20th Century Sophist: Edward Bernays

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Today we continue with Part 3 of our mini-series with the portrait of a 20th Century sophist. Edward Bernays, the Jewish,  Austro-American nephew of Sigmund Freud, applied the psychological theories of his uncle on a mass scale, manipulating public opinion worldwide. He was the 20th century sophist par excellence. He renamed the practice of sophistry “propaganda,” and then “public relations,” applying mass psychology in spectacular ways.

Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, used Bernays book, Propaganda as a primary reference for molding the public mind.

Bernays shaped many of the “values” that we embrace reflexively and  only reluctantly re-examine. He helped to shape many major events of the 20th century through perception manipulation. He was the magician of 20th century sophistry; making the illusory appear to be what it wasn’t and selling people their own death and undoing; from selling cigarettes to women as “torches of freedom,”  fueling a “war between the sexes,” to getting the U.S. into two world wars, and countless ongoing wars, on false pretenses.

He then brought women into the ranks of “taxpayers,” convincing generations of women that they had far more “noble” work to do than to nurture and shape their children through close, mutually-attuned connection and relationship. As a matter of fact, they could start acting just like what had become of so-called “men” after World War I, the Great Depression and its shattering of local communities and economies, then World War II, the Korean War, and then the Vietnam War forced three generations of Americans into “the normalization of destabilization.” Of course Bernays called that kind of insecure man, with neither roots, community, nor any connection to multi-generational expertise or economy, an outdated “traditional family man.”

Bernays convinced “modern” women to reject the post-traumatic veteran for being what he wasn’t and then modeling how skilled women had become at “being what they were not, too!”  With the advent of television, “image + expert narrative” instantaneously replaced reality and self-led observation and learning.  “History” was no longer what your family and community had actually lived through and the lessons learned along the way.  Now everything was “modern” and how grandpa got his farm swindled by a credit scheme offered by the land bank so that he could “practice modern agriculture” was a lesson the next generation wasn’t interested in.  They didn’t live on a farm, nor did they want to.

The wikipedia article on Bernays gives an interesting overview of the scope of his activities and his presumption that “experts” should “lead” the dangerous masses.The wars he helped to orchestrate and sell to the public help to make those masses more moldable and stupefied.

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.”Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 2005 ed., p. 47

Bernays coined the term “Public Relations,” an innocuous sounding term, to camouflage his use of Propaganda (the title of his book), after Goebbels’ application of Bernays’ methods, and the science of manipulating perception, put the word “propaganda” out of favor.

While his uncle, Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, strove to bring his patients’ unconscious drives to awareness, Bernays happily cultivated and profitably exploited unconsciousness on a mass scale.

The BBC’s 4-hour documentary on Bernays’ work is a surprising portrait of modern sophistry by one of its most brilliant practitioners. More than a simple portrait of Bernays, it’s a portrait of how our minds got shaped. It’s the biography of a passionate, engaged, and curious psychopath, a joyous pied piper gleefully serenading the masses to illness, stupidity, consumption, and mass graves.

Dare to pay close attention, beyond reactive moralizing and emotionalizing, and you’ll see a man in his nineties who overflows with energy, with curiosity, with enthusiasm, with intelligence, with dedication, devotion, and excellence as he brilliantly invents new campaigns to mold the minds of millions, implanting the slogans we regurgitate like tockritualized human lives, all set at odds against each other like fools. Notice the qualities of his being, beyond your judgments of him, and you’ll discover something very interesting about the people who “ride herd” on a cowed humanity.

I laugh at my incredible naiveté in those days when I would  join protests and chant slogans that some unknown person hatched up for us to chant, unthinkingly, as a herd. I had only vague ideas about everything, especially those we were up against, and those I was standing with.  Of course, we are deeply programmed to think that “change” is something that requires “mass action.”   It didn’t occur to me until much later to consider that the call to excellence that I was demanding of the psychopaths who rule and ride herd on humans could have been much more effectively applied to the Life around and within me.

Bernays shaped the major events of the 20th century, worldwide, at a depth that is unimaginable to people unfamiliar with his work, and unfamiliar with the deeper dynamics at play in “modern” culture.

