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The Big Answer


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Propaganda

a book by Edward Bernays

(our site's book review)

Propaganda

Propaganda will be copyrighted in the USA until 2024. In spite of this, there are a few full copies floating around on the Internet, apparently illegally. Below are some of the highlights of the book, followed by other authors' takes on propaganda, including our own. Keep in mind it was written in 1928, a year before the stock market crash of 1929, and it was before Hitler and the horrors of WWII, Korea, and the Cold War. So forgive his sunny ideas about propaganda, which Americans now look down upon as an evil totalitarian tactic of communists or fascists, having no idea just how the evils of propaganda would become institutionalized as S.O.P. in the U.S. after WWII. ("One could easily say that we in the west are better off than people living in communist or fascist countries, because their propaganda is far more rigid and insidious than our own. This argument is a misleading one, however, for the simple reason that their propaganda is often more visible and easier to perceive than our own."—Dennis Lewis)

Who is Bernays? "Propaganda is the main manual of the public relations industry. Bernays is kind of the guru. He was an authentic Roosevelt/Kennedy liberal. He also engineered the public relations effort behind the U.S.-backed coup which overthrew the democratic government of Guatemala [and installed an authoritarian dictator]. His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn't smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield. You know all the techniques—models and movie stars with cigarettes coming out of their mouths and that kind of thing. He got enormous praise for that. So he became a leading figure of the industry, and his book was the real manual."—Noam Chomsky (Source: Chomsky's "What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream," a talk at Z Media Institute, June 1997)

His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn't smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield
His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn't smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield

"In the 1930s, he promoted cigarettes as both soothing to the throat and slimming to the waistline. But at home, Bernays was attempting to persuade his wife to kick the habit. When he would find a pack of her Parliaments in their home, he would snap every one of them in half and throw them in the toilet. While promoting cigarettes as soothing and slimming, Bernays, it seems, was aware of some of the early studies linking smoking to cancer." Hypocrisy is such a lovely thing! (Source: The manipulation of the American mind—Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations)

"His work aimed to convince people to want things that they didn’t need, and in the process, link their unconscious desires to the consumption of mass produced goods. . . . by keeping [people] distracted on frivolous happenings and relatively unimportant wants, they wouldn’t interfere with the activities of what he called ‘the important few.’ [elitism at its worst] . . . Bernays characteristically boasts that the public are not aware of the ‘invisible rulers’ that control elected figureheads behind the scenes. [the definition of the shadow government, which he could only brag about if he abhorred democracy but loved authoritarianism—which is why he helped the U.S. install authoritarian dictators; he helped leaders think of constituents as sheep to control—and shear] . . . Bernays says a leader is most effective when acting as a dictator. . . . the wealthy should direct the priorities of a particular society." (Source: Deconstructing Edward Bernays’ “Propaganda”)

Bernays helped leaders think of constituents as sheep to control—and shear
Bernays helped leaders think of constituents as sheep to control—and shear


Bernays says a leader is most effective when acting as a dictator
Bernays says a leader is most effective when acting as a dictator

According to Bernays in 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." And he was glad about this propaganda wielding invisible government as a logically needed organizing force—it helped us avoid chaos. Or so he thought."

"We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society."

". . . 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 . . . " He erroneously felt that democracy was compatible with a shadow government, even though this "wire-pulling" few who control us is contrary to the principles of our democracy as stipulated in the Constitution of the USA. We feel his book would have reached different conclusions had he written it after WWII, in which the horrors of propaganda-wielding totalitarian dictators committing genocide, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing were on display for all to shudder at.

"The minority has discovered a powerful help in influencing majorities. It has been found possible so to mold the mind of the masses that they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction. In the present structure of society, this practice is inevitable. Whatever of social importance is done today, whether in politics, finance, manufacture, agriculture, charity, education, or other fields, must be done with the help of propaganda. Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government. . . . an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine." If it is about lying, like most of politics in 2017, propaganda is a deception technique. If it is about advertising, mass influencing is a necessary evil. But if it is about Project MKUltra or Project Monarch, then these Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness techniques are incredibly evil and reprehensible and perverse. See Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness.

