Social Engineering

Prologue

Brave New World is a dystopian social science fiction novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.  Aldous Huxley was born of the famous Huxley family, a British family; several of its members have excelled in science, medicine, arts, and literature. The family also includes members who occupied senior positions in the public service of the United Kingdom. The patriarch of the family was the zoologist and comparative anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog). His grandsons include Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World and The Doors of Perception) and his brother Julian Huxley (an evolutionary biologist and the first director of UNESCO) and the Nobel laureate physiologist Andrew Huxley.

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

‘My dear young friend,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism.  These things are symptoms of political inefficiency.  In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic.  Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise.  Where there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defeded-there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense.  But there aren’t any wars nowadays.  The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving anyone too much.  There’s no such thing as a divided allegiance; you’re so conditioned that you can’t help doing what you ought to do.  And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren’t any temptations to resist.  And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts.  And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make patient and long-suffering.  In the past, you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort, and after years of hard moral training.  Now, you swallow two or three half-gram tablets, and there you are.  Anybody can be virtuous now.  You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle.  Christianity without tears-that’s what soma is.’…

‘But I like the inconveniences.’

‘We don’t said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.’

‘But I don’t want comfort.  I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness.  I want sin’

‘In fact,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.’

‘All right, then,’ said the Savage defiantly, ‘I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.’

‘Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow…

Ominous Continuity of Social Engineering

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, authored by Plato around 375 BC, concerning justice, the order, and character of the just city-state, and the just man.

Noble Lie – Plato’s Republic

Book III – 414-416

“Now, can we contrive a scheme to make even our rulers, or at least the rest of our citizens, believe a single noble lie?  one of those lies we were just discussing, that come up when they’re needed.” “What kind of lie?” “Nothing new,” I said. “The kind of Phoenician thing that used to happen all over-or so our poets have made us believe-but not in our time, and I’m not sure it can happen again, or at least not without lots of persuasion.” “You surely seem hesitant to tell it.” “With good reason, you’ll say, after you’ve heard it.” “Speak, man-don’t be afraid.”  “I will, though I don’t know where I’ll find the nerve and the arguments, Glaucon. But I’ll try to persuade first the rulers and soldiers, then the rest of the citizens, that everything we’ve done in training and educating them took place as it were in a dream, and that all the while they were really being nurtured and molded, and their armor and equipment e was being fashioned, underground in the earth; and because when they were fully developed the earth was the mother who bore them, they must now deliberate for their land as for their nurse and their mother, defend her against any attack, and regard the rest of the citizens as their earth born brothers.” “No wonder you were so ashamed to tell us the lie!” “I had good reason to be,” I said. “But still, hear the rest of the myth: ‘All of you in the city are brothers,’ we’ll tell them, ‘but the most precious are the ones fit to rule, because when the god formed you at birth he mixed gold into them, silver into the auxiliaries, and iron and bronze into the farmers and craftsmen. Since you are all related you will normally breed true, but a time will come when a golden b offspring gives birth to a silver, the silver in turn to a gold, and so on for the rest. Therefore the god commands that the guardians’ first and most pressing duty shall be for the offspring, to determine which metal is mixed in their souls, and if one of their own is born with iron or bronze, they must show him not pity but the honor befitting his nature and c demote him to a farmer or craftsman; and if a child of gold or silver should spring from the workers, he must be honored and elevated to the rank of guardian or auxiliary.

Niccolò Machiavelli is best known for writing “The Prince”, a handbook for unscrupulous politicians that inspired the term “Machiavellian” and established its author as the “father of modern political theory.”  Machiavelli considered political battles, not through a lens of morality, but as though they are a board game with established rules. His experience showed him that politics have always been played with deception, treachery and crime. He also notably said that a ruler who is establishing a kingdom or a republic, and is criticized for his deeds, including violence, should be excused when the intention and the result is beneficial.

The Prince

by Niccolò Machiavelli

Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word. You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man. This has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is necessary for a prince to know how to make use of both natures, and that one without the other is not durable. A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what they are about. Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to excuse this nonobservance. Of this endless modern examples could be given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made void and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who has known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best. But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander VI did nothing else but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according to his wishes, because he well understood this side of mankind. Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite. And you have to understand this, that a prince, especially a new one, cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to faith, friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to set about it. For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result. For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on. One prince 1 of the present time, whom it is not well to name, never preaches anything else but peace and good faith, and to both he is most hostile, and either, if he had kept it, would have deprived him of reputation and kingdom many a time.

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation.

Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington

January 16, 1787

The tumults in America, I expected would have produced in Europe an unfavorable opinion of our political state. But it has not. On the contrary, the small effect of those tumults seems to have given more confidence in the firmness of our governments. The interposition of the people themselves on the side of government has had a great effect on the opinion here. I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them. I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under European governments. Among the former, public opinion is in the place of law, and restrains morals as powerfully as laws ever did any where. Among the latter, under pretence of governing they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves and sheep. I do not exaggerate. This is a true picture of Europe. Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor.

