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The Possibility of an Invisible Governing Body through Mass Psychology and Mass Media:

The Erosion of Social Significance and a Rise of Civil Delusion


The political landscapes which have marked various epochs of history show great variance in the character of the general public apropos its relation to its governing bodies and the political arena in which they interacted. Inside the different social frameworks and governments which dynamically shape the collective mentality and proposed agency of the general public there e!ist social conceptions of the aforementioned relationship between the common people and their government which allows for the assessment of the degree to which said agency is valid. To illustrate periods characteri"ed by feudalism monarchies and dictatorships e!emplify social and political atmospheres in which the civilians assumed positions which lay under the hands of rulers. In such times when political or social interactions turned sour it was #uite clear to the common class whose hands were involved in what transpired. In cases where such results were adverse or against the wishes of the common ma$ority the prospect of understanding and targeting bases for a revolution were generally perspicuous by virtue of the pre%established ruler&citi"en relationship. 'owever since the inception of the (ma$ority rule) democratic framework similar to that of the *nited States the potential arose for the (rule) to be derived through means which are not contingent on the outlooks of the mass. +oreover with the arrival of propaganda technological advancements in media and tools of mass communication there is the additional potential for a consensus which does not accurately reflect the standards of a democratic framework which is held to efficiently protect the general welfare. Thus to assume the view that unlike in a feudal society or dictatorship the people of the *.S would always have an atmosphere in which its citi"ens

could develop their untainted individual interests and outlooks when operating in the political sphere is plainly a folly. That is the current capitalistic democratic structure of the *.S works to subvert such an assumption for within it lays numerous mechanisms which operate to influence and manipulate the perceptual realm in which the multitudes reside. Employing the lenses provided by hindsight we can now observe that most cases in which a government is constructed on the principle of (ma$ority rules ) it allows for the feasibility for government or industry officials to engineer public opinion. This capacity within officials to largely determine how public opinion is shaped could engender an invisible government which possesses forms of social control less palpable to the general public than in an open dictatorship. The evolution of mass media during the ,-th century the shift towards a monopoli"ed arena of mass communication and the growth in the field of mass psychology have all provided fertile ground for the development of a homogeni"ed information culture formed by a faction of powerful individuals. The creation of the .ublic Relations /.R0 industry whose purpose was to present a more palatable view of the capitalist industry during times of potential public distrust can further attest to this postulate. The propulsion of .R1s actions display a trait common to most forms of invisible influence where the percipience of the masses is confounded to propagate the interest of powerful individuals or companies coveting economic stability and growth. If these techni#ues are applied to the social and political realms of public opinion the formula for unprecedented mental separation from the presence of significant issues structuring events policy and ideology could be set into place. To further illustrate this point I will state the words of 2erman poet 3ohann 4olfgang von 2oethe who presented

a rather precise evaluation of the underlying nature of such a political landscape. It follows5 (None are more helplessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free.) I interpret the above #uote as the notion that each individual would have to reali"e the presence of such a parado! as a first step to being capable to deconstruct any elements which could #uestion the validity of their conceit of freedom. Considering the above I intend to e!pound further how changes in information processing mass media as well as various modes of rearing public opinion can provide fuel for the rise of a secondary and unperceivable government superimposed on the one which is readily perceptible. Though the prospect of an invisible influential mechanism being implemented behind 6merica1s government can appear as an outlandish claim it is not without reason or historical basis. Evidence that can support this claim lies in writings which have been instrumental in the development and structure of the industry of public opinion. These writings provide techni#ues manuals and calls for the use of propaganda in order to influence public motives and actions. I will discuss a bloc of influential individuals who hold the belief that rulers must define manufacture and regiment the minds desires and outlooks of the masses in order to preserve the general welfare. Conversely it may also be used a function to deceptively protect the opulent interests by the means of social control. In 789, 3ames +adison e!pressed concerns pertaining to the fate of 6merica1s e!periment of democracy in which he warned of a real domination of the few under an apparent liberty of the many. /Chomsky ,--, pp.7:0 The presence of individuals acknowledging and publicly supporting such goals can be illustrated by the movement