If propaganda is about Project MKUltra or Project Monarch, then these Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness techniques are incredibly evil and reprehensible and perverse
If propaganda is about Project MKUltra or Project Monarch, then these Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness techniques are incredibly evil and reprehensible and perverse

"Propaganda becomes vicious and reprehensive only when its authors consciously and deliberately disseminate what they know to be lies, or when they aim at effects which they know to be prejudicial to the common good." This is Bernays recognizing propaganda's potential for misuse, for evil.

"It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda during the war [WWI, 1914-1918] that opened the eyes of the intelligent few in all departments of life to the possibilities of regimenting the public mind. . . . Political campaigns today are all side shows, all honors, all bombast, glitter, and speeches." (It was 1928.)

In 1928, Bernays saw political campaigns as clown shows, but in the 21st century, the possibilities of regimenting the public mind for personal gain, PR campaigns, political purposes is not lost on anyone with a pulse
In 1928, Bernays saw political campaigns as clown shows, but in the 21st century, the possibilities of regimenting the public mind for personal gain, PR campaigns, political purposes is not lost on anyone with a pulse

"The only propaganda which will ever tend to weaken itself as the world becomes more sophisticated and intelligent, is propaganda that is untrue or unsocial." True, but only because some of the forces outside the mainstream media report more honestly than those controlled by the corporatocracy. If we ever lose our alternative media websites and publishers, all is lost and fascistic stormtroopers will be goosestepping their way to our door.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-034-21, Warschau, Parade vor Adolf Hitler
If we ever lose our alternative media websites and publishers, all is lost and fascistic stormtroopers will be goosestepping their way to our door


The military industrial complex has lost no time in exploiting movies for their own purposes (recruiting, manipulation of mass opinions, presenting excuses, cover-ups, cover stories and covering their own butts)
The military industrial complex has lost no time in exploiting movies for their own purposes (recruiting, manipulation of mass opinions, presenting excuses, cover-ups, cover stories and covering their own butts)

"The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world to-day. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation." Unfortunately, this is both its strength and its weakness. The military industrial complex has lost no time in exploiting movies for their own purposes (recruiting, manipulation of mass opinions, presenting excuses, cover-ups, cover stories and covering their own butts).

The military industrial complex uses motion pictures for covering their asses
The military industrial complex uses motion pictures for covering their asses

"In the New York Times—to take an outstanding example—news is printed because of its news value and for no other reason. The Times editors determine with complete independence what is and what is not news. They brook no censorship. They are not influenced by any external pressure nor swayed by any values of expediency or opportunism." Unfortunately, J.P. Morgan and the CIA know better. They DO get lots of censorship and cave to lots of pressures and they are not completely independent. (The CIA pressures, censors, and sways media constantly.) Bernays' naivite is breathtaking.

Bernays naively believes news is printed because of its news value and for no other reason, without censorship, unswayed by external pressures
Bernays naively believes news is printed because of its news value and for no other reason, without censorship, unswayed by external pressures

"Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos."


Propaganda—Good for Democracy (But Only as Long as It Is the Truth!)

Bernays, an insufferable egotist, braggart and bore, says that engineering consent of the masses is vital for the survival of democracy. He put a positive spin on the concept but he did mention it could be used as well for bad as for good. Then along came Communism and Fascism both of which exploited propaganda's potential for subjugating and oppressing the masses for the good of a few even though the people are told it is for their own good. This was ugly, and democracies looked down their noses at these totalitarian states which were disasters full of murder and intimidation. Propaganda got a very bad name for itself. We were told it was something that only Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba and Nazis and other fascists did. But we were NOT told how mercilessly the CIA installed propaganda into U.S. media as a universal but unacknowledged given. See Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness.


Propaganda from the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations

Similarly, we were not told that propaganda was the main function of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations—a propaganda creating and disseminating organization at Wellington House in London. It was what Toynbee called "that black hole of disinformation, a lie factory." Tavistock had a profound effect on the moral, spiritual, cultural, political and economic policies of the United States of America and Great Britain. It has been in the front line of the attack on the U.S. Constitution and State constitutions. It propagandized the U.S. into WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Serbia and both wars against Iraq. See The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, by John Coleman.

