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Will You Obey?

In 1928 a man by the name of Edward Bernays published a book called ‘PROPAGANDA’ in which he described the process and tools of how the leading powers developed and used the psychology of the masses to influence societies behaviors to meet their interests.

Walter Lipman an American writer and reporter said this “We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. These ‘invisible governors’ are a heroic elite, who coolly keep it all together thereby organizing chaos, as God did in the beginning. 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.”

Let’s touch on a few paragraphs from Bernays PROPAGANDA, which keep in mind, was published in 1928, nearly 100 years ago.

Propaganda by Edward Bernays

“Mass psychology is as yet far from being an exact science and the mysteries of human motivation are by no means all revealed. But at least theory and practice have combined with sufficient success to permit us to know that in certain cases we can effect some change in public opinion with a fair degree of accuracy by operating a certain mechanism, just as the motorist can regulate the speed of his car by manipulating the flow of gasoline. Propaganda is not a science in the laboratory sense, but it is no longer entirely the empirical affair that it was before the advent of the study of mass psychology.”

“… The group mind does not ‘think’ in the strict sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions. In making up its mind, its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. This is one of the most firmly established principles of mass psychology….”

“…When the example of the leader is not at hand and the herd must think for itself, it does so by means of clichés, pat words or images which stand for a whole group of ideas or experiences… By playing upon an old cliché, or manipulating a new one, the propagandist can sometimes swing a whole mass of group emotions.”

Example of Propaganda

In Great Britain during the first world war, hospitals faced a problem. It was generally well known that a hospital focused on prolonged and focused attention of the sick or wounded. But with the sheer number of wounded coming through the doors, that was no longer possible. Hospitals were coming under fire from the public opinion because of their inability to respond to those that expected this long-term compassionate care. The word “Hospital” gave the public a certain mental image that was associated with a certain expectation of what care was supposed to look like. In response to the problem, hospitals changed their name to “Evacuation Posts,” the mental image of a “hospital” disappeared and automatically conditioned the public to disassociate from the former expectations. Allowing the hospitals to focus on “urgent care” vs long term attention.

The human animal in a collective is malleable. We can be influenced in fantastic ways. A study done in 1963 now called the Milgram Shock Experiment focused on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscious. During the Nuremberg War Criminal Trials following world war two, the defendants that perpetrated and carried out the genocide claimed they were just “following orders.” Milgram wanted to test this.

Without getting into the details of the experiment, Milgram conducted 18 different variations, all arriving at a similar and disturbing conclusion. 65% of the people involved in the study would follow orders from an authority figure even to the point of killing another human.

Milgram said this in a 1974 article titled “The perils of Obedience”

Perils Of Obedience

“The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous import, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. 

I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist.

Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ [participants’] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ [participants’] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not.

The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.”

The Perils of Obedience 1974
Milgram Experiment

We as a collective are ridiculously easy to maneuver, manipulate and persuade.  We must realize that in 1928 our leaders were aware of how to sway public opinion, and more importantly, behavior. This was before cell phones, the Internet, Twitter and Facebook. We can be sure that if they had this kind of sway in 1928, they have perfected it today.

Awareness is the key to unlink your mind from the mass manipulation that is happening. Questioning everything you hear and see by forcing it to pass through your mental filter of does this make sense? Is this meant to manipulate my opinion? What makes this Authority Figure worth listening to?

The ones who questions what is handed down the pipeline from Authorities and Mass media will be the saving grace of people who do not want to be fed to the machine. We can be sure that the Machine is on the march after nearly a century of planning, coercion, and manipulation of public beliefs and behaviors, we are being led towards a final outcome.

Will we remain obedient?

Questioning Eyes, see past the lies.