Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Hidden Persuaders

The mention of manipulating the people reminded me that Vance Packard wrote in 1957 (The Hidden Persuaders) that Americans had become the most manipulated people outside the Iron Curtain. The Iron Curtain was pulled open in 1990, so who absolutely are the most manipulated people in the world now? In fact, the people of the Soviet Zone were not so much manipulated as given no choice about what they could think. They were fed one viewpoint, the Marxist-Leninist one approved by the state, and that does not require much in the way of manipulation, or is the crudest form of it. Western manipulation was, and remains, more subtle.

Nominally, we in the west can do, say and read whatever we like, though, in practice we do not. The range of viewpoints offered to us as acceptable to reason—ie not extreme—is remarkably narrow and skewed frighteningly toward the right. It is, of course, the product of manipulation. The acceptable US conservatism of the Republican Party verges on fascism to Europeans. Indeed European fascists are encouraged by what they see in the US. Equally liberalism is dangerously socialist to the average American. Even many Democrats seem hardly democratic to Europeans used to a wider range of acceptable political options. For Americans, socialism, and—God Forbid!—communism are not acceptable at all. When the whole of the left wing of politics has been manipulated out of existence, what remains of democracy? Socialism and communism are forbidden and liberalism is considered a dangerous aberration from the American Dream that everyone can be a millionaire, leaving the choice between liberalish conservatism and fascistic conservativism.

Unfortunately, the American Dream can only ever remain a dream for most of the dreamers. The reason is the distribution curve of wealth. Unless some attempt is made to change this distribution curve to give the poorer people a greater share of the wealth than they have at present, few people have any chance of getting further towards the rich end of the scale, the nature of which is that only a small proportion of the population are rich while the large bulk of people are close to average or are below it. Redistribution of wealth to the poor means squashing the distribution to make it narrower. More people are average and fewer are rich or poor. For everyone to be rich, everyone would also be poor. There would be no difference between them and the American Dream will have been attained.

It would mean everyone had the same, and the distribution of wealth would have become ideally communistic. Thus the American Dream is attainable only when America becomes communist, and so it is in contradiction with the propaganda of the megarich classes and their publicity agents in the media and academia. The American Dream is a propaganda pipe dream. It suits the rich to spread the fantasy that every American can be rich. It keeps them onside as supporters of capitalism against socialism, but it is pure manipulation. No one will want to criticize a system which notionally allows them to join the megarich, so the alternatives are beamed out constantly as unacceptable and contrary to the American dream, and lotteries and celebrity reality shows let them think it is all just so easy!

And the class of the megarich is largely now a caste made up of the descendants, the kids and grandkids, of pioneers and entrepreneurs who once had a good idea to benefit themselves, and the community at the time. Now the kids own their grand pappy’s earned wealth and have done nothing to earn it themseves. They just pay a little of it to their publicity agents and politicians to protect the system that benefits them. This caste has one idea only, and that is to protect their inherited wealth and status.

Newspapers and advertisers use psychological methods to manipulate public opinion, and now the internet is providing new and comprehensive ways of obtaining information about people’s preferences to allow them to be manipulated more effectively. The American Dream is one such method, an old one but evidently still effective, not least because some people can occasionally find their way through the system into the top class. There they join the old school and begin to sponsor their publicity agencies.

Even with their huge propaganda armory, the leaders of the megarich political class, Leo Strauss’s “Gentlemen”, are not averse to straightforward lying. Strauss’s school of neoconservatives even boasted about the myths they created to keep the gormless masses onside. “Myths&rdquo = “Lies”. Few people in the USA seemed to notice, or create a fuss, and those who did got minimal publicity, so as not to rock the gravy boat. Saddam’s WMD was one such myth, and probably al-Qaida was another, but unfortunately one that dissident Islamists thought was quite a good myth—for them! They took to saying they were this or that branch of it.

The American public are now like Pavlov’s dogs. They are conditioned! And what the Americans do, we all do a little later!

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I have just discovered your blog. What a fascinating place it is!