State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

VIII. The Media


The Ministry of Truth

“If, for example, Eurasia or Eastasia (whichever it may be) is the enemy today, then that country must always have been the enemy.  And if the facts say otherwise, then the facts must be altered.  Thus history is continuously rewritten.  This day-to-day falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.” -George Orwell, 1984

                There has been a sub-theme in many of Quigley’s quotes about how the Roundtable groups have used the media.  It is worth looking at this issue in focus.  We will also look at these claims and how they relate with the ideas Walter Lippman (considered the godfather of American journalism) put forth in his book Public Opinion, as well as Edward Bernays ideas in his book Propaganda.  Bernays and Lippman were important figures in the Woodrow Wilson administration.  Lippman, we will recall, was named by Quigley as one of the first American members of the Roundtable Groups.  Starting with Quigley:

                “…They were joined in their efforts by other Ruskinite friends of Stead’s like Lord Grey, Lord Esher, and Flora Shaw (later Lady Lugard).  In 1890, by a stratagem too elaborate to describe here, Miss Shaw became Head of the Colonial Department of The Times while still remaining on the payroll of Stead’s Pall Mall Gazette.  In this post she played a major role in the next ten years in carrying into execution the imperial schemes of Cecil Rhodes, to whom Stead had introduced her in 1889 ( Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, pages 131-132).

                “…We might mention as an example that this group dominated The Times from 1890 to 1912 and has controlled it completely since 1912 (except for the years 1919-1922).  Because The Times has been owned by the Astor family since 1922, this Rhodes-Milner group was sometimes spoken of as the “Cliveden Set,” named after the Astor country house where they sometimes assembled.  Numerous other papers and journals have been under the control or influence of this group since 1889” (Page 133).

                “…Flora Shaw used The Times to prepare public opinion in England, while Albert Grey and others negotiated with Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain for the official support that was necessary” (Page 137).

                “The American branch of this “English Establishment” exerted much of its influence through five American newspapers (The New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, and the lamented Boston Evening Transcript).  In fact, the editor of the Christian Science Monitor was the chief American correspondent (anonymously) of The Round Table and Lord Lothian, the original editor of The Round Table and later secretary of the Rhodes Trust (1925-1939) and ambassador to Washington, was a frequent writer in the Monitor” (Page 953).

                “It is this power structure which the Radical Right in the United States has been attacking for years in the belief that they are attacking the Communists.  This is particularly true when these attacks are directed, as they so frequently are at “Harvard Socialism,” or at “Left-wing newspapers” like The New York Times and the Washington Post, or at foundations and their dependent establishments, such as the Institute of International Education” (Page 956).

                So, was Quigley correct or just up too late writing his book?  Walter Lippman published his book Public Opinion in 1921.  His claims about the press are as follows, the first an example from WWI:

                “…the people at home and abroad, full of uncertainties, and with none of the professional man’s singleness of purpose, might on the basis of a complete story have lost sight of the war in a melee of faction and counter-faction about the competence of the officers.  Instead, therefore, of letting the public act on all the facts which the generals knew, the authorities presented only certain facts, and these only in such a way as would be most likely to steady the people” (Lippman, Public Opinion, page 24).

Walter Lippman

                Now, let’s examine if this distortion of news happens only in war, or peacetime as well:

                “The fact is obscured because the mass is constantly exposed to suggestion.  It reads not the news, but the news with an aura of suggestion about it, indicating the line of action to be taken.  It hears reports, not objective as the facts are, but already stereotyped to a certain pattern of behavior.  Thus the ostensible leader often finds that the real leader is a powerful newspaper proprietor” (Page 155).

                “…But also they have a very great deal of control over the access to the facts.  Every official is in some degree a censor.  And since no one can suppress information, either by concealing it or forgetting to mention it without some notion of what he wishes the public to know, every leader is in some degree a propagandist.  Strategically placed, and compelled often to choose even at the best between the equally cogent though conflicting ideals of safety for the institution, and candor to his public, the official finds himself deciding more and more consciously what facts, in what setting, in what guise he shall permit the public to know” (Pages 157-158).

                “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” (Page 158).

                “Mr. John L. Given, formerly of the New York Evening Sun, stated in 1914 that out of over two thousand three hundred dailies published in the United States, there were about one hundred and seventy-five printed in cities having over one hundred thousand inhabitants.  These constitute the press for “general news.”  They are the key papers which collect the news dealing with great events, and even the people who do not read any one of the one hundred and seventy-five depend ultimately upon them for news of the outer world” (Page 205).

