Tom Rushing -- Information Clearing House
Aug. 30, 2006 -- The most powerful political/economic force on the planet is and always will be “We the people.”
In this article, I will make an attempt at giving a very brief overview of the methods used to assert control over the masses, the use of these methods in past and present governments and the evolution of the methods themselves. Many of the methods of control from the past are still used today. With increased understanding of the human psyche and the human brain, the sophistication level of these methods have evolved into completely new more subtle yet more powerful techniques and are implemented on a grand scale daily.
There have been benevolent companionate powerful rulers and brutally barbaric powerful rulers, but the rulers or the established rule that maintained their rule all had one thing in common. They were able to avoid political coups and revolutions. Established rule that ignores the power of the people will run the risk of being ousted. Weather Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake,” or not and whatever her intended message was, the masses had the impression that their lot in life was not going to improve unless action was taken in the form of revolution.
Education and Organization
Education and organization are the two major factors that must be in place for the people to exert any influence in politics. Knowing this, the ruling classes made certain for centuries that few had the opportunity to even learn to read. The idea of commoners being able to read scriptures for themselves or the law of the land was not acceptable really until almost modern times. This greatly improved the chances of the ruling class to hold on to their power and restrict any vertical class movement. On occasion, however, enough information could be acquired through experience or word of mouth to evoke an organized response.
If education is the primer, then organization is the powder. Too many times I have heard, “There is nothing I can do.” In a manner of speaking that statement holds some truth. One person can be extremely effective, but this effectiveness is usually proportional to the number of people influenced by that person. When half of the population can be of one mind on any given course of action, almost anything is possible. If it is singular action to a course, a relative low percentage of the population need be involved to spawn change. We need only look to the civil rights movement to see how a minority group incited change to a country made up of a vast array of different kinds of people and interests.
Before Sigmund Freud and Bernaise
Control over the masses in the pre-modern era was a relatively simple matter before Democracy. Common people were accustomed to being ordered about and serving. Usually if one was not too hungry they considered themselves perhaps even lucky. Without the ability to read and understand what life could be like, there was little room for comparison. The power and might of the ruling classes’ minds and military relative to the peasant was seemingly insurmountable. The occasional public punishment by various methods was often times enough to make the uneducated mind fall in line. The age of revolutions and civil rights could not have come about without the ability of conferring complex ideas to a significant percentage of the population.
Religion played an essential role in placating the masses. Before reading became popular, people went to their religious leaders and were told what was right and wrong and read to them selected text to confirm their assertions. The rulers made sure to keep close tabs on the religious leaders and rewarded and punished them according to the messages and influence they pushed on their congregations. If this sounds familiar, it should. This method continues to be used today. Perhaps the current administration is using it more than most have in a very long time however. Even today, the people that I have met that are most steadfast in their faith in our rulers and question least their religion are the ones that do not bother to read more than what is recommended to them by their religious leaders. It continues to amaze me that most Christians have not read their bible at least once from cover to cover, but have no problem dedicating their lives and beliefs and their votes in accordance to their preacher’s wishes without much deliberation. Religion is and has been perhaps the most effective tool of the ruling classes.
The Twentieth Century to the Present
Make no mistake about it. The class war has never ended. The ideal presented in Star Trek is a long way from reality. Almost everything that can be owned in the United States and the world is owned by a very small percentage of people and the wealth that these people enjoy is a direct result of the blood, sweat and tears of the lower classes.
Sigmund Freud introduced the idea that humans were in a struggle with their animalistic natures and if this goes unchecked then people will run around naked destroying things and society will fall apart. He apparently had very little confidence in humans. This idea was widely accepted especially in the upper classes thus confirming of the fear that Democracy left unchecked could destroy their society. If the people could not be trusted to control their basic animalistic nature, then how would they know how to vote?
In steps Freud’s nephew Edward Bernaise. Propaganda during war was nothing new, but Bernaise saw an opportunity to use the unconscious desires of humans to manipulate the masses in times of peace also. Bernaise believed that by fulfilling the unconscious desires of people would change a potentially unruly population into a controlled docile one. Bernaise invented the much used term “public relations,” and used it to turn the population of the United States into consumers. Before Bernaise worked his magic, the American population only bought goods according to their needs. It was practically unheard of to buy something for any other reason. Bernaise made it acceptable to make a purchase based on desires. Using Hollywood through product placement, and the media, he changed the population into an easily placated self-absorbed group where before they were actively participating. Over the years, this has changed Democracy from a function of the entire society into less than a passing diversion. It is not by accident that here in the United States we have perhaps a lower voter turnout than anywhere else in the world. Bernaise put his methodology to the test in many areas. Bernaise, being approached by the tobacco company, effectively double their customers with one wave of his wand. He asked had a few women light up after a march in front of the press and in a movie or two prominent actresses were instructed to smoke and almost overnight erased the stigma of women smoking. After this victory and his ideas tested and proven, Bernaise was ready to move onto bigger things. He was involved in all sorts of advertising and promotion from the automobile industry to governmental agencies that needed public support. Although there have been many attempts to oppose these methods as unethical, they have gone largely unopposed. As long as industry is making money and politicians are passing the laws they are pushing for the industry, they will continue to go unopposed. This is pure propaganda and is intended to be a psychological attack at the essence of humanity to evoke a non-response to governmental malfeasance and other societal issues as well as to evoke a gluttonous consumer based society. If that seems to sum up much of how the world seems to consider most Americans, at least we can now tell that it is not by accident.
The methods had been used for years to promote the hard to sell policies of the government, but starting with Clinton and Blair a new use was found. Polls were taken to find out what the voter desired most. These finding were easily turned into speeches and in the cases of Clinton and Blair, won elections. Blair took it one step farther and used it to set policy while Clinton simply did what he and his advisors thought was best after the election was won. Blair took polls and no one seemed concerned about the rail system in Britain, so little funding was appropriated until trains began derailing and killing people. Politicians soon learned that people’s concerns were not always in line with their needs. Of course if they had studied Bernaise and the methodology of the polls, they would have known this. Now, politicians use the polls to write their speeches and continue to do what they feel is best regardless of what they say in the speeches. This is why Bush talks about peace and wages war and all the other double speak that persists, to placate to the desires and not the needs of society which effectively placates the masses.
One would think that the population would eventually catch on to this trick, and perhaps some have, but the public relations business is stronger and more centralized than ever. Just a few short years ago, there were over 50 media stations broadcasting news to Americans. Now there are only five. This number could go lower soon, but at this point the company heads are all of one voice pounding out PR about whatever they want us to think we want. The journalism schools in the U.S. are very few and most have switched over to public relations. Journalists will soon go the way of the dinosaur if something does not change this horrible trend.
I am not certain if the ruling class has a valid fear of humanity or not, but unchecked control of the masses through psychological operations should be met with some opposition at the very least, and steps need to be taken to remove some of the mediums that make these operations so pervasive. We do still have a choice to shut off the television to watch and read from sources that take pride in their lack of participation in the promotion of self absorption
See also - The Century of the Self - How politicians and business learned to create and manipulate mass-consumer society.