Those of you familiar with the body counts and the people tortured under the propaganda programs this guy developed, worldwide, may reel in horror at the deeper implications of his “shaping of public opinion.” Most of us, myself included, predictably react with knee-jerk moralizing and emotionalizing at the “horror” of this man’s deeds.

Bernays is a superlative example of a psychopath. What distinguishes a psychopath from his perfect prey is his immunity to empathy. Psychopaths’ emotional centers don’t get triggered in the ways that set most of our neurologies spinning on the hamster wheels of our trauma loops and primitive emotional processing centers.

Psychopath” is an unfortunate term, and suggests that psychopaths are evil. The truth is far more nuanced. The primary distinction is that they lack empathy and the hair-trigger emotional reactivity that most of us are subject to. They feel neither guilt nor remorse. They have no qualms of conscience. Although that gives them notable advantages for criminal pursuits, it also makes them excellent surgeons, emergency medical responders, and people capable of thinking clearly under circumstances that others would fall apart in.

The perfect complements to the psychopath reveal themselves to be sociopathic; the normal human resource, the programmed person, whose largely unconscious reactive (vs. conscious response) moralizing and emotionalizing are predictable, on a mass scale, and mechanical to a degree few suspect. The regurgitator of pre-baked “truths.” These people never achieve consciousness due to arrested development among parents out of tune with themselves and their children. They are infinitely and repetitively exploitable. Their awareness will avoid ever putting together the whole picture, because arrested development and early emotional trauma create a human structure that cannot coherently face, much less effectively respond to, anything “unpleasant.”  These are confused humans in perpetual overwhelm.   When we react out of our most basic emotional centers, higher orders of intelligence become neurologically inaccessible to us. Our reactions unfold from a very narrow range of our neurology.

Universal literacy was supposed to educate the common man to control his environment. Once he could read and write he would have a mind fit to rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber stamps, rubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with published scientific data, with the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of history, but quite innocent of original thought. Each man’s rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all receive identical imprints. It may seem an exaggeration to say that the American public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine.”  Edward L. Bernays , Propaganda

Most of you are going to read this article with a “rubber-stamp mind,” so here’s a challenge.  Try to detect when your rubber-stamp reactions and your rubber-stamp taboos, and your rubber stamp sacred cows pop up.  Notice who and what you are and are not “supposed to” talk or think about. Then see all of the ways you are sure that you either “already know what I am talking about” or “are sure that what I am saying is non-sense,” no slow, patient, repeated, sustained, and varied attention applied to REALITY required.

When people read one of my articles and tell me, “oh, yeah, I already knew that” I get a repeated, and frequent, reminder of how that same programming operates in me.  If the individual who is telling me that is actually teachable, I will take the time to point out that I am only beginning to discover what is written in these articles. When I see that someone is paying attention to a certain article, I will return to it and re-edit it.

The challenge of learning lies in daring to notice something you didn’t already “know.” It’s about looking beyond the deeply-patterned rubber stamp mind Bernays helped to train “public educators” to ingrain into the public mentality.

Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to [an “authority”], and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.” George Orwell

The “psychopath” is immune to qualms of conscience or emotional horror.  I challenge myself to notice how reactively I get “horrified” by things. To notice. To just notice, and to keep on noticing.

The psychopath’s perfect complement, victim, client or prey is immune to consciousness. Instead, s/he lives in an imaginarium, an impressionarium.  Then s/he wallpapers it over with narcissistic self-soothing masquerading as spiritual fantasy.  “If I just feel better the whole world will be better.”

Bernays had no small hand in shaping the delusions of the sixties and seventies and importing gurus and lamas from Asian feudal cultures. Such gurus and lamas have perfected the science of exploiting, enslaving and plundering people for millenia while, simultaneously, giving them “techniques” and “teachings” leading to “awakenings” and “liberation” that are decidedly “not of this world.” 

If we look beyond our reflexive moralizing, and begin to appreciate what is happening to us developmentally, we begin to understand how Bernays, the owners of Hollywood and of mass media seduced several generations of Americans, Europeans and people worldwide to demand the debasement of their entire social fabric as a “right.”  Bernays certainly understood the tendencies and perceptual blindside of arrested development, and how to arrest that development even further.  So did Julius Caesar, for that matter. 

