Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
Date: Thursday, April 28 2005
Corporate Propaganda versus
Freedom and Liberty
Even though the publishing business is being effectively narrowed and choked by the corporate conglomerates' media, a few books are squeezing through to let us know how powerful the corporate propaganda machine is in this country. When children can be expelled from school for wearing a Pepsi Tee shirt on Coca-Cola Day, we all know that something has gone horribly wrong. How did we get like this?
A daunting and disturbing book entitled "Taking the Risk out of Democracy, Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty," by Alex Carey, sheds some light on the demons in the closet of the United States of America. Thomas Jefferson could never have foreseen this!
As Mr. Carey informs us, "The 'common man'...has never been so confused, mystified and baffled; his most intimate conceptions of himself, of his needs, and indeed the very nature of human nature, have been subject to skilled manipulation and construction in the interests of corporate efficiency and profit."
This book, and others like it, tells us that we the American people have been the subject of a 75-year-long multi-billion dollar intentional assault on our freedom to think and to choose. "...propaganda techniques have been developed and deployed (in the United States)...to control and deflect the purposes of the domestic electorate in a democratic country in the interests of the privileged segments of that society."
Management of collective attitudes by manipulating significant symbols
What is propaganda? "Propaganda is the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols...Collective attitudes are amenable to many modes of alteration...intimidation...economic coercion...drill. But their arrangement and rearrangement occurs principally under the impetus of significant symbols; and the technique of using significant symbols for this purpose is propaganda." (Laswell, Bradson, and Janowitz 1953:776-80).
By significant symbols Mr. Carey is talking about the catch phrases by which human beings can be aroused to anger, to go to war, or merely to consume---phrases like "the American Way," "the Free Enterprise System," "the American Dream," and "the global economy," as opposed to "creeping socialism," "the red menace," and "a national threat." Do you remember when it was patriotic to "buy American" or we would lose the economic war with Japan? How did we come to believe that our individual identity would be enhanced and glorified by wearing the names of the people who designed our clothes on our hand-bags and pant seats? Isn't this a little like living in a corporate feudal state?
Symbols of the Sacred and the Satanic
Significant symbols are "symbols with real power over emotional reactions---ideally, symbols of the Sacred and the Satanic." Sounds like something Marduk would cook up! And Mr. Carey suggests that, "The United States has for a long time, provided all of these conditions in greater abundance than any other country."
People who are polarized and see life in terms of good and bad, black and white, are more easily manipulated. The "enemy" may indeed seem evil; but in the solitude of our own homes, we all know that we are a mix of both. None of us is so clearly saint or sinner. Instead of polarizing we could be have a dialogue, a discussion; and yet, seemingly we can be manipulated by propaganda into thinking almost anything.
We might be the most brain washed country on the planet! One professor in Alex Carey's book, Professor Harwood Childs, states, "Americans are the most propagandized people of any nation." Is this possible? Aren't we the good guys?
I know, you are thinking, "Hey! Only the bad guys use propaganda. Only our enemies use propaganda." And you are right; but sometimes the bad guys are right in our own back yard and we don't even see them. Who are these 'geniuses' who believe they have the right to manipulate our thinking?
In the early days of World War I, we the America people---like any intelligent group of human beings---didn't want to go to war. So we had to be convinced, or coerced, and this was done very effectively by a campaign launched by President Woodrow Wilson, Walter Lippman (an eminent journalist), and Edward Bernays (who just happened to be the nephew of Sigmund Freud). I can always remember Bernays' name because it sounds like that really fattening sauce I occasionally spread all over anything before I hit middle age.
Anyway these two guys, Lippman and Bernays, were apparently brilliant at brainwashing. Bernays is famous for saying, "If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it." (from Toxic Sludge is Good for You! Common Courage Press). Bernays called this "engineering consent."
We seem clueless!
I don't know about you, but I sure like to spend my week-ends thinking about controlling the group mind. What are they thinking? The reason none of us know that these things are going on is because none of us is capable of thinking like this!
The war propaganda campaign of Mr. Lippman and Mr. Bernays "produced within six months so intense an anti-German hysteria as to permanently impress American business (and Adolph Hitler, among others) with the potential of large scale propaganda to control public opinion." Bernays found a very practical use for his Uncle Sigmund's science of psychology. "When the war ended, Bernays later wrote, business realized that the general public could now be harnessed to their cause as it had been harnessed to the war to the national cause." (Alex Carey).
This has been going on since before most of us were born and, according to Inanna, propaganda has been used since the beginning of our written history. Today we have far more efficient means of distributing propaganda than ever before. The television, the radio, and the media in general have made it easy for the spin-meisters and the public relations firms with their armies of lawyers, lobbyists, and paid-for-scientists to tell us what to think so that we will all be good little consumers. The true religion of the West is consumerism, and we are working night and day to spread that religion to our brothers and sisters in the East.
Was that in the Bill of Rights?
Why, every man, woman and child has a right to shop at a mall and eat burgers & fries whether they want to or not. Was that in the Bill of Rights? Oh, yes, of course "the pursuit of happiness" is---having more things! How could I forget? Gotta have it!
In 1927, Harold Lasswell wrote "Propaganda Techniques in World War I" and suggested that, "familiarity with the behavior of the ruling public (meaning those who had so easily succumbed to the propaganda) has bred contempt...as a consequence, despondent democrats turned elitist, no longer trusting intelligent public opinion, and therefore should themselves determine how to make up the public mind, how to bamboozle and seduce in the name of the public good..."
Does that include destroying the public educational system and poisoning our food and water?
They didn't even have television then!
Imagine, they didn't have television yet. Laswell believed that propaganda had a legitimate roll in a democracy---a sad "faith" on his part. And as Alex Carey points out, "propaganda has become a profession. The modern world is busy developing a corps of men who do nothing but study the ways and means of changing minds or binding minds to their convictions."
There is nothing in our culture that encourages a person to think independently. Tell your family and friends that you are going off to think---and they will think you are crazy. We in the West have had to access Eastern religions to realize that pursuits like meditation and contemplation are actually fertile uses of our time. We are encouraged to keep busy from the time we can walk until the day we die. Are people still sending their babies to schools?
What would happen if the human species were free?
What would happen if the human species were not coerced, herded, and manipulated? What if each of us wanted to and had time to think, to become who were are, to cultivate our uniqueness and commune with our Source, the God that lives with-in each and every one of us? What might we become? Is that what "they" are afraid of? They must be afraid of something to have expended so much energy, money, and time all these years to keep us in such a narrow frame of expression.
These men and women who specialize in controlling and brain-washing us can only despise themselves more than they so obviously despise and distrust us. Next time you spend a few hours absorbing mindless entertainment-and-advertising (they are never separate) designed to make you go out and consume more, more, more----stop! for just a minute and think who you might be.
I don't like the way this corporatist elite think they can continue to get away with the lies and the contempt. According to historians, Thomas Jefferson never lost his faith in the individual human being. Isn't that awesome? He would not have much time or respect for the elitist spin-meisters, propagandists, lawyers, and lobbyists who compete with each other to control our world.
Isn't it time that we the American people grew out of our adolescent denial and faced our own demons? If we confronted our responsibility for freedom we might not lose what Washington and Jefferson left us. I love my country. Where else can a gal say what's on her mind?
Taking the Risk Out of Democracy, Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
by Alex Carey, 1997; University of Illinois Press