We need to go into the business of PR in more depth and who better to be our guide than Bernays himself.
Bernays was a leader in his field and was given an eminence that few modern authorities attain. A book, Public Relations, Edward L. Bernayses and the American Scene, by Keith A. Larson - over 300 pages was written to catalogue his works and teachings. First published in 1951 this book was enlarged and republished 1971.
This, for someone barely known outside of academia, must be rare.
It is interesting that Bernays was born in Vienna and was a nephew of the infamous Sigmund Freud (author of a rather discredited system of psychoanalysis). It is also interesting that introduction of the dubious, forced medication fluoridation (beginning in the USA in 1951 and spread world-wide) was aided (if not guided) by this same propaganda expert.
It seems that this is a family that would be high in the favour of any behind-the-scenes elitist establishment. Let us take a better look at his writings on scientific public relations; the following quotes, unless otherwise specified, are from his book called (very appropriately) PROPAGANDA; quote:
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 government.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is the logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. .. EQ.
That comment, from the founder of the modern manipulative science called Public Relations, is something you are unlikely to known of unless you have studied PR or some related subject. It is important to understand that he WAS NOT EXPOSING HIDDEN GOVERNMENT - he was not exposing conspiracy. He was writing a frank technical essay for the use of a new, elitist-sympathetic, educated class of people who would be making a living out of public manipulation.
The book Propaganda was first published in 1928 and one chapter is given over to explaining that the word PROPAGANDA has been sadly misunderstood by the ignorant public. We who use words may have some sympathy with him that a word which started out honourably as meaning the propagation of truth has fallen into disrepute.
Nevertheless, for a person who makes a living out of understanding human nature, we must also wonder if he is really so naive as to believe that any system that is designed to establish beliefs in the human mind (no matter how honest the intent) will not be eagerly seized on for the promotion of self-interest.
Certainly his advocacy of the word did not change the public perception of it. As time has passed the word has come into more and more public disrepute. But then, there was never any "public" Public Relations exercise to change the public image of the word. May we be excused for thinking that this little public relations exercise was to soothe the conscience of students only.
The students who read Bernays are among those who are taught that there is no conspiracy and obviously, if public manipulation is your line of business, you will not want to think of creating delusions within the trusting herd as service in conspiracy. The PR way of persuasion is, according to Bernays, a way of life that is an essential of organized society.
If scientific means were not used to convince people of the 'desired truth' then there would, in Bernays's opinion, be social chaos. It seems young and unworldly students either believe this or are too intent on success in their studies to challenge it.
There, I think, is the answer to the question that puzzles many people. How can it be that so many people can be involved and yet public manipulation is not exposed? The educated manipulate us for our own good; if it turns out that they are the ones to benefit, well.. they did their best.
When students accept an authority then their first dedication is to put into effect what they have learned. They are very conscious of this and very involved. By the time they have established themselves they have a psychological commitment: they may never see a need (or desire) to challenge the means of their success.
So far as Bernays himself is concerned I think the weakness of his argument for PR, and the weakness of the whole academic argument against true constitutional government, is very apparent in Propaganda; perhaps more so in this work than in his other books or those of his less expert, or more cautious, followers. Let us now continue the quote where we left off on our previous page:
.. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons - a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million [USA 1920s] - who understand the mental processes and mental patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our life group. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion.1 Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.
In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions.2 EQ. EA
Well, that is the essence of his argument; are you convinced?
*Note 1: Here that he says "WOULD produce nothing but confusion"; the words "did produce" are avoided. In fact the political parties took over almost as soon as the Constitution came into effect. In the USA their Constitution had even less time for trial than did our own; here we had about fifteen years over which time non-party government worked well.
In Australia, States governments enjoyed longer periods of party-free government and in England non-party government lasted for over 300 years before elitism worked out that democracy could be by-passed by the introduction of parties.
**Note 2: Who "voluntarily agreed"? Have you heard of there having been a referendum in the USA or anywhere else where the people have agreed to let an invisible government rule their lives, beliefs and attitudes?