Fitche was a German philosopher who became a founding figure of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, which developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant.  Fichte gave a series of lectures  (1807-1808) concerning the “German nation” and its culture and language, projecting the kind of national education he hoped would raise it from the humiliation of its defeat at the hands of the French (Battle of Jena).  The result was the Prussian method of schooling and is currently the most dominant method of compulsory schooling in the world (including the United States of America).

Addresses to the German Nation (Reden an die deutsche Nation)

by Johann Fitche, 1808

“The new education must produce this stable and unhesitating will according to a sure and infallible rule. It must itself inevitably create the necessity at which it aims. Those who in the past became good did so thanks to their natural disposition, which outweighed the influence of their bad environment, and not because of their education in any way, for otherwise all the pupils would have become good. Those who went to the bad did so just as little because of education, for otherwise all the pupils would have been corrupted ; they went to the bad of themselves, thanks to their natural disposition. In this respect education was simply futile, and not pernicious at all ; the real formative agency was spiritual nature. Henceforth education for manhood must be taken from the influence of this mysterious and incalculable force and put under the direction of a deliberate art, which will surely and infallibly accomplish its purpose with everyone entrusted to it…”

The “Great Moon Hoax” refers to a series of six articles that were published in The Sun, a New York newspaper, beginning on August 25, 1835, about the supposed discovery of life and even civilization on the Moon. The discoveries were falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, one of the best-known astronomers of that time.  Sales for The Sun increased after the series of articles was published and it was not discovered to be a hoax for several weeks.  Even after the hoax was discovered the newspaper did not issue a retraction.  “The Moon Hoax” was an early example of how easily the media can fool an unsuspecting public.  The tactics of exploiting the scientific illiteracy of the general public and appealing to authority using the names of “experts” has continued since the Moon Hoax in 1835.

New Lunar Discoveries aka The Great Moon Hoax

by Sir John Herschel (Falsely Attributed), Claimed Richard Adams Locke of the New York Sun

1835

On examining the centre of this delightful valley, we found a large branching river, abounding with lovely islands, and water-birds of numerous kinds. A species of grey pelican was the most numerous ; but a black and white crane, with unreasonably long legs and bill, were also quite common. We watched their piscivorous experiments a long time, in hopes of catching sight of a lunar fish ; but although we were not gratified in this respect, we could easily guess the purpose with which they plunged their long necks so deeply beneath the water. Near the upper extremity of one of these islands we obtained a glimpse of a strange amphibious creature, of a spherical form, which rolled with great velocity across the pebbly beach, and was lost sight of in the strong current which set off from this angle of the island. We were compelled, however, to leave this prolific valley unexplored, on account of clouds which were evidently accumulating in the lunar atmosphere, our own being perfectly translucent. But this was itself an interesting discovery, for more distant observers had questioned or denied the existence of any humid atmosphere in this planet.
The moon being now low on her descent. Dr. ITerschel inferred that the increasing refrangibility of her rays would prevent any satisfactory protraction of our labors, and our minds being actually fatigued with the excitement of the high enjoyments we had partaken, we mutually agreed to call in the assistants at the lens, and reward their vigilant attention with congratulatory bumpers of the best ” East India Particular.” It was not, however, without regret that we left the splendid valley of the red mountains, which, in compliment to the arms of our royal patron, we denominated ” the Valley of the Unicorn;” and it may be found in Blunt’s map, about ■ midway between the Mare Fo3cnnditatis and the Mare Nectaris.

Stead was a British newspaper editor who, as a pioneer of investigative journalism, became a controversial figure of the Victorian era. Stead’s “new journalism” paved the way for the modern tabloid in Great Britain. He is considered to have influenced how the press could be used to influence public opinion and government policy. He tutored William Randolph Hearst in propaganda which resulted in British influence over U.S. foreign policy.  Stead was a close friend to Cecil Rhodes and was the editor of his Last Will & Testament.

Government by Journalism

by William T. Stead, 1886.

But a journalist can not only exercise an almost absolute power of closure both upon individuals and upon causes, he has also the power of declaring urgency for subjects on which he is interested. He can excite interest, or allay it ; he can provoke public impatience, or convince people that no one need worry themselves about the matter. Every day he can administer either a stimulant or a narcotic to the minds of his readers ; and if he is up to his work and is sufficiently earnest himself, he can force questions to the front which, but for his timely aid, would have lain dormant for many a year. Of course, no journalist is omnipotent, and even the most powerful journalist cannot influence those who do not read his paper. But within the range of his circulationand readers, of course, are much more numerous than subscribershe may be more potent than any other man. The damnable iteration day after day of earnest conviction wears like the dropping of water upon the stone. No other voice sounds daily in their ears, This is the way, walk ye in it.” And it is not in one man’s ears, but in his neighbour’s and his neighbour’s, until the whisper of the printed word seems to fill the very air. Even though they dissent, they have to reckon with it.

William T. Stead

Cecil Rhodes was a British imperialist, founder of the De Beers mining cartel, the root of South African apartheid, conqueror of Zimbabwe and Zambia, and founder of the Rhodes Scholarships.