The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations—a propaganda creating and disseminating organization—was what Toynbee called 'that black hole of disinformation, a lie factory'
The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations—a propaganda creating and disseminating organization—was what Toynbee called 'that black hole of disinformation, a lie factory'

Using Bernays' propaganda techniques, Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts, and information in Germany. He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes. He advocated progressively harsher discrimination, including the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust. Happily, Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, and Goebbels and his wife committed suicide on May 1, after unhappily poisoning their six children with cyanide.

In Propaganda, Edward Bernays followed his praise of the 'invisible government' by underscoring the next phase that propaganda techniques would follow: "As civilization has become more complex, and as the need for invisible government has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented." (Mass control: engineering human consciousness.)

A small number of persons, who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses, pull the wires which control the public mind
A small number of persons, who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses, pull the wires which control the public mind

U.S. Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion

From 1917 on, 11 years before Propaganda was written, the U.S. democracy's freedom of the press became progressively compromised by censorship from the powers-that-be like J.P. Morgan and the corporatocracy, and later by the the OSS (1942-1947) and then the CIA (1947-now), which gets its directions from the shadow government, which used propaganda to control the sheep-citizens. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.

J.P. Morgan and his rich buddies took control of U.S. mainstream media a century ago, and, for important news stories we've gotten propaganda rather than truth ever since, and we're guzzling the Kool-Aid
J.P. Morgan and his rich buddies took control of U.S. mainstream media a century ago, and, for important news stories we've gotten propaganda rather than truth ever since, and we're guzzling the Kool-Aid

U.S. Democracy—an American Delusion

U.S. wealthy oligarchs of the corporatocracy robbing the middle class
U.S. wealthy oligarchs of the corporatocracy robbing the middle class

But then the U.S. democracy itself wasn't faring so well, either, and—using CIA and shadow government propaganda—from the end of WWII to now, the U.S. was slowly transformed into an oligarchy, with the wealthy oligarchs of the corporatocracy robbing the middle class, the national "security" state insulting the citizens with surveillance of their emails, web searches, websites visited, phone calls, purchases, etc. The Patriot Act crapped all over American rights, so that Presidents could assassinate anyone on earth they wanted to without any legal due process—including U.S. citizens. And our citizens could be jailed indefinitely without due process. And those availing themselves of our Constitutionally guaranteed right of assembly and demonstration and protest could be oppressed, harrassed, put on black lists, and threatened. And whistleblower protections turned out to be mirages—in fact, they were nothing but rat traps in which to snare troublemakers who would often end up with long prison sentences. See Democracy—an American Delusion.

Whistleblower protections turned out to be mirages—nothing but fish nets in which to snare troublemakers
Whistleblower protections turned out to be mirages—nothing but fish nets in which to snare troublemakers


Those availing themselves of our Constitutionally guaranteed right of assembly and demonstration and protest could be oppressed, harrassed, put on black lists, and threatened in our new oligarchy—democracy is dead
Those availing themselves of our Constitutionally guaranteed right of assembly and demonstration and protest could be oppressed, harrassed, put on black lists, and threatened in our new oligarchy—democracy is dead

CIA Assets Use the Media to Reduce Blowback against Its Unpopular Operations

In Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World's Best Writers, Joel Whitney discussed the notion that became chronic throughout the American media, which was that working journalists may justifiably do double duty as CIA assets, and that CIA assets may use the media in its many forms as cover, and as a soft power method of dampening blowback against its unpopular operations. John M. Crewdson in The New York Times outed scores of journalists who were CIA assets embedded across media as undercover agents. A former agent is quoted claiming, "We had at least one newspaper in every foreign capital," and those that the CIA did not own outright or subsidize heavily it infiltrated with paid agents or staff officers who could have stories printed that were useful to the agency and not print those it found detrimental.