                “The hypothesis, which seems to me the most fertile, is that news and truth are not the same thing, and must be clearly distinguished.  The function of news is to signalize an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act” (Page 226).

                “The purpose, then, is not to burden every citizen with expert opinions on all questions, but to push that burden away from him towards the responsible administrator” (Pages 250-251).

                Overall, since this portion is somewhat of a review of Lippman’s book, I would have to say that it is a fascinating book and an interesting study of the human mind.  I must simply disagree with his idea that news and truth are separate, or with the idea of not burdening citizens with government.  Lippman does bring out some serious issues with democracy in general, and does have some good points:  How can people democratically control the country while there is a lot of knowledge (military intelligence, etc.) which cannot be in the public domain?  Quigley brings up the same ideas and we will discuss them more in depth, later.  It should be noted that Lippman looks at Thomas Jefferson as a confused individual, and Lippman is not a fan of the constitution—his own bias on democracy leaning toward the democratic -socialist idea that the simple majority should have total control (which has historically turned it into a re-distributive state).  Perhaps, however, the most radical idea that Lippman brought up wasn’t well noticed by many, but to those who understand the Roundtable groups and (from Quigley) the position of Lippman within these groups, the following passages are really interesting:

“…The powerful, socially superior, successful, rich, urban social set is fundamentally international throughout the western hemisphere, and in many ways London is its center.  It counts among its membership the most influential people in the world, containing as it does the diplomatic set, high finance, the upper circles of the army and the navy, some princes of the church, a few great newspaper proprietors, their wives and mothers and daughters who wield the scepter of invitation.  It is at once a great circle of talk and a real social set.  But its importance comes from the fact that here at last the distinction between public and private affairs practically disappears.  The private affairs of this set are public matters, and public matters are its private, often its family affairs.  The confinements of Margot Asquith like the confinements of royalty are, as the philosophers say, in much the same universe of discourse as a tariff bill or a parliamentary debate.

                “There are large areas of governments in which this social set is not interested, and in America, at least, it has exercised only a fluctuating control over the national government.  But its power in foreign affairs is always very great, and in war time its prestige is enormously enhanced.  …To Dr. Kennicott of Gopher Prairie it matters mighty little what Winston thinks and a great deal what Ezra Stowbody thinks, but to Mrs. Mingott with a daughter married to the Earl of Swithin it matters a lot when she visits her daughter, or entertains Winston himself.  Dr. Kennicott and Mrs. Mingott are both socially sensitive, but Mrs. Mingott is sensitive to a social set that governs the world, while Dr. Kennicott’s social set governs only in Gopher Prairie.  But in matters that effect the larger relationships of the Great Society, Dr. Kennicott will often be found holding what he thinks is purely his own opinion, though, as a matter of fact, it has trickled down to Gopher Prairie from High Society, transmuted on its passage through the provincial social sets” (Page 35).

                So, many of our opinions are taught from the ‘Great Society’, who has exercised ‘only a fluctuating control over the national government’, but always has great power in foreign policy.  Now consider this indictment of Lippman’s own censorship:

“…For we do not know how men would behave in response to the facts of the Great Society.  All that we really know is how they behave in response to what can fairly be called a most inadequate picture of the Great Society.  No conclusion about man or the Great Society can honestly be made on evidence like that” (Page 16).

                It would appear to me, especially after reading Quigley, that Lippman knew facts that are kept unknown about the ‘Great Society’.  These facts must be unsettling, as Lippman questions how people would act if they knew the facts.  I believe that Quigley has given us at least some of them.

                Finally, a look at Bernay’s book Propaganda, to see how he looks at these same things.  Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud.  He worked with Walter Lippman during World War I to develop the propaganda machine that sold the war to “Make the world safe for Democracy.”  He worked for President Calvin Coolidge and many large corporations.  I find no evidence linking him to the Roundtable groups or the Bankers, though such may be possible, especially considering that, according to the back cover of the book, “his propaganda campaign for the United Fruit Company in the early 1950s led directly to the CIA’s overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala.”  I could best describe Bernays’ book as ‘Lippman for dummies’.  It is a much easier read and shorter, but supportive of the conclusions.  I will start with a look at Bernays’ example of how to sell pianos, as it shows the sophistication of the propaganda we are dealing with:

                “If, for instance, I want to sell pianos, it is not sufficient to blanket the country with a direct appeal, such as:

                ““YOU buy a Mozart piano now.  It is cheap.  The best artists use it.  It will last for years.”

                “The claims may all be true, but they are in direct conflict with the claims of other piano manufacturers, and in indirect competition with the claims of a radio or a motorcar, each competing for the consumer’s dollar.