The Last Will and Testament of Cecil John Rhodes. 

by William T. Stead, 1902.

Mr. Rhodes was more than the founder of a dynasty. He aspired to be the creator of one of those vast semi-religious, quasi-political associations which, like the Society of Jesus, have played so large a part in the history of the world. To be more strictly accurate, he wished to found an Order as the instrument of the will of the Dynasty, and while he lived he dreamed of being both its Caesar and its Loyola…

In 1894 Mr. Rhodes came to England and again discussed with me the working of the scheme, reported to me his impressions of the various Ministers and leaders of Opposition whom he met, discussing each of them from the point of view as to how far he would assist in carrying out “our ideas.” We also discussed together various projects for propaganda, the formation of libraries, the creation of lectureships, the despatch of emissaries on missions of propagandism throughout the Empire, and the steps to be taken to pave the way for the foundation and the acquisition of a newspaper which was to be devoted to the service of the cause. There was at one time a discussion of a proposal to endow the Association of Helpers with the annual income of £5,000, but Mr. Rhodes postponed the execution of this scheme until he was able to make the endowment permanent.

Francis Oscar Callaway was a three-term U.S. Representative from Texas’ twelfth district from 1911 to 1917.  Callaway served on the Committee on Expenditures in the Treasury Department 1912-1913, the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior 1914-1915, and then the Naval Affairs Committee for the remainder of his incumbency.

U.S. Congressional Record February 9, 1917, page 2947–Congressman Calloway

U.S. Congressional Record February 9, 1917, page 2947

 

The CHAIRMAN: The Chair will recognize the gentleman from Texas, a member of the [defense appropriations] committee.

Mr. CALLAWAY: Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to insert in the Record a statement that I have of how the newspapers of this country have been handled by the munitions manufacturers.

The CHAIRMAN: The gentleman from Texas asks unanimous consent to extend his remarks in the Record by inserting a certain statement. Is there any objection?

Mr. MANN: Mr. Chairman, reserving the right to object, may I ask whether it is the gentleman’s purpose to insert a long list of extracts from newspapers?

Mr. CALLAWAY: No; it will be a little, short statement not over 2 ½ inches in length in the Record.

The CHAIRMAN: Is there any objection?

There was no objection.

Mr. CALLAWAY: Mr. Chairman, under unanimous consent, I insert into the Record at this point a statement showing the newspaper combination, which explains their activity in the war matter, just discussed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. MOORE]:

“In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, ship building and powder interests and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press in the United States.

“These 12 men worked the problems out by selecting 179 newspapers, and then began, by an elimination process, to retain only those necessary for the purpose of controlling the general policy of the daily press throughout the country. They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers. The 25 papers were agreed upon; emissaries were sent to purchase the policy, national and international, of these papers; an agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers.

“This contract is in existence at the present time, and it accounts for the news columns of the daily press of the country being filled with all sorts of preparedness arguments and misrepresentations as to the present condition of the United States Army and Navy, and the possibility and probability of the United States being attacked by foreign foes.

“This policy also included the suppression of everything in opposition to the wishes of the interests served. The effectiveness of this scheme has been conclusively demonstrated by the character of the stuff carried in the daily press throughout the country since March, 1915. They have resorted to anything necessary to commercialize public sentiment and sandbag the National Congress into making extravagant and wasteful appropriations for the Army and Navy under false pretense that it was necessary. Their stock argument is that it is ‘patriotism.’ They are playing on every prejudice and passion of the American people.

John Francis Hylan was the 96th Mayor of New York City from 1918 to 1925. From rural beginnings in the Catskills, Hylan eventually obtained work in Brooklyn as a laborer on the elevated railroad. During his nine years with the company, he worked his way to engineer, and also studied to earn his high school diploma then his law degree. He practiced law for nine years and also participated in local Democratic politics.

In 1917, he was put forward as a Brooklyn Democratic candidate for Mayor and won the first of two terms.  After his term as mayor, Hylan spent much time attacking the “interests,” arguing that industrial concentration gave great power to individuals to influence politics and impoverish the working poor.

John F. Hylan, New York City Mayor (1918-1925), spoke these words in a speech on March 26, 1922

“The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation. To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as the international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes.

‘They practically control both parties, write political platforms, make catspaws of party leaders, use the leading men of private organizations, and resort to every device to place in nomination for high public office only such candidates as will be amenable to the dictates of corrupt big business.

‘These international bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of the newspapers and magazines in this country. They use the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of office public officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government. It operates under cover of a self-created screen [and] seizes our executive officers, legislative bodies, schools, courts, newspapers and every agency created for the public protection.”

Walter Lippmann was an American writer, reporter and political commentator famous for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War, coining the term “stereotype” in the modern psychological meaning, as well as critiquing media and democracy in his newspaper column and several books.  Lippmann won two Pulitzer Prizes and has also been highly praised with titles ranging anywhere from “most influential” journalist of the 20th century, to “Father of Modern Journalism”.  James W. Carey, American communication theorist, media critic, and a journalism instructor, considered Walter Lippmann’s book Public Opinion as “the founding book of modern journalism” and also “the founding book in American media studies”.

