Edward Bernays [1891-1995]speaks of “the invisible government which dictates our thoughts, directs our feelings and controls our actions.”
Also known as the godfather of modern public relations, Bernays became famous for the axiom: “The intelligent few….regimenting the public mind”. He combined individual and social psychology, public opinion studies, political persuasion and advertising to construct ‘necessary illusions’ which spread to the masses as ‘reality’. He called this ‘engineering of consent’ as he provided government and media outlets with powerful tools for persuasion and control of the masses.
WWI and The Committee on Public Information
President Woodrow Wilson was re-elected to his second term as a peace candidate in 1916. In fact, he stated clearly that “so far as I can remember, this is a government of the people, and this people is not going to choose war.” But soon after the election he made a sudden about-turn and led America decisively into World War I shocking and bewildering his peace-loving supporters.
So, why would Wilson revert from a Peace platform to a policy of engaging in a brutal War on another continent? The truth is that he was under the strong influence of the banker elites who engineered his first election so that he would support their cause and sign the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 into law. After his second election, his controllers saw a strong motivation for the US to join the war efforts to defeat Germany and be rewarded with the spoils. Also they were already reaping benefits from the Military Industrial Complex as exports of munitions to France and England increased from $825 million to $3.2 billion. With a direct involvement in the war, they foresaw an exponential increase in defense spending and thus personal rewards. So President Wilson didn’t really have a choice.
However, convincing the peace-loving public was another matter. Wilson utilized Bernays with his propaganda techniques and Walter Lippman, the eminent journalist to start reversing public sentiment by stirring up anti-German fervor and motivating the country to join its European allies. In fact, Bernays became famous for the slogan “Make the World Safe for Democracy”.
Next, the President created the Committee on Public Information (CPI) on April 13, 1917 to carry out a nationwide campaign of propaganda. Spearheaded by journalist, George Creel, the CPI comprised members from business, media, academia, writers and artists. Utilizing mass psychology, it disseminated pro-war propaganda based on emotional appeals and demonization of the enemy on an unprecedented scale, normally associated with totalitarian regimes. Although the CPI offered ‘voluntary guidelines’ to the news media, these guidelines became mandates. Pacifists and dissenters were silenced through threats and accusations of being traitors. Hence a majority of Americans embraced the war with fervor and dedication.
For the US it became a short involvement, when on November 1, 1918 the Allies won the ‘War to End all Wars’ with the signing of the Armistice.
The tools and techniques by Bernays and the CPI to manipulate the collective attitudes of the public thru the mass media were thus established on a large scale and would continue to be used in peacetime as well as during WWII especially and the many wars that followed.
Bernays from his book “Propaganda”:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
“In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
Bernays from “Psychology of Public Relations”:
“…the group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emotions. In making up its mind its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader [an icon or celebrity]. This is one of the most firmly established principles of mass psychology. But when the example of the leader is not at hand and the herd must think for itself, it does so by means of cliches, pat words or images which stand for a whole group of ideas or experiences.”
THE MECHANICS OF PROPAGANDA
From Edward Bernays ‘The Institute for Propaganda Analysis’
Name-calling (ad hominem)
Links a person or idea to a negative trait or concept: e.g. commie, fascist, yuppie, bum, terrorist, anti-Semite, conspiracy theorist (usually without evidence).
Positive associations used to enhance a person or concept: e.g. civilization, democracy, religion, patriot, motherhood, science, medicine, health, love
Used to water-down strong negative associations: e.g. collateral damage instead of civilian casualties. Post war: PTSD instead of shell shock.
Use of authority or prestige from a symbol like church (cross), democracy (statue of Liberty), our nation (uncle Sam) to support a program or campaign. Also medicine or science used to back a concept: e.g. “More doctors smoke camels…”
Citing a reputable source (NY Times), celebrity (Angelina Jolie) or sports figure (Mohammed Ali) to endorse a product or concept by association
Politicians, wealthy entrepreneurs pose as ordinary citizens to attract popular support
Appeal to join the crowd, follow the herd: everyone else is doing it, so should you.
Disaster just around the corner, cold war is back, 9/11 = fear of terrorism. (Note: patriots and dissenters are now called terrorists by Homeland Security.)
Used to back a platform or concept but the results can be biased depending on the parameters and questions
Peer reviewed Studies
Can be fraudulent within a system controlled by powerful entities like Big Pharma
Lies become Believable by Repetition
Thru power of the media, lies are made believable after continuous repetition and reinforcement by other channels of the consolidated media.
A modern day example of Name-calling:
The elite bankers attained their wealth and power by conspiring to establish central banks in the UK and the US. Naturally, they don’t want the public to look too closely at their nefarious plots such as starting endless wars, so one tactic is to label ‘conspiracy theorists’ as people to be shunned. Such is the immense power of the controlled media that they can establish parameters for acceptable behavior and the masses who want to be accepted by their peers tend to conform. Hence this phrase now carries a strong pejorative association.
Today, the banker elite hold majority interests in the six mega corporations that own 90% of the mainstream media. Thus, they control the news and influence our perceptions, even how we think and judge others. One cannot underestimate the power of a consolidated media because it signifies controlling reality itself as Bernays has stated.
Having a small elite group directly control the media, represents a serious threat to American democracy and culture. It directly influences the minds of all age groups and how they perceive the world. Consolidation in business, banking, the media and politics over the last hundred years has allowed the Federal Government to be taken over by an oligarchy of elites with unlimited assets, influence and psychological control of the minds of Americans. The media also serves as a protective shield, isolating the elite bankers from scrutiny and challenge.
Kenneth Anton, Author
“Popsicle Man – Solving the Puzzle of a 200 Year Conspiracy”. See http://popsicleman.net
“Cancer Vortex” Exposing the Cancer Industry and Obamacare. See http://cancervortex.com