One of the delights of getting older is to recognise the enduring quality of some jokes or the marvellous way in which the past is repeated. Such enduring repetition often provides a deep insight to our psyche.
Remember when all those tobacco bosses ('the seven dwarves') stood up and lied about the danger of their products - when they had evidence to the contrary? They were groomed by the same PR folks (Hill & Knowlton) who now represent the fracking industry.
The founder of PR in the twentieth century, Edward Bernays, was a brilliant business psychologist. He understood how to move people and has a lot to answer for.
As a double nephew of Freud, he expressed his thoughts on how easy it is to manipulate the public in his 1928 book Propaganda. Those thoughts were enthusiastically taken up by Hitler's Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propoganda, Joseph Goebbels, and deployed to great effect in Operation Himmler.
This was a classic false flag attack on Germans designed to ensure public outrage and support for war (sounds familiar?). The ensuing zenophobic demands for greater 'Homeland Security' were music to the ears of fascists everywhere.
Bernay's skills in manipulation of the public laid the foundation for our modern consumer society, in which consumerism is simply a tool for social control. He profited from his skills and helped influence the development of corporate America, as we see in the continuing success of firms like Hill & Knowlton.
When the tobacco industry had a problem selling cigarettes to women in the late 1920s, they turned to Bernays. "Simple" he said, "you just tell women that cigarettes are their Torches of FREEDOM"!! The phrase tapped into the powerful emancipation movement of the time and sales sky-rocketed.
Of course, we wouldn't fall for that today would we? We are much more aware and sophisticated - but... wait a minute! Tobacco companies need to promote their latest, unregulated torches of death, e-cigarettes. They are, of course, targeting children, but this advert has a familiar echo:
Don't you love the way 'Freedom' is invoked by those who would ensnare us?
Think of Bernays next time you hear somebody say "they wouldn't dare try that again". If it worked before, it probably will next time around.
Posted by Nicholas Moore 5:04:28 AM