and influence of certain 4ilsonian progressives and their work on the reason and basis for a need to engineer the consent of the masses. ;ne of the earliest leading figures in the movement of 4ilsonian progressives and work on the manufacturing of consent was a $ournalist and political commentator by the name of 4alter <ippmann. <ippmann held a firm belief that in order for democracy to function in favor of the general welfare public opinions must be conditioned and the passing of policies should be conducted through the intelligent minority. /Chomsky ,--, pp 780 It should be mentioned that reference to the intelligent minority largely refers to a group of individuals already in a situation of economic wealth who generally had investments or interests in 6merican or foreign industries. <ippmann1s writings on these issues reveal bold sentiments and views of the general public as he would often refer to them as ignorant and meddlesome outsiders who must be put in their place. 'e held that the (ignorant) masses should do no more than take on their role as spectators and preoccupy themselves with issues of s social or political significance. <ippmann defined the news as a picture of reality on which men can act. This is a very powerful concept specifically in regard to current media practices where perception can becomes e#uivalent or more powerful than truth. To the average news viewer if it wasn1t seen on T.= or in the newspapers it didn1t happen. />arnouw 7998 pp ?,0 <ippmann1s views sat well with the rest of the 4ilsonian progressives who agreed that the stupid masses must be made to abandon any dangerous ideas such as attempting to arrive at decisions independently. +oreover they believed that the masses should be inculcate with values such following orders while focusing their attention on more trivial or immaterial sub$ects. They were to be conditioned with a philosophy of

subordination which cause a great dependency on the institutions and advice of opulent individuals. /Chomsky ,--, pg. 7@%790 6n influential apprentice and follower of <ippmann1s work and vision was Edward >ernays a psychologist and nephew%in%law of Sigmund Areud whose e!pertise lay mainly in the field of mass psychology. >ernays published essays and books on the engineering of consent public relations and propaganda practices used in mass communication and mass psychology. In one of his most popular writings entitled Propaganda >ernays lays out a step%by%step manual for business and political propagandists alike which with his other work helped pave the way for the conception of the .ublic Relations industry. >ernays defines modern propaganda as a constant and prolonged effort to synthesi"e and mold events to influence the relations of the public into an enterprise group or idea. In the 79,@ book Propaganda >ernays discusses the omnipresence of propaganda in society and its e!tensive history of shaping individuals1 conception of world affairs. This is an e!tremely integral facet when dealing with dominating political images in the news which can work to create a world in their own image even when it is hypocritical or non%e!istent. />ennett ,--? pg. ?,0 >ernays emphasi"es the benefits of constructing propaganda that can act through theories of mass psychology in which massive audiences could be administered identical propagandi"ed imprints where the manipulation of group minded ideologies and simplified mass thinking could be monopoli"ed. />ernays ,--? pp. BB C B@0 We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. These invisible governors are heroic elite. 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. />ernays 79,@ pp. 780 >ernays believed that politics was actually the first big business in 6merica and that business industry had learned a great deal from its techni#ues. Aurthermore he held that the political sphere in the early Twentieth Century had failed to appreciate the lessons in the mass distribution of ideas that had been developed by the business industry to sell products in greater numbers. />ernays 79,@ pp. 7770 Conse#uently >ernays recommended using business%marketing techni#ues to address the general publics1 lack of interest in politics. 'e believed this setup provided an environment in which interest in political issues could be fi!ed by the use of coordinating campaigns and news with the personal interests of the masses revolving around emotions drama and superficiality. />ernays 79,@ pp. 7780 Similar to the work and visions of 4alter <ippmann >ernays devises formulas and guidelines in which political business and governmental interests and industries could have an unchecked capacity for manipulating the public. Interestingly although >ernays had used some of his techni#ues presented in the book previously for large business clientele he would always separate himself and his past actions of such techni#ues when mentioning their basis and means of protecting the general welfare. Throughout his career he worked for such prestigious clients as .rocter C 2amble C>S the 6merican Tobacco company 2eneral Electric and even .resident Calvin Coolidge. >ernays1 work which was lay chiefly with corporate clientele provides a more lucid picture of how his writings were used to correct various sales and image problems. />ernays 79,@ >ack Cover0 +a! 'orkheimer a social thinker from the Arankfurt School of Critical Theory poses that propaganda by nature is an act which

