"Bernays and Propaganda – Part 4 of 5 – The Transition to Education and Commerce"
Larry Romanoff, The Vinyard of the Saker (March 2, 2021)
The success of Lippman and Bernays did not go unnoticed in many segments of American society. Universities in particular realised the potential of these new propaganda techniques to form, manipulate and control social perceptions and behavior. Schools and Universities in the US had never been viewed as an educational system but more as tools of a public disciplinary system, a method both of social control and a means to inculcate attitudes and beliefs most useful to the industrialists and bankers. This began before the time of Lippman and Bernays, with the great “Robber Barons”, the criminally rich families like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon, Astor, DuPont, Guggenheim, Morgan, Vanderbilt. Andrew Carnegie first promoted the notion that the nation’s very rich should found universities in order to remake education to serve their needs. Many American industrialists joined this crusade, resulting in Stanford, Cornell, Carnegie-Mellon, the University of Chicago and many more. Their efforts were widely publicised as a kind of benevolent charity to the nation, but their purpose was not to educate but to indoctrinate, using the educational system to create citizens obedient to their capitalist ideology and maintain their financial power.
They meant these institutions to preach the standard religious mythologies of patriotism and democracy, but also the values of child labor, slave wages, anathema toward labor unions and opposition to minimum wages, as a scheme to maintain their income disparity, basically to inculcate public attitudes that would serve to prevent any transference of wealth to the masses. These industrial and financial elites played a heavy role in the transformation of America’s educational system, first from their financial control and second from their power to design and control the ideologies that would emerge in the curricula, setting the stage for the methods of American education today, in particular the US business schools. Perhaps the most important consideration about American education that is so poorly-appreciated is that the American elite did not want (and still do not want) to improve the nation’s education level because both the multi-party political system and the US brand of capitalism require ignorance for survival, both relying heavily for their success on a thoughtless, uninformed, and uneducated population. (1)
Of course in all nations, the educational system is one of the primary institutions of social control, but with the aid of Lippman and Bernays the US went far beyond civilised norms. For both primary and secondary school, the intent was to establish social control by first producing a strong sense of national identity and cohesion, which led to, among other things, the mass hysteria of US patriotism so much in evidence today. It isn’t widely recognised that the ever-present and pervasive pathological American brand of patriotism is an extremely powerful mechanism of social control, to the extent that few Americans would be prepared to have themselves classified as ‘unpatriotic’. But to be patriotic in the American mold means one must firmly align one’s interests with the ruling elite. In America, you cannot be patriotic while condemning free-market capitalism or the frequent wars for its benefit, and it is distinctly unpatriotic to express a wish for a government-paid healthcare system or to protest against the banks that caused much of the population to lose their homes in 2008. As reporter George Seldes pointed out, (2) (3) this patriotism, the American way of taking pride in one’s country, forces the masses to ally themselves with the ruling powers, and this produces a kind of perpetual control. He said this deceptive propaganda has existed for so long that few are aware of how it came about or even that it exists. He ended his comment with the observation that if the media informed the people of this insidious control, it would lose its power. But the media, themselves aligned with the ruling powers, refuse to address it.
The purpose of the universities, in the view of these industrialists and bankers, was to develop by indoctrination a kind of management elite capable of controlling society in a way most useful to the top 1%. By the end of the First World War, the world was in the throes of a massive industrialisation as well as urbanisation, creating social stresses from problems of inequality and civil rights, with social unrest already a growing problem. To deal with this, American universities developed (under the tutelage of Lippman and Bernays) what they called the “social sciences” like sociology and psychology with the objective of producing a cadre of “social engineers and technicians” to address these issues and control American society. The ‘secret government’ believed that psychology, with the techniques so skillfully applied by Bernays, could “be instrumental for attaining democratic social order and control”. The theory was that individuals in society were not “well adjusted” and that propaganda could be used to appropriately “adjust” them. From this point, with the educational system as a major instrument, the US transitioned into a society of social engineering and control, using Bernays’ methods directly upon primary, high school and university students to form and manipulate public perceptions and beliefs in a manner most useful to the secret government and the multi-nationals they controlled. Neither the good of the nation nor the welfare of its citizens were listed as priorities. Of course, education itself became diseased and corrupted by these measures.
