The Subliminal Battle for Our Free Agency

01 May

Stephen Wellington lets us know about the men behind the manipulation of product advertising –

If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits. – Bernays

This post begins with the nephew of Freud, a psychoanalyst named Edward Bernays. He is a man that should be known amongst every citizen of the corporate world we live in. Bernays is credited as being the father of modern propaganda. However, since the Germans used the term propaganda Bernays decided that the term “public relations” should be used instead to describe the “engineering of consent” that he and other very powerful people in the establishment would use to control the minds of the masses. In his book Propaganda it reads,

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”

One of Bernays’ early clients was the tobacco industry where in 1929 he orchestrated a legendary publicity stunt aimed at persuading women to take up ciagrette smoking, because at the time it was unfashionable for women to smoke and was considered unfeminine. The tobacco industry wanted to open up a whole new market. Bernays organized a “women’s rights” march in the New York City Parade where young debutants would light up their “torches of freedom” (in reference to Lady Liberty)

His psychoanalyst colleague A.A. Brill gave him advice about this stunt:

Some women regard cigarettes as symbols of freedom…It is perfectly normal for women to want to smoke cigarettes. Further the first women who smoked probably had an excess of male components and adopted the habit as a masculine act. But today the emancipation of women has suppressed many feminine desires. More women now do the same work as men do…. Cigarettes, which are equated with men, become torches of freedom.

He was successful and it was this very campaign that broke the taboo of women smoking in society and Bernays was paid very well for his services. Not only did it introduce a new gender to the health hazards of smoking, a practice that was in opposition to God’s will and what God was advicing against according to the Doctrine and Covenants many years prior, but Bernays emblazoned into our psyche that a woman that smoked is more emancipated than one who doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, women’s rights are essential…but by smoking, the women at the time were not emancipating themselves at all. In fact they were no longer subordinating themselves to their husbands and families but were on an imprisoning pathway to addiction and rampant consumerism.

Bernays is also coined as being the propagandist who developed the theory of “mass consumer persuasion”. He has linked our psyche with the idea of “shopping therapy”, that gaining material possessions not only makes us feel good about ourselves but make us feel more “free”. He even had a part in the development of the ladies magazine Cosmopolitan as a way of developing a consumerist culture amongst women in the United States which would entice these women to consume with careful advertising and celebrity endorsements. He helped to develop a consumerist culture that would reinforce the false democracy that he believed in, a democracy where people would be satiated with material wealth and thus take a subordinate role to those who gave them those goods… “their masters.”

Corporate AmericaPaul Mazer of Lehman Brothers,a man who employed Bernays said:

“We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire. People must want new things before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”

Our liberties and democracy have been warped into an iatrogenic palliative, a remedy that has ultimately made us sick.

Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “”It is the love of money and the love of those things which money can buy which destroys us. The love of [money] . . . warps our values . . . and fosters selfishness and greed.”

When looking at the logos of companies above I think it is fitting to ask yourself, “Where have their products come from and what are the conditions in which the people have worked to make the products I consume? What extrenalities are the corporations putting upon us and the environment?”

I think you will find, as I have, that I feel guilty every time I buy something I don’t need, but want, that comes from a corporation that I know has been involved with human rights abuses, sweatshop labour, destruction of the environment etc.

If Gordon B. Hinckley is right, then buying products from companies that abuse human rights shows that we love money and the things that money can buy more then we love our fellowmen.

Thomas S. Monson has adviced us… “We must learn to separate need from greed.”

Taken from

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Posted by on May 1, 2008 in Money



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