manipulates human. 'e warns that any propaganda presented as a means of freedom is in direct contradiction of itself for the fact that it is mendacious by nature. 'orkheimer concludes that true resistance can only be carried out sans propaganda as it is inherently antihuman. /'orkheimer C 6dorno 79B8 pp ,7,0 The impact of these propaganda and public opinion practices on the motives and sub$ective realities of individuals is #uite evident although the e!act role it plays in the development of the business and media industries is more dynamic. To penetrate the effects of such manipulation methods in present society the paper will ne!t e!amine specific changes in the structure standards and interests of the media industry. Since the 4ilsonian progressive movements in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century there have been crucial changes in the industry technology the presentation of media content in relation to the demands for higher and competing ratings. Technological advancements such as the television and movie theater have changed the way information is analy"ed and processed by individuals. The news mediums of the past which were accessed through the processing of te!t allowed greater e!tents of material to be covered since the readers could read at their own pace rather than the industry having to cram the content into a fi!ed programming slot. The new technologies mentioned above had an immediate effect on emergence of news consolidation fragmentation and condensed sound bits of depthless proportions by the stipulations of economic and time constraints by the media industry. 6mericans1 cultural habits of prioriti"ing pleasure and in some cases supplanting pleasure with truth along with the low costs needed to produce soft news7 reports has had a dramatic impact on the
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Soft News is cheaper to produce than hard news and is emotional and immediate in nature. It needs no $ustification beyond grabbing the viewer1s attention and pleasing the media company1s investors and stockholders #uotas. Soft news whether intentional or not does act to distract the masses from stories that would rock the boat such as corporate or political corruption.

amount of political and social hard news,. />ennett ,--? pp 7,0 To illustrate a study showed a ?:D decrease in stories with public policy content on T= newspapers maga"ines between 79@- and 7999 and a decrease from a B:D prevalence of international news on network T= in the 798-Es to only 7?.: percent in 799:. />ennett ,--? pp 7?0 The foundation for media standards has also undergone prolonged changes. Fews once had to compete for viewer ratings by creating a source for the most informative material. 'owever the burgeoning popularity in the field of mass communication brought entertainment and media into peoples1 living rooms by means of twenty%four hour access to hundreds of channels merging entertainment news interest and passive escapism into a single electronic bo!. There lies illogicality in assuming that all content accessed from T= media is processed analy"ed and rationali"ed in a vacuum. It became evident that $ust as people learned to process movies or T= shows strictly in the role of a spectator who might possess possible emotional connections with a character in the story news would be presented and processed in a very similar fashion. In the fragmented nature of corporate mass communication in which the viewer is treated as a spectator programming which contains holes in the progression of prior conte!t leading up to an event could appear concealed or be ignored when processed by the viewer in a comfortable manner. This can be facilitated through the belief that everything they are re#uired to know will be e!plained to them by the end of the program regardless of the degree of such holes. This type of processing bears great resemblance to that which is used when processing movies which typically do not move in a linear fashion.

Hard News is defined as what an informed person in society should know. It is generally useful information which contains some public policy content and often costs more to produce than soft news.

/'orkheimer C 6dorno 79B8 pp 7,B%7,80 The conse#uence of material condensing and fragmentation parallels the way politics or even trivial issues are anticipated presented and processed. This is especially troubling when considered in con$unction how agenda setting imprints what is socially and politically relevant given the fre#uent appearance or dramati"ation of specific issues. 6s mentioned earlier the content which is not shown can be $ust as effective in strengthening the function of agenda setting. The usual @%7minute period devoted to politics in the nightly news that generally airs after the crime and punishment reports sports weather and e!tents of talking head chatter will present multiple short sound bits which does great in$ustice to the intent and material being reported. Aor instance if the current mass media were to run a typical ?- second sound bit of the 2ettysburg 6ddress how well could it be representedG 6nd you1re told that this is everything you need to knowG This leads to the ne!t section of this paper which will deal with formulas in news and media presentation that interact with the already fragmented basis of media. >ernays discusses how integral it is for politicians to sell their image through the news in a democratic nation. In addition through his research in reaction psychology >ernays proposed that any stimulus which is often repeated would create mental customs and through the means of reiterating the concept it could mold specific convictions. In the news the politicians have the power of providing or withholding information and thus have the ability to effectively censor or propagate political news. />ernays 79,@ pp 7,-0 *nder such a practice the use of soft news would be beneficial to satiate rating demands while protecting economic or political interests in which the blacked out occurrences can be processed as ine!istent based on its denial from news coverage. 6lthough there are

