Paychecks, Perception, Propaganda & Power

By Tyler Durden
Zero-Hedge

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair

I began to write this article in early December. I had just written a piece that attempted to scrutinize how the American public could stand idly by while heavily armed mercenary thugs viciously crushed the Occupy encampments across the country in a Department of Homeland Security coordinated attack at the behest of the ruling oligarchy.  Comfortably Numb made a case that the political and economic systems of the United States have been captured by a few evil men and they use their wealth and power to control the message hammered into the psyches of an apathetic, distracted, vincibly ignorant public. I started to tackle the question of why Americans could stand by as the new Greatest Generation was being abandoned, derided, scorned, beaten, tear gassed, and arrested for having the courage and audacity to stand up to a powerful corrupt unholy alliance between Wall Street psychopaths, corporate fascist barbarians, and Washington DC power hungry jackals. But I became overwhelmed with a feeling of disillusionment and hopelessness and was unable to write anything for about a month. I found myself questioning whether it was worth fighting such a powerful foe after seeing how easily they crushed the opposition put forth by OWS. After a month I decided I am not one to love my servitude.

Most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.” Huxley’s Brave New World

I owe it to my three sons to keep fighting the good fight. They deserve a future. Day by day we draw ever closer to a showdown with the traitors who have sold this country into debt slavery. I don’t dream of revolution, but my eyes are wide open and I see it coming. I had been trying to wrap my head around what happened with the Occupy Movement since the Department of Homeland Security coordinated destruction of most of the encampments around the country in November. The corporate mainstream media immediately moved onto more pressing issues like the Kim Kardashian divorce and Jessica Simpson’s weight gain. The American public has been instructed by the media the Occupy story is history, just like the BP oil spill, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, and the Egyptian revolution. In a society consumed by reality TV Occupy Wall Street was just another show. The credulous American populace dutifully turned their attention to Black Friday and whipping out one of their 15 credit cards to purchase remote control pillows, 3D 72 inch HDTVs, a see through tank top from the Snooki line of slutware, or thousands of other ludicrous Chinese crap churned out by slave labor in factories built to support the “efficiency” efforts of U.S. conglomerates.

Without a constant irritating presence in the heart of NYC and other large cities, the Occupy Movement appears to have lost steam. I’ve been trying to figure out how and why this happened. The issues that motivated the protests have not gone away. The despicable MF Global crime, committed by a hall of shame member of the .01% – Jon Corzine – has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the Wall Street/Washington DC criminal conspiracy is alive and well. Unless you have been sitting in line at a Wal-Mart for the last two months to get a $3 waffle-maker, you saw young people across the country tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, maced, bludgeoned, and brutalized by the paid thugs of the ruling oligarchy on a daily basis. The outrage at the continued looting by the psychopathic Wall Street aristocracy and the horrific police brutality against young people exercising their Constitutional right to free speech and assembly should have ignited widespread anger and mass protest. Instead the reaction has been silence, scorn and smug satisfaction with the government response.

Paychecks & Perceptions

There are a plethora of rationales for the apathy and lack of critical thinking overwhelming our society as we plunge into the depths of a looming economic calamity. They include economic self interest, the power of propaganda to condition the masses, fear of opposing authority, and the perception of a reality that allows you to sleep at night. The Upton Sinclair quote above hit home for me a few weeks ago and explains much of the disdain for the Occupy movement. I was in a high level meeting at my University and during the course of the meeting the Occupy Movement was brought up. A senior executive made a derogatory comment about Occupy and then laughed. I smiled and bit my tongue. In retrospect it shouldn’t have surprised me. I work at one of the top business schools in the world. The person who made the comment has spent his entire life educating students who end up with jobs at Wall Street financial institutions and with America’s largest corporations. It is a natural response for someone whose whole life is reliant upon the existing financial system to psychologically overlook the obvious criminality of the Wall Street fat cats and corporate executives who validate his entire existence and life’s work. He chooses to not understand the message of these protestors because to truthfully comprehend their message would nullify his thirty years of academic efforts. My non-response to the comment about the Occupy Movement was also based upon self-interest and reliance on a paycheck to make a living. I had learned my lesson the hard way during a previous career stop.

