Thursday, November 7, 2013

Propaganda = War = Public Relations

The modified Clausewitz's trinity
The top graphic used in this posting is from the book Media - A Line of Operation for Urban Combat on the Operational Level, by US Army, MAJ Erik Krivda. The publication has been approved for public release (unlimited distribution) and is now available as a free download (PDF 0.30 MB). It is a worthwhile read, even if you just read the Introduction, as it provides firsthand accounts of how media outlets, like Al Jezeera for example, fabricated and repeated outrageously false claims in order to stop a planned American assault on the city of Fallujah in Iraq.

“Propaganda” and “War” is one and the same thing, thanks to the efforts of two men in the early 20th century. One was Walter Lippman, the most influential political commentator of his time. The other was Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew and one of the founders of public relations, i.e., opinion-manipulation techniques.

Walter Lippman
Where this blog (and a couple of others) often use the term sheeple when referring to the ill-informed masses, Lippman spoke of the bewildered herd. That was way back in the 1920s. Lippmann was the first to bring the phrase "cold war" to common currency in his 1947 book by the same name. He reckoned that the masses had to be governed by “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality." In other words, the so-called covert super-rich “elites” – the same kind that meet privately once a year at the Bilderberg conference, where they decide what strategies should be employed next -- to secure economic advantage, regardless of whether such schemes are going to destroy people’s lives, or not.

Author Daniel Estulin calls these “elites” The Shadow Masters. “The news agenda has been driven by their own pre-fabricated messages, issues and concerns. Yes, it is elitist. And yes, it is anti-everything we should believe in. How is it done? By insinuating messages into the public consciousness, into the minds of people – especially into the subconscious minds – by adopting a disinformation policy dedicated to changing people’s perception of reality.” … “They know that ideas are more powerful weapons than guns, fleets and bomb. In order to secure acceptance for their imperial ideas, they seek to control the way we think. To control our language and, through language, to control us.” – [Source: Shadow Masters - ISBN 9780979988615 – Pages 232 and 234]

Lippmann argued that people—including journalists—are more apt to believe "the pictures in their heads" than come to judgment by critical thinking. Humans condense ideas into symbols, he wrote, and journalism, a force quickly becoming the mass media, is an ineffective method of educating the public. Even if journalists did better jobs of informing the public about important issues, Lippmann believed "the mass of the reading public is not interested in learning and assimilating the results of accurate investigation." Citizens, he wrote, were too self-centered to care about public policy except as pertaining to pressing local issues. Furthermore, Lippmann saw the purpose of journalism as "intelligence work". Within this role, journalists are a link between policymakers and the public.

Edward Bernays
Edward Bernays, whose thinking was heavily shared and influenced by Walter Lippmann, regarded society as irrational and dangerous as a result of the 'herd instinct' and for this reason he felt that manipulation was necessary in society. He consequently refined and popularized the use of the press release, following its invention by PR man Ivy Lee – considered by some to be the founder of modern public relations.

Bernays was influential in promoting the idea that America's war efforts (WW1) were primarily aimed at “bringing democracy to all of Europe". Stunned by the degree to which the democracy slogan had swayed the public both at home and abroad, he wondered whether this propaganda model could be employed during peacetime. Due to negative implications surrounding the word propaganda because of its use by the Germans in WW1, he promoted the term "Public Relations". [Source]

Edward Bernays has been dubbed the "Prince of Puff" and the "Baron of Ballyhoo". He has also been called the "Father of Spin". As Larry Tye describes in his book The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations, Bernays was able to help tobacco and alcohol companies use techniques to make certain behaviors more socially acceptable in the 20th-century US. Tye claims that Bernays was proud of his work as a propagandist.[Source]

Spin Doctoring
In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favour or against a certain organization or public figure (or a group of people who share similar values and beliefs). While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, "spin" often implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics. [Source]

Because of the frequent association between spin and press conferences, especially government press conferences, the room in which these take place is sometimes described as a spin room. A group of people who develop spin may be referred to as "spin doctors" who engage in "spin doctoring" for the person or group that hired them. [Source]

Herd behaviour and the coming 2014 SA Elections
With the South African 2014 general elections around the corner, spin-doctoring will surely play a significant role, again, in manipulating public opinion. It has always been this way. However, I have a hunch that this time round the ‘spinning’ is going to be far more intense than it has ever been. Bear in mind also that the so-called new South Africa can no longer be compared to civilized Western countries where the unwritten rules of ‘spin-doctoring’ does not entail killing your opponents.

On the subject of political assassinations…
According to Professor Jane Duncan at Rhodes University, ANC rule has led to a ‘fusing’ of political and economic spheres which means holding a government position is increasingly the surest route to a reliable income. This, she suggests, raises the stakes significantly for those in power and contributes to an environment in which assassinations are more likely.

“Many if not most members of the ANC elite do not have an independent source of wealth creation other than the state”, she says. “If they lose access to the state, they lose everything – this is why the struggle for state tenders has become deadly”. Read the full article: Why Are Political Killings Increasing in South Africa? - By James Bullock.

The coming elections will again see the ANC utilizing herd behaviour for maximum benefit in the exact same fashion Adolf Hitler used crowd psychology to his advantage, by placing a group of German officers disguised as civilians within a crowd attending one of his speeches. These officers would cheer and clap loudly for Hitler, and the rest of the crowd followed their example, making it appear that the entire crowd completely agreed with Hitler and his views. These speeches would then be broadcast, increasing the effect.

It will be through herd behaviour that the ANC will win the 2014 elections again. They don’t need military officers in plainclothes though, as they already have an abundance of ill-informed and uneducated black citizens whom the ANC would prefer to keep ill-informed and uneducated for eternity. These hordes are the ANC’s foot soldiers and despite the fact that the overwhelming majority are uneducated and poverty-stricken they have the amazing ability to mobilize themselves from any part of the country in a matter of minutes, thanks to cellphone technology and cheap transport.

Of course the usual hooliganism and intimidation will play its role, but it also forms part-and-parcel of typical Black South African herd behaviour. See also in this regard an older posting: South Africa’s striking foot soldiers.

Oh, before I forget… Don’t expect to see too many media reports about the political opponents the ANC are going to slaughter in the run-up to the 2014 elections, especially in the regions where they have lost or are losing control... Such reports are bad for Public Relations!


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