911 and the Propaganda Model

The need to deter democracy by alienating public opinion from public policy, is one that has been long understood. Back in the 1921, the highly influential political columnist and media analyst Walter Lippmann, wrote the book “Public Opinion”,where he discussed the need for the “manufacture of consent”; given the inherent pitfalls and barriers to an accurate and effective public opinion (democracy, essentially), it is necessary that this opinion is crafted by a higher sphere of influence. This was understood very well by Edward Bernays, who was the founder of Public Relations (he indeed coined the term), and the formulator of not just corporate, but also political PR. He sketches out his views on this in his 1928 work, “Propaganda where he states that “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society”, suggesting like Lippmann, that democracy is a “chaos” that needs regulation from above. This “above” is a small section of elites: “We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” These are the people who will ensure that the masses are sedated, and free to run their daily lives, without participating in the broader picture of public policy, given the dangers that this would pose to the influence of said elites, and thus the smooth functioning of society. To paraphrase Bernays, a leader must serve by leading, not lead by serving.

He was, as mentioned, the formulator of political PR, and his influence was enormous. This extended to the PR campaign throughout the American media to garner support for the subsequent violent overthrow in 1954 of the newly democratically elected President of Guatemala, Jacobo Allenz, whose crime was to threaten to end the American United Fruit Company’s exploitation of their country’s resources (whence the term “banana republic”) by nationalising the fruit industry. His views were of resounding significance in the corporate world, forever changing it, and the same is true of his impact on the world of politics; necessary at a time when democracy was becoming increasingly rampant, with the growing success of civil rights movement, educated classes and so on. The need to deter the threat of democracy was well understood, and seamlessly implemented.

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