Public Opinion

by Walter Lippmann, 1922

That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. The creation of consent is not a new art. It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic, because it is now based on analysis rather than on rule of thumb. And so, as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power. Within the life of the generation now in control of affairs, persuasion has become a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government. None of us begins to understand the consequences, but it is no daring prophecy to say that the knowledge of how to create consent will alter every political calculation and modify every political premise. Under the impact of propaganda, not necessarily in the sinister meaning of the word alone, the old constants of our thinking have become variables. It is no longer possible, for example, to believe in the original dogma of democracy; that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart. Where we act on that theory we expose ourselves to self- deception, and to forms of persuasion that we cannot verify. It has been demonstrated that we cannot rely upon intuition, conscience, or the accidents of casual opinion if we are to deal with the world beyond our reach.

Means of Social Control

by Frederick Elmore Lumley, 1925

A satisfactory definition of “social control” has not yet been made. Perhaps we can enrich our conception of it if we point out some of its necessary ingredients. In the first place there must be some authority — and all that goes with it. In the second place, there must be a clearly-defined and communicable program of action or attitude — with all that is involved. In the third place, there must be an adequate communication system, a system that reaches the proper persons. In the fourth place, there must be free and impressible individuals or groups who respond to and re-embody the program and attitudes. We have the familiar stimulus-response pattern, but it is an infinitely complicated pattern. In familiar language, social control means getting others to do, believe, think, feel, any one or all four, as we wish them to, using the term “we” to stand for any authority who can have his way with others.

A stranger wants to “borrow” a dollar and succeeds at his little game; that is social control in the most elementary sense; it is social because it involves two people; it is social because there is effective communication; it is control because the tramp had his way; there was an effective transference of will. The parent induces the child to retire. That is social control in the sense already indicated; and, in addition, in the sense that the family, a social institution, is able to govern itself; an authority — the parent, not merely an individual — is able to impose his or her pattern upon a member. It is social in the sense that the object of the effort is the advantage of more than one person. It is social in the sense that the family, if it can govern itself properly, contributes to the maintenance of the inclusive society by imposing the activity-patterns and standards of the latter upon the young. This statement may be generalized to any extent — the teacher with the pupils, the school board with the school, the denomination with the local congregation, the nation with the citizens. Social control has usually meant that kind of life-pattern which a government, through its officers, imposes upon the citizen. But we have seen that social control means vastly more than that. We might speak of it as the practice of putting forth directive stimuli or wish-patterns, their accurate transmission to, and adoption by, others whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

In short, it is effective will- transference. Ideally, social control would be in the hands and the interests of the inclusive group whatever it is; practically, however, it is in the hands of, and often in the interests of, some few members who have usurped power and know how to use it. A little reflection will show that all social problems are ultimately problems of social control — capital and labor, prostitution, taxes, crime, international relations. When these are sifted to the bottom and their ultimate meaning is discerned, they are simply social situations requiring control.

Edward Louis Bernays was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”.  Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life.

His best-known campaigns include a 1929 effort to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist “Torches of Freedom”, and his work for the United Fruit Company in the 1950s, connected with the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan government in 1954. He worked for dozens of major American corporations including Procter & Gamble and General Electric, and for government agencies, politicians, and non-profit organizations.

Propaganda

By Edward L. Bernays, 1928

CHAPTER I

ORGANIZING CHAOS

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. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet. They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

Burning of the Reichstag

Germany, 1933

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament in Berlin, on February 27, 1933, precisely four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Hitler’s government stated that Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch council communist, was the culprit, and it attributed the fire to communist agitators.

The day after the fire, the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed. The Nazi Party used the fire as a pretext to claim that communists were plotting against the German government, which made the fire pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany.  He was arrested, as were four communist leaders soon after. Hitler urged President Paul von Hindenburg to issue an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties and pursue a “ruthless confrontation” with the Communist Party of Germany. After the decree was issued, the government instituted mass arrests of communists, including all of the Communist Party’s parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rival communists gone and their seats empty, the Nazi Party went from having a plurality to a majority, thus enabling Hitler to consolidate his power.

In February 1933, Bulgarians Georgi Dimitrov, Vasil Tanev, and Blagoy Popov were arrested, and they played pivotal roles during the Leipzig Trial, also known as the “Reichstag Fire Trial”. They were known to the Prussian police as senior Comintern operatives, but the police had no idea how senior they were. Dimitrov was the head of all Comintern operations in Western Europe. The responsibility for the Reichstag fire remains a topic of debate and research. The Nazis accused the Comintern of the act. However, some historians believe, based on archive evidence, that the arson had been planned and ordered by the Nazis as a false flag operation.

The War of the Worlds (1938 radio drama)

by Orson Wells (Written by H.G. Wells), October 30, 1938

“The War of the Worlds” is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles as an adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds. It was performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938, over the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) radio network. The episode became famous for allegedly causing panic among its listening audience.