Empire is an old game.  It’s played on many levels. “Players” on one level are revealed to be pawns on another level, unbeknownst to themselves while they are “hard at play,” until that fateful moment if and when they discover they’ve been played.  Setting people up; i.e. programming them, to be played without their noticing is precisely the gamesmanship that Bernays was a master of.  We are the ones who continue to be played and most of us have been perfectly trained to refuse noticing, and to insistently shop for more “cosmic fantasies.”

This is the curious shape of humanity today, mind-massaged via the mass media which Bernays helped to mold as purveyors of a “full-spectrum” of “alternative viewpoints,” almost all of which are premised on underlying, unexamined assumptions.

“We can all be spoken to at the same time, night or day, from a centralized information source. In fact, we are. Every day, a handful of people speak, the rest listen. Brutal and heavy-handed means of confining awareness, experience and behavior may actually be a thing of the past. In many ways, television makes the military coup and mass arrests of my imagination unnecessary. We can begin to grasp the irrelevance of such acts now that a more subtle coup is underway.

It takes place directly inside the minds, perceptions and living patterns of individual people. A technology makes it possible, perhaps inevitable, while dulling all awareness that it is happening.” Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/four-arguments-for-the-elimination-of-television-zmaz78sozraw.aspx#ixzz3ORm1J1cB

Bernays’ campaigns to alter mass perception led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and the deep installation of a thousand variations of “rubber stamp” culture in the modern neurology.

“This is the secret of propaganda: Those who are to be persuaded by it should be completely immersed in the ideas of the propaganda, without ever noticing that they are being immersed in it.” –Joseph Goebbels

Naturally, we think that’s “horrible.” We prefer to look the other way. A few of us may look at people like Bernays, or “those in power,” and point the finger at them. But exceedingly few of us will look at ourselves, at the deepest and least-examined aspects of our ways of being and relating, and question why our relation to life makes the work of such men as Bernays so necessary, so widespread,  so impactful, and so easy.

To ask these questions would be to exit the corral we keep our little sacred cows well cooped up in, starting with that most precious of sacred cows; who we imagine ourselves to be.

Knowledge, for any conscious organism, is the means of survival; to a living consciousness, every “is” implies an “ought.” Man is free to choose not to be conscious, but not free to escape the penalty of unconsciousness: destruction. Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer—and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.

-Ayn Rand “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 21

I’ve seen the impact of Bernays‘ work on peoples’ psyches up close and personally since childhood; in the eyes of friends from Chile, a couple I met in 1979, selling jewelry on the streets of Brussels, both raped and tortured by the right-wing military juntas Bernays helped to set up and promote all over the Americas. Forty years later, the woman’s life is still wracked by the consequences of what she experienced in the flower of her youth.  I’ve seen how torture impacts family relationships for generations in the lives of close friends in Argentina. I see the inhabitants of Europe and North America marching in lockstep toward more of the same.

How did Bernays promote dictatorship? He first radicalized the moderate, left-of-center groups in South America who wanted to nationalize natural resources to fund health and education. By infiltrating them and turning them into dangerous, armed “Marxist guerillas” on revolutionary rampages throughout the continent, he created a backlash of public opinion to the other side of the authoritarian, dictatorial spectrum, keeping the natural resources in the hands of the private interests he served.

Bernays didn’t just take sides: he played sides to cause predictable swings from side-to-side.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H.L. Mencken

The “sixties,” which so many imagine to be some sort of “alternative” movement, was one of his masterpieces. He shattered the fabric of family, the partnership of men and women, health, and social relations almost completely, parading anti-values as values that so many still ape, today, unquestioningly. We live in that wreckage, in actual anti-societies where people with thousands of “Facebook friends” tell me how profoundly alone in the world they feel, and are. We are “people without a people.” Even families are sources of pain and confusion for so many.

Everything was peddled under a catch-phrase like “sexual liberation.” When I go talk to the sixty- and seventy-some year olds who lived through so-called “sexual liberation” what I discover is endless sexual confusion and devastation.  Sounds “sad,” right?  But it makes for a population of totally-exploitable, even disposable, offspring.  There’s money in the “fuck’em up, then sell them remedies, illusions, delusions, addictions, and confusions” economy.  That’s how empire works. 

