is a Chivalry-Now commentary of a three part BBC documentary.
The author strongly suggestes that you take the time to see the
entire documentary in order to fully understand the problems we
deal with. The reports are available on YouTube at
of Self is a four part mini-series produced by the
BBC that documents how elements of Freudian psychology have
been used by governments and businesses to control entire populations
in Europe and the United States. These influences are still found
in today's rampant consumerism and political strategy.
It is important for our own process of liberation
for us to see just how these forces have been allied against us,
and may still shape our thoughts and values.
With this in mind, the following is a short rendition
highlighting this documentary, especially in comparison to the concepts
An obsession of Freudian theory invoked people's
attention in the West soon after World War II. Part of the reason
was that scientists were using these ideas to explain two war related
The first had to deal with post traumatic syndrome of soldiers returning
from the field. Half the soldiers were inflicted with this debilitating
problem. Researchers concluded that the experience of war had triggered
some irrational component inside these men. This irrational, primitive
aspect had taken control of their personalities. Some became emotionally
crippled, some prone to violence, and some permanently disabled.
The second phenomenon focused on how Adolph
Hitler was able to raise mass support for his aims and adulation
for himself among the German people, who were considered among the
most educated in the world. Otherwise civilized people were marching
through the streets, saluting their allegiance to the Fuhrer, committing
acts of violence, and, at the very least, tacitly supporting the
genocidal killing of millions of people. It seemed as if something
had been triggered in them so that they willingly sacrificed their
individuality to some kind of group persona or herd instinct. Once
again there appeared to be a dark, hidden nature in people that
came out under certain circumstances.
The writings of Sigmund Freud seemed to
explain these phenomena. They suggested that all people have primitive,
irrational elements inside them that could not be trusted. With
that in mind, American scientists feared that the same thing that
happened in Germany could also happen in the United States. Their
conclusion was that Democracy was too risky to let it run on its
own. Society had to find ways of reducing that risk, and that meant
making people more docile and homogenized in order to keep irrational
tendencies under control.
Sigmund Freud's daughter, Anna, tirelessly
contributed to developing these theories, and taught whole schools
of psychotherapists. One of them, her cousin Edward Bernays,
came to the United States to help scientists deal with their concerns.
He successfully published his uncle's works in America, raising
popular awareness of primitive, irrational undercurrents to human
Bernays, who became very much in demand, extended his work into
business marketing. He found ways of selling products by appealing
to people's irrational weaknesses, fears and desires. One of his
major "successes" was breaking the social taboo that had
been imposed on women's smoking. Today's focus group dynamic, where
people are interviewed for their opinions and gut responses regarding
a product or idea, are also a result of his work.
He was also hired by politicians, and provided
a model for political polling.
The overall goal was to lessen the risks of democracy
by creating a society where products would be used to placate hidden
desires in individuals. Sometimes this meant finding out what people
wanted and giving it to them. Other times it meant generating unnecessary
desires through suggestive or subliminal advertising. It aimed at
the "primitive, irrational." In so doing, it effectively
pushed aside the "moral, intellectual," which a vibrant
democracy needs to thrive. This, of course, amounted to social engineering
that disrespected certain concepts of personal freedom that continues
In the tradition of Ed Bernays, commercialism
has shaped capitalism into something beyond a healthy exchange of
goods and services. Intellectually, we can scarcely separate subliminal
marketing from economic dynamics, which has given capitalism a bad
In some respects, commercialism represents an anti-philosophy, whereby
people are cajoled and led to believe that acquiring things is the
surest route to happiness. They are expected to fit-in with the
latest fashions; adhere to group identities; need the latest car;
impress neighbors by their houses; and support certain political
views. They are, in effect, not so much believers of commercialism,
but unknowing pawns, shaped by the strategies and tactics of marketers
and political propagandists.