Socialism was perhaps the greatest enemy to the entrenched ability of the bankers and industrialists to loot the nation, with items like minimum wages, free education or medical care severely restraining the greed of the elites, and thus socialism quickly became public enemy no. 1 in the American educational system. For generations, Bernays and his heirs filled the minds and hearts of American children with a fear of socialism, equating it to godless nations ruled by brutal dictators where citizens had no freedom. The propaganda was extremely powerful and the brainwashing began very early in life – as it still does today. Consider this example from a current American elementary school book: The question posed is “Which of the following goes with socialism?”, with the student offered three possible answer choices:
A Political system in which a dictator rules, and there are no freedoms. An Economic system in which the government owns the big businesses. An Economic system in which businesses are privately owned.
Of course, the correct answer is “none of the above”, but in American schools the first two evil choices are the only correct answers, small children learning very early on that private-enterprise capitalism is the only way to fly, socialism not only to be avoided but to even explore that system is equated to seeking information on Satan worship. The doors to these little American minds are firmly slammed shut very early in life, never to be opened again, an integral part of their political-religious indoctrination. The false tenets of American capitalism are given vast prime-time exposure, again closing the little minds forever to any understanding of what they are for or why they are for it. (4)
Yale University, working with huge grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, created a propaganda institute to perform practical research on issues “directly concerned with the problems of man’s individual and group conduct” and “to correlate knowledge and coordinate technique in related fields”. The stated purpose was to better “understand human life”, but the intent was to utilise that understanding for the control of the population. There was a Princeton University Radio Project to discover the most effective way to use broadcasting for population indoctrination and control, the techniques being adopted by the VOA, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Free Asia. The internet and Princeton archives appear to have been scrubbed clean of information on this.
And indeed Princeton was so heavily involved in propaganda, subterfuge and spy-craft, that it provided the bulk of the staff for the OSS and CIA during their formative years. (5) As with most everything else regarding the US, the American universities were even much worse than imagined, being deeply into the CIA’s murderous MK-ULTRA program of mind control that stretched for decades (6), as part of the Bernays-inspired search for population control mechanisms. In testimony to the US Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy stated that more than thirty US universities and institutions were involved in what he termed an “extensive testing and experimentation” program which included covert drug tests on citizens at all social levels, all without their knowledge or consent. (7)
The elite 1% founded not only universities but the Foundations that exist to this day, and for the same purposes of social control. Institutions like the Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie Foundations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, were primarily created “to perpetuate predatory wealth through the control of information and the sources of information”, and quickly assumed missions of direct influence and control of the mindsets of many of the world’s leaders, or at least influential individuals. The Rockefeller Foundation has been pre-eminent in an astonishing array of social control initiatives that included population control in the real sense through sterilisation and war. And both the Rockefeller and Carnegie institutes funded and promoted the practice of eugenics, Carnegie recommending a national chain of gas chambers to eliminate the socially (and ideologically) unfit. (8) All of this twisted ideology stemmed from the same source.
The Rockefeller Foundation in one advertised instance held a major conference with “representatives of some of the largest financial interests” in the US, i.e. the Jewish European bankers who controlled the US FED, to promote a propaganda program to “educate the citizenry in pro-capitalistic ideology and thus relieve unrest”. In other words, employ the Freud/Bernays propaganda methods to teach the working class to stay poor for the benefit of the corporate elites and the bankers. This group believed it needed a “publicity bureau” that could “correct popular misinformation” by providing “a constant stream of correct information” delivered to the lower and middle classes on their proper place in society. They then set about creating a powerful research organisation to study “social problems” and “the causes of social and economic evils”, portraying themselves as disinterested scientists searching for the public good while actually focused on propaganda, public indoctrination and secret social control.
All the so-called Foundations and Think Tanks established during the past century shared the purpose of steering society and social thought into desirable channels, and executing massive schemes of social engineering, eventually corrupting the educational system and co-opting all emerging social movements for the benefit of Bernays’ ‘secret government. American society, primarily through the educational system and the use of the new social sciences was being almost totally re-created to serve its ultimate masters.