In a perfect example of an evil use of Bernays' propaganda techniques, as documented in a book called Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World, we discussed how Dubya Bush was behind the instigation of a gut-wretchingly cynical propaganda campaign to instill fear in the American populace with false claims about Iraq and the campaign was also to portray Dubya as their saviour ("I'm declarin' victory!") so that they will accept a domestic policy that goes against their own interests, as well as accepting permanent warmongering from all present and future presidents. The public didn't buy the need for war at first, so nothing short of a gut-wretchingly cynical propaganda campaign to instill fear in the American populace could have worked, painting a picture of mushroom clouds over our cities.

A propaganda campaign post-9/11 portrayed Dubya as a saviour on a terrorist-killing crusade so that citizens would accept a domestic policy that went against their own interests, as well as accepting permanent neocon warmongering
A propaganda campaign post-9/11 portrayed Dubya as a saviour on a terrorist-killing crusade so that citizens would accept a domestic policy that went against their own interests, as well as accepting permanent neocon warmongering


The public didn't buy the need for war at first, so nothing short of a gut-wretchingly cynical propaganda campaign to instill fear in the American populace could have worked, painting a picture of mushroom clouds over our cities.
The public didn't buy the need for war at first, so nothing short of a gut-wretchingly cynical propaganda campaign to instill fear in the American populace could have worked, painting a picture of mushroom clouds over our cities.


U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington!
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged.

The Internet Renders Propaganda Less Effective Than It Used to Be

The Internet renders propaganda less effective than it used to be. True, American consumers of mass media get most news from the bought-and-paid-for-and-CIA-filtered mainstream media, but many of us no longer find them credible and even less of us—6%—find them trustable. It is now the post-truth era, the era of fake news. Donald Trump has consistently defined fake news as anything he disagrees with or that is critical of him.

President Donald Trump has consistently defined fake news as anything he disagrees with or that is critical of him
President Donald Trump has consistently defined fake news as anything he disagrees with or that is critical of him

Truthiness—Propaganda Via Conning, Faking, Bluffing, Feigning, Dissembling Mendacity Presented as Fact

And now there is truthiness (discussed in Janine Wedel's book Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market), defined as disingenuous conning, faking, bluffing, feigning, dissembling mendacity presented as fact or information that is "to the best of my knowledge." It differs from truth. It means presenting events and ideas in the way we'd prefer them to be, but not necessarily in the way they really are. Following through, Wedel says that what appears in the mainstream media (MSM) and in the words of celebrities is “truthiness.” Some of MSM content is propaganda, some is not, but most of it is truthiness. Stephen Colbert coined the term.

Stephen Colbert coined the term truthiness, which he says he just pulled out of his keister
Stephen Colbert coined the term truthiness, which he says he just pulled out of his keister

Propaganda Was the Star of the Show as Neocon Thugs Tricked Us into War Repeatedly

The hero of Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance is propaganda, since it won the day repeatedly every time the shadow government needed it to mislead the American public into falling for another fraudulent manipulation, usually resulting in trillions of dollars added to the debt and Americans being made much less secure while neocons pushed our troops to attack countries unprovoked. Neither Chomsky nor the book's reviewers saw propaganda as in any way heroic, of course, as it was mostly a tool useful in promoting acceptance of criminal behavior by a nation a bit too greedy for its own good. And yet this tool was obviously indispensible for Stalin, Hitler, Bush, Reagan, Milosevic, and essentially every U.S. president since the dawn of the 20th century. The globalist, imperialist, neocon wet dreams must be facilitated at all costs! Long live nationalist extremism! (not)

"The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.


The Essentials of Our U.S. Propaganda Model

The essential ingredients of our [U.S.] propaganda model, or set of news "filters," fall under the following headings:

  1. the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms
  2. advertising as the primary income source of the mass media
  3. the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and "experts" funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power
  4. "flak" as a means of disciplining the media
  5. "anticommunism" as a national religion and control mechanism
These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print." (Source: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky)

A news piece, therefore, must please the media corporations and the advertisers, it must get its info from government and/or big business sanctioned sources, it must kiss the hand of the paddle used on its backside during its last spanking, and it must be as anticommunistic as it is possible to be. Note: it's assumed you realize that the CIA censors—installed in all mass media outlets since 1917, will have already censored the news piece as needed while it is being checked out for acceptability by the media company.

Once a story making the U.S. smell like crap gets through CIA filters, it smells like a rose
Once a story making the U.S. smell like crap gets through CIA filters, it smells like a rose

We Are Stuck with Going to Alternative News Sites Like Alternet.org for the Truth

In order to learn the truth and get real news, not CIA-filtered news that's gone through the filters of the Chomsky/Herman propaganda model, we need to take the wealth and power from the oligarchs in charge of the U.S. oligarchy and stop letting the CIA turn news pieces into propaganda pieces. But no oligarch is likely to want to give up wealth or power or CIA "guidance." So we are stuck with going to alternative news sites like Alternet.org for the truth.

How do you take wealth from a rich, powerful oligarch? The same way you take a banana from a 900-pound gorilla—very carefully!
How do you take wealth from a rich, powerful oligarch? The same way you take a banana from a 900-pound gorilla—very carefully! As we stated, no one ever relinquishes power!


A history book
A history book

The U.S. and world history books you read in your schooling contained a lot more propaganda than you realized. The untruths you took as gospel were often propaganda, sometimes cover-ups, sometimes damage control, and other times censored halftruths. And sometimes the history books even got it right. See The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline, The Concise Untold History of the United States, and Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance.

The neocon elites are using the citizens as cannon fodder in wars that no one but the neocons want—BUT WHY ARE WE ALLOWING THIS??!!
The neocon elites are using the citizens as cannon fodder in wars that no one but the neocons want—BUT WHY ARE WE ALLOWING THIS??!!

U.S. Propaganda's Flaw from Citizens' Viewpoint: We End Up Believing Lies and Getting Used as Cannon Fodder

The problem with propaganda in the U.S. today is not just that it gets intelligent citizens to believe lies, but exactly where those lies are leading us: warmongering, American Empire building, attacking countries unprovoked, threatening countries with nukes, considering military solutions only—never non-military ones, and using decent citizens for cannon fodder.

"Part of the propaganda machine [is] they think they're getting away with it, with tens of millions of people, if they just say something often enough and just repeat the lie, enough people will believe it."—Michael Moore


U.S. Citizens, Because of Propaganda and Lies, No Longer Trust the Media

"[in a ] Gallup question in 2016, 68 percent had not very much or no trust and confidence in the 'mass media such as newspapers, TV, and radio' to report the news 'fully, accurately, and fairly,' up from 30 percent in 1972. In a new CBS News question, only 38 percent said the media tell the truth all or most of the time." (Source: What the Public Is Reporting)

Daily, more people see the lies, the wrongness, the foolishness of the military-industrial complex's plans, the perversity of the neoconservatives' warmongering arrogance, and the rising danger of following fools over the cliff as if we had no more brains than lemmings
Daily, more people see the lies, the wrongness, the foolishness of the military-industrial complex's plans, the perversity of the neoconservatives' warmongering arrogance, and the rising danger of following fools over the cliff as if we had no more brains than lemmings. The neocons' ugly plans, which Clinton, Dubya, OBomb'em, and the Orange Oligarch have all followed in lockstep, are an insult to our intelligence. We're not in trouble yet—Trump's just being a rightwing Republican, even if he has shown alarming fascist tendencies. When the lockstep turns into a goose-step, à la Hitler's troops, THEN we may all begin to worry!

Bernays' propaganda/public relations techniques are now staples for public image creation and political campaigns. Propaganda propelled Bernays into media historians’ view of him as the "father of public relations." However, because of Hitler's and the CIA's extensive evil use of his techniques, Bernays' image will forever be tarnished—he's a "father" with a black eye and egg all over his face.

Because of Hitler's and the CIA's extensive evil use of his techniques, Bernays' image will forever be tarnished—with a black eye and egg all over his face
Because of Hitler's and the CIA's extensive evil use of his techniques, Bernays' image will forever be tarnished—with a black eye and egg all over his face