You’ve Been Had – Engineering Public Consent
Edward Bernays, the American nephew of Sigmund Freud, is said to have invented modern propaganda. He was born on November 22, 1891, in Vienna, Austria. He died on March 9, 1995, in Cambridge, Mass. His most famous book was probably ‘Propaganda’, first published in 1928.
During the first world war, he was one of a group of influential liberals who mounted a secret government campaign to persuade reluctant Americans to send an army to the bloodbath in Europe. In his book, Propaganda, Bernays wrote that the “intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses was an important element in democratic society” and that the manipulators “constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country”. Instead of propaganda, he coined the euphemism “public relations”.
The American tobacco industry hired Bernays to convince women they should smoke in public. By associating smoking with women’s liberation, he made cigarettes “torches of freedom”. In 1954, he conjured a communist menace in Guatemala as an excuse for overthrowing the democratically-elected government via a CIA covert operation. Code-named Operation PBSUCCESS, it installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas, the first in a series of U.S.-backed dictators who ruled Guatemala.
Bernays called it “liberation”. The US has gone on to “Liberate” many countries since.
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Barnes also wrote in his book – “Propaganda becomes vicious and reprehensive only when its authors consciously and delib- erately disseminate what they know to be lies, or when they aim at effects which they know to be prejudicial to the common good“. It appears Bernays was clearly a man of two minds.
Bernays was no rabid right-winger. He was an elitist liberal who believed that ‘engineering public consent’ was for the greater good. This was achieved by the creation of “false realities” which then became “news events”. Here are a few examples of how it is that you, the general public, have been giving consent:
False Reality/News – The UK’s eight-year military presence in Iraq ended in May 2011. The headlines across the entire British media can be summarised as “Britain’s eight years of military commitment in Iraq will finally and formally come to an end on Sunday 22nd May 2011, when the remaining forces in the south of the country will withdraw“.
Fact – The UK has hundreds of troops in Iraq under the guise of training capability for local forces. As the UK is not officially at war having ‘boots on the ground’ will not be acceptable to the British public. Quite bizarrely, speaking at the G7 summit in Germany in June, Prime Minister David Cameron described the fight against Islamist extremism as the “biggest challenge” facing Britain and the international community. This is because he knew that troops and bombers were actively engaged in Iraq.
False Reality/News – MPs rejected possible UK military action against Syria – David Cameron said he would respect the defeat of a government motion by 285-272, ruling out joining US-led strikes.
Fact – In the meantime, David Cameron knew UK pilots were involved in bombing missions of Isis targets in Syria irrespective of any democratic principle. In addition, a fresh report stated members of the UK Special Air Service (SAS), the elite British army unit, were involved in hit-and-run raids against ISIL militants in Syria while dressed as insurgents themselves.
False Reality/News – The British economy has a public deficit of billions which must be reduced via drastic cuts in public services, through an austerity programme to save the country from going bankrupt.
Fact – What is remarkable about this public relations triumph is that only a few short years ago, we were all told that the UK was facing total bankruptcy and financial ruin. However, we managed to cobble together £375 billion in a quantitative easing programme (and cancelled the rebuild of 715 schools) and then, as was finally admitted “support currently provided to UK banks has fallen from a peak of £955bn to £512bn, but the amount of cash currently borrowed by the government to support banks has risen by £7bn [to a total of £124bn] since December 2009″. The taxpayer has been paying interest on those loans at a cost of £5billion a year.
You would be forgiven for thinking we only just scraped through this near disaster. In the meantime, £billions in public money went to inept and crooked organisations known as banks, which were spared debt liability by their (Labour and Tory) government sponsors. Paracitical insiders and speculators also benefited from the bonanza – the 0.1%.
Within a year, record profits and personal bonuses were publicly posted to some fanfare, and state and media misinformation and propaganda had somehow recovered its composure from public anger. Very swiftly, the so-called “financial black hole” was no longer the responsibility of the banks, whose debt was to be shouldered by those not in any way culpable: Joe public. The generally accepted view from the propaganda mouthpieces of parliament to the media was that this “fundamental precondition” to save the country from armageddon was an orchestral manoeuvre, from the respected BBC to the gutter press such as the Sun and Daily Mail newspapers.
False Reality/News – The British state will make a profit out of its investment in saving the banks.
Fact – A desperate government, needing to shore up its balance sheet raised £2.1bn by selling some of its stake in Royal Bank of Scotland, but made a loss of around £1bn compared to the price it bought the shares for at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.
UK Financial Investments, the body that holds the Government’s RBS stake, sold 630 million shares – a 5.4% stake in the bank, at 330p each. That compares to the 502p price per share paid by the Government when it bailed out the bank.
The chief executive of RBS even had the audacity of saying “the Government’s sale of shares in the bank reflects the progress it is making“. RBS was given £45 billion of taxpayers money – lost every single penny and then went on to post losses every quarter thereafter to the tune of…..another £46 billion. And the taxpayer lost a £billion in a share-sale. This is progress? Only to a banker.
A shocked public watched outraged as Hedge Funds made millions of pounds at the taxpayer’s expense by using inside information (an activity that is supposed to be illegal) to short-sell shares in Royal Bank of Scotland. Having crashed the price, speculative investors such as hedge funds and banks stocked up on as much as 60% of the shares released in the RBS sale as they took advantage of the bargain price offered by the government.
Osborne issued a statement in which he said: “This is an important first step in returning the bank to private ownership, which is the right thing to do for the taxpayer and for British businesses: it will promote financial stability, lead to a more competitive banking sector, and support the interests of the wider economy. Now is the time for RBS to rebuild itself as a commercial bank, no longer reliant on the state, but serving the working people of Britain.” Remarkably, Osborne did not speak publicly, leaving Treasury minister Harriett Baldwin to try to explain the sale. No wonder.
Bernays would surely agree that the government had pulled a number of masterstrokes. The Prime Minister now has a mandate to lie to the general public as he should have been called to account over his illegal actions in Iraq and Syria. The banks would forever dominate over politicians from that moment in a corporate coup e’tat. After all, they went bust, got bailed-out, made billions then bought the politicians off to stop punitive legislation in order to continue casino gambling at taxpayer expense.
And the public stayed silent. Its obedient role in society is as cash-machine to legalised corruption and malfeasance masquerading as democracy and capitalism. This is engineering public consent at its finest and you’ve been had.
Read Edward Bernays book “Propaganda” on pdf file HERE