Edward Bernays: Born 1891 in Vienna, nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays is credited as the “farsighted architect” of modern propaganda techniques. From the early 1920’s onward, he helped consolidate a marriage between theories of mass psychology and schemes of corporate and political persuasion. During the First World War, Bernays worked for the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI)–the vast American propaganda apparatus mobilized in 1917 to promote the war as one that would “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” The CPI would become the mold in which marketing strategies for subsequent wars would be shaped.
Trust Us: We’re Experts
In the twenties, Bernays authored the link between corporate sales campaigns and popular causes, when–while working for the American Tobacco Company–he persuaded women’s rights marchers in New York City to hold up Lucky Strike cigarettes as symbolic “Torches of Freedom.” In October 1929, Bernays originated the now familiar “global media event,” when he dreamed up “Light’s Golden Jubilee,” a worldwide celebratory spectacle commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the electric lightbulb, sponsored behind the scenes by the General Electric Corporation.
Bernays work inspired Joseph Goebbels; more than any other individual, his career maps out the course of North American public relations from the early 1920’s to well after WW II. He is the author of Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923), Propaganda (1928), “The Engineering of Consent” (1947), and his autobiographical Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays (1965).(4)
The Lithuanian National Council in the United States hired Byoir for his first non-CPI campaign. In turn, Byoir hired Bernays to assist in collecting ample public support to have the U.S. Senate recognize Lithuania. This support would allow Lithuania to be recognized as a free and independent nation, thus securing Lithuania’s future as an ally with the U.S.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: In his book, Propaganda, Bernays observed that our minds are molded largely by men we have never heard of. This invisible government, he said, is a logical requirement of democracy which needs a consensus for things to run smoothly. And Bernays enthusiastically manipulated what he called this unseen mechanism of society. To sell books to a lukewarm public, he found celebrities to attest to the value of the printed word, and then convinced architects to build bookshelves into their housing designs. To sell bacon to people inclined toward orange juice and a roll, he tapped doctors to pitch the health benefits of a heavy breakfast. And then in 1954, to safeguard the business interests of the United Fruit Company, he convinced the United States to make a revolution in Guatemala
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But almost by definition, public relations is an invisible enterprise, and Bernays’ pioneering strategies – using celebrities and scientists – linking products with causes and status – still work their magic, still engineer our consent.
Ummm… well, you actually didn’t name any specific people. The only person you mentioned by name was GW, and you failed to make a case for his ability to control popular norms… more on him below…
disney (after he died)
and bill gates
the head of FOX
It’s curious that the original author pontificates that “entertainers are stars only in America,” when most certainly that was not true. The author cites Rome as an example, when in the latter days of Rome the privileged citizens pursued almost nothing but continuous entertainment.
Jerome Carcopino notes in Daily Life in Ancient Rome that at the time of the Emperor Claudius, the Roman calendar contained 159 holidays, of which 93 were devoted to games given at public expense. In addition, there were games given on special occasions, and others paid for by private citizens; Carcopino concludes that “in the epoch we are studying Rome enjoyed at least one day of holiday for every working day.” The games, he says:
“…formed a barrier for autocracy against revolution. In the city there were 150,000 complete idlers supported by the generosity of the public assistance, and perhaps an equal number of workers who from one year’s end to the other had no occupation after the hour of noon and yet were deprived of the right to devote their spare time to politics. The shows occupied the time of these people, provided a safety valve for their passions, distorted their instincts and diverted their activity. A people that yawns is ripe for revolt. The Caesars saw to it that the Roman plebes suffered neither from hunger or ennui.”
Furthermore, we have many much-older historical writings that describe a citizenry’s preoccupation with entertainment of … ahh … all sorts. We find Mayan ball-courts, ancient games played by the Japanese and Chinese cultures of dynasties long past. Truly, bread and circuses are not new.
Today, we live in a world that is experiencing global social change faster than any of our ancestors, and many of ourselves, could ever have imagined. (Just consider how many hundreds of countries can be reached, effortlessly, by these words!) This change is enormously frightening to many. We live in a world where the concept of “a nation” is being shaken; where trans-national economic unions having no standing army, none of the trappings of the traditional nation-state, threaten to render the economic power of (in particular, the US) technologically obsolete. Many volumes of history are yet to be written about our times. And I have uttterly no idea what those books will actually look like… will they be paper? I don’t know.
