Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Power of Propaganda

Just how much power is there in the propaganda market? Well, it shapes communities, markets, governments, and entire societies. So I would have to say that propaganda is one of, if not the most, powerful form of coersion there has ever been! In the book "Defining Power", by John Rothgeb, he defines propaganda as "distorted or incomplete presentation of information and ideas to a group of subjects in an attempt to alter their beliefs about political reality . . . Propaganda is most effective when the actor is able to seize the target's (public's) attention and to convey its message in a simple manner that the audience can understand ".

Propaganda comes disguised as the wolf clothed in the skin of the sheep. It seems so natural and easily accepted until you notice the diabolical gleam in it's eye and it's seemingly friendly smile turns into a gnashing of sharp teeth. And just how are these ideological interpretations of social structure, intended to regiment the people, spread to the masses? What better vehicle than the mass media. Our society is bombarded by them in print, on the television, and across the air waves. Of course they are spreading across the web now, as the advertisement market intends to utilize all avenues to promote the "grand design" of the few "responsible people" who know best what the rest of us "ignorant outsiders" need. Here's what Chomsky has to say about these "responsible people".
They all say (I'm partly quoting), the general population is "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders." We have to keep them out of the public arena because they are too stupid and if they get involved they will just make trouble. Their job is to be "spectators," not "participants."

The powerful political class' objective, through the use of powerful capital and the media, is to imbue our lives with diversion in order to keep us away from the real serious issues. This mass misdirection via the media is the framework designed by the powerful political class in order to maintain an order within a set of certain guidelines meant only to support their realm of power. Yeah, I know, sounds like the old typical anarchist rant! But if we can just stop for a short while and step outside these stalls that contain us, the concept is easily recognizable. These "important people" love to do our thinking for us!

A lot of the propaganda theories used today against the people were the brainchild of Edward Bernays. Bernay has been called the Father of Spin and after reading a few of his quotes I could picture a power monger attaching themselves to his way of thinking. Bernay thought it was possible to regiment the public mind through techniques of controlled propaganda. He thought the "intelligent minorities" had to utilize these control techniques directed at the masses in order to make sure the slobs stayed on the right course. He saw propaganda as the executive arm of the invisible government which must govern people by molding their minds, their tastes, and ideas. Truth becomes a problem unless it benefits the grand design. Therefore most of the world, as promoted by the mass media, is constantly saturated with lies fostered and fed by ideologies of an elite few.

The myth that democracy and capitalism are interlinked and inseparable is just more of the propaganda machine. As Erich Fromm warned, our perceptions have thereby been moulded to regard the world as ‘one great object for our appetite, a big apple, a big bottle, a big breast; we are the sucklers, the eternally expectant ones, the hopeful ones – and the eternally disappointed ones.’ Therein lies the necessary basis for the rampant success of global consumer capitalism. In an article in ZMag entitled Shaping the ‘public good’, the authors state the view of propaganda, or (public information) as seen through Bernay's and Walter Lippman's eyes. These two individuals, who were members of the U.S. Committee of Public Information, believed the general public (the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders) should be nothing more than spectators of action short of voting occasionally for a "responsible man". They viewed participatory democracy was dangerous for the common man and could be overcome by a representative system of democracy where "responsible men" could make the important decisions as necessary.

So capitalism in order to remain in a position of power must have people who are willing to cooperate smoothly and there must be large numbers of these people who are willing. These willing people must want to keep consuming and their tastes must be standardized and easily influenced and anticipated. These willing people must have a feeling of freedom and they all must feel independent and not subject to authority, principle, or conscience. But at the same time, these willing subjects must obey within the realms of the social machine, and do what is expected of them. In other words, the people must be guided without force, led without a leader, and prompted without aim, according to Erich Fromm. There is a documentary called, The Century of the Self, which documents how those in power, utilizing Freud's theories, have attempted to try and control the masses in the age of mass democracy.

Yes, I know these theories about propaganda control are old, but these same theories and their use are just as prominent today as they were then. We continue to obey and be the willing subject within their plan. It's only by their grace and willingness to share their intelligence and their "grand vision" that we socially survive, and we have capitalism to thank for this blessing! Our huge productive economy dictates we make consumption our way of life. It has to be number one and our buying of goods must be laced with rituals so we can find satisfaction of our egos. Hell, we can find spiritual satisfaction through consumption can't we? Our society, and the people within it's capitalistic structure, require things. We have this need for things that can be consumed, thrown away, or replaced in an ever increasing rate. It's what we've been taught our entire lives. It's what we know! Will this capitalistic prerequisite of consumerism really bring us happiness? Doesn't the "art of consumerism" place emphasis on the idea that the way to happiness is through the desire of pleasing ourselves? What about the happiness which comes from selflessness and the desire to help others? Oh wait, that doesn't fit within the "grand design" now does it?