A memo from the Rockefeller historical archives revealed a concern that their purposes might become public knowledge and be “misinterpreted” since public opinion would naturally be violently opposed to such secret programming. Senators and Congressmen rightly feared these Foundations were dangerous to their society and form of government, and recommended their abolition, but the elected portions of the government have never had the power to control the secret government. The US Congress stated that these foundations, with their wealth and influence, were “a grave menace to the welfare of society” and would be used not only to affect and control the government but to change its form. And try to change its form they would.
This is one reason most university business schools are funded by (and named after) their monied benefactors: money guides and even determines the curriculum. Many American universities today are merely servants of major industrial firms, virtually their entire research capabilities harnessed in pursuit of either commercial patents or discoveries of military value, the education of students becoming increasingly remote and inferior. In the end, the practices of Bernays’ propaganda and the private funding of education to serve private hidden interests became one and the same, the propaganda machine absorbing education itself, for the purpose of ‘adjusting’ the population to eliminate ‘misinformation’ and replace it with the ‘constant stream of correct information’ while firmly repressing all contradictory thought.
Interestingly, debt bondage is one of the main forms of social control and for this reason has always been heavily promoted in the US, its financial benefit to the private bankers being an added plus. New university graduates who are $200,000 in debt, homeowners with a huge mortgage, wage slaves with high credit card balances, are unlikely to risk their careers and livelihood by openly challenging the system. When an entire nation is heavily in debt, the people cannot afford to revolt. Meekness and silence are prerequisites for survival, especially in the almost total absence of labor unions. Thus, the American propaganda machine discouraged savings and encouraged consumption on credit. This was so true that as early as the 1920s as much as 90% of all major items like homes, cars, furniture and appliances purchased in the US, were bought on credit. (9)
Turning to Commerce
Lippman and Bernays also turned their attention to the manipulation and control of public attitudes toward advertising and commerce, which is why and how the vast propaganda machine transformed American culture into a materialistic consumer society. The consumption orientation was created solely to transfer wealth to the top 1% who owned most of the means of production and who would primarily benefit, mostly the same people constituting Bernays’ “invisible government”. The ease and potential of public manipulation fired the imagination of those who controlled the banks and multinational corporations, their minds opened to the vast potential to increase sales by turning Americans into appropriately conditioned consumers. They realised that if they could condition emotional responses into the subconscious of the American population without the awareness of the people, they could firmly control the purchasing attitudes and habits of an entire nation. And of course this was precisely the result, with the US economy today dependent for 75% of its life on consumer spending, Americans proclaiming this bizarre condition as a universal value and the will of God.
Following his political successes, Bernays set up shop on Madison Avenue and by the early 1920s was already doing for American products and branding what he had done for war marketing, that is to say, using propaganda to manipulate and control public perception and behavior, in this case to create not only mindless consumers but to fabricate and permanently instill in the American mind the myth of brands. Bernays quickly attracted more corporate clients than he could handle, with most large firms tripping over themselves to take advantage of the power of propaganda and mind control to loot the nation’s bank accounts.
Advertising and Agencies
In 1957 Vance Packard published a best-selling book titled “The Hidden Persuaders”, that revealed in detail how advertisers were using psychologists and psychiatrists following Bernays’ manipulative methods to tap into our unconscious desires in order to “persuade” us to buy the products they were selling. (10) (11) The entire advertising industry succumbed to this siren call and today is a rat’s nest of (often) reprehensible manipulation of the public. Ad agencies would hold “focus groups” where they would surreptitiously record housewives and others discussing their inmost feelings, thoughts, desires on many matters, then use that information to subvert those and manipulate people into buying whatever they wanted to sell.
One instance that crossed my path was exposure to the story boards of a foreign advertising agency in Shanghai tasked with helping an American bank market credit cards to young Chinese. I was appalled at what I saw. The manipulation was to me not only disgusting but obscene. Someone had spent real money to ferret out the hidden desires, fears and aspirations of young Chinese, and turned that knowledge to looting their bank accounts. The conclusions were that these young people, university graduates, were now in an era of rising affluence and desired to be recognised as more than citizens of a third-world country, in a sense to be seen as worthy equals to young people of other nations. They had purchasing power, generally good taste, and wanted to be appreciated as valuable consumers. The recommendations were startling. “Tell him he’s a king. Use the tag line “The world is waiting for you”, and “With our credit card, you can have it all now”. Make him feel he is important and recognised, that he is valued because he is Chinese.” And, since this young person likely came from a one-child family where his wishes were important, “Do everything possible to push the “me, me, me, more, more, more” attitude.”
