Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Purpose of Propaganda: Social Engineering

"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." 
--Edward Bernays

These are the opening lines of an influential volume titled Propaganda, published in 1928. This relatively short work by Edward Bernays became an operating principle in this country even before it was adopted by the Germans. After the Second World War, the word had to be discarded because of its association with the Nazis. The new name, much smoother sounding, was public relations.

The CIA used propaganda as a tactic to undermine democratically elected leaders whom we (our U.S. government) disliked during the Cold War years. The belief that this is all good continues to motivate its use today. 

There was a time when leaders did what they wanted. According to Bernays, manipulation is a requirement of those in leadership because nowadays people with power "can no longer do what they want without the approval of the masses."

* * * 

Here are some additional quotes by Bernays:

"The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest."

* * *

"Only through the active energy of the intelligent few can the public at large become aware of and act upon new ideas."  

* * *

"The best defense against propaganda: more propaganda."

* * * 

"If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it?"

* * * 

These ideas are what set me to writing the article "He Who Controls the Narrative Controls the People." 


LEWagner said...

Actually, the German "nazi" definition of the word "propaganda" was to use all possible means to get the truth into the people's heads.
They severely criticized the "Big Lie" method that they said was used by their opponents (people like Bernays).
The truth has been so flipped on its head that we are seriously told that the "nazis" publicly called themselves "Big Liars", and most people believe and repeat that as though it makes perfect sense.

Ed Newman said...

This is from Bernays' memoir Biography of an Idea:
"Goebbels... was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me."

Popular Posts