Would not any mature-minded and worldly person be immediately appalled at the huge power placed so conveniently in so few hands and hidden from public sight or question?
Would it not be quickly obvious that powerful and egocentric people (if they did not in fact set it up) would soon gain control of such a system?
We may well agree that every individual cannot be an expert on every subject, but then it is not necessary. Are leading politicians experts about everything - or anything? Every person does not need to be a doctor in order to know if he is sick. But he does need the right to consult his OWN CHOICE of expert should he see a need to.
One does not need to deny the possible advantages of having teams of SPECIALIST planners to advise government, but any responsible person must deny the right of secret private organizations to plan our lives and deaths.
The principles of social behaviour are no more complicated today than they were 2000 or even 5000 years ago. The only difference is that we need to more responsibly obey the rules as society becomes more complex and powerful in its ability to manipulate life.
Technology does not make us different humans! True civilization, given the aid of technology, should make us more aware of our human nature and more responsible in our care of it, but neither civilization nor technology, honestly employed, will make life less understandable.
Having looked at Bernays' social attitude it is now necessary to see how this translates into everyday public relations and social engineering practice.
Bernays has written openly and with obvious confidence in the natural security of a system of higher education far more elitist than in Australian universities today. We are indeed fortunate that this window on the real world of social manipulation has remained open; obviously the danger of leakage, even today, is (or has been) considered small. We now go to p27 where he says; quote:
Formerly the rulers were the leaders. They laid out the course of history by the simple process of doing what they wanted. And if nowadays the successors of the rulers, those whose position or ability gives them power, can no longer do what they want without the approval of the masses, they find in propaganda a tool which is increasingly powerful in gaining that approval. Therefore, propaganda is here to stay.
It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda during the war that opened the eyes of the intelligent few in all departments of life to the possibilities of regimenting the public mind. The American government and numerous patriotic agencies developed a technique which, to most persons accustomed to bidding for public acceptance, was new. They not only appealed to the individual by means of every approach - visual, graphic, and auditory - to support the national endeavour, but they also secured the cooperation of the key men in every group - persons whose mere word carried authority to hundreds of thousands of followers. They thus automatically gained the support of fraternal, religious, commercial, patriotic, social and local groups whose members took their opinions from their accustomed leaders and spokesmen, or from the periodical publications which they were accustomed to read and believe. At the same time, the manipulators of patriotic opinion made use of the mental cliches and the emotional habits of the public to produce mass reactions against the alleged atrocities, the terror and tyranny of the enemy. It was only natural, after the war ended, that intelligent persons should ask themselves whether it was not possible to apply a similar technique to the problems of peace.
As a matter of fact, the practice of propaganda since the war has assumed very different forms from those prevalent twenty years ago. This new technique may fairly be called the new propaganda.
It takes account not merely of the individual, nor even of the mass mind alone, but also and especially of the anatomy of society, with its interlocking group formations and loyalties. It sees the individual not only as a cell in the social organism but as a cell organized into the social unit. Touch a nerve at a sensitive spot and you get an automatic response from certain specific members of the organism. EQ.
That last sentence is a very visible part of social manipulation in Australia when related to, what we call, the conservative movement. In Australia what is called 'conservative' often refers to a Christian opposition to secretive world government.
From time to time quite outrageous rumours are leaked into this fraternity to cause traumatic responses. These 'leaked' stories, if not simply tormenting, serve to direct effort away from true social understanding.
I am sorry to have to take such long quotations from the PROPAGANDA book but a large quote was needed to make clear Brenays' very important point about the extent and penetration of the new propaganda techniques.
We may doubt the newness of the need for leaders to have the public on side. I doubt there has ever been a time when a leader could ignore the feelings of his subjects for long and in fact Bernays himself accepts this in a later book, Public Relations, in which he gives a history of the profession. We know well that this desire to manipulate and deceive has been of long standing.
However it is also apparent that the 20th century introduced a new ball game in both the technology of deceit and the numbers to be deceived. There was a need to recruit an expanded generation of elitist supporters and structure the propaganda more carefully and with more detailed understanding of the behaviour of a more educated and organized populace.
