Mills, who coined the term “Power Elite,” defined it as “those that occupy the dominant positions, in the dominant institutions: military, economic and political, of a country.” (2) In other words: key people in key positions of power. One might also add the intelligence agencies.

Peter Dale Scott, former diplomat and professor in English at UC Berkeley, coined the term “Deep politics,” which refers to the secret networks operating within and outside government agencies. In essence; a deep state functioning behind the official one and where the real power is.  Scotts talks about ”Structural deep events” to refer to deep events which ”are large enough to affect the whole fabric of society.” (3) These events, he says, are used to effect far reaching deep political goals, and may be used as a pretext for a swathe of subsequent deep events.

The idea of a powerful group, operating behind the official political scene, is not a new one. In 1913, former president Woodrow Wilson published a book called “The New Freedom A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People” were he wrote the following:

“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know there is a power somewhere, so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”(4)

Critics of conspiracy theories argues that these words are quoted out of context by “conspiracy nuts,” but Wilson is quite specific in his description: “Our government has been for the past few years under the control of heads of great allied corporations with special interests,” Wilson writes. “It has not controlled these interests and assigned them a proper place in the whole system of business, it has submitted itself to their control.” (5)

For those who  still doesn’t get it, take a look what Wilson writes in the second chapter:

“The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.”(6)

In 1937, Journalist Ferdinand Lundberg published ”America’s 60 Families” were he wrote that an interlinked group of 60 families, that he calls “plutocratic dynasties,” (7) had total control over the national institutions. That included politics, newspapers and education. During WW2, premier minister Winston Churchill talked about a “high cabal” behind everything. (8) Buckminster Fuller, the famous architect, systems theorist, author, and inventor, later wrote about an “invisible world power structure,”operating behind the scenes.” (9)

 One of the leading intellectual and media figures of the twentieth century was journalist and presidential adviser Walter Lippmann.  He thought that people in general was unable to draw conclusions and come up with solutions without being controlled by an intellectual elite. “Manufacturing consent” was therefore necessary.  This was not a new art, he explained:

“It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic … as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner … Within the life of the generation now in control of affairs, persuasion has become a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government.“ (10)

No one refined and developed these teqniques more efficient than Sigmund Freud´s nephew Edward Bernays, often referred to as ”the father of public relations.”  Born in Austria he came to the Unites States with his family in 1892. During the 20s Bernays developed techniques to influence the masses thinking and behavior by targeting their subconscious. This manipulation was necessary, he believed, since the masses were irrational and subject to herd instinct. In his book 1928 ”Propaganda” Bernays describes the importance of “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.” (11)

In the first chapter, ”Organizing chaos,” Bernays writes:

”Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism in society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” (12)

People are governed, he explained, their consciousness and taste are shaped and their ideas are given them, by men they have never heard of. (13) In almost every part of our lives, whether it´s politics, business, social behavior or ethical thinking, we are dominated by a relatively small group who understands the mental processes and patterns of the masses. It is this small group, Bernays says, ”who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (14)

In the second chapter, ”The New Propaganda,” Bernays writes that it has become possible to shape the masses consciousness so that “they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction.” (15) This process, he goes on to explain, must be done by propaganda, because “propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.” (16)

Bernays and Lippmann were both inspired by french social psychologist Gustave Le Bon, (17)  whose groundbreaking theories of the human psyche was published in 1895. Le Bon wrote several books on the subject and the most famous was ”Psychologie des Foules”, translated into English as ”The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.” In addition, he presented not only an in-depth description of group psychology and how it differs from individual psychology, Le Bon also introduced a set of principles that made it easier for leaders to spread their ideology and take power. Not only were Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler all influenced by Le Bon´s work, (18) it also had a strong impact on US military thought and practice. (19)

Douglas Kellner, professor in the Graduate School of Education, has pointed out that ”media culture artefacts is not innocent entertainment, but close, steady ideological artefacts associated with political rhetoric, struggles and agendas.” (20) Robert Cialdini, Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and author of  the bestseller “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” (1984) says that the reason propaganda is so powerful is because everyone is susceptible to it.

Since we exist in a rapidly moving and complex world we need shortcuts to deal with it, he explains. We cannot be expected to recognize and analyze all the aspects in each person, event, and situation. Since we don´t have the time, energy, or capacity to process the information we often use stereotypes to classify things according to a few key features, and then respond without thinking when one or another of these trigger feature are present. (21)

In the 60’s, Professor George Gerbner at Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania did studies that showed that TV has far-reaching and obvious effects on our worldview and that a lot of television viewing has greater impact on how we perceive existence than our daily life in society has. According to Gerbner, people no longer learn their cultural identity from their family, schools, churches and communities, but from ”a handful of conglomerates who have something to sell.” (22)

”Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and hard-line postures,” he testified before a Congressional subcommittee on communications 1981. ”They may accept and even welcome repression if it promises to relieve their insecurities. That is the deeper problem of violence-laden television.” (23)