It appears older generations have a considerably more negative view of young people protesting the capture of our political and economic system than younger generations. This also makes sense because they have the most to lose and cannot visualize a society other than the one they have created. To acknowledge the validity of the Occupy Movement and the justice of their positions would be to admit their own guilt in the creation of a society that has allowed a chosen few to enrich themselves at the expense of the many. The Baby Boom Generation has been living a lie their entire adulthood. It is true that prior generations created the welfare/warfare state we have today, but the Boomers have had the reins of power for the last two decades in Congress and chose to not only ignore the fact the entitlement promises made by previous administrations could not be fulfilled. They even made further promises in the trillions to their fellow Boomers. Instead of making a budgetary choice between guns and butter, the Boomers chose guns, butter, education, universal healthcare, the right to own a home, the right to a 72 inch HDTV, and zero percent financing on their Cadillac Escalade from government motors. The consequences of these choices are a $15.2 trillion National Debt growing at a rate of $3.7 billion per day and unfunded entitlement liabilities totaling in excess of $100 trillion.

I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Howe, co-author of The Fourth Turning and fourteen other books, in early December. His ground breaking work with William Strauss on generational theory has proven to be uncannily accurate, as their 1997 assessment of what dynamics would drive the course of history over the coming decades have materialized exactly as they presumed. We had a fascinating two hour discussion about various topics impacting the world today and I found that we were in agreement on just about everything, except for the Occupy protests. Neil Howe is an expert on interpreting how generations react to events. I expected him to be impressed by the courage and fortitude of the Millenials leading this protest against Wall Street gluttony and audacious criminality. This is the new GI Generation and I anticipated him perceiving these protests as a prelude to greater feats ahead by this generation. Instead he described them as naive adolescents being led down a phony path by anarchist Boomers. As an example he referenced the fact that many of the protestors were wearing Guy Fawkes masks, the most famous anarchist in history. He found this distasteful and dangerous. My interpretation of the Guy Fawkes masks was more in line with the movie V For Vendetta and the theme of a corrupt evil government keeping the public living in perpetual fear.

“Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.” – V For Vendetta

Neil Howe’s impression of the movie centered on the terroristic aspects of blowing up Parliament, not on the symbolism of citizens rising up and casting off the yoke of a malevolent oligarchy that has used propaganda, fear and intimidation to manipulate and control the population. Howe is a Baby Boomer and I’m Generation X. We are each viewing the Occupy Movement through the prism of our life experiences and perceptions about the intentions of these protestors. The existing social, economic, and political structure is dominated by Boomers. Neil Howe views the Occupy Movement as a threat to the system he believes in and supports. As a cynical Xer with no allegiance to a corrupt government, a crony capitalist economic system or a greedy self centered society, I see these young revolutionaries as our last great hope.

 

Neil Howe runs a very successful consulting firm whose clients include Fortune 500 corporations, including Wall Street financial firms. His annual income and net worth is dependent upon the existing corporate dynamic. When your living depends upon not understanding the real reason young people are protesting corporate malfeasance, fraud and corruption, your mind can ignore observable facts and visible truths. Anything can be rationalized when putting food on the table requires you to ignore obvious truths and understandable facts.

Propaganda & Power

“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. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. 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…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” –Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928 

 

   File:Edward Bernays.jpg

I was shocked when I came across the above quote a few months ago. Bernays had it figured out 84 years ago before mass media, television, or spin doctors. His vision of a society manipulated by a small number of governing elite who believe they know better than the masses has come to fruition. True republican equality as defined by the founders in the Constitution is considered quaint and a belief of the trusting and naïve masses by the wealthy elite. Manipulation of the masses through a relentless never ending barrage of propaganda disguised as news and unremitting false advertising is designed to control and herd the cattle into the slaughterhouse. We are given the illusion of free choice, when in reality the choices are being made for us by a chosen few who think they know what is best. These puppeteers controlling the strings inhabit the financial, government and corporate halls of power. Their purpose is not to benefit society and its citizens but to protect their wealth and influence, using any means at their disposal. Propaganda to control the minds of a willfully uninformed public has been their most potent weapon.