I encountered this by accident, and had an email exchange with a young Chinese on this topic. I cannot locate my original email but, from memory, this is what I wrote to him:
“A credit card is not magic, and it is not free. It is borrowed money that you will have to repay at a high rate of interest. No matter what they tell you, you cannot have it all, not now, and not without working and saving for it. Moreover, you are not a king. You are a nobody. You are just another dumb kid with a credit card, one of 300 million others like you. I am sorry to tell you the world is not waiting for you. The world doesn’t even know you exist and, if it did know, it wouldn’t care. That is the truth. I suggest you accept it and act accordingly.”
The American Auto Industry
The conduct of these propagandists, beginning with Lippmann and Bernays marketing war for Rothschild and their other masters in London, was clearly criminally insane. There is no way to place a positive spin on people who provoke a world war for their private benefit, but it is more difficult to grasp that their conduct in the commercial realm was (and still is) no less criminally insane. One example is the American auto industry and the American love affair with the automobile.
This is a long and interesting story which I have covered in detail here (12). Briefly, in the 1920s the world was turning to electric automobiles en masse and the advent of inexpensive electric public transport was sounding the death knell for gasoline-powered cars. General Motors and the major oil companies were facing a multiple crisis, and embarked on one of the greatest criminal frauds in history, killing off the electric car and mass transit in the US. But they didn’t stop there. Life in many of the world’s major cities is convenient and enjoyable without a car, partially due to excellent mass transit and partially to urban areas designed for human living rather than automobiles. But not in the US. GM and its friends infiltrated the civic planning faculties of major US universities and propagandised the construction of suburbs – which exist only in North America, physically segregating living, working and shopping spaces to make auto ownership mandatory. They also bribed and extorted the US government to abandon rail transport and invest solely in highways, again to make private auto ownership mandatory. The long term negative effects of this ruthless corporate conspiracy are literally beyond calculation. Then the public propaganda kicked in:
“America’s Love Affair with the Automobile” is presented as an expression of independent and freedom-loving America, where inexpensive mass transportation failed to evolve due to Americans’ individuality and desire for freedom, but that is a propaganda myth, a lie of enormous proportion. Today’s US car culture was the result of a massive conspiracy, like the consumer society, imposed on an unsuspecting nation through deceit and propaganda. After execution of the massive fraud, the American people were for generations complimented on their individualism, adventuresome spirit and their love of freedom and independence, and for the choices they believed they made but that had been made for them by others. Here as in no other market is it so true that Bernays’ capitalists were selling “not so much products as emotion itself, psychologically linking the act of purchasing an automobile to falsely-manufactured feelings of confidence, freedom, happiness, empowerment and independence, tying the very self-identity of Americans to the purchase of an automobile.” (13)
Nestlé and the Baby Milk Companies
Mothers’ breast milk is universally acknowledged as far superior to artificial powdered milk for babies, being naturally sterile and containing all the necessary nutrition while, and very importantly, supplying the baby with multiple antibodies that provide immunity against many childhood illnesses and diseases. Almost all mothers are able to breastfeed their babies, who then become ill much less often than babies fed with artificial milk powder. Bottle-feeding with artificial milk has been long proven to present increasing dangers where mothers have poor or no access to necessary sterile facilities.
UNICEF and many other health groups have stated that about 1.5 million babies die each year from simple ailments like diarrhea, common in babies drinking artificial powdered milk, but that almost never occur with breast-fed babies. The WHO and a number of other international organisations claim that “Over 4,000 babies die every day in poor countries because they’re not breastfed. That’s not conjecture, it’s fact.” Since the end of World War II, approximately 50 million infants have died from this one cause, but Nestlé, Danone, Wyeth, Mead Johnson and Abbott are hugely profitable.
In one of the most criminal and anti-human campaigns ever produced by Bernays and his heirs, a few industrialists conspired to create a reprehensible propaganda offensive to convince the world’s mothers, most especially those in undeveloped countries, to avoid breast-feeding their babies. It was a direct and deliberate attack on one of the most basic of human functions while ignoring the enormous human cost in infant fatalities and illnesses for which they are in most cases directly (or at least indirectly) responsible.