many political uses of information filtering or depthless dramati"ation over time there have been economic implications which helped further competition between media stations to be the first or best in covering such soft news stories. Aurthermore the culture present in the *nited States already places disproportionate value on the drive for pleasure or pleasure as truth. 4ith this in mind it is not unlikely that the growing presence of soft news could become fascinating to a greater e!tent than crucial and socially significant news. It is also possible that harsh realities or social significant hard news which targets certain policies war events or situations could come across to the audience as a downer even if the knowledge of such events could help rectify or ameliorate situations. These customs and habits seem to mirror the techni#ues presented by the 4ilsonian progressives in which the general public should be separated as much as needed from the social and political realms. This is done while engineering public motives which prefer to focus on superficial material that helps boost the materialism of the industry or provide pleasure from surface material. It has gotten to the point where large portions of the public have become entrenched in the escapism of superficiality and pleasure. This has presented a situation where media directors running soft news can rationali"e their actions on the grounds of providing what the viewers want irrespective of its impact on social consciousness. 6s a conse#uence the news has become a means of transforming problems into political spectacles. Serious debate is stifled while the creation of circumstances in which an appetite for swift dramatic resolutions on behalf of the viewers can be orchestrated. ! when infor"ation which #ro#erly belongs to the #ublic is withheld by those in #ower$ the #eo#le soon beco"e ignorant of their own affairs$ distrustful of those

who "anage the"$ and$ eventually$ inca#able of deter"ining their own destinies.% & 'ichard Ni(on There are obvious political costs to dramati"ed news. 4hen such events are present there is an increasing tendency to substitute or run the story through manufactured drama. />ennett ,--? pp H80 6n infatuation with dramati"ed news can create another predicament in which news organi"ation could look for the most e!treme cases over those that are most represented. Dramati"ed news stories are also very simple in concept or develop an emotional attachment in the viewer. >y virtue of the emotional influence common in soft dramati"ed news the story is often presented where semblance and insight of individual motives behind actions are presented. This can imbue viewers with misguided feelings of understanding the politics of the situation. 6s such the viewers can believe they were presented and grasp the important #ualities and meanings of a story when in fact their conception is a product of fantasy fiction and myth which often are present through out the different forms of propaganda. Dramati"ation can also function around crime or issues linked to the promotion of fear and fearful reactions. This techni#ue can present the false appearance of a reasonable course of action which in real life could be an unworkable solution or goal. />ennett ,--? pp H90 2ood e!amples of such promises can be seen in the lead up to the Ira# war where the 6merican people were told that they will look back on this war with pride and satisfactionI not to mention the think tank claims that the war would most likely be over within a day and week. 4e now know that such claims are far from the reality. In this same way a ma$ority of the achievements proclaimed by the current *.S administration now show no weight in the reality of the present world. 6n e!ample is the J+ission 6ccomplishedJ speech 2. 4.

>ush made years prior to our current and consistently unwelcomed presence in Ira#. In short the news is not $ust a medium that reports events that influence people1s decisions and outlooks it is an event itself and given different forms of presentation censorship and basis of what topics and events are important it can produce perceived events of real situations separate from actual occurrences. />ennett ,--? pp 7:80 To conclude the formation of an invisible government is not only a logical possibility but one which can be achieved through various modes which are already present in our culture. >y the use of mass psychology and propaganda discussed above those in positions of economic political and corporate influence or control over what content is presented to the general public play a considerable role in actuating this possibility. The general publics1 motives outlooks and modes of ratiocination constitute a foundation which is conducive to the employment of propaganda. The notion that deceptively simplistic propaganda compiled by the prestigious few is a trustworthy tool which is crucial to the well being of the general public in a democracy appears to be a pragmatic ploy in the interests of the few who propose it. Arom =ietnam the Iran contra and gulf wars the propaganda used to engineer as well as conceal the debacle of such wars demonstrates how the level of dramati"ed and emotionally manipulative symbolic images of persuasion are nothing more than hypocritical misguidance. The ability of the mass media to adopt a policy of prompt self%admission and regulation on manipulative and corrupt practices is an ideal that is rarely witnessed or e!pected by the public in the light of mass media1s history. The unlikelihood of enacting and following through with such actions is largely on the economic interests of investors and stockholders who e!pect certain profit #uotas. The maintenance of these #uotas greatly depends on the trust

and continued viewing of their audience. In short the media is an industry run and catered towards economic profit and competition. Sadly with the willful decline in significant and non%dramati"ed news the media like many dominant businesses in the capitalist framework will go to almost any e!tent of adverse modifications needed to protect their own interests. The consolidated interests and ownership of the mass media in the twenty first century seems to deconstruct values and standards crucial to an informed and non%partisan general public in the favor of paying back and keeping the investors and stockholders who serve as a crucial economic backbone. Such changes in media help negate the functionality of the free and open discourse of significant issues which is imperative to the protection of a democratic society which operates in favor of the general welfare even in governments conducted by prestige elites.

)'eferences* 7. Chomsky Foam Robert 4 +cChesney. ;ur +edia Fot Theirs /Ch. Renewing Tom .aine1s Challenge0. Canada5 ;pen +edia ,--,