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  Apr 23, 2012                  

Site news: Edward Bernays' "Propaganda" on the site

This is again a brief Nederlog summarizing rather a lot of rather boring work, to the effect of the title:
Edward Bernays' "Propaganda" is on the site, namely here, in the logic section:

It is in the logic section because I want to analyze it to bits, and because I don't think it is good enough for the philosophy section.

Indeed, it isn't good enough for the logic section, except as an illustration of a stance on how to deal with human beings that has been growing steadily more important and more used in Europe and the US, in corporations, states and governmental institutions; in NGOs; in journalism and the media; in universities and intellectuals, namely as postmodernism, and even in and around science and philosophy: "Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur": Everywhere there are men in leading positions, or working for leaders, who believe that they have the freedom or indeed the moral duty to mislead the common run of mankind (*), in its own best interests, or at least in the best interests of the leaders of the institutions these deceivers of men work for.

Bernays book has the merit of being quite clear if not quite honest about propaganda, that since he wrote had been propagandistically renamed to the far more innocent sounding "public relations" (abbreviated "PR") for which see my PR, groupthinking and Goffman.

, propaganda is lying or misrepresenting for a cause or a paying customer. It is as old as mankind, as are wars and persecutions that generally depend on it and involve a lot of it.

What makes it particularly dangerous in the age of TV and the internet is that these days everyone with a TV or a computer can be and often effectively is propagandized for hours every day in various ways (and note that advertisements are economical propaganda), while those who are propagandized often do not understand that they are but generally have the vote - which means that whoever can best manipulate the people (Maxwell, Murdoch, Hitler, Stalin) has effectively the most political power.

And what makes propaganda especially dangerous since postmodernism is that through postmodernism a tsumami of relativism has drowned most points of view to poses, postures, and make-belief, where few people claim to believe anything is true other than relatively so (oddly but significantly with a number of exceptions, such as the Holocaust and homophobia: here one must - pretend to - believe the fashionable dogmas, which currently are that one may doubt everything except that the Holocaust happened and homophobia is bad (**)).

In fact, most public stances of nearly all institutions and many persons have been made into postures, where no one speaks an honest word except by chance or by accident, and where what people do or say is made subservient to impression management for a cause or an institution - and where the majority has been convinced that this is how things ought to be among human beings.

Anyway... there now is Bernays' text as a perspective on postmodernism and much that has been happening in Northern America and Western Europe since Bernays wrote, and to end this Nederlog and to stimulate your - skeptical - interest in his text here are the first four paragraphs of his book, to show you the kind of thing he tried to palm off on people indeed by using propaganda:

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 consti-
tute 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 smooth-
ly functioning society.

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, un-
aware of the identity of their fellow members in the
inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leader-
ship, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their
key position in the social structure. Whatever atti-
tude one chooses to take toward this condition, it
remains a fact that 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 per-

sons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty
million—who understand the mental processes and
social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the
wires which control the public mind, who harness old
social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide
the world.

In fact, none of this is even remotely factually true and all of it is slanted and biased, indeed probably in part to please the self-image of Mr Bernays, the self-styled professional propagandist for hire, but if you do not see this you'll have to wait for my notes to his text.


(*) What is "the common run of mankind"? Here is an appropriate definition, at least as regards Europe and Northern America: Every adult who has read more advertisements/propaganda than other kinds of readable matter. I do not know whether this has been investigated sensibly but it is a fair guess that this comprises nearly everybody who does not have an academic degree: Advertisement and propaganda are everywhere in the media these days, and the media are almost everyone's main source of information.

(**) For proper understanding: I do believe the Holocaust happened, on quite convincing grounds also, and I also believe homosexuality is a natural form of sexuality, also seen in many non-human animals. What I think is incoherent is (i) the thesis that everything is relative, that truth does not exist, amd/or that all points of view are social constructs without independent validity or lack thereof and a fortiori (ii) that everything is relative except certain fashionable political, legal or moral notions.

Another point that bears stressing: I am not a dogmatist, and indeed fairly skeptical in many things - but one of the many virtues that belong to holding that statements about facts are true or false, although one often lacks the evidence to decide rationally which of the two is the case, is that relativists cannot be refuted: One who insists there are no facts, apart from opinions, cannot be refuted by appeal to facts, nor indeed be proved right that way.

This is precisely the reason why extremists - in religion, in politics, in life styles - are often relativists: That means that, in their opinion, nobody and nothing can refute their stances.

In the same vein: It is also interesting that most relativists about truth, facts, science or logic are not relativists about morals, and indeed are often relativists to be able to defend their moral stances. Here one sees how wishful thinking trumps rationality in most minds!

P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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