Welles’s “War of the Worlds” broadcast has become famous for supposedly tricking some of its listeners into believing that a Martian invasion was actually taking place due to the “breaking news” style of storytelling employed in the first half of the show. The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining program without commercial interruptions; the first break in the drama was about 35 minutes after the introduction, right after Martian war machines were described devastating New York City. In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program’s news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission.

Bertrand Russell was a British polymath, philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate.  His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, and philosophy, especially the philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics.

Impact of Science on Society

by Bertrand Russell, 1951

“I think the subject which will be of most importance polit­ically is mass psychology. Mass psychology is, scientifically speaking, not a very advanced study, and so far its professors have not been in universities: they have been advertisers, politicians, and, above all, dictators. This study is immensely useful to practical men, whether they wish to become rich or to acquire the government. It is, of course, as a science, founded upon individual psychology, but hitherto it has employed rule-of-thumb methods which were based upon a kind of intuitive common sense. Its importance has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. Of these the most influential is what is called “education.” Religion plays a part, though a diminishing one; the press, the cinema, and the radio play an increasing part. What is essential in mass psychology is the art of per­suasion. If you compare a speech of Hitler’s with a speech of (say) Edmund Burke, you will see what strides have been made in the art since the eighteenth century. What went wrong formerly was that people had read in books that man is a rational animal, and framed their arguments on this hypothesis. We now know that limelight and a brass band do more to persuade than can be done by the most elegant train of syllogisms. It may be hoped that in time anybody will be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the State with money and equipment. This subject will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship. Anaxagoras maintained that snow is black, but no one believed him. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity. But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray. Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen. As yet there is only one country which has succeeded in creating this politician’s paradise.”

 

“I think the evils that have grown up in Soviet Russia will exist, in a greater or less degree, wherever there is a scientific government which is securely established and is not dependent upon popular support. It is possible nowadays for a government to be very much more oppressive than any government could be before there was scientific technique. Propaganda makes persuasion easier for the government; public ownership of halls and paper makes counterpropaganda more difficult; and the effectiveness of modern armaments makes popular risings impossible. No revolution can succeed in a modern country unless it has the support of at least a considerable section of the armed forces. But the armed forces can be kept loyal by being given a higher standard of life than that of the average worker, and this is made easier by every step in the degradation of ordinary labor. Thus the very evils of the system help to give it stability. Apart from external pressure, there is no reason why such a regime should not last for a very long time. Scientific societies are as yet in their infancy. It may be worth while to spend a few moments in speculating as to possible future developments of those that are oligarchies. It is to be expected that advances in physiology and psychology will give governments much more control over individual mentality than they now have even in totalitarian countries. Fichte laid it down that education should aim at destroying free will, so that, after pupils have left school, they shall be incapable, throughout the rest of their lives, of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished. But in his day this was an unattainable ideal: what he regarded as the best system in existence produced Karl Marx. In future such failures are not likely to occur where there is dictatorship. Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so. A totalitarian government with a scientific bent…”

Jacques Ellul was a French philosopher, sociologist, lay theologian, and professor who was a noted Christian anarchist. Ellul was a longtime Professor of History and the Sociology of Institutions on the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences at the University of Bordeaux.

The Technological Society

by Jacques Ellul, 1954

In contrast to this mob there is a limited elite that understands the secrets of their own techniques, but not necessarily of all techniques. These men are close to the seat of modem governmental power. The state is no longer founded on the “average citizen” but on the ability and knowledge of this elite. The average man is altogether unable to penetrate technical secrets or governmental organization and consequently can exert no influence at all on the state.

Friedmann, in order to do something constructive about this downgraded and overspecialized manpower, has put his hopes in the evolution of socialism, which, by giving man the feeling of socialist brotherhood and the consciousness of working for the common good, would give him pleasure in his work. But this psychological remedy (whose value I am not trying to deny) could do nothing at all to bridge the gap between the intellectual in- capacity of the mob of specialized workers on the one hand and the monopoly of technical means by a technical elite on the other. The new elite is an elite even when it is popular with the people. This split is obvious in all domains. For example, in the administrative domain, the intervention of a technique of organization and mechanization results in the creation, as Mas puts it, * of two classes very far removed from one another. The first, numerically small, understands the means to conceive, organize, direct and control; the second, infinitely more numerous, is composed of mere executants . . .” The latter are hacks who understand nothing of the complicated techniques they are carrying out It is not conceivable that the normal operation of democracy would be acceptable to those who exercise this technical monopoly— which, moreover, is a hidden monopoly in the sense that its practitioners are unknown to the masses. Technique shapes an aristocratic society, which in turn implies aristocratic government,

Democracy in such a society can only be a mere appearance. Even now, we see in propaganda the premises of such a state of affairs. When it comes to state propaganda, there is no longer any question of democracy.

Norman Dodd was a graduate of Yale, a banker/bank manager hired by J.P. Morgan (Dodd later resigned after being exposed to unamerican activities at J.P. Morgan), worked as a financial advisor, and served as chief investigator in 1953 for the Special Committee on Tax Exempt Foundations (commonly referred to as the Reece Committee), which was chaired by U. S. Congressman B. Carroll Reece.

