I just finished the classic book “Propaganda” by Edward Bernays, who was considered a pioneer in propaganda and public relations! Written in 1928, its ideas are still familiar today. Among his accomplishments, though an event he would regret later now that we understand its many negative effects, was his “successful” campaign geared towards making smoking in public by women something desirable.
Another curious fact from the book and an interesting historical detail involved the nation of Czechoslovakia. It became a free state on Thursday Oct. 17, 1918 but waited until Monday Oct. 28 1918, a Monday before making it public. The rationale was a public relations one, Mondays was a day when supposedly more space was devoted to stories such as that! Much like today, though the internet has softened that somewhat in which bad news stories are released on Friday which meant it had a better chance of being ignored and become “old” by the time Monday rolled around!
There was one thing which caught my attention and which relates to political campaigns. Accusations leveled at many politicians involve the source of their positions, whether they are from actual ideals held within some principled worldview, or rather are really formed and molded by what people are thinking and feeling at that moment in time and…from what they like to see their leaders do for them or….give them! Since votes are the all-important item for a politician, along with getting elected, many feel that many politicians are only good at telling people what they want to hear! Bernays states it like this:
“A political practice which has its roots in the tendency of the popular leader to follow oftener than he leads is the technique of the trial balloon which he uses in order to maintain, as he believes, his contact with the public.”
When a politician senses a disturbance he sends up a “trial balloon” to assess what is going on in the public! Sounds just like public opinion polls, daily or otherwise!
Bernays says those methods are old, that is just a trial and error scenario. He claimed what is now needed are newer methods and the main one is propaganda! Now “propaganda” is Latin and simply means “that which is to be spread or propagated”. It was a basically neutral or positive term until being utilized in politics in the 1800s and then took on a more negative use! I wonder why!!!
Bernays opens his book with this sentence: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society”. That is where propaganda comes in with its many forms!
Returning to the politician and the old methods of “trial balloon”, Bernays says that the new method involves this: “If a politician is a real leader he will be able, by the skillful use of propaganda, to lead the people, instead of following the people……..”
I personally find both methods used by politicians back then (and these methods are used today still, with probably a host of derivatives) to be less than ideal, I am not sure which method I would want a leader to use since the choice seems to be between having my intelligence insulted or being tricked!
Why not be just plain straight? Is that even possible anymore? Do we have the attention span for what that may entail for the listened and analyzer? In spite of a score of questions I could personally ask, there may be a curious consequence of social media in which it may have the ability to fix both of the methods mentioned above! Analysis of political things can be done in real time and, with so many opinions, if a politician is being too sneaky or tricky, he can be called out for it—in theory these possibilities may reside in social media!
Now I voted for Trump, but in this article I am actually thinking of the habits of all politicians, not just Left and Right, but one of the things which has amazed the world is how Trump caught on with so many people! Could it be that after decades of “propaganda” and “sleight-of-mouth” speaking and deceptive and nuanced answers, etc. a biased Press, etc. etc. … that maybe society got sick of that and upon realizing how far removed we evolved from “plain” speech by our politicians and how refreshing it was (so much so that some of the negatives could be set aside) that having encountered it, it resonated!
I think so!
So many are worried about the implications of the 60 vote threshold being overturned—but those kinds of fears are irrelevant when those changes occur at certain crossroads of history!
If the Trump Administration lost this Supreme Court battle right after the healthcare debacle, the negative inertia which would have enveloped the Trump vision could have been irreparable.
This country is at a crossroad—with a “Clash of Civilizations” between the Liberal Left and the Conservative Right! Whatever variations and side strands there may be, the mindsets of each group are so diametrically opposed that we are nearly two distinct nations in one.
To those on the Right, if there will be any salvaging of our heritage and any chance of returning to our Founder’s principles, this is the chance! If it is missed now, there may not be another!
So the Senate may be a bit fearful because of the filibuster changes, and yes it may come back to haunt the Republicans, but the “theoretical” future doesn’t matter—it is NOW that matters! There are too many elements in this nation which wants to change us into something unrecognizable!
The Right, with this opportunity, has to get the job done— as in putting everything out there to ensure as much success as possible. If this time slips by and ends up being characterized by a lack of courage, well……?
A history tidbit. When the Trojan Horse was delivered to the Trojans history could have been different for those Trojans. Laocoon the priest suspected the horse was a ruse and that Greek soldiers may even be hiding inside! He threw a spear and it struck the side and it even made a hollow sound! At that point an investigation would have shown that Laocoon was right and the ruse discovered—but the people got distracted, and ending up never investigating the inside, and then night came …..and we know the rest!
The Trojans missed their chance to escape a negative fate! We don’t want to miss ours! The future we don’t know! We only have right now to effect important changes!
“I came to fully appreciate the truth …. we escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”
Words spoken by General George Butler in a speech a few years after retiring in 1994. He was referencing the “Single Integrated Operational Plan” or SIOP, which was the nuclear war plan of the US, which he read when he assumed the leadership role of the Strategic Air Command in 1991.
John McCain in this Newsmax article is right about our country and no, it is not Donald Trumps fault!, it is the result of Obama’s lack of leadership—we may have crossed the Rubicon and have no choice but take our “lumps” as it were and let history decide our final position! It may not be welcome by most Americans.
Our problem is the Divine Intervention aspect of our history—it is clear Divine Providence has been an “Invisible Hand” in many ways helping us—but with our rejection of God in so many quarters today, will that Hand be fully withdrawn? And has it in large part already occurred?
Somehow in a National sense we must recognize again that we do need “luck” and “skill”, but we need “Divine Intervention” in the greatest of proportion!