Source: Mike Kreiger

Most people have never heard the name Edward Bernays. That is the way public relations specialists (manipulators of the truth) like it. They operate in the shadows, subtly influencing public opinion through what Bernays arrogantly referred to as the sinister method of “engineering of consent”. The Governing Elite have no time for messy processes like true capitalism or non-manipulated free elections. The objective for Bernays and his ilk has always been to provide corrupt government power brokers, shadowy bankers and corporate media kingpins with potent psychological instruments of social persuasion and mind control. Edward Bernays is considered the “father of public relations”, and he was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He pioneered media manipulation techniques.

He understood the weaknesses of the human mind and developed methods and processes for taking advantage of that weakness.

“The average citizen is the world’s most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own ‘logic proof compartments,’ his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction.”– Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion

Bernays got his big break during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, the outset of the American interventionist empire bankrolled by an inflation creating Federal Reserve and a tax and spend Congress.  During WWI, Edward began work for the Committee on Public Information, the immense propaganda machine ordered by Woodrow Wilson to sway the American public towards a war he campaigned to keep us out of. He became so instrumental he was invited to accompany Wilson to the Paris peace conference. His claims to fame afterward included:

  • Creating a false storyline of communists in Guatemala on behalf of his client United Fruit Company, resulting in a CIA led military coup which ushered in a brutal dictatorship resulting in the dislocation, torture and death of thousands.
  • He was responsible for breaking the taboo of women smoking in public while working for American Tobacco Company.

His biggest claim to fame was inspiring the most reviled propagandist in history. Bernays’ techniques were so effective that Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, made copious use of Bernays’ book, “Propaganda” throughout the Holocaust, often crediting Bernays. That was quite a feather in Bernays’ cap. The German people were gradually indoctrinated by their government through propaganda into consenting and supporting the most horrific crimes in history as described by Milton Mayer in his book,They Thought They Were Free – The Germans, 1933-45:

“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

“To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must someday lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

Bernays was a master of using psychological techniques to mask the motives of his clients, as part of a calculated strategy aimed at keeping the public unaware of the forces that were working to mold their psyches. Bernays died in 1995, but his techniques have been taken to a new level as our government, media and financial elite use any means at their disposal to keep the masses sedated and content while they are fleeced and herded towards the slaughterhouse. The Big Lie perpetrated upon the masses is the fallacy of America being a democratic society. The anti-democratic and treacherous corporate public relations Madison Avenue maggots manage and manipulate the opinions of the many in order to make sure a true democratic system doesn’t threaten the privileges and supremacy of the governing elite.

I wonder if it was coincidental the creation of the Federal Reserve, implementation of the personal income tax, and virtually non-stop war coincided with the rise of an industry designed to manipulate and control the thoughts and opinions of an easily influenced and willfully unaware populace. Most people want to be led and told what to believe. Critical thinking and taking personal responsibility for your life and your society requires hard work, sacrifice, honesty, and self restraint. Simply believing storylines supplied by authority figures and media pundits allow the masses to continue living lives of debt delusion and hope, occasionally stirred into a frenzy of fear and loathing towards the foreign bogeyman of the moment, chosen by the governing elite. Bernays and his disciples understood this dynamic and have been able to utilize corporate mass media and the human weakness of trusting in the judgments of authority figures to control and manage the vast swath of America without them knowing it.

“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.” – Edward Bernays

The propaganda techniques employed to manipulate the masses seemed less abhorrent when they centered upon just consumer products. Convincing women they would look like a gorgeous model if they used a company’s cosmetics or convincing a man he’d be admired by his neighbors if he drove a certain car was small potatoes. In the last few decades the misinformation and outright lies fed to the American public by oligarchy of governing elite has become more manifest and repugnant. The list of abuses is virtually endless.