Reverend Sun Myung Moon http://www.mediachannel.org/originals/revmoon.shtml
In May 2000, the media arm of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church bought itself electronic fingers. News World Communications, Moon’s media company, purchased United Press International (UPI), a once venerable news wire service. UPI, which provided news for media worldwide, could offer a legitimizing platform for Moon’s dogma — if the new owners can revive the decrepit agency.
MediaChannel affiliates report on the sorry state of UPI (which once had 200 bureaus worldwide) and investigate Moon’s growing empire. A virulently anticommunist, self-proclaimed messiah, Reverend Moon is also a prosperous businessman who can subsidize publications around the world. From The Washington Times to newspapers in Japan, Egypt and Latin America, Moon has made skillful media manipulation a key strategy in winning adherents to his vision of god and politics. As top Moon executive Bo Hi Pak declared in a 1991 documentary, “That is what the Third World War is all about — the war of ideology.”
A “Liberal” Media?
“The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”
–Former CIA Director William Colby
In the past, the Right Wing penetrated the Media through such CIA programs as Operation Mockingbird, which had placed most of the US Media leaders on the CIA payroll. In the 70’s, the Church and Pike Reports to Congress exposed this and other illegal domestic CIA operations. Then, in a Rolling Stone expose (10/20/77), Carl Bernstein reported that there had been over 400 US journalists on the CIA’s books. He also named such high-level Mockingbird operatives as Katherine Graham (Washington Post), Henry Luce (Time), William Paley (CBS), the Sulzbergers (New York Times) and “publishing magnate” Richard Mellon Scaife.
After this embarrassment, it was necessary for the Right to use its own private network to replace Mockingbird. As a result, there is now the Cato Institute, with Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch (Fox, NY Post, TV Guide) on the Board with ATT/TCI’s Malone <10> <http://www.accuracy.org/articles/cato.htm>; . Another big contributor to Cato is Viacom, which recently acquired CBS. Consequently, CBS/Viacom is now headed by Sumner Redstone, who is yet another powerful right wing figure with a WWII intelligence background <11> <http://www.viacom.com/sumner.tin>; and apparent ties to OSS/CIA figures
Zenitor, thanks for responding with some specific information. I’m still trying to figure out if you’re a fan of this Bernays fellow or consider him to be infamous. I agree with your point that there are specific strategies and effective priciples regarding marketing and public relations that are in broad and common use today. I do think, however, they’re being used most effectively by capitalistic entities trying to increase profits and are much less effective on a broad scale these days when used by individuals/groups desiring political power and control. While there are certainly many examples of this happening in the past, it seems to be more difficult to pull off today. I guess my questioning lies in a broader scope, specifically as to whether these methods, in conjuction with others, can be used in these modern times by a small group of people, or even one individual, to steer entire societies, or even the global one, in order to achieve a specific goal, whether that goal is diabolical or otherwise. Don’t you think that there are other factors involved today that make this task increasingly more difficult, maybe even impossible? Such as: the increasingly broad and diverse availability of information/knowledge (the wikipedia itself being a good example on the net) and the modern emphasis on individuality and “thinking for oneself”… maybe there’s others…?
BTW, have you researched any of the information covered in the video documentary “The Money Masters” (www.themoneymasters.com)? Just wondering what you thought about that stuff…
sundialsvc4, I think you make some interesting points. Its also interesting to note that none of these empires of which you speak are still around today. Have we learned the lessons that History taught us in these examples?
As to your comments about the rapidly changing world of today, I tend to agree. What will things look like 20 years, even 100 years from now? Another aspect to include (along the lines of the “trans-national economic unions having no standing army” part) is multi-national corporations. Will these entities supplant countries and demand people’s (particularly their employee’s) allegiance in similar ways?
Alltaken: thanks for this listing. Now the next step is to list some documented proof of their actions along the lines of their manipulative influence of the masses toward the achievement of their own agendas. (I’m certainly not saying there isn’t any, I’m just saying it would be nice for you to support your stated assertions with evidence of some kind. Zenitor at least lists his sources and allows us the opportunity to research their validity for ourselves…)
sry i haven’t replied, time is short… yep seen the money masters a while ago, I have been more focused on peak oil etc lately, but used to be a keen follower of power/control etc… here’s a nice pic from today