We have been manipulated and controlled, but not merely by denying facts and figures of state and corporate rapacity and wrongdoing. We have been deceived by endless propaganda, both explicit and implicit, promoting the idea that happiness is, of course, "wanting pleasure for oneself", while working for others is a tiresome chore - a source of satisfaction and self-righteous pride perhaps, but nothing much to do with real happiness. The propaganda has been so successful that many of us can truly not imagine how working for the benefit of others could possibly be related to our own benefit and peace of mind. Helping an old lady across the road, or donating to Oxfam, are fine things to do, but they're hardly pleasure-drenched sex with a gorgeous partner, they're not skiing through fresh powder under a blazing sun; they're not making a million and having the world at our feet. Internal Barricades

Speaking from a personal point of view, I see working for money as working for something that actually has no life, a dead thing. But, working through a motivation of compassion and a desire to help others carries with it a sense of meaning and the reward which comes from this is very satisfying and it's a living thing which actually grows the more you're exposed to it.

The mass media now has competition and believe me the "social designers" are very aware of this. Our alternative media is continually opening doors and minds. People are entering areas of knowledge nobody before us has been privilege to. Now I'm sure there are many journalists within the mass media who have integrity and they believe they are being honest. But to quote Chomsky, "The more educated you are the more indoctrinated you are. And you believe you are being free and objective, whereas in fact you're just repeating state propaganda. The new media works under a different set of laws. Laws of consensus which are meant to support the majority of the people of our planet instead of just an elite few. People are realizing new potentials they never dreamed of while in the structure of the master's grand design. We are consolidating our resources and building information power houses for the working people to draw from. It's absolutely amazing what has happened in alternative media just in the last few years. To be effective, we must re-educate ourselves and move away from the strategies that once worked but are no longer viable.
While we can celebrate the end of socialisation imposed from above, we have also lost the class loyalty, the worker solidarity and the coherent demands for universal rights and services developed from below. Political parties and trades unions are withering. Charities are likely to follow. The absence of effective mass action has enabled tiny numbers of people to capture much of the world's wealth, and tiny populations of target voters to capture the attentions of government.

The smashing of society provides us with the means of building movements which are not limited by national or ethnic loyalties, by adhesion to the workplace or to the village. It may permit us to create an internationalist movement far bigger than any which has existed before, united by a common opposition to what is now an international ruling class. But first we progressives may have to abandon almost every strategy which has worked in the past. We must have A New Mobilisation

So to rid ourselves of the chains of the propaganda model which has kept us docile and dumb for so many years, we must begin to change our own minds as well as others. We must realize the power of our own media and teach ourselves how we can use it to help the people. We also must strive to make it bigger, better, easier, and more flexible in the quickly changing enviroment of the web. We are engaged in a struggle against institutionalized greed, hatred, and ignorance, which has been spoon fed to us for generations. We've had it shoved down our throats and what really infuriates me is the fact I thought I liked the taste of it. How could I have been so naiive, for now the taste of the mass media's misdirections and untruths taste like bile in the back of my throat and I feel as if I will die if I don't get rid of the taste. I know it all sounds so Orwellian, but just slow down and take a look, do a little research, and talk to your friends and family about the idea of a propaganda run state. Then just look and listen to the advertised laden media of the papers and the airwaves and as you do, just keep the "propaganda model" in mind.
The most effective way to control people is to control their assumptions about the world. The task of propaganda is to apply power-friendly labels and make them stick - it is the key to everything. The labelling factory par excellence - the machine that applies the right labels in the right way over and over again - is the mass media system. Media Lens


So we watch, shocked as class loyalties disintegrate. We stand by while solidarity and rights disappear before our very eyes, and the trade unions slowly wither away. We wait and hope somebody or something will turn it around. So we remain with one foot within the propaganda structure and one foot tip-toeing within the hope of a better world. This lack of a mass organization, mass movement, and dedication of the people has enabled just an elite few to position themselves in way to gather up the world's wealth. It's their game now and they are making the rules. But the future is ours, and we have the tools of information. How we use these tools, and if we use them, will determine the fate of the working people of the world. Anything is possible, if we can break away from the life of which we are so accustomed.

"Tell people something they know already, and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new, and they will hate you for it."

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