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View Diary: Current Political Dysfunction Explained in Four Paragraphs (13 comments)

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  •  you are correct, sir (4+ / 0-)

    this leads to a question: What can we do about it?

    Outside of French style revolution....anything?

    •  The first step to defeating one's enemy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Pensador

      Is to identify the enemies strengths and weaknesses.

      What is the plutocracy's strength? Or, more precisely, its primary instrument of power?

      It has many. And one could say "money" and be accurate. But we want to be more specific than that. For years I believed that our corrupt system of legalized bribery was the number one instrument of power for the plutocracy. The ability to bribe politicians with campaign cash certainly must be listed at the top. We would live in a completely different world if our politicians, good or bad, weren't required to raise ridiculous sums of money ever day.

      But I no longer believe that. In my old age I have come to recognize the real instrument of power is control of the mass media - especially television. Not just television though. Radio, print, entertainment, music and film, games, and now, increasingly, online-- the entire media landscape is controlled, meaning who gets to speak and who gets to be heard, by this tiny minority of plutocrats.


            WHO are the men who, without our realizing it, give us our ideas, tell us whom to admire and whom to despise, what to believe about the ownership of public utilities, about the tariff, about the price of rubber, about the Dawes Plan, about immigration; who tell us how our houses should be designed, what furniture we should put into them, what menus we should serve on our table, what kind of shirts we must wear, what sports we should indulge in, what plays we should see, what charities we should support, what pictures we should admire, what slang we should affect, what jokes we should laugh at?

            If we set out to make a list of the men and women who, because of their position in public life, might fairly be called the molders of public opinion, we could quickly arrive at an extended list of persons mentioned in "Who's Who." It would obviously include, the President of the United States and the members of his Cabinet; the Senators and Representatives in Congress; the Governors of our fortyeight states; the presidents of the chambers of commerce in our hundred largest cities, the chairmen of the boards of directors of our hundred or more largest industrial corporations, the president of many of the labor unions affiliated in the American Federation of Labor, the national president of each of the national professional and fraternal organizations, the president of each of the racial or language societies in the country, the hundred leading newspaper and magazine editors, the fifty most popular authors, the presidents of the fifty leading charitable organizations, the twenty leading theatrical or cinema producers, the hundred recognized leaders of fashion, the most popular and influential clergymen in the hundred leading cities, the presidents of our colleges and universities and the foremost members of their faculties, the most powerful financiers in Wall Street, the most noted amateurs of sport, and so on. Such a list would comprise several thousand persons. But it is well known that many of these leaders are themselves led, sometimes by persons whose names are known to few. Many a congressman, in framing his platform, follows the suggestions of a district boss whom few persons outside the political machine have ever heard of. Eloquent divines may have great influence in their communities, but often take their doctrines from a higher ecclesiastical authority. The presidents of chambers of commerce mold the thought of local business men concerning public issues, but the opinions which they promulgate are usually derived from some national authority. A presidential candidate may be "drafted" in response to "overwhelming popular demand," but it is well known that his name may be decided upon by half a dozen men sitting around a table in a hotel room.

            In some instances the power of invisible wirepullers is flagrant. The power of the invisible cabinet which deliberated at the poker table in a certain little green house in Washington has become a national legend. There was a period in which the major policies of the national government were dictated by a single man, Mark Hanna. A Simmons may, for a few years, succeed in marshaling millions of men on a platform of intolerance and violence.

            Such persons typify in the public mind the type of ruler associated with the phrase invisible government. But we do not often stop to think that there are dictators in other fields whose influence is just as decisive as that of the politicians I have mentioned. An Irene Castle can establish the fashion of short hair which dominates nine-tenths of the women who make any pretense to being fashionable. Paris fashion leaders set the mode of the short skirt, for wearing which, twenty years ago, any woman would simply have been arrested and thrown into jail by the New York police, and the entire women's clothing industry, capitalized at hundreds of millions of dollars, must be reorganized to conform to their dictum.

            There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.

      This excerpt from Edward Bernays' 1928 book Propaganda, is one of the most important things an American can read. It describes who we are ruled, to our extreme detriment, without tanks in the streets.

      Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud and the person who invented the term, "Public Relations", knows what he's talking about. He for years was one of, indeed the preeminent, "invisible ruler" of whom he spoke.

      In a recent documentary on the banking crisis, The Flaw, one of the commentators asked a very important question. After the documentary had established the facts of how the banks basically robbed the taxpayers blind, sucking trillions of real wealth out of the hands of working Americans and into the hands of Wall Street, then, actually made the same working Americans who had already been getting shafted, bail them out with more of their real wealth, the commenter's question was this: how was this possible in a democracy?

      Edward Bernays has the answer.

      So what do we do about it? Short of bloody revolution? Or even a not so bloody one?  I don't know.

      But I know one thing. Any revolution will be a media revolution first.

      •  So completely true. And that is why I spend what (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador

        humble amounts of money I have to spend to support alternative media, e.g. publications such as The Nation, The Progressive and wpfwfm in DC, Pacifica radio, which broadcasts Democracy Now.  Not perfect, but keeping the alternative to the brainwashing of the mainstream media alive and kicking.

        But we can wage war on the media by writing to editors to complain about one-sided reporting.  We could possibly do more.

        Call in to call-in shows with articulate statements about why the right's explanations and justifications are wrong and state the analysis that is correct.

        The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

        by helfenburg on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 03:37:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you so much for sharing this. I agree. (0+ / 0-)

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