War Propaganda In Peacetime (repost)

Late 19th century Sigmund Freud developed his theory about the the human subconscious mind and developed psychoanalysis, by which patients are confronted with their subconscious fears and desires...

Time For Peace - source: Wikimedia Commons

Freud was worried by what he found: the subconscious wasn't a pretty place and held deep, dark desires of a sexual and violent nature. He saw his fears about the subconscious mind realized when the Great War started in all it's violence and cruelty in 1914. He even said that this is how we should expect people to behave from our knowledge of psychoanalysis.

Apart from all the money- and power-related reasons the ruling class had to fear and control the people, Freud gave them one more: when left unchecked, the masses behave irrationally and violent. The common people had to be steered, guided, because left to their own devices they would act and choose irrationally, motivated by their most inner selfish needs.

Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, is the real "hero" of this story though. He was the one who took Freud's theories and used them to link peoples subconscious desires to mass-produced goods they really didn't need. Bernays is the father of the "engineering of consent" that's used till this day to control the masses. At the time he was living in the U.S., but kept in contact with his uncle Sigmund. But when the Austrian-Hungarian empire started the Great War in Europe, the American government announced they'd be joining the war-effort, fighting against Germany and Austria. Bernays was hired by the American Government to promote America's war-efforts in the press.

Woodrow Wilson announced that America would fight to (wait for it...) bring democracy and freedom to Europe (where have I heard that before...), so very much against the re-institution of the old empires. I think we all know his famous 14 points, but we also know now that the Great War was never about inner struggles, but about control over the oil in the Middle-East. This same war has been continued for more than a century now and is going on today under the name of the "War Against Terrorism". If you want to know how that works exactly, please read Myths Of Our Economy: They Hate Us For Our Freedom!.

At the end of that war in 1918, Bernays was present at the peace conference in Paris that year where they were working to, and I'm quoting a 1991 interview with the man himself, "make the world save for democracy, that was the big slogan". The Americans were astonished by the way Wilson was greeted in Europe as the hero who would free the individuals through democracy; the war-propaganda engineered by Freud's nephew had worked even better than anticipated.

This is when Bernays began to wonder if there was a way to use his highly successful propaganda techniques in times of peace. From the same 1991 interview from Bernays himself:

"When I came back to the United States, I decided that if you could use propaganda for war, you could certainly use it for peace. And 'propaganda' got to be a bad word because of the Germans using it, so what I did was to try and find some other word, so we found the words 'council on public relations'."

This later became simply "Public Relations" and now, in our time of the 30-seconds attention span and 140 character messages, just "PR". Bernays invented the term "public relations" because the other word, "propaganda" wasn't popular anymore... Let that sink in for a few seconds. Armed with a book he got from his uncle Sigmund about the basics of psychoanalysis, he began to look for ways to make money by manipulating the subconscious mind. And, extrapolating from his experience in Paris he was particularly drawn to the influence subconscious mind has on human decision-making, not only from the perspective of the individual, but mainly the population as a whole.

After reading his uncle's work, Bernays soon stepped away from the basic assumption that information is the main force behind decision-making, and found that appealing to people's subconscious, unknown, hidden selfish needs would be the way to influence them. One of his most famous "victories" is how he got women to smoke. Now don't think I'm a male chauvinist, it's just that in those times it was just not appropriate for women to smoke (in public). For capitalism women are just the next "growth market", so tobacco companies were delighted when Bernays invented the slogan "Torches of Freedom". Let's get back to the interview with old man Bernays where he tells us what he did for their sales-figures:

"He said 'we're losing half of our market because men have invoked a taboo against women smoking in public, can you do something about that', and I said 'let me think about it'. And then I said have I your permission to see a psychoanalyst to find out what cigarettes mean to women. He said 'what'll it cost'. So I called up dr. Brill, who was the leading psychoanalyst in New York at that time."

In short, Bernays linked the smoking of cigarettes to the women's desire for equality and so cigarettes became "the torches of freedom" that showed women to be independent and equal to men. A.A. Brill told Bernays that cigarettes were a symbol of the male penis and male power. He told Bernays that if he could connect the lighting of cigarettes to challenging male power, women would smoke because they would have their own penis. Then Bernays spent some more tobacco-money to hire women to light up cigarettes at public events that were televised, and presto: the tobacco-industry had a surge in sales like they've never seen before. Don't underestimate what he accomplished here: he turned a taboo into a socially accepted act with a single symbolic image.

This is the basis of all public relations and advertising. Just imagine how many companies and politicians are constantly fighting over our votes, our "likes", and you soon realize that we are constantly being barraged by a flood of subconscious manipulation. Almost every outing in mainstream media is pulling you in a certain direction by talking to your subconscious self. This is why "truth" is almost never to be found on television and why we are so consumed by the "self". If you see demonstrators acting violently at a protest against some branch of "the establishment", there's no way of knowing if these violent elements weren't hired by said establishment to paint the demonstrators in a bad light in the public's eye; this is known to have happened.

Just look at how Bernays popularized the "torches of freedom": he first hired women to very publicly light up cigarettes in protest against male power, then he called the press to say that he heard about this outrageous act of these naughty women, as he knew this would make headlines. He played the press and the public alike to influence public opinion. War tactics in times of peace, false flags in the subconscious battlefield for our attention and approval, this is the legacy of Edward Bernays.

This is how Bernays' essay, "The Engineering of Consent", starts:

"FREEDOM of speech and its democratic corollary, a free press, have tacitly expanded our Bill of Rights to include the right of persuasion. This development was an inevitable result of the expansion of the media of free speech and persuasion, defined in other articles in this volume. All these media provide open doors to the public mind. Any one of us through these media may influence the attitudes and actions of our fellow citizens.

The tremendous expansion of communications in the United States has given this Nation the world's most penetrating and effective apparatus for the transmission of ideas. Every resident is constantly exposed to the impact of our vast network of communications which reach every corner of the country, no matter how remote or isolated. Words hammer continually at the eyes and ears of America. The United States has become a small room in which a single whisper is magnified thousands of times."

source: The Engineering of Consent

We never looked back and we are still ruled by the establishment that in the meantime has mastered the art of linking selfish subconscious fears and desires to a market-goal or political outcome that they desire in order to maintain the status quo. This is why every election, that should be done by individuals that choose rationally, using objectively presented information, is actually a media-circus where stuff is bought and sold in a "marketplace of ideas" using propaganda-techniques formerly reserved for wartime against a common enemy.

For a much more in-depth look at all of this I recommend you watch the documentary "The Century of the Self" by Adam Curtis; part 1 of 4 linked below.

We do have a new explosion in the dissemination of information in the form of the internet, but don't kid yourself: the powers that be are constantly hard at work to take over that space too. We should be grateful for the times we live in now, as blockchain technology presents us with another escape-route: imagine if any true decentralized web 3.0 protocol succeeds, then centralized power over the world wide web would have met it's doom: Google, YouTube, FaceBook... they would have power over our opinions no more, as there would be no centralized server or provider to corrupt anymore. We can always hope...

The Century of the Self - Part 1: "Happiness Machines"

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