This successfully generated a homogeneity of
American life during the 1950s. When the 60s came, and people dared
to question things, seeking their own individuality, commercialism
deftly turned their search for individuality into a profitable commodity
as well. Anti-establishment hippies (who, for the most part, were
only following the crowds) were quietly transformed into corporate
yuppies. Peaceniks became neoconservatives. Even religion changed
into big business. When today's "maverick" launches a
national political campaign, he does so in ways that contradict
his image, falling into line with prevailing Freudian tactics. Why?
Because he did what his expert advisors told him to do. Although
aiming at primitive, irrational fears may be an effective way to
garner votes, it is also an insult to voters and the antithesis
of what democracy is all about. The more that average people understand
this, the less effective it is.
The problem, however, is greater than political
campaigns or devious corporate marketing. It is a threat to the
foundation of freedom itself. No one wants government telling us
who we are, what we believe in, what styles we should wear, what
should be foremost on our minds. How is it that we tolerate the
same from the business world? Instead of trying to sell products
by appealing to our intellects, proving one product superior to
the other, they focus on our insecurities, our fears, our envy,
jealousy and vanity. Psychologically, that instills people with
more insecurity, fear, et cetera. This is not just a marketing technique
used now and then. It is a systematic campaign that fills our highways
with billboards, our airwaves with commercials, our politics with
needless anger and hate, and our movies and television programs
with poor messages of what human beings are. It is difficult for
most people to escape commercialism for even a short hiatus. We
are subjecting children at young ages to these same influences,
training them to be obedient consumers. One could easily refer to
this as mass brainwashing.
Thanks to the effects of rampant, mind-controlling
consumerism, we have lost much of the fire of freedom that once
dominated our hearts. Marketing strategists, political or otherwise,
have worked hard to create a passively compliant population that
will follow someone else's lead. To a large part, they have achieved
that goal. People prefer believing what they are told, following
the crowd, competing with the Joneses. New technology provides just
enough distractions to keep us from thinking beyond them. Cell phone
mania provides us with very little down time to think for ourselves.
Pundits tell us how to judge candidates. Adulation of celebrities,
no matter how shallow or artificial they are, carries the not so
subtle message that shallow and artificial are not only okay, but
goals for us to strive for. Titillating news replaces real human
concerns. Predilections toward serial killers and rapists help instill
and bolster feelings of fear and distrust, and a very real desire
to lose oneself in consumerism. Morality is judged by amorality.
The value of simple trade has been replaced by the sleazy get-rich-quick
schemes of speculators and greedy CEOs who feel that no amount of
profit is ever enough. Everyone wants everything. Thanks to State
lotteries, we all have the chance of becoming rich, which changes
our entire perspective.
Limiting ourselves to the definition of being
consumers is just what the business world wants us to do, stealing
our personal authenticity, and putting a hypocritical and unseen
elite in control.
When political extremist talk show hosts Bill
O'Reilly on the right, or Keith Olberman on the left,
get really emotional in their extremist banter, which they often
do, they are purposely provoking irrational feelings in their respective
audiences, rather than appealing to their intellects, which would
be far more discerning. This kind of rhetoric works to brainwash
people into seeing things two dimensionally. Misleading half-truths,
quotes taken out of context, bouts of self-righteous anger, are
all it takes to raise a following of well-meaning people who are
One need listen to Rush Limbaugh for only
few moments to see these Freudian theories in play. Open-minded
people who chance to listen to his diatribes wonder how anyone could
possibly be deceived by such overbearing, irrational propaganda.
The convert, however, accepts it without question. Even when falsehoods
and hypocrisy are pointed out, it doesn't matter. The primitive,
irrational elements of the psyche have no need for truth or fairness.
They run on herd instincts, fear, insecurity and the kind of hate
that is easily provoked. Propagandists who exploit these elements
do a grave disservice to humanity itself, dragging down whatever
heights human beings are capable of to a crass vulgarity, reckless,
uncivilized and even dangerous. They are the enemies of both progress
and tradition, in that they degrade them both.
Whenever someone tries to sell ideas or products
by purposely and surreptitiously connecting to and manipulating
people's unconscious feelings, they cross an ethical line that we
need to condemn. This is true no matter who does it, politicians,
advertisers, telemarketers, media talk show hosts, lobbyists or
clergy. Doing so, however, will meet resistance. We will be reducing
their power over us.