  • The American public has been lured into debt by the incessant unrelenting lifestyle marketing messages spewed from our TVs 24/7. From the introduction of the show Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous in the early 1980s, wealth, materialism, and consumerism became the motivating force in America. Consumption accounted for only 63% of GDP in 1980, with capital investment accounting for 17%. Today, consumption accounts for 71% of GDP and capital investment only 12%. Keeping up with the Kardashians is the mantra of our times.
  • The utter failure of our government controlled educational system in teaching our children how to think critically or question the validity of government created data has allowed the elite to paper over the fact the average American worker has not had any real income gains in at least four decades. The insidious nature of Federal Reserve created inflation (up 600% since 1970) is incomprehensible to a public that finds math boring and not essential in their lives.

  • Once the manipulators convinced the masses they needed a 4,000 sq ft McMansion, two brand new stylish cars, four big screen HDTVs, three computers, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, a Rolex, Armani suits, an in-ground pool, an ATV, and house at the shore, there was only one thing left to do – loan them the money to live the faux American dream. GDP has grown 525% since 1980. Personal consumption expenditures have grown 600% since 1980. Consumer debt outstanding has grown 700% since 1980. And total household debt outstanding has grown 800% since 1980. It seems the purveyors of debt on Wall Street have been the only beneficiaries of the apparition of an American dream sold to a willingly duped American populace.

  • The dream of home ownership was used by politicians of both parties to further their agendas, egged on by the Wall Street elite and the National Association of Realtors – two of the largest contributors to politicians. As politicians tried to outdo themselves creating programs to get poor people into homes, Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan urged the masses to use creative new adjustable rate mortgage products. With a wink and nod from Greenspan and no fear of any regulation whatsoever, the Wall Street elite created liar loans, negative amortization loans, subprime loans, Alt-A loans and a myriad of other products to induce fraud in the housing market. Appraisers did their part by overstating the values of homes and Wall Street colluded with the rating agencies to package the toxic mortgages and sell them to clueless dupes around the globe with a AAA rating stamped on them. At the absolute peak in 2005, with prices two standard deviations above the long term average, Ben Bernanke declared the housing market strong and the NAR proclaimed it the best time to buy. As the coup de grace, Wall Street urged home owners to unlock that equity in their homes and borrow $3 trillion to spend on gadgets, home upgrades, automobiles, facelifts, new boobs, and exotic vacations. The greatest mass fraud in history was complete. And not one person has gone to jail.
  • Not only have the governing elite lured the masses into debt slavery, but they’ve convinced them to love their slavery. The governing elite have done a fantastic job of using their media mouthpieces to deflect criticism away from their pillaging and looting of the national wealth. They’ve successfully persuaded the slaves the extreme income inequality is beneficial to the country because the 1% are the job creators and have earned their way to the top through our free market capitalism system. Convincing the middle class to blame the poor for their three decade decline is a tribute to the effectiveness of their propaganda crusade. Jesse gives accolades to the father of propaganda as the moneyed interests have won:

“The moneyed interests have done quite a successful PR job in refocusing the national discussion on priorities involving social issues, and the reform of the support systems for the weak, the unfortunate, and the elderly. Turning one group against another, and objectifying your intended victims through slogans and stereotypes, has always been an effective method of bending the herd to your will. Score one for Edward Bernays.”

  • The Social Security System is an example of propaganda and misinformation on a grand scale. A modest (1% tax) insurance program designed to help widows and orphans during the Great Depression, which should have been treated much like term life insurance, morphed into a massive retirement plan at the behest of politicians over the last eight decades. The voters shockingly voted for more benefits. Millions are now totally dependent upon the monthly pittance they receive, as the promise of a Social Security pension deterred them from saving for their old age. Politicians perpetuated lies about the funds being protected in a lockbox. The truth is the politicians raided the lockbox and took every dime to spend on wars of choice, aid to dictators, paying off their corporate masters, and leaving only IOUs. They have promised $17.5 trillion more than they can payout. It could be made viable with a gradual rise in the retirement age and a simple means test that would eliminate payouts to those who do not need it. Instead politicians use it as a means to control their constituents and obscure the simple truths. Americans choose to remain ignorant of the facts based on their perceptions of a false reality.

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