THE REPORT of NORMAN DODD, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH covering his direction of the Staff of THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE of THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES to INVESTIGATE TAX EXEMPT FOUNDATIONS

for the six months’ period November 1, 1953-April 30, 1954

The broad study which called our attention to the activities of these organizations has revealed not only their support by Foundations~ but has disclosed a degree of cooperation between them which they have referred to as “an interlock”, thus indicating a concentration of influence and. power. By this phrase, they indicate they’re bound by common interest rather than a dependency upon a Mingle source for capital funds. It is difficult to study their relation without confirming this. Likewise, it is difficult to avoid the ‘feeling that their common interest has led them to cooperate closely with one another and that this common interest lies in the planning and control of certain aspects of American life through a combination of the Federal Government and education. This may explain why the Foundations have played such an active role in the promotion of the social sciences, why they have favored so strongly the employment of social scientists by the Federal Government, and why they seem to have used their influence to transform education into an instrument for social change.

We wish to stress the importance of questioning change only when it might involve developments .detrimental to the interests of the American people, or when it is promoted by a relatively small and tightly knit group backed by disproportionately large amounts of money which could threaten the American ideal of competition. In summary, our study of these entities and their relationship to each other seems to warrant the inference that they constitute a highly efficient, functioning whole. Its product is apparently an educational curriculum designed to indoctrinate the American student from matriculation to the consummation of his education…

The result of the development and operation of the network in which Foundations have played such a significant role seems to have provided this country with what is tantamount to a national system. of education under the tight control of organizations and persons, little known to the American public. Its operations and ideas are so complex as to be beyond public understanding or control. It also seems to have resulted in an educational product which can be, traced to research of a predominantly empirical character in the inexact or social sciences…

In spite of this dispute within his own ranks, the social scientist is gradually becoming dignified by the title of “Social Engineer”.  This title implies that the objective viewpoint of the pure scientist is about to become obsolete in favor of techniques of control.  It also suggests that our traditional concept of freedom as the function of natural and constitutional law has already been abandoned by the “social engineer” and brings to mind our native fear of controls-however well intended…

Eisenhower’s Farewell Address

by Dwight D. Eisenhower

January, 17, 1961

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Operation Northwoods was a proposed false flag operation against the Cuban government that originated within the U.S. Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to both stage and actually commit acts of terrorism against American military and civilian targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba.

Operation Northwoods

March 13, 1962

1. Since It would seem desirable to use legitimate provocation as the basis for US military intervention in Cuba a cover and deception plan, to include requisite preliminary actions such as has been developed in response to Task 33 c, could be executed as an initial effort to provoke Cuban reactions. Harassment plus deceptive actions to convince the Cubans of Imminent Invasion would be emphasized. Our military posture throughout execution of the plan will allow a rapid change from exercise to Intervention If Cuban response Justifies.

 

2. A series of well coordinated Incidents will be planned to take place in and around Guantanarao ‘to give genuine appearance of being done by hostile Cuban forces. a. Incidents to establish a credible attack (not in chronological order):

(1) Start rumors (many). Use clandestine radio.

(2) Land friendly Cubans In uniform “over-the-fence” to stage attack on base.

(3) Capture Cuban (friendly) saboteurs inside the base.

(4) Start riots near the base main gate (friendly Cubans ).

(5) Blow up arrauuDitlon Inside the base; start fires.
(6) Bvirn aircraft on air base (sabotage),
(7) Lob mortar shells from outside of base into base. Some damage to installations,
(8) Capture assault teams approaching from the sea or vicinity of (Guantanamo City.
(9) Capture militia group which storms the base.
(10) Sabotage ship in harbor; large fires — naphthalene.
(11) Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock-victims (may be lieu of (10)).

b. United States would respond by executing offensive operations to secure water and power supplies, destroying artillery and mortar emplacements which threaten the base.

c. Commence large scale United States military operations.

 

3. A “Remember the Maine” incident could be arranged in several forms:

a. We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.
b. We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere
in the Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such incident in the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result of Cuban attack from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely Investigating the intent of the vessel could be fairly compelling evidence that the ship was taken “under attack. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility especially to those people that might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US could follow up with an air/sea rescue operation covered by US fighters to “evacuate” remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists In US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation,

Propaganda: The Formation Of Men’s Attitudes

by Jacques Ellul, 1962

At this point, we shall lay aside the observable dissociations in the propagandee between public opinion and his personal opinion; we have already said that propaganda produces a deep separation between the two. Instead we shall stress the dissociation between thought and action, which seems to us one of the most disturbing facts of our time. Nowadays, man acts without thinking and in turn his thought can no longer be translated into action. Thinking has become a superfluous exercise, without reference to reality; it is purely internal, without compelling force, more or less a game. It is literature’s domain; and I am not referring solely to “intellectual” thought, but to all thought, whether it concerns work or politics or family life. In sum, thought and reflection have been rendered thoroughly pointless by the circumstances in which modern man lives and acts. He does not need to think in order to act; his action is determined by the techniques he uses and by the sociological conditions. He acts without really wanting to, without ever reflecting on the meaning of or reason for his actions. This situation is the result of the whole evolution of our society. The schools, the press, and social pragmatism are just as responsible for this as psychotechnics, the modern political structure, and the obsession with productivity. But the two decisive factors are the mechanization of work and propaganda.

