Throughout history, those in power harness the minds of the masses to control all individuals. Whether the masses constitute a small, primitive tribe chanting war fervor via trance-inducing drumbeats or a large, sophisticated society like Weimar Republic collapsing under mesmerizing rhetoric from a future Fuehrer, conformity is required for managing behavior patterns or, worse, instituting complete physical bondage.
In overt class struggles when the masses are truly oppressed and discontented enough, civil war ensues. Because the oppressed outnumber the rulers success may be achieved and monarchs fall European-style. Yet freedom is not always won. In 20th-century Soviet Union and China communist takeovers, the populace merely exchanged Tsar and Emperor for “citizen” dictators. Once in power, all authoritarians immediately kill, banish, or “re-educate” independent-minded individuals who resist. They also take control of formal education and outside information to manage minds of the obedient.
Certain American politicians (supported by collectivist activists) lust for the ultimate authoritarian position, but no one here is actually, physically oppressed; therefore, in order to cause discontentment the “oppressed class(es)” need be artificially created. This requires inculcation via mind manipulation through propaganda, a practice existing for over a century. At present, a dangerously large percentage of the masses are bawling or burning against this or that perceived abuse or craving totalitarian socialism for security. America’s would-be dictators work stealthily to incite or fuel protestations that if escalated to a degree volatile enough will “require” government to restore “peace” and establish tyranny without force. Others toughen regulatory agencies and wait.
In my e-book "Lying as a Way of Life: Corruption and Collectivism Come of Age in America" I cite collectivist urgings from early 20th century intellectuals like H.G. Wells and Herbert Crowley made manifest by Theodore Roosevelt’s establishing the political Progressive Party in 1912. I elucidate mind-altering damage wrought in the 1930s by The Frankfurt School scholars, who consciously infiltrated academia and instituted Studies Programs to destroy independent thought by teaching victimization (oppression) to students via group-think and tribal identity. I emphasize Saul Alinsky’s Community Organizing power-grabbing tactics and his influence on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I explain the devolution of mature morality and rational thought into aggressive and sex-driven adolescent sensationalism polluting popular culture and stunting mental development.
I omitted mention of one highly significant man who equaled all others in the art of demagoguery, an error I now correct because of the brouhaha over Facebook’s and Google’s information “manipulation.”
Vienna-born nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays (1891-1995) arrived in New York as an infant. Playing to subconscious-drives inherent in psychoanalysis made him powerful as an adult. Channeling Uncle Siggy’s notion that irrational forces drive behavior, Bernays utilized propaganda to create product buying by . . . the masses.
From his 1928 book, "Propaganda: The Making of the Public Mind":
“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, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”
His reference to “those who manipulate” being “the true ruling power” who “pull the wires that control the public mind” meant the general media and his own advertising strategies. He famously convinced women to smoke cigarettes by consulting a Freud protégé, who psychoanalytically associated smoking with “male power.” He then challenged the taboo suggesting women who smoke signal sexual “easiness” by getting a bunch of reputable debutantes to light up “torches of freedom” publicly during Fifth Avenue’s 1929 Easter Parade. By insinuating that smoking advanced women’s rights against male power, he turned a cultural subject into buying-behavior that gained women nothing but a nicotine habit. He peddled Mozart-brand pianos by selling the idea that “sophisticated” people need a music room in their home. If one cannot differentiate between a sonata and a siren but wishes to appear sophisticated, what instrument comes first to mind for purchase? Bacon (and eggs) in the morning? He surveyed physicians: “Which is healthiest, a light or hearty breakfast?” Predictable answer: “Hearty.” Bernays ignored “healthiest,” cited medical opinions, and convinced parents to serve cholesterol and fat for the family meal. His mind-manipulations worked so effectively that Joseph Goebbels approached him to advise Nazi Germany; Bernays refused, but Goebbels incorporated the persuasive methods anyway to vilify Jews.
Americans do not live under dictatorship or official censorship of information. What explains the behavior of “the masses” protesting this or that manufactured “oppression” while marching willingly into the shackles of power-lustful politicians? Or The Frankfurt School’s mindset successes in universities? Or Bernays bringing bacon home from grocery stores?
Undeveloped, lazy, or gullible minds.
Propaganda-driven as some corporations may be, think twice before advocating government dictates over private enterprises like Facebook and Google. Expose and criticize dicey business practices, but remember that accepting ideas, products, and services via network TV, internet search engines, and social media is voluntary. Don’t like them? Don’t participate, or utilize judiciously. Rational thinking, objective judgment, and cogent choice protect the brain’s immune system against mind manipulation. Once government influences or gains control over media, access to competing information becomes thorny. The only way to properly neutralize manipulation of the masses in a free country is to awaken minds. Challenge injurious ideas operative in schools, businesses, and municipalities. Promote caution and critical thinking among family and friends. Verify sources. Discourage habit — like Bernays-advocated cigarettes, the internet is addictive. Understand that individual passiveness to all cultural trends or temptations that impede independent thought are self destructive because “the masses” have the numbers. If they become too addicted, too violent, or vote security over sovereignty, the rest of us will suffer real-life oppression right along with them.
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Adamas." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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