Modern psychology played a big part in providing the "behavioural studies" to support this new technique.
For the person who wants to know humanity much of this 'behavioural studies' work is misleading. Many of the experiments are made on the very available university student but the response of this group may well be quite different from that of a more senior and worldly sample or even from a group of similar age in a different setting.
Apart from that, it can be expected that a percentage of the experiments are flawed by the wrong perceptions of the experimenter. It should be discernible that an experiment to test human responses may give very different results when carried out on people subject to very different levels of brainwash - or BY people who have been given different perceptions of what is human.
However, for the purposes of elitist manipulation, the testing of immature and brainwashed people is very important as such tests may measure the efficiency of their brainwashing techniques and indicate where new work may be best applied.
Because of the conflicting interests involved it is very naive to take the public or educational presentation of psychiatry and human behaviour research at face value. To be able to sort the grain from the chaff requires some study, understanding and aptitude for this subject.
Let us look at some Bernays examples of commercial use of this sophisticated persuasion so that we may be better able to appreciate its socio/political use.
Bernays tells of how markets were regained for a group of textile manufacturers. Velvet had gone out of fashion and its manufacturers in the USA were facing ruin. Study showed that the market could not be revived by action taken within America so where was the vital spot? Quote:
It was determined to substitute purpose for chance and to utilize the regular sources for fashion distribution ...
An intelligent Parisian was enlisted in the work. He visited Lanvin and Worth, Agnes and Patou, and others and induced them to use velvet in their gowns and hats. It was he who arranged for the distinguished Countess This or Duchess That to wear the hat or the gown. And as for the presentation of the idea to the public, the American buyer or the American woman of fashion was simply shown the velvet creations in the atelier of the dressmaker or the milliner. ...
The editors of the American magazines and fashion reporters of the American newspapers, likewise were subjected to the actual (although created) circumstance ... A demand was slowly, but deliberately, created in Paris and America.
The created circumstances had their effect. "Fickle fashion has veered to velvet," was one newspaper comment. EQ.
So it is that fashions, trends, movements, political imperatives, pop-singers and popular beliefs are manipulated and imprinted on the mass mind. It is not explained just how the fashion designers were induced to use velvet in the example given; no doubt it was made "worth their while".
What is the difference between a payment and a bribe? At what point does persuasion become corruption?
You will note that with this technique the target group is not approached directly. There will always be one or more "innocent" carriers between the corrupting influence and the victim.
We may be getting the feeling that those Bernays quotations were from 1988 rather than 1928 so let us now go to another of his books Public Relations written in 1952 where we see he is still giving examples of propaganda from the time of World War I. This shows that techniques developed in that era were still relevant; p72-3 quote:
April 6 1917, the Committee of Public Information was set up, under the direction of George Creel, former editor of the Rocky Mountain News. Other members were the secretaries of War, Navy, and State. ...
I worked with the Committee on Public Information in the United States and in Paris. I saw it grow from an idea to an organization of enthusiastic men and women in key centers throughout the world. ...
This experience in broad public relations was a turning point in the lives of those who worked with the Committee. My own case was typical. ... In 1913, when I was editor of the Dietetic and Hygienic Gazette and associated with The Medical Review of Reviews, Richard Bennett, the actor, was trying to produce Brieux's play, Damaged Goods, but was unable to find sponsorship for it because the theme of the play offended the people in prewar America. Believing that Brieux's drama taught an important social lesson, I wrote Bennett that our magazine, The Medical Review of Reviews, would give him its moral support in his efforts to produce the play. ... The result of our talk was that we undertook, under the auspices of the Review, to mobilize public opinion for the production of the play ...