The mechanization of work is based entirely on dissociation; those who think, establish the schedules, or set the norms, never act—and those who act must do so according to rules, patterns, and plans imposed on them from outside. Above all, they must not reflect on their actions. They cannot do so anyhow, because of the speed with which they work. The modern ideal appears to be a reduction of action to complete automatism. This is considered to be a great benefit to the worker, who can dream or think of “other things” while working. But this dissociation, which lasts eight hours a day, must necessarily affect all the rest of his behavior. The other element that plays a decisive role in this connection is propaganda. Remember that propaganda seeks to introduce action, adherence, and participation—with as little thought as possible. According to propaganda, it is useless, even harmful for man to think; thinking prevents him from acting with the required righteousness and simplicity.  Action must come directly from the depths of the unconscious; it must release tension, become a reflex.  This presumes that thought unfolds on an entirely unreal level, that it never engages in political decisions.  And this is in fact so.  No political thought that is at all coherent or distinct can possibly be applied.  What man thinks either is totally without effect or must remain unsaid.  This is the basic condition of the political organization of the modern world, and propaganda is the instrument to attain this effect.  An example that shows the radical devaluation of though is the transformation of the words in propaganda; there, language, the instrument of the mind, becomes “pure sound,” a symbol directly evoking feelings and reflexes.  This is one of the most serious dissociations that propaganda causes.

Zbigniew Brzezinski served as a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1968 and was President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981.  Brzezinski was the primary organizer of The Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller.

On December 24, 2012, Noam Chomsky commented on the Trilateral Commission.

“The Trilateral Commission was concerned with trying to induce what they called “more moderation in democracy”—turn people back to passivity and obedience so they don’t put so many constraints on state power and so on. In particular, they were worried about young people. They were concerned about the institutions responsible for the indoctrination of the young (that’s their phrase), meaning schools, universities, church and so on—they’re not doing their job, the young are not being sufficiently indoctrinated. They’re too free to pursue their own initiatives and concerns and you’ve got to control them better.”

Brzezinski also played a major role in the normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China and was responsible for arming the Taliban (mujahideen) to fight the USSR in Afghanistan.

Between Two Ages – America’s Role in the Technetronic Era

by Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1970

“The newly enfranchised masses are organized in the industrial society by trade unions and political parties and unified by relatively simple and somewhat ideological programs. Moreover, political attitudes are influenced by appeals to nationalist sentiments, communicated through the massive increase of newspapers employing, naturally, the readers’ national language. In the technetronic society the trend seems to be toward aggregating the individual support of millions of unorganized citizens, who are easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities, and effectively exploiting the latest communication techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason…”

“Another threat, less overt but no less basic, confronts liberal democracy. More directly linked to the impact of technology, it involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled and directed society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know­how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under close surveillance and control. Under such circumstances, the scientific and technological momentum of the country would not be reversed but would actually feed on the situation it exploits…”

Few journalists in America’s history have had the impact on their era and their craft as Carl Bernstein. For forty years, from All the President’s Men to A Woman-In-Charge: The Life of Hillary Clinton, Bernstein’s books, reporting, and commentary have revealed the inner-workings of government, politics, and the hidden stories of Washington and its leaders.

In the early 1970s, Bernstein and Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story for The Washington Post, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and setting the standard for modern investigative reporting, for which they and The Post were awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up

published in Rolling Stone on October 20, 1977 by Carl Bernstein

“Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.

By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.

The CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress.”

4 Stages of Psychological Subversion

by Yuri Bezmenov

Yuri Bezmenov; alias: Tomas David Schuman, was a Soviet journalist for RIA Novosti and a former PGU KGB informant who defected to Canada. After being assigned to a station in India, Bezmenov eventually grew to love the people and the culture of India. At the same time, he began to resent the KGB-sanctioned repression of intellectuals who dissented from Moscow’s policies and he decided to defect to the West. Bezmenov is best remembered for his lectures, books, and exposing the tactics of psychological subversion of cultural first principles.

Nayirah testimony – Babies in Incubators (Gulf War)

October 10, 1990

On October 10, 1990, a 15-year-old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah, gave false testimony before the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus. . The testimony was widely publicized, and was cited numerous times by United States senators and President George H. W. Bush in their rationale to back Kuwait in the Gulf War. In 1992, it was revealed that Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ was the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign, which was run by the American public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government. Following this, al-Sabah’s testimony has come to be regarded as a classic example of modern atrocity propaganda.

George W. Bush’s War Ultimatum Speech

March 17, 2003

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq’s neighbors and against Iraq’s people.

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.

The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.