Precious democracy fails when citizen involvement
is reduced to responding to irrational stimuli, instead of trusted
with unvarnished truth. When commercial or political marketing purposely
manipulates desire, anger, partiality, fear, insecurity, bigotry,
lust, or hate, they break the sacred pact that democracy is based
on. We are betrayed.
This extends itself as a caution to freedom itself.
Every innocent child who is born into today's Western society is
subjected to the influence of professional exploiters, more aptly
known as charlatans, whose sole purpose is to shape that child into
an enthusiastically submissive consumer.
To see how corporations and political strategists
have made a cottage industry of manipulating people's fears and
biases is not just reprehensible, but subversive as well. The essence
of democracy involves trusting people to understand issues and events,
and make intelligent choices. This was born from the Age of Reason,
when rationality and optimism promised to create a better world.
It demands truth, integrity, civility, and respect for people's
ideas. Its reward? The full benefits of an authentic life.
We are told that they are giving us only what
we want, providing for our needs, which they hold focus groups in
order to learn. If they are focusing on our most irrational instincts,
however, their results lean too much in the wrong direction, encouraging
fears and desires in place of rational decisions. They are purposely
pulling society itself from a strong integration of rational thought,
toward something more primitive and controlling.
Giving people what they want may sound like good
business, but it also provides the logic of the pimps and drug dealers.
Pornographers declare themselves honest business people. Tobacco
industries hide their guilt behind warning labels and cartoons.
Exploitation film-makers refer to themselves as artists. They all
focus on our coarsest desires, inviting us to engorge ourselves
on whatever our hearts desire momentarily feeling, no matter what
The focus group model designed by Ed Bernays
might appear to be designed to determine our wishes so that politicians
and advertisers know what we want, but the end results are always
meant to manipulate us.
Marketers openly admit that they want us to identify
with their product. Think about that. What does it mean to derive
personal identity from a product? What do we sacrifice of our integrity
to become a lipstick? A car? The latest fashion statement? The type
of soda we drink? These objects say nothing of who we are, except
someone who is readily gullible to marketing hype.
The cult of celebrity feeds on such dynamics,
convincing audiences that celebrities are more valuable or interesting
than we are. Very often, they are just the opposite. Celebrity status
s just another marketing ploy to draws attention, and therefore
money. We say money is not our god, but everything around us says
that it is.
The truth is, human beings have limited needs.
Consumerism deceives us by trying to make those needs unlimited.
Is this liberation? Or the kind of self-indulgent clutter that leads
to slavery of the mind?
The underlying message of consumerism, as Ed Bernays often admitted,
is this: people are stupid and not to be trusted. They need to be
surreptitiously managed by a corporate, political and religious
elite - usually for profit. Political strategists actually believe
they are doing us a favor by distorting truth. Talk show hosts see
themselves as leaders. Wealthy elites view the
middle class as expendable labor, and the middle class complies.
The poor and uneducated hardly complain, as long as minimal needs
are met the television allows them to live vicariously. Televangelists
revel in the power of their words to the point that they actually
believe that they are talking for God. Politicians themselves play
with corruption with the hubris of being untouchable.
Where does personhood and authenticity come in?
Is it proper to divide humanity into docile sheep and the wolves
who devour them? How did the influence of love become so insignificant?
What about truth? Shouldn't justice be more than laws that clever
people find ways to bypass?
Western society should support an environment
conducive to human growth and freedom. Individuality does not
spring from cajoled homogeneity, or even a reaction against it.
Individuality comes from a liberating encounter with the world through
which we learn truth for ourselves.
It's time we understand that we face an existential
We can become willingly limited products of consumerism,
whose sole purpose is to comply to the wishes of the corporate and
political elites, or purposely see through all the illusion they
throw at us and take control of our own lives.
Chivalry-Now advocates for the latter.
(You can see
the entire four part documentary on YouTube.
It is well worth the download time.)