The technique employed became widespread in later years. We set up a Sociological Fund which appealed to public opinion to support production of the play on the grounds of public and social interest. Membership of the Fund cost four dollars [which I expect might be equal to $40 today] and entitled the member to a ticket for a performance of Damaged Goods, when and if produced. The results were described by John T. Flynn in an article entitled Edward L. Bernays: The Science of Ballyhoo, published in the Atlantic Monthly for May, 1932:
"Bernays ...sent invitations to our New York nobility. Every person of social prominence was invited to subscribe four dollars to endorse a movement for dealing with sex via Damaged Goods ...these notables responded nobly. When they did, the rank and file of humbler folk proceeded, as always to grow curious, and then toddle along behind their betters, sending in their four dollars by the hundreds and the thousands. ..."
How words won the war; p74-5:
It bombarded the public unceasingly with enthusiastic reports of the nation's colossal war effort ... Dissenting voices were stilled, either by agreement with the press or by the persuasive action of the agents of the Department of Justice.
Intellectual and emotional bombardment aroused Americans to a pitch of enthusiasm. The bombardment came at people from all sides - advertisements, news, volunteer speakers, posters, schools, theaters; millions of homes displayed service flags. The war aims and ideals were continually projected to the eyes and ears of the populace. These high-pressure methods were new at the time, but have become usual since then. ...
The most fantastic atrocity stories were believed. ... Later, the slogan - equally true - that "Words Won the War but Lost the Peace" came to remind us never to place too great a reliance on words. ...In public relations, as in all other pursuits, actions speak louder than words.
Public relations activities in World War I never attained their full potentialities. EQ. EA.
So we see a new public relations in a steep learning curve over the first half of this century but most people today, if they think of it at all, think of public persuasion in terms of the rather crude propaganda of World War I.
Bernays goes on to tell us how, in the 1930s, most large American Companies and industries including the National Association of Manufacturers, Rockefeller Center, General Motors, Standard Oil Co., J.P. Morgan and Co. etc., all became involved with use of the new public relations industry.
Bernays himself was appointed a member of the President's Emergency Committee for Employment (President Hoover), and goes on to say that there was even a significant change in public attitude by bankers. In growing numbers they sought professional advice and in 1939 Bernays' own firm was working with the Bank of America on the West Coast and in Washington; p106-8, quote:
That America was becoming more aware of the nature and importance of public relations was further evidenced by the active interest now shown in the field by newspapers, magazines, universities, social scientists, research organizations, and political parties. ...But the new era was emphasized when Mr. Flynn spoke of the modern public relations expert as "a social psychologist engaged in carrying out in actual practice and according to newer theories that branch of psychology which August Comte and later Herbert Spencer recognized as having a definite relation to sociology. ...
In connection with these activities, we initiated a practice which became widespread toward the end of the decade - the creation of institutes and foundations as public interest bodies of private profit organizations...
These bureaus, service institutes, and foundations functioned as nonprofit institutions in the public interest, but were always tied up with a profit organization. ...
By this time the colleges and universities of the United States were keenly aware of the dependence of government, industry, and all other social groups on public opinion. EQ. EA.
Bernays tells how his firm made a survey of American colleges and universities in 1937 to find that they now offered a wide range of courses devoted to propaganda and public opinion. Interest in propaganda at that time even extended so far as to expose propaganda; however, exposure did not prosper.
These techniques of mass persuasion are used in relation to business, music, sex, politics and human relations. Anything in fact that presents an avenue for making money or gaining power and influence.
Two things become notable from any study of modern mass persuasion technique:
1. No matter if the activity is to find answers to what opinion is popular with the public - what people think of a business or service; or whether it is to manipulate the public to form a favourable opinion of a business or service, one thing remains constant - to take advantage of the public.
2. No matter whether the activity of public relations is presented as being for the public benefit or for private advantage, there is never any acknowledgement that human beings are involved - humans are treated as animals without rights, without humanity and without respect. To the mind manipulator the great mass of humanity is a mere collection of biological machinery to be used for the benefit of a superior elite.
Nowhere will you find any acknowledgement that people are human beings entitled to know the truth. Questions of human future or human destiny, in so far as they may exist at all, treat the human mass as common animal. The manipulator, another mindless cog in the system, plays out the game, unknowing and uncaring of the consequences, like a dog rounding up sheep for the master with the whistle.