The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat. But we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed…”

The press in the wake of the WMD affair assumed the safety-in-numbers instincts of herd animals: like wildebeest, the instant 51% of the pack decides to run in a direction, they all run that way, even if it means bounding off a factual cliff. That the landscape is currently split into two different sets of wildebeest is not much of a comfort. Reporting these days is more a matter of manufactured, behind-the-scenes consensus building than an individuated process of following facts wherever they lead, no matter how inconvenient. 

The Iraq War and WMDs: An intelligence failure or White House spin?” – By Matt Taibbi

Web site separates fact from urban legend

by Paul Bond, September 7, 2002

Writer-director Michael Levine has finished a pilot episode of a show he calls “Snopes: Urban Legends” that stars former “Guiding Light” actor Jim Davidson.

He made the pilot on spec using a crew and cast who worked for nothing more than the promise of a paying job if the show sells. It consists of Davidson explaining various well-known rumors, then telling the audience whether they’re true or false; if false, he explains their genesis.

“I kept getting bombarded in my e-mail box with urban legends,” Levine said.

“I thought, ‘I wish people wouldn’t buy into this stuff.”‘

That’s when Levine went to David and Barbara Mikkelson, who have been running Snopes.com, their urban legends reference pages site, as a hobby for seven years.

A deal was struck and the pilot made. The major networks have passed on the project, although negotiations are under way with family-oriented entertainment company Omni Broadcasting Network, which starts next month in 23 million homes nationwide.

The Mikkelsons named their site for the irredeemably bad family that appears in the works of William Faulkner, Barbara Mikkelson said.

After Sept. 11, traffic to the site soared because of rampant rumors involving the terrorist attacks. The site now gets 40,000-60,000 visitors a day, Barbara said.

Remember the charge showing up in e-mail boxes that President Reagan — as a condition of the Oslo peace agreement — insisted that Israel release from prison convicted terrorist Mohammed Atta, who re-emerged to attack us on Sept. 11?

Not exactly accurate. Atta was a teenager during the Reagan administration, and Oslo was signed five years after Reagan left office.

The cost associated with running the site is offset by ads. David Mikkelson works part time at Snopes and is a full-time Web programmer with an HMO, while Barbara Mikkelson works full time on Snopes. “Around here, the computer is the first thing on in the morning and the last thing turned off at night,” she said.

Barbara has been known to research a “legend” for two weeks before posting her findings at the site, like the time she rifled through New York Times archives dating back to 1912 to find out if a colony of sickly alligators was living in city sewers. They’re not.

At Snopes.com, there are whole sections dedicated to movies, celebrities and even the Walt Disney Co. Examples:

Donald Duck was once banned in Finland because he wears no pants. False.

“Peter Pan’s” Tinker Bell character was based on Marilyn Monroe. False.

In “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” prankish animators slipped in a few drawings of Jessica Rabbit with no underwear. Undetermined.

What’s the most widely believed urban legend about a Hollywood celebrity? “Richard Gere’s gerbil,” Barbara Mikkelson says. “Everyone has a relative or friend who was a nurse or a doctor in the hospital that night. But it’s not true. That same story has been applied to others.”

Lucky them.

Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development

by the Rockefeller Foundation, 2010

China’s government was not the only one that took extreme measures to protect its citizens from risk and exposure. During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems—from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty—leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power. At first, the notion of a more controlled world gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens willingly gave up some of their sovereignty—and their privacy—to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability. Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight, and national leaders had more latitude to impose order in the ways they saw fit.

At first, the notion of a more controlled world gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens willingly gave up some of their sovereignty—and their privacy—to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability. Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight, and national leaders had more latitude to impose order in the ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this heightened oversight took many forms: biometric IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter regulation of key industries whose stability was deemed vital to national interests. In many developed countries, enforced cooperation with a suite of new regulations and agreements slowly but steadily restored both order and, importantly, economic growth.

Edward Joseph Snowden is an American whistleblower who copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and subcontractor. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.

Clapper tells Wyden the NSA does not collect data on millions of Americans

On March 12, 2013, during a United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, Senator Ron Wyden quoted NSA director Keith B. Alexander’s keynote speech at the 2012 DEF CON. Alexander had stated that “Our job is foreign intelligence” and that “those who would want to weave the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people, is absolutely false… From my perspective, this is absolute nonsense.” Wyden then asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” He responded, “No, sir.” Wyden asked “It does not?” and Clapper said, “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”

When Edward Snowden was asked during a January 26, 2014, television interview in Moscow on what the decisive moment was or what caused him to whistle-blow, he replied: “Sort of the breaking point was seeing the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress. … Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’

“I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded.”

Edward Snowden, 2013

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Senate

April 10, 2018

Google – Alphabet

Twitter Censors President of US

Exposing China’s Digital Dystopian Dictatorship

by ABC News In-depth, 2018

China is marrying Big Brother to Big Data. Every citizen will be watched and their behavior scored in the most ambitious and sophisticated system of social control in history. Matthew Carney reports.

Epilogue

by George Orwell, 1949

He picked up the children’s history book and looked at the portrait of Big Brother which formed its frontispiece. The hypnotic eyes gazed into his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you — something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?