In 1971, Professor Herbert Krugman did a study showing that it does´nt take more than 30 seconds before we get into a kind of hypnotic state after turning on the television and that we do not analyze the information we process. This is because the frequency of the TV images is close to the one we experience during hypnosis. (24) We relax and turn off the analytical left part of the brain and the frontal lobe gets less contact with the rest of the brain so that we become more susceptible to suggestion and usually uncritically take in the information we divulge. This is described in detail in Doctor Aric Sigman’s book ”Remotly Controlled,” where he shows how children are the ones most affected and injured by television. (25)

The decisions we make are never better than the information they are based on, and if we are to understand what the future may bring, we must first know what has happened in the past. This puts researchers to the test, as they usually depends on the ”teaching” they received during school, the often insufficient information available through the literature in libraries, bookstores and news-media. With the birth of internet we gained access to the world’s largest database. But, as a clever guy once said: the benefit of the internet is that everyone has access to it, the disadvantage is that everyone has access to it. In other words: anyone can put out adequate, important information, but anyone can also put out false, nonsensical information.

To make things even more complicated; anyone can also put out accurate facts mixed with disinformation. With this in mind, we realize that the truth-seeker is facing a situation that requires more than the ability to read, interpret and use information. He or she must also, in addition to compare and examine various sources, be able to “read between the lines” and have a good intuition. He/she must also be equipped with knowledge in psychology and different techniques of propaganda.  As Philosopher and teacher Vernon Howard put it:

“We are enslaved by anything we do not consciously see. We are freed by conscious perception.” (26)

The Socratic method, named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, uses creative questioning to dismantle and discard pre-existing ideas and thereby allows the respondent to rethink the primary question under discussion. The result of the classic Socratic method is, by definition, a failure to find a satisfactory answer to the primary question in a conversation. This failure produce a realization of ignorance which may inspire the individual to dig deep and think about a question with freedom obtained from discarding previously held beliefs.

It seems like most people today have been effectively drilled to consensus, in essence: trained since childhood by governments and corporations, what is ”appropriate” to think and buy. Even before the age of two, children are placed in front of the TV and bombarded with hysterical movies, sounds and advertisements. Before reaching their teens, they are masters in violent computer games and many of them wouldn’t even dream of opening a book to read. As if that was´nt bad enough, they consume tons of junk food and rejects natural, healthy food. It is no surprise then that they suffer from insomnia, difficulties to concentrate and diseases.

Our bodies and brains needs good nutrition and exercise in order to work promptly. But instead of eating healthy food and take long walks, many people spend most of their days eating crap and sitting down. In a new book, “The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains,” one of the world’s foremost experts on endocrinology, addiction, happiness and depression, Dr. Robert Lustig, claims that politics, social media and most of our modern technologies are designed by corporate America to trigger our dopamine receptors and provide us with immediate gratification.  The problem, Dr Lustig says, is that the long-term effect makes us unhappy and depressed. (27)

Lustig was interviewed by Dr Joseph Mercola, editor of the most visited natural health sites on the web. They explained that one of the cheapest pleasures that stimulates dopamine is sugar and that many people reach for sweet junk food when they feel down, thinking it’ will help them feel better, but neurochemical science reveals that this simply cannot happen, If one adds the stress hormone cortisol to the mix, which down regulates the serotonin-1a receptor, we have a recipe for both addiction and depression. “That’s what we’re seeing throughout all of civilized society, not just in America, but around the world,“ (28) Lustig says.

Since most societies today consist of cities populated by wage slaves, who usually gain their information about the world through mainstream-media, it is obvious that this will influence how they see the world. If the Power elite, through their propaganda machines have fed people with what they consider the ”right things” to think, enjoy and consume, it seems that as a consequence, the public has been trained, not only to behave in a certain way, but also to respond aggressively against those who goes against consensus on how the world works.

In April 1967, the CIA wrote a dispatch which coined the term “conspiracy theories” and recommended methods for discrediting such theories. The dispatch was marked “psych” – short for “psychological operations” or disinformation – and “CS” for the CIA’s “Clandestine Services” unit. (29) No surprise then that anyone who proposes that a big conspiracy may be behind certain events, is coined a “tin foil hat” or a “conspiracy nut.”

Cass Sunstein, a former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama-administration, argues that people who believe in conspiracy theories are dangerous and that government should develop strategies to undermine them. (30) Sunstein claims that people who don´t believe in the official version of 9/11 or who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence. But, even if that is not the case, they can create a situation where people become skeptical of the government. (31)

Mark Miller Crispin, professor of culture and communication, says that Sunstein’s mind “seems to have been crippled, his eyes sealed shut, by his eagerness to serve the powers that be.” (32) “…If Sunstein ”(and his allies)” gave a hoot about the truth,” Miller says, “they’d try to test those dreaded” “theories” in the most effective way … That would be the democratic way to deal with it; but these final liberal minds are less concerned with practicing democracy, and thereby protecting it, than with the feathering of their own nests.” (33)

One wonders what President John F. Kennedy, would have said, had he lived today. Perhaps this Response to a questionnaire in Saturday Review on October 29, 1960, gives a hint:

We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”  (34)

 

Michael Delavante

 

 

Sources:

(1) Elliot Murphy , ”On The Mind And Freedom, “ 2011, Lulu, (pp 392)

(2) Joan Ferrante, “Sociology: A Global Perspective,” Cengage Learning, 2015, (pp 242)

(3) Peter Dale Scott, “The American Deep State: Big Money, Big Oil, and the Struggle for U.S. Democracy,” Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, (pp 121)

(4) Woodrow Wilson, “The New Freedom A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People,” Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913, (pp 13-14)

(5) Woodrow Wilson, “The New Freedom A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People,” Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913, (pp 25)

(6) Woodrow Wilson, “The New Freedom A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People,” Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913, (pp 25)

(7) Ferdinand Lundberg, ”America’s 60 Families,” The Vanguard Press, 1937, (pp xviii)

(8) Baron Alfred Thompson Denning, ”A Family Affair ”, Butterworths, 1981. (pp 114)

(9) ) Buckminister Fuller, ”Critical Path”, St. Martin’s Press, 1981, (pp 81)
(10) Walter Lippmann, “Public Opinion,  Allen and Unwin 1921, (pp 248)

(11) Edward L. Bernays, “Propaganda,” H. Liveright, 1928, (pp 9)

(12) Edward L. Bernays, “Propaganda,” H. Liveright, 1928, (pp 9)

(13) Edward L. Bernays,  “Propaganda,” H. Liveright,  1928, (pp 9)

(14) Edward L. Bernays, “Propaganda,” H. Liveright, 1928, (pp 10)

(15) Edward L. Bernays, “Propaganda,” H. Liveright, 1928, (pp 19)

(16) Edward L. Bernays, “Propaganda,” H. Liveright, 1928, (pp 19)

(17) Antje Flüchter, Jivanta Schöttli, “The Dynamics of Transculturality: Concepts and Institutions in Motion,” (pp 161)

(18) Antje Flüchter, Jivanta Schöttli, “The Dynamics of Transculturality: Concepts and Institutions in Motion,” Springer Interbnational Publishing, 2014, (pp 161)

(19) Antje Flüchter, Jivanta Schöttli, “The Dynamics of Transculturality: Concepts and Institutions in Motion,” Springer Interbnational Publishing, 2014, (pp161)

(20) Douglas Kellner, ”Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity and Politics between the Modern and the Post-modern”, Routledge; 1 edition, 1994, ( pp 93 )

(21) R.B. Cialdini, “Influence: Psychology of Persuasion, “William Morrow; 2nd edition edition, 1999, (pp 7) Se also: Media’s Use of Propaganda to Persuade People’s Attitude, Beliefs and Behaviors Johnnie Manzaria & Jonathon Bruck, War & Peace: Media and War.

(22) Robert E. Babe, ”Media, Structures, and Power: The Robert E. Babe Collection,” University of Toronto Press, (pp 345)

(23) Jack Harich, “The Dueling Loops of the Political Powerplace: Why Progressives Are Stymied and How They Can Find Their Way Again, “ 2007, Lulu, 2007,  (pp 14)

(24) Martin Large, “Who’s Bringing Them Up?: Television and Child Development : how to Break the T.V. Habit,” Hawthorn, 1990, (pp 75)

(25) Aric Sigman, “Remotely Controlled: How Television Is Damaging Our Lives,” Vermilion, 2007.

(26) Howard Peiper, ”Create a Miracle with Hexagonal Water: The Simple Solution for Vital ,” ATN Publishing, 2008, (pp 29)

(27) Robert Lustig, “The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains.”  Se also: Mind Hack — How Corporations Took Over Our Bodies and Brains, https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/09/10/processed-foods-health-effects.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20170910Z3&et_cid=DM158169&et_rid=44785261

(28) Robert Lustig, “The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains.”  Se also: Mind Hack — How Corporations Took Over Our Bodies and Brains,

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/09/10/processed-foods-health-effects.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20170910Z3&et_cid=DM158169&et_rid=44785261

 

(29) CIA Instructions to Media Assets. CIA Document #1035-960, marked ”PSYCH” for presumably Psychological Warfare Operations, in the division ”CS”, the Clandestine Services, sometimes known as the ”dirty tricks” department.RE: Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report. http://mtracy9.tripod.com/cia_instructions.htm. Se also: More Conspiracy: Why Modern Mainstream Journalism Is Seen As Questionable, The Daily Bell,  August 26, 2016. See also:

https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Document:Countering_Criticism_of_the_Warren_Report

(30) Cass Sunstein. Conspiracy Theories. Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 08-03, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 199, U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 387, (pp 1)

(31) Cass Sunstein. Conspiracy Theories. Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 08-03, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 199, U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 387, (pp 14)

(32) Obama’s Info Chief advocates Disinformation and Domestic Covert Ops By Mark Crispin Miller OpEdNews, 15/1 2010.

 

(33) Obama’s Info Chief advocates Disinformation and Domestic Covert Ops By Mark Crispin Miller OpEdNews, 15/1 2010.

(34) John F. Kennedy Quotes,  https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/48906-if-this-nation-is-to-be-wise-as-well-as