                “What are the true reasons the purchaser is planning to spend his money on a new car instead of on a new piano?  Because he has decided that he wants the commodity called locomotion more than he wants the commodity called music?  Not altogether.  He buys a car, because it is at the moment the group custom to buy cars.

                “The modern propagandist therefore sets to work to create circumstances which will modify that custom.  He appeals perhaps to the home instinct which is fundamental.  He will endeavor to develop public acceptance of the idea of a music room in the home.  This he may do, for example, by organizing an exhibition of period music rooms designed by well-known decorators who themselves exert an influence on the buying groups.  He enhances the effectiveness and prestige of these rooms by putting in them rare and valuable tapestries.  Then, in order to create dramatic interest in the exhibit, he stages an event or ceremony.  To this ceremony key people, persons known to influence the buying habits of the public, such as a famous violinist, a popular artist, and a society leader are invited.  These key people affect other groups, lifting the idea of the music room to a place in the public consciousness which it did not have before.  The juxtaposition of these leaders, and the idea which they are dramatizing, are then projected to the wider public through various publicity channels.  Meanwhile, influential architects have been persuaded to make the music room an integral architectural part of their plans with perhaps a specially charming niche in one corner for the piano.  Less influential architects will as a matter of course imitate what is done by the men whom they consider masters of their profession.  They in turn will implant the idea of the music room in the mind of the general public.

                “The music room will be accepted because it has been made the thing.  And the man or woman who has a music room, or has arranged a corner of the parlor as a musical corner, will naturally think of buying a piano.  IT WILL COME TO HIM AS HIS OWN IDEA.

                “Under the old salesmanship the manufacturer said to the prospective purchaser, “Please buy a piano.”  The new salesmanship has reversed the process and caused the prospective purchaser to say to the manufacturer, “Please sell me a piano.”” (Propaganda, pages 77-79, emphasis mine)

Edward Bernays

                Some other interesting quotes from Bernays:

                “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 molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.  This is the 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” (Page 37).

                “In the days when kings were kings, Louis XIV made his modest remark, “L’Etat c’est moi.”  He was nearly right.

                “But times have changed.  The steam engine, the multiple press, and the public school, that trio of the industrial revolution, have taken the power away from kings and given it to the people.  The people actually gained power which the king lost.  For economic power tends to draw after it political power; and the history of the industrial revolution shows how that power passed from the king and the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie.  Universal suffrage and universal schooling reinforced this tendency, and at last even the bourgeoisie stood in fear of the common people.  For the masses promised to become king.

                “Today, however, a reaction has set in.  The minority has discovered a powerful help in influencing majorities.  It has been found possible so to MOLD THE MIND OF THE MASSES THAT THEY WILL THROW THEIR NEWLY GAINED STRENGTH IN THE DESIRED DIRECTION.  In the present structure of society, this practice is inevitable” (Page 47, emphasis mine).

                “Page one of the New York Times on the day these paragraphs are written contains eight important news stories.  Four of them, or one-half, are propaganda.  The casual reader accepts them as accounts of spontaneous happenings.  But are they?…” (Page 51)

                “Formerly the rulers were the leaders.  They laid out the course of history, by the simple process of doing what they wanted.  And if nowadays the successors of the rulers, those whose position or ability gives them power, can no longer do what they want without the approval of the masses, they find in propaganda a tool which is increasingly powerful in gaining that approval.  Therefore, propaganda is here to stay.

                “It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda during the war that opened the eyes of the INTELLIGENT FEW IN ALL DEPARTMENTS OF LIFE TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF REGIMENTING THE PUBLIC MIND.  The American government and numerous patriotic agencies developed a technique which, to most persons accustomed to bidding for public acceptance, was new.  They not only appealed to the individual by means of every approach—visual, graphic, and auditory—to support the national endeavor, but they also secured the cooperation of the key men in every group—persons whose mere word carried authority to hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers.  They thus automatically gained the support of fraternal, religious, commercial, patriotic, social, and local groups whose members took their opinions from their accustomed leaders and spokesmen, or from the periodical publications which they were accustomed to read and believe.  At the same time, the manipulators of patriotic opinion made use of the mental clichés and the emotional habits of the public to produce mass reactions against the alleged atrocities, the terror, and the tyranny of the enemy.  It was only natural, after the war ended, that INTELLIGENT PERSONS SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES WHETHER IT WAS POSSIBLE TO APPLY A SIMILAR TECHNIQUE TO THE PROBLEMS OF PEACE” (Pages 54-55, emphasis mine).