It’s a labyrinth of derangement, scientifically administered. Bernays was a master of it. He shaped us in ways few will ever imagine.

Bernays played the mainstream and then proceeded to manufacture and control the “opposition.” Then he perfected the manufacture of endless “alternatives,” and “spiritual imports” from feudal societies of the East, piling confusion on top of confusion, masquerading as “revelations.”

These dynamics are not new in the histories of people of European descent. Religion and politics are pillars of empire.  And “religion” isn’t only what is offered up by the churches, the gurus and the like.  It’s the narrative in mismatch with reality.  Now “science, medicine, education and news” all offer that mismatch in a thousand different flavors. Political domination relies upon the existential and relational confusion provided by those who train the public to confuse narrative with reality, whether that is done by priests, gurus, and lamas, or so-called academics, doctors and scientists.

In other parts of the world the arts and sciences of debasing entire populations have even longer histories. To the debased it is inconceivable that certain lineages do not invest their attention and abilities in entertainment and entrained, programmed ignorance.  We’ve been subjected to these arts and the application of their science, and subjected each other to them, over and over again.  Every step of the way we have also been offered countless opportunities to become aware of them, such as this BBC documentary on Bernays.

The modern citizen-slave laments that others have worked the magic of deceit upon their bodies, minds and societies.  But s/he is reluctant to recognize that when offered countless opportunities to learn something, and countless opportunities to distraction and debasement, most of them lap up the filth and refuse the hard work of humanizing themselves.

In one generation, we’ve forgotten most of what happened to our “people” only three generations ago.  Slaves have neither history nor a future.  Instead, they have “impressions” mostly based on what they “like” and “dislike.” Reality, relationship, consequence, consciousness, and courage are all reduced to mere consumer events that we mostly avoid while spending our lives in “hot pursuit” of something that doesn’t require that kind of attention, or reality.

That’s what happens when we have no continuity in place, relatedness, language and a history of our own. “Modern” people are “the children of Forgetting.” The Americas were inundated with serfs, and their descendants, displaced and uprooted  from Europe, creating a culture based on the latest impressions and a fantasy of freedom sold as a “right” without responsibility.

Now Europe is inundated with displaced and uprooted people from the Middle East and Africa. The key to control is to destroy any sense of place, of history, of continuity, relatedness, and any mutual responsibility not mediated by armed thugs and licensed meddlers of the so-called “state,” verbal short-hand for parasites.

Modern” comes from the Latin modo: “just right now.” This “just right now” perspective is precisely the perspective of slaves; people inhabiting an “impressionarium,” without roots in the land, in each other, or even the language which we speak. People whose only compass is their “impression” of things, their likes and dislikes; the approach to all things so deeply ingrained in consumer “culture.” Bernays was a master of fabricating impressions on uprooted, disoriented, impressionable minds.

Instead of merely concluding that this is “bad,” consider that this is precisely what an imperial human livestock operation is, then go out to your next “demonstration” and listen to the cattle demanding hay and a barn, while protesting that THAT deal also ends up with eventually getting loaded into cattle cars.  Dare to laugh at the madness that you’ve been programmed to look the other way from.

“It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights – the ‘right’ to education, the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.” ~ Alexis de Tocqueville

It’s one thing to point the finger at Bernays. Bernays was exploiting dynamics long at play in the families and societies he operated on. His book Propaganda is a fascinating read, full of the nostrums of “reasonable totalitarianism” that has long pervaded modern cultures. His psychopathic craftsmanship was all over both world wars, as well as the 60 million Eastern Europeans who were killed by the Jewish Bolsheviks financed by Jewish banking interests from New York.

The aim of the social degradation foisted by Jewish Bolsheviks during the non-Russian Soviet Revolution was described by Winston Churchill, in his article Zionism versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People, Illustrated Sunday Herald, Feb. 8th, 1920 thus:

“This world- wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation, and the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. And this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America, have become the undisputed masters of the world.” 

In the West, members of that same group created Hollywood; another approach to achieving arrested development, envious malevolence, and impossible equality by means of a mediated culture created by images, soundbites, and laugh tracks.  Hollywood has been the pied piper of global debasement of all human values, as the world gathers round, every evening, staring into the blue lit screens of the machines that mold their minds into Pavlovian predictability.  Bernays saw the destructive potential of the technology, of minds then shaped by that technology, and exploited it to the blood-covered hilt. 

