Techniques have been used to convince persuade the masses to believe propaganda and purchase unnecessary products.
Sigmund Freud’s American nephew, Edward Bernays (1891-1995), was the first person to take his uncle’s ideas and use them to manipulate the masses. Beginning in the early 20th century, through a new method he called public relations, Bernays ushered in the age of American consumerism by showing the government and large corporations how to convince people to want things they didn’t need.
This was accomplished by linking mass-produced goods, services and political ideas to people’s unconscious and self-centered desires. Out of Bernays’ efforts would come a modern method of controlling the masses. By satisfying inner, selfish desires, one made people “happy” and thus docile. It was the beginning of America’s all-consuming obsession with self, an obsession that has come to dominate every aspect of Western culture, including the philosophies we now use to improve our lives.
If you keep the masses preoccupied with themselves, happily consuming the goods and services they have been conditioned to believe they need, those in power may profit handsomely and exercise control according to their desires.
There are those who believe that if this is true, it is nonetheless harmless. The problem is that the agenda of the power structure is far from harmless. It has altered the very meaning of life for millions of people and weakened the foundation of the communities and countries in which people live. Again, this was done intentionally.
Prior to this massive cultural intervention, there was no American consumer. There were American citizens. There were American workers. There were no consumers. Consumerism was invented by the power structure. The people fell for it hook, line and sinker. Ironically, the typical American consumer is not a happy person.
Bernays and company employed never-before-used tactics to associate consumer products and political propaganda to feelings of self-importance, success, wealth and credibility. The unconscious message was clear: use these products, support this cause and you will be successful, important and happy.
In fact, the masses were often called “happiness machines.” Keep rewarding the happiness machines with more products and services that stoke their self-centered desires and, soon enough, that is all the happiness machines will want.
Techniques used to convince persuade the masses to believe propaganda and purchase unnecessary products involved:
• Inventing the press release to inform news agencies of corporate developments and new products as if they were newsworthy.
• Using models, socialites and celebrities to endorse products, conveying to the masses that they can also be popular, important, sexually powerful and successful if they purchase.
• Inventing third party endorsements (often from fabricated entities) to lend credibility to a product or political campaign.
Of course, these tactics are common today, standards in mainstream marketing and public relations. They are part of a classic approach to manufacturing desire and demand for products and services, all in the name of personal happiness. In other words, happiness and success in life equals the purchasing products and services.
Self-improvement philosophy and new age teaching is stained with self-obsession.
Not surprisingly, self-obsession has infiltrated (or perhaps even created) the field of self-improvement. Teachers and gurus have invented modern philosophies and distorted ancient ones in order to accommodate the all-consuming self.
Beyond being painfully untrue and misleading, the above quotes reflect the cultural self-obsession as set in motion by Bernays and company. Every quote above reflects self-centered desires, childish wishes and a lust for “more” that is perfectly aligned with the tenets of modern culture – happiness machines seeking self-centered satisfaction. We want to be unlimited, unstoppable, success-bound, wealthy and popular. And we want it now!
Steeped in pop philosophies, we don’t want to hear the truth:
• You can’t have anything you want, and you will not achieve everything you intend. You can have many things and achieve many things, if you are willing to work hard and make sacrifices.
• You have limitations, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Only you can learn where those limitations are. Only you can accept them. When you do, you will free yourself from the expectation that you should be doing more than you can do.
• Wishing for something does not make it so. Wanting something doesn’t bring it into reality. Focusing your intention does not manifest anything other than focused attention.
• Suffering is unavoidable and a good thing to learn to do well.
If you can help it, don’t allow your deeper character to die a slow death, turning you into a shallow, self-centered happiness machine. The choice to become a person of character, one who does not need to make up fancy ideas to avoid reality, is yours. Character development (growing up) is a lot work, however, but it does turn into actual happiness in somewhere along the way.
Source: Mike Bundrant