When Bernays wants to know future trends he asks group leaders not members of the general public because he knows that what the group leaders think today will be what the common herd thinks tomorrow: editors, labour leaders, educators, top executives, heads of organizations, these hold the opinions of today that will be the public opinion in a few months. But who decides the thinking of opinion leaders?
Bernays knew, and we need to be aware, that behind each group leader who influences the thinking of perhaps hundreds of thousands are the real (but secretive) government heads who plan the future for the benefit of an elite few; and they neither know nor care about you.
These hidden princes and princesses see themselves as gods. For the power they have they are worshipped by the generals of planning. The mere public relations man is happy to take his orders without thought of why some members of the same race are gods while all others are slaves.
Now perhaps, just perhaps, if these 'gods' were infallible, or even wise in the human destiny, we might be justified in accepting their decrees. But the fact is, and this is so easily to be observed, that the more their power grows the more the human misery grows and the future of common humanity is increasingly looming as catastrophic.
Why should this be so? Because power corrupts and arrogance hides the fact of the unity of humanity. After generations of power it is possible for a man to think that he and his family of friends can divorce themselves from the mess they have made of human management; they cannot be held responsible for the stupidity of slaves. They easily forget that this is a stupidity they themselves created.
So we see, p256, that by the mid 1940s that future opinion would favour "free trade, an international bank, an international police force, and a world court." At that time the opinion leaders had set in train a public opinion to favour the formation of the United Nations which took place in 1945. This event would naturally lead to opinions in favour of multiculturalism, world government and a New World Order without any one person in a million knowing what this was all about.
Bernays' whole attitude to manipulation is well summed up in the chapter heading on p335: How American Business Can Sell the American Way of Life to the American People, apparently the American people did not know what their way of life was.
Well, they sold the American way of business not only to the American people but to the whole of humanity; unfortunately no one bothered to sell the way of humanity to business.
Some people will still argue that manipulative business enterprise creates work - people made to want things they don't need and which may well be, in the long term, detrimental - but if we are honest we must see that unneeded work is waste work, it is work that could be used for real social benefit. We can also now see, perhaps more clearly than ever before, that unnecessary manufacture creates pollution and wasted resources.
Our society has reached a stage in its development where we MUST take a new look at our commercial model. The present system has seriously outgrown its usefulness. AT LEAST HALF of our present work is not only unnecessary but also undesirable.
What is less obvious but even more damaging is that every manipulated mind is misled to wasted effort, disadvantaged in its rational ability and, for this reason, unable to properly appreciate the social reality.
Bernays may believe that the new propaganda sometimes serves the desires of the masses - but does it? We go back to the book Propaganda, p30, for closing quotes:
A desire for a specific reform, however widespread, cannot be translated into action until it is made articulate ... Millions of housewives may feel that manufactured foods deleterious to health should be prohibited. But there is little chance that their individual desires will be translated into effective legal form unless their half-expressed demand can be organized, made vocal, and concentrated upon the state legislature or upon the Federal Congress in some mode which will produce the results they desire. EQ.
Very well! How nice to think that PR might work for the public good sometimes. But does this not also say that this may occur only when it also suits the needs of the manipulators - the giant businesses, international financiers and leading academics who have a passion for world ownership?
As he so clearly says ..there is little chance that their individual desires will be translated into effective legal form unless their half-expressed demand can be organized ... Does his statement therefore not most clearly demonstrate the futility of the common herd when subjected to a governing manipulation by propaganda?
Bernays ends this chapter of his book with these words; quote:
Small groups of persons can, and do, make the rest of us think what they please about a given subject. But there are usually proponents and opponents of every propaganda, both of whom are equally eager to convince the majority. EQ.
The first half of that statement (so long as we see that the small groups Bernays refers to are those in power) is true; the second is propaganda. When an elite have control of the propaganda machine there are no effective opponents on the PR playing field except when the planners are playing the Hegelian game (see chapter 2). brain3.htm
To sum up: the argument for elitist control provides all the evidence we should ever need, against it.
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