In the East the Soviet gulag was implemented through the use of mass murder, rape, torture, and starvation at a scale that makes the so-called Jewish “Holocaust” – or at least the Hollywood-version of it – look like a pitiful imitation.  Jews took to murdering indigenous Europeans in Russia, Ukraine, Hungary and Poland long before Hitler raised his ugly, Jewish financed head. Is it not curious that there is not one single museum in Europe dedicated to the slaughter of Europeans by Jews?

I didn’t and do not even today, for understandable reasons, wish to reveal that from October 1928, the two largest regular contributors to the Nazi party were the general managers of the two largest Berlin banks, both of Jewish faith and one of them the leader of Zionism in Germany.”  Dr. Heinrich Brüning (1885-1970), Chancellor of Germany 1930-1932, in a 1937 letter to Winston Churchill

Levels of game reveal themselves, but only to those who not only study history, but also begin to study the frauds underlying most of what we call “Western history” today. Do that hard work, examining the work of Russian astro-physicist Anatoly Fomenko, for example, and then slowly you realize that the pretense of “Western culture” is a fraud.  There is no such thing except among those who still grow their living from the Land. 

The entirety of the imperial edifice of the Bank/ Temple / Palace complex is a vast livestock operation that both fattens and stupefies its herds for the kill.  It stupefies with “unquestionable expert advice.” The Judeo-Roman empire is a very multi-dimensional game indeed.  Nothing is ever quite what it seems.  It doesn’t lend itself to the facile, binary, good/bad, communist/capitalist, Nazi/Jew, left/right clichés that those whose minds have been massaged by Hollywood have been so easily programmed into.  The human livestock can only see their “managers” through their own eyes, convinced that their whole purpose in life is to keep them fat and sassy.  This, too, is a wondrous accomplishment.

Now, in addition to these traits, he defaults to thinking that what he doesn’t see is not there, or what he does not understand does not exist. At the core, he tends to mistake the unknown for the nonexistent.” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder

In the West the Disneyland mental entrainment gulag managed to massage the minds of people all over the Americas, Europe and the “free world” into permanent infancy. They created a culture of permanent “entitlement.” A mentality of infinite victimhood, of “somebody owes me something as long as that somebody isn’t me.’ Then a thousand more methods were implemented, between neurotoxic foodstuffs, vaccinations, stupefying “edumacation,” etc.  The McCitizens are convinced that  their managers view of the world is as cliché as theirs is.  It’s a wonderful racket.

Such operations, and their continuous improvement, have been ongoing for thousands of years, hand-in-hand with the deeply-programmed reluctance, or incapacity, to pay attention to anything long enough to appreciate its unfolding, processes, and dynamics. “Long enough” means far beyond just the lifetime of one individual, without speaking of the 6-second attention spans of neurologies conditioned by the “soundbite.”

‘All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him… One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable…” Henry Louis Mencken

How would we acquire such perspective? Few of us live in a community where we have access to elders, related to that landscape, its human, plant, animal, water, stream, mountain, forest inhabitants. How many of you know that your People once had a name, and it was not the name of a color or of a nation-state? Your People had languages, not just spoken in words, but written in colors on clothing, in song, in house posts and doorways, and architectural detail, and ways of greeting and courting, not only each other but the entire world?

To Re-Member the way our People came to be us is part of Re-Membering our humanity. Regaining that sense of actions and consequences unfolding over generations restores our compass and connection, along with our sense of participation in a Greater, Living Adventure.

“-centuries in individual life are days in the life of humanity”– Ludwig Feuerbach The Essence of Christianity

Bernays lived to be 103 years old. These interviews of him, in his nineties, show us a 20th century sophist brimming with vitality. He is a man with work to do, and doing it passionately. He seems immune to the repercussions on health that his activities would have on someone with a conscience. I imagine him hard at work through the twentieth century and then sleeping like a babe, within minutes of going to bed, absolutely at peace with the world and his own activities in it. Bernays never was accused of crimes or spent a day in jail. He catered to those in power, creating sophist masterpiece after sophist masterpiece for the government, financial and corporate clients he served.