                “But clearly it is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically.  In the active proselytizing minorities in whom selfish interests and public interests coincide lie the progress and development of America” (Page 57).

                “…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 machines have ever heard of…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” (Page 60).

                “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.

                “Now, what is still more important, the extent to which our thoughts and habits are modified by authorities” (Page 61).

                “There may be one power behind the throne in politics, another in the manipulations of the Federal discount rate, and still another in the dictation of next season’s dances.  If there were a national invisible cabinet ruling our destinies (a thing which is not impossible to conceive of), it would work through certain group leaders on Tuesday for one purpose, and through an entirely different set on Wednesday for another.  The idea of invisible government is relative.  There may be a handful of men who control the educational methods of the great majority of our schools.  Yet from another standpoint, every parent is a group leader with authority over his or her children” (Pages 62-63).

                “Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses.

                “Is this government by propaganda?  Call it, if you prefer, government by education.  But education, in the academic sense of the word, is not sufficient.  It must be enlightened expert propaganda through the CREATION OF CIRCUMSTANCES, through the high-spotting of significant events, and the dramatization of important issues.  The statesman of the future will thus be enabled to focus the public mind on crucial points of policy and regiment a vast, heterogeneous mass of voters to clear understanding and intelligent action” (Pages 127-128, emphasis mine).

                “In the ethical sense, propaganda bears the same relation to education as to business or politics.  It may be abused.  It may be used to over-advertise an institution and to create in the public mind artificial values.  There can be no absolute guarantee against its misuse” (Page 145).

                That’s enough quoting.  I do recommend to anyone to read Bernays’ book.  In some strange way, though I totally disagree with Bernays and Lippman about how governing should occur, I really enjoyed reading their books and would love to sit and talk with them about the studies of the human mind.  They seem to feel that a manipulative government is normal and expected.  Lippman would overcome it by making a small group in charge of researching and enforcing truth (I would think this would naturally lead to Orwell’s ‘ministry of truth’).  Where they have a bias toward macro-planning and solving, I believe their studies show the genius of the Founding Fathers and the ideas of stronger local government with the Federal government strong enough to provide defense and foreign policy, but limited by constitution in its powers because it is nearly impossible to govern on the national level democratically.  The more power we give to the Federal government, the more we lose our voice to the expert, or the propaganda that moves the masses, or to the special interests that are often the real power behind politicians.  On the local level, we have much more ability for first-hand knowledge, and much more ability to make our voice heard.

                After reading these books, I must admit a real sense of humility in attempting to share what I feel to be important truths and my opinions with others.  We must all ask ourselves how much of what we believe to be true is really the result of bias or propaganda.  How much of our outlook is totally distorted by these concepts?  I can say confidently that if we choose to watch the evening news for our enlightenment, we are receiving at best news instead of truth (as Lippman tells us), and a good dose of subtle propaganda.  Have things changed now?  I doubt it.  Look at the website for the Apollo Alliance.  They credit themselves with writing many parts of the $787 billion stimulus bill that passed early in 2010.  On their board sits Jeffery Immelt who is also the CEO of GE/NBC.  The stimulus bill offers huge sums of money for ‘green jobs’, which GE is in the best place to get.  Would NBC offer up the legitimate studies of Richard Lindzen which measure only a small greenhouse effect from carbon dioxide, and risk the turning of public opinion which would cost them billions?

                After learning how the news and propaganda machines work, if you would like to understand the modern implications see:

                The one bit of good news, is that these people really only have as much control over us (at least right now) as their propaganda.  Are we willing to think the unthinkable, or do that which isn’t popular?  Are we willing to research what we think to be a given truth?  This is how we can overcome the propaganda machine.

“We are in the midst of the greatest exhibition of propaganda that the world has ever seen.  Just do not believe all you read or hear.  The elect are being deceived.”  -J. Reuben Clark, October 1941

                I would offer my opinion that there is only one source of sure knowledge—the Lord Jesus Christ.  He shares that with us through the spirit called the Holy Ghost.  In Moroni 10: 5, Moroni (an ancient prophet) teaches:  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

                I would invite anyone who reads and studies these things to put what I have shared to the real test and ask the Lord about their truth.  If I have erred, it is the error of a man and the spirit can guide past such an error.  That I could shed some light on unknown or lesser known items (truth as defined by Lippman) and share some truth with those willing to seek it is my goal.  Maybe, if we can find truth, we can also find ways to help our fellow man.  In any case, whether I am believed or not, I think Lippman, Bernays and Quigley have well shown that we should put very little trust into the thoughts and ideas we receive from the media—where might they want to lead us?

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