They utilised the services of thousands of physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists, and marketing personnel, to learn how to penetrate the psyche of a new mother to discourage her from breastfeeding her own child. I can recall seeing in several poor countries billboards for baby milk that contained photos of ‘yellow-haired goddesses’, the essential sentiment being communicated was: “Beautiful white women don’t breastfeed their babies. It’s only you backward, uneducated and ignorant brown peasants who do that.” And this from a radio advertisement by US-based Borden milk in the 1950s that played this little song: “The child is going to die because the mother’s breast has given out. Mama o Mama the child cries. If you want your child to get well, give it KLIM milk.” (14) The executives and staff of baby milk companies like Nestlé are even more morally deformed than are those of Big Pharma (who are often owned and controlled by the same people), and have proven they will do whatever is necessary, use any tactics that produce sales, totally heedless to law, ethics or morality.
Bernays’ first corporate client was Proctor and Gamble (P&G), a client that wholeheartedly subscribed to his methods, their relationship lasting more than 30 years, with P&G adopting a marketing model driven by propaganda built on psychological manipulation. (15) Chinese mothers preferred washable cloth diapers, strongly resisting P&G’s marketing efforts for plastic Pampers, so P&G spent millions on psychologists and psychiatrists in attempts to identify the hidden fears and weaknesses in Chinese mothers so as to prey on those. And they found what they needed: the mothers’ concern for their baby’s health and his longer-term development and success in life. P&G then created a scenario based on claims that increased sleep would not only improve a baby’s health but would result in “improved cognitive development and academic achievement”, thereby presumably guaranteeing wealth and a successful career. They produced “studies” with “scientific results” that appeared palpably fraudulent, claiming that Chinese babies wearing Pampers fell asleep 30% faster than babies wearing cloth diapers, and further that their sleep while wearing Pampers would experience “50% Less Disruption”. (16) In an internal P&G staff promotional video, one Pampers brand manager boasted about his psychological fraud, saying, “We really had to change the mindset and educate [Chinese mothers] that using a diaper is not about convenience for you – it’s about your baby’s development. I’m talking about taking a product and literally changing consumer behavior to create a market for it.” Through this reprehensibly false propaganda, P&G were “educating” mothers to believe that wearing disposable diapers would dramatically enhance their child’s mental development. And boasting about their cleverness in doing so. (17)
The Barbie doll is a similar story, a product never intended for children. Barbie was a sex toy named Lili, created in Switzerland in the 1950s and popular primarily with perverted single men in Europe. A Jewish-American woman named Ruth Handler who, with her husband, owned the then-small company named Mattel toys, was on holiday in Germany and apparently fell in love with this doll, brought it to the US and began marketing it as a “more mature” companion for little girls “exploring womanhood”. Mothers were either disturbed or horrified, especially since Barbie’s “mature” body was “borderline pornographic” and seen as a serious danger “potentially damaging to young girls’ psyches”. That view is still held very strongly by millions of mothers all over the world who have banned this doll from their homes. But Handler, adopting Bernays’ propaganda methods, employed psychiatrists to learn how to change the values of American mothers in order to market this doll. The advice was to instruct mothers to consider Barbie as “a tool for teaching their daughters about the importance of appearance and femininity.” Just what every 3 year-old girl needed to help her grow up into a wholesome young woman – a plastic doll with big breasts and a sports car. I have always hated that doll.
It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that Starbucks offers some of the worst coffee on the planet, which is natural since it was designed to suit American tastes. But you may be surprised to learn that Starbucks is no longer selling coffee; they are now selling “experiences”. The marketers and advertisers, aided and abetted by the propagandists and their Freudian background, have concluded that there is an even better way to loot bank accounts than offering fake goods on credit. In their view, shops once sold commodities (coffee beans), then became ‘service firms’ (coffee shops) where the commodity was standardised and the distinguishing consumer attraction was the quality of service. Inherent in that shift was the degrading of the commodity – which was expensive – and replacing it with ‘service’ which cost nothing but an artificial smile. They have now moved to a new level where we sacrifice both the commodity and the service, and replace both with “an experience”.