What will the death count engendered by such people will be in the 21st century? I doubt that a more cowed and cowardly, brutishly stupefied, craven, and integrally mesmerized humanity has ever stumbled across the face of the earth, staring at the inanities they call each other’s attention to, via their smartphones.

However “horrible” that may sound, it’s also a superlative challenge and invitation; to excellence, to waking up, to embracing life, to really being on the side of our vitality, intelligence, capacity, creativity, and connection with others who dare excellence – to live as few do, rather than as the herd does. This is an invitation and a challenge that only an individual can make to her or himself, and it’s a tremendous challenge, with no small measure of solitude along the way.

Bernays helped to shatter the fabric of the public’s neurology, reason, relationships, economies, families and societies. He made his clients a killing, literally and figuratively. He created a “society” where everyone is at odds with themselves and each other.

It’s easy to point the finger at people like Bernays. Psychopaths, however, play a critical function in human ecologies, especially imperial ones, including the filling of mass graves.

Pick up a copy of the Old Testament and do the body count. Bernays’ work fits squarely within that view of “the chosen” and the “unchosen” in more ways than our programmed little minds, our sacred cows, and corralled “thinking” (actually the avoidance of thinking) might allow. People in power have “culled” their populations, just as in any livestock operation, regularly, ever since the neolithic devolution caused humans to degenerate, biologically.

This documentary, of course, is the “light” version of the political and cultural programming we’re all exposed to, offered by mainstream media for public consumption, in full knowledge that few will make it through the full four hours, much less absorb what is revealed here, and can only be discovered by way of reflection.

Consider that word: reflection and what it points to that reveals how to exercise it. Reflection requires more than observing the surface of what’s presented. It requires observing what it reflects of the greater world, beyond that surface.

In Propaganda, Bernays says:
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 molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized… “

We can read that and be appalled that someone might want to manipulate the masses, as if the last two thousand years of history, and its continuity to the present, were almost wholly unknown to us. But it’s exactly as Bernays says; “a logical result of the way in which our ‘democratic’ society is organized.”

It’s easy to be appalled at Bernays’ approach to society. Yet it’s the perfect complement to a society of isolated “individuals,” allowing themselves to be systematically dumbed-down and plundered repeatedly, not just by those “at the top,” but by each other. We herd our “personal sacred cows” and pet theories, with no need for cross-referencing sense-able reality. Why wouldn’t such men as Bernays exploit a stupefied herd? What would restrain them? The truth? Morality? YOU?

There is little to nothing at all to constrain them. With nothing to constrain them, their work will become more bold and daring than ever. It, too, fulfills a purpose in an ecology of braying two-legged jackasses.

What are your actions? Do you govern yourself, really, or do you vote and opt-in for any advantage you can garner at somebody else’s expense, especially when that other is unknown to, and has made no voluntary agreement with, you? I’m not moralizing here. This is a simple question for your own examination.  Are you in need of a master to provide you with hay and a barn, or are you some other quality of human?

Another way of stating it is: “Have you equipped yourself to govern your own mind, to lead yourself to vitality, intelligence and responsibility, or are you one of the billions who need someone else to govern your life and thus contribute to governmental systems which must become increasingly totalitarian in order to govern people who avoid awareness and responsibility at every turn?”

To see, plainly, simply, observing the impolitely obvious is what we’ve all been programmed to not do. Instead, most of us want to engage in justification, accusation, or some pre-baked cliché of “change.” But to see takes another quality of courage.

To see is the hunter’s art, along with dancing and singing every single shape and movement of what moves and breathes in his sacred landscape – everything! Only then does the hunter awaken as a Natural Human, as one who dares to embrace human being among all shapes of being; the reader of tracks, the student of living consequences.

One of the hardest things to integrate into my “worldview,” after spending six years around the world teaching all kinds of people, was the realization that 99% of the people I taught would sign themselves up to any benefit, at the expense of unknown others, that they could obtain. The difference between them and the psychopaths at the helm was the size of their opportunity for plunder at the expense of an unknown other.

