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Rinse and Repeat: Recycled Brain Salad Surgery

2015/11/21

The Public Opinion Engineers

The conviction is steadily growing in our country that an elaborate propaganda campaign for either a political idea or a deep-freeze can be successful in selling the public any idea or object one wants them to buy, any political figure one wants them to elect. Recently, some of our election campaigns have been masterminded by the so-called public-opinion engineers, who have used all the techniques of modern mass communication and all the contemporary knowledge of the human mind to persuade Americans to vote for the candidate who is paying the public-relation men’s salaries. The danger of such high-pressure advertising is that the man or the party who can pay the most can become, temporarily at least, the one who can influence the people to buy or to vote for what may not be in their real interest.

The specialists in the art of persuasion and the molding of public sentiment may try to knead man’s mental dough with all the tools of communication available to them: pamphlets, speeches, posters, billboards, radio programs, and video programming. They may water down the spontaneity and creativity of thoughts and ideas into sterile and streamlined clichés that direct our thoughts even although we still have the illusion of being original and individual.

What we call the will of the people, or the will of the masses, we only get to know after such collective action is put on the move, after the will of the people has been expressed either at the polls or in fury and rebellion. This indicates again, how important it is who directs the tools and machines of public opinion.

In the wake of such advertising and engineering of consent, the citizen’s trust in his leaders may become shaken and the populace may gradually grow more and more accustomed to official deceit. Finally, when people no longer have confidence in any program, any position, and when they are unable to form intelligent judgments any more, they can be more easily influenced by any demagogue or would-be dictator, whose strength appeals to their confusion and their growing sense of dissatisfaction. Perhaps the worst aspect of this slick merchandising of ideas is that too often even those who buy the experts, and even the opinion experts themselves, are unaware of what they are doing. They too are swayed by the current catchword “management of public opinion,” and they cannot judge any more the tools they have hired. The end never justifies the means; enough steps on this road can lead us gradually to Dystopia.

At this very moment in our country, an elaborate research into motivation is going on, whose object is to find out why and what the buyer likes to buy. What makes him tick? The aim is to bypass the resistance barriers of the buying public. It is part of our paradoxical cultural philosophy to stimulate human needs and to stimulate the wants of the people. Commercialized psychological understanding wants to sell to the public, to the potential buyer, many more products than he really wants to buy. In order to do this, rather infantile impulses have to be awakened, such as sibling rivalry and neighbor envy, the need to have more and more sweets, the glamour of colors, and the need for more and more luxuries.

The commercial psychologist teaches the seller how to avoid unpleasant associations in his advertising, how to stimulate, unobtrusively, sex associations, how to make everything look simple and happy and successful and secure! He teaches the shops how to boost the buyer’s ego, how to flatter the customer.

The marketing engineers have discovered that our public wants the suggestion of strength and virility in their product. A car must have more horsepower in order to balance feelings of inner weakness in the owner. A car must represent one’s social status and reputation, because without such a flagman feels empty. Advertising agencies dream of “universitas advertensis,” the world of glittering sham ideas, the glorification of “menus vult decipi,” the intensification of snob appeal, the expression of vulgar conspicuousness, and all this in order to push more sales into the greedy mouths of buying babies. In our world of advertising, artificial needs are invented by sedulous sellers and buyers. Here lies the threat of building up a sham world that can have a dangerous influence on our world of ideas.

This situation emphasizes the neurotic greed of the public, the need to indulge in private fancies at the cost of an awareness of real values. The public becomes conditioned to meretricious values. Of course, a free public gradually finds its defenses’ against slogans, but dishonesty and mistrust slip through the barriers of our consciousness and leave behind a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. After all, advertising symbolizes the art of making people dissatisfied with what they have. In the meantime it is evident man sustains a continual sneak attack on his better judgment.

In our epoch of too many noises and many frustrations, many “free” minds have given up the struggle for decency and individuality. They surrender to the “Zeitgeist,” often without being aware of it. Public opinion molds our critical thoughts every day. Unknowingly, we may become opinionated robots. The slow coercion of hypocrisy, of traditions in our culture that have a leveling effect — these things change us. We crave excitement, hair-raising stories, and sensation. We search for situations that create superficial fear to cover up inner anxieties. We like to escape into the irrational because we dislike the challenge of self-study and self-thinking. Our leisure time is occupied increasingly by pre-programmed activities in which we take no part: listening to piped-in words and viewing television screens. We hurry along with cars and go to bed with a sleeping pill. This pattern of living in turn may open the way for renewed sneak attacks on our mind. Our boredom may welcome any seductive suggestion.

From “The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing” (1956). Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D.

Note: by reading this book., one may gain considerably useful insights into how the (Obamian) leadership and its regime’s agenda, tactics, and strategies were able to gain a foothold over the gullible minds of the people.

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