Now, the offspring of Lippman and Bernays are spending huge money on psychologists and psychiatrists to fathom precisely what it is about going to a Starbucks or a Wal-Mart that can create a “positive emotional response”. Yes, I know. I almost choked writing that sentence, but these people are serious. They want to identify the underlying stimuli and then fabricate the circumstances in an attempt to provoke that response. If successful, the fake commodity and fake service can disappear to be replaced by a fake emotional experience that you will treasure and one day excitedly relate to your grandchildren. It is all a false reality created with contrived experiences that are not real, but Americans are already on international speaking tours proselytising the new marketing approach. And it’s all fake, in the same way that most of America is fake. Americans promoting this new view seem unable to recognise that any part of their new bible contrasts with reality, and react with offense when Europeans tell them “You Americans are all about image instead of reality. Everything about you is fake and superficial. You people are living in a cliché.”
It is true that sitting in a coffee shop in Vienna or at a sidewalk cafe in Rome can be a treasured experience, generated by dozens or perhaps even hundreds of charming small details that combine to create a genuine appreciation of one of life’s little pleasures. But these wonderful small experiences cannot be fabricated and still generate a pleasure of life, except perhaps for Americans who appear to have lost entirely the ability to distinguish the sizzle from the steak and to whom the only genuine reality is superficial. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting one’s customers to have a good experience, but the American attitude toward creating these is not genuine or sincere; it is cheap, fake, and artificial, a psycho-induced emotional response to a fake reality. Instead of trying to understand how to give customers a real, genuine, pleasant experience as they would receive in Vienna or Rome, the Americans are spending millions trying to understand how to fabricate in their customers the artificial “feelings” of an experience without actually giving them anything. One needs to wonder what the hell Americans think about, what goes on in those minds. And, if anybody needs an “experience” so badly they have to go to a Starbucks or a Wal-Mart to find it, what they really need is a life.
I could go on, but these cases illustrate the point I want to make. There was a time when manufacturers focused on making products that people wanted to buy but, with the success of Bernays’ twisted and manipulative “propaganda”, they now employ psychologists and psychiatrists to probe the human psyche and find a way to permanently alter (and corrupt) the human mind to buy whatever these people want to sell. There is much more to this, including the concept of branding, that I will cover in a later essay.
Let’s review. By the early 1900s, Lippman and Bernays had learned from experience the methods of creating an extensive, false, and emotionally-provocative imagery and to use this fabricated mythology to control the perceptions and manipulate the opinions and behavior of the population of an entire nation. It had first been done for political purposes during wartime, to create immense racial hatred and push a nation into war, but was clearly just as applicable to political and commercial ambitions. At the same time, the wealthy elite of the nation created the higher echelons of an American educational system that would use essentially the same principles to entrench themselves in perpetuity by maintaining the bewildered herd as a kind of feudal colony of impoverished consumers. Those controlling the banks and large corporations were not content to stop with the educational system when they realised the broader possibilities of influencing the population through a nationwide scale of propaganda disguised as advertising, which led in turn to the creation and rapid development of the American advertising industry based almost entirely on the principles Lippman and Bernays identified. We then had the media, beginning with print and radio but rapidly including the movies and then television, being the vehicles through which this grand plan of population control would be executed.
In summation, we have a grand conspiracy by a relative handful of people to manipulate and control the perceptions and beliefs of an entire nation of people, entirely for perverted purposes. Perhaps the word ‘conspiracy’ is inaccurate, since these categories of players were in some sense acting independently or at least in different spheres such as advertising and media control or education and politics, but the net result is not different from what would have occurred had there been a tightly-organised conspiracy. Certainly, each knew what the other was doing, and would have been fully aware of the effects of their combined efforts. If we connect these dots, we have the European Jewish bankers and their many huge corporations, and the wealthy US elites exercising enormous control over the US government and effectively taking full charge of American education, of banking and the economy, of industrial production and, most important of all, of the mental and emotional content of the American people.
In every case, there was no concern for the good of the people or of a nation, no value placed on human lives, the human experience, or the human environment. It was only about the money to be derived from social control. Lippman and Bernays are gone, but their mainstay of immoral, manipulative and deceptive practices is as virulent as ever. As Shakespeare told us in Julius Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones”.