The convoluted wording of legalisms grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other. Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference of degree. You have done violence to him, consumed his energy. Elaborate euphemisms may conceal your intent to kill, but behind any use of power over another the ultimate assumption remains: “I feed on your energy.”

-Addenda to Orders in Council The Emperor Paul Muad’Dib, Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah

Before taking that journey I thought the folks at the top were malicious and the people at the bottom were simply “oppressed.” The reality is far more insidious. It takes a lot of hard work, and soul-searching, to integrate a reality where most folks at the bottom are just as corrupt, and then to see it beyond reactive moralizing and emotionalizing. It takes even more courage, yet, to see how I, myself, have adopted false values that are in opposition to the Intelligence that Life unfolds in.

I had all kinds of really beautiful ideas about “people.” I had to let them go while, at the same time, resisting the urge to define all of humanity as what modern humans have become, or even all of “modern” humans. The world is woven of an ecology of nuances. Words can only point, but not catch, the complexity of how Aliveness emerges in a very micro-sliver of human experience called “modernity,” or “post-modernity.”

Everyone is adapted. To what?

We could look at what we do to water and discover our relationship and adaptation to the very essence of life. But that’s too obvious, and embarrassing, for most of us. We immediately moralize, ignore, deny, or explain away the obvious.  We are a people who shit in our water then serve it to our children to drink while patting ourselves on the back for being so civilized.  What a fascinating freak show. 

Many people I meet are effectively living out a death wish. They won’t actually put a gun inside their mouths and dispatch themselves with a bullet to the brainstem, so they kill themselves in every other way imaginable – nutritionally, relationally, economically, attentionally. This is the impolitely obvious, the forbidden obvious, the blatantly obvious we all avoid talking about while pretending to be “spiritual,” and such.

And it’s all part of a Greater Beauty. This is a phase in a Cycle.  Decay is as much a part of Life’s Cycle as Vitality.  One nourishes the other.  And not all peoples have surrendered, or even demanded, their own debasement. So there’s plenty of Adventure to be had, and Brilliance to be encountered.

Most modern peoples’ very way of “living,” if we can even call it that, is a call to predators to do for them what they don’t even have the courage to do for themselves. This, too, is part of a natural cycle. Chickens that get old or sick distance themselves from the flock, where hawks, eagles and coyotes can nab them.

Humans create opportunities for psychopaths. Whether I object to that morally or emotionally doesn’t change the reality. That reality surrounds and inhabits us more pervasively than most of us dare look at, simply. Daring to look at it, however, equips us to move, to choose, and to make our choices in favor of living in the totality of reality. We find our way.

Not all people are living out a death wish. I’ve traveled through vast regions where people today still maintain their connection to Aliveness, and to living out of that connection. Some Peoples today still know themselves as Shapes of Aliveness, of Earth, and of every other shape. Whatever our experiences, eventually we feed the Ground, where we end up after we’ve been ground down.

There’s a whole other side to the Bernays story, which is our story: it has to do with the psychology of humans who act, precisely as Bernays pointed out, in herds. True individuals only emerge by growing consciousness and ability, something very deliberately destroyed by almost the entirety of our cultural programming in “modern” cultures. We have to actually gain access and develop our higher reasoning and relational centers to become true individuals capable of creating an emergent society based on relatedness and responsibility.

Instead we are sold on individual-ism, the semblance of a “self” that develops in children always subject to the will of others. We get to choose our “identity” out of an explosion of “options” all catered to by government and corporate “interests.” They are interested in YOU, at least until you’re no longer capable of paying interest.

Individual-ism proposes that we become “unique” through some sort of “re-branding,” by the clothes we wear, the ideas we spout off, the “spirituality” we claim to embrace. We learn to manufacture a “personal” identity that gives us a place in what is, ultimately, an anti-social order. “Person” comes from the latin persona: “mask.” Our true nature is hidden, even from ourselves. Only healthy, fully-developed individuals can join forces in true social endeavors.

I have been in vast landscapes where the overwhelming majority of individuals are healthy, and rich social relations still emerge in their midst, along with economies that are rich and sustained by what’s alive.  They will still be living their lives after the “modern” biocidal sociopathology masquerading as culture has returned to the ground.

Many of these people walk over the ruins of their ancestors’ “civilizations” that also got waylaid from a way of living that’s truly about LIVING. Their memory reminds them of the price of deviating from Life Logic. We “moderns” deceive ourselves in our presumption that “we are humanity.”

The modern “society” is not only a society under the state, under the gun, under the kiss-up-kick-down culture of “citizen-slaves,” and under a monetary system that erodes in value and corrodes all values, it is also a society of individuals in refusal of evil, true goodness, responsibility, and capacity, their own and that which lurks around them, and is fed by them. It is a society of people who either respond to evil by preferring ignorance, or by reeling in horror that evil should exist in their midst while, nevertheless, stretching a hand out for any “benefit,” willingly ignoring who pays the price.

There are a thousand others ways to respond to evil; including with humor, curiosity, cunning, sportsmanship, fierceness and/or fun. Evil can be embraced as a challenge to excellence, to growth, to greater capacity and intelligence.

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”  –Carl Gustav Jung, in Aion, CW 9ii

When you watch the documentary on the lifework of Bernays, don’t just limit your curiosity to what this man did. Get curious about what the people he manipulated (i.e. YOU) do, and do NOT do and how variations of the same are playing out today. Get curious about the other side, the unseen side, of what is being shown to you, in the documentary, whether that’s the people Bernays’ work operates upon, or the people Bernays worked for and whose interests he served. Be curious instead of only moralizing or emotionalizing reactively. Get curious about all of the lofty bullshit we got peddled since the sixties that sounds so “good” because it’s absolutely senseless and let’s us off the hook.  “All you need is love” and all that crap.  If all you need is love, why the hell are you struggling?  What else do you need?  Ask yourself all of the questions that you would be offended by if someone else asked them of you.  Dare to cross your Taboo Curtain and poke your head out of your Disneyland Gulag!  You will not only discover something interesting, you will also develop skills of observation in short supply in people of the herd.

Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.” -Alejandro Jodorowsky

In discovering how awareness is manipulated and confined, we naturally begin to lead our own awareness beyond those confines and become more immune to the manipulation that has us perceiving confines where there is far more space and possibility than we ever imagined.

Place Bernays’ work in the greater context of Part I & Part II of this mini-series. Look calmly at what you discover, rather than just reacting in shock, surprise, horror, or numbness. Curiosity is the qualitative attention that has been deadened in us. Re-enliven it!

Nothing Bernays did is all that novel, but he had new tools, like radio, television, and a national press, to do it on an unprecedented scale and with an unprecedented depth of penetration of the psyche of modern humanity. This documentary focuses on a time period that all of us have been, and continue to be, profoundly and personally impacted by. This documentary brings that impact to light.

We have all been influenced by Bernays in ways we didn’t realize; in our perception of ourselves, of men, of women, of children, of “freedom,” of “enemies,” of world events, of “our” side and “their” side.

To approach this topic with curiosity, with humor, and with countless other approaches of your own invention and intention, reread the article on the triskele. There is an approach to reality that is far more nuanced, richer, more flexible and curious than the good/bad, either/or, like/dislike, right/wrong approach we have had so deeply ingrained. It takes looking at things from a whole host of perspectives. We can start looking from our own perspective, and notice how we do that and what comes up for us. Then we can look at the “opposing” viewpoint. As soon as we challenge ourselves with finding a third perspective, we begin to recognize and appreciate the multiplicity of dynamics at play in any experience. Then we develop skills that allow us to find our way, to respond less mechanically and more skillfully. We become less predictable and more daringly creative in our ways of living.

Embrace your life’s adventure, put a few of your favorite sacred cows on the grill, and sharpen your arrows and your sense of humor. Learn something and experience something new and enlivening! Gather Seeds – of Wisdom!

  1. bill

    This article again set off my system 1 or associative thinking, the response of quick, easy, survival value bipolar thinking you describe as “like-dislike, good-bad”, agree-disagree”, etc. Ha! Then, the suggestion to drop that thinking and consider instead– or in addition to–other perspectives–that of Bernays, that of the slave, that of the hunter/tracker, that of primitives, that of my sacred cows–System 2, reflective thinking– is wonderful. Ah! Thank you Daniel Kahneman and O! (I’d also be interested to get a take on current control channels that weren’t around in Bernay’s or Huxley’s time)

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