What I'm going to read is an extremely well-edited synopsis of the origins and purposes of what we are at pains today NOT to call "propaganda." Listen, because in here as in few other places, will you hear SO respected and authoritative a voice, SO frankly and candidly discuss the naked structures and motivations of our controlling institutions. Ready? Feel free to take notes:
“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.”
The author of that passage, and of the passages from which that account was expertly stitched, was Edward Bernays. The best media biography of him that I know of is in a BBC program, "The Century of the Self," the first installment of which is dedicated to Bernays, Freud's favorite nephew, and frequent amanuensis. Bernays took Freud's general insights into human behavior and built gauzy edifices of the "professions" of "public relations" and "advertizing" around them.
Bernays, a Wilsonian (capital L) Liberal who demonstrated a clearly "enlightened" understanding, but a too tolerant acceptance, of the nature of the political status quo, published those sentiments in 1928, whereupon they were immediately seized upon, wholesale, by Goebbels and Hitler.
(Aside: Capital L-Liberals, I've always thought, occupied the position in the political framework of the US at the time, and exerted approximately the same epistemic authority, as Lenin's Vanguard Intellectuals? The "eugenicists" were capital L-Liberals, too. As were the social Darwinians. )
It was Bernays who coined the phrase, "the manufacture of consent," which Chomsky and Hermann quoted in titling their landmark work in the '80s "Manufacturing Consent."
Television, and its recent flickering, blue-screened scions, such as the one on which you are likely regaring these images and hearing these sounds, are the source phenomena, the inventions, most responsible for the decline and demise of "collective intellect" in the USofA. In consequence, it is VERY VERY VERY difficult to impress upon the 'average 'Murkin' that they are, in fact, mainly responding to propaganda all the time, in every aspect of their lives, to the extent that they are personally involved in a mediated activity... One of the genius moves of the PRopaganda industry was to create the ENTIRELY artificial distinction between "propaganda" and "advertizing"
The most accurate measure of the success of the propagandizing to which ALL citizens are subjected is the readiness of ther 'subject' to repeat the 'differences' between, say, Coors and Bus, or Ford and Chevy, or Coke and Pepsi as if they were "real."
Item: There is a 'real' difference between a ford sedan and an apple tree; there is no (meaningful) difference between a Chevy and a Honda.
Now think again of the template upon which the virtually uniform indoctrination of the whole, mediated reality we now inhabit is founded upon. Now think of it again. Go back. Read it AGAIN! Read it to your children at bed-time. Paste it to the mirror, so it's there when you brush your teeth/tooth and hair...Here, I'll help:
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...Thought control needn't be exercised by restricting individual expression, when one exercises editorial discretion over the vocabulary, literal and imaginal/figural, in which the common business is conducted.
Bernays was the first person to formalize that insight, and he packaged it in the glistening wrapping of suppressed sexual suggestion which is STILL the underlying discourse of MOST sales campaigns, inCLUDING political ones, one way or another.
If you divide to conquer, what are you doing when you fragment, do ya think, hippies...
See ya (almost naked) at the beach...