Most people in the U.S. believe that we don’t have propaganda here. “That only happens in places like Russia.” However, we live in one of the most heavily propagandized societies in the history of the world.
The media is owned outright by a handful of wealthy individuals with their own agendas and no responsibility to accurately inform citizens. There is no requirement for any information presented by the media (including “news”) to be true. And, it turns out; sophisticated psychological techniques are being used to sell political ideologies, as well as consumer goods.
Elite sectors of societies have always been faced with the problem of how to maintain control over people when the minority of the opulent are so severely outnumbered. The privileged need to get common people to support elite agendas, rather than their own interests. Ancient societies held power by a combination of military force and mythology, with god-kings ruling by divine right.
With the hard won gains of people’s rights based on democratic ideals, things became more complex. Official violence was often not a viable option. By the early 20th century, the concept of divine right rule had zero credibility, and democratic sentiments were becoming more widespread. Americans were very aware of elite ambitions for power and concentration of wealth. The privileged classes desperately sought solutions to their waning influence.
The era of psychoanalytically-based spin was born in the early 20th century, spearheaded by students of mass psychology like Edward Bernays (the Father of Spin), who was a nephew of Sigmund Freud. Many others were involved in the pioneering of what came to be called Public Relations (PR). Influential French sociologist Gustave Le Bon studied the “crowds” to develop ways to control them. Discussions were very frank about the need to control the “irrational masses.”
Successful strategies were designed by the newly formed public relations industry, which was able to manipulate people through their desires and deep psychological motivations. The growing electronic mass media allowed for openings into the public mind and the insertion of a predigested reality. An isolationist nation was persuaded to enthusiastically support two world wars, while huge quantities of consumer goods were sold to the public. Media ownership became more concentrated.
During the 1960s and 70s something went wrong. Millions of people began to catch on to the social controls and the dark intentions of the military-industrial complex. A massive social upheaval interfered with the ambitions of the powerful.
The elite backlash was tremendous, but nearly invisible to the public. The PR methods developed in previous decades were intensified. The extreme capitalist owning class decided that in order to maintain their position of power in our society, they were going to need to change the way people think. A number of well-funded think tanks were launched to study how to shape public perceptions and find ways to control and manipulate public opinion using the tools of psychology and sociology. The mass media was bought up.
Through many highly effective strategies, the owners of the means of public discourse have largely accomplished their goal. Working people now commonly vote against their own self-interests in support of intentionally branded candidates who seem to embody archetypal values that they believe represent their own.
At present our country is run by two political parties that work in support of the elite minority rather than the citizens. Yet, people passionately support their own parties and leaders. The supporters of each party are in extreme opposition to those of the other.
Their political leaders are adored by their supporters, and hated by the other side. This has created a situation where neighbors can no longer speak with each other. Attempts at communication result in anger and alienation. Neither side seems to realize that they are being fed very different renditions of events and people than the other side is getting, by their respective media outlets.
It is crucial to educate people about media mass deception, if we hope to gain sufficient support to overcome the corporate-governmental steamroller that we are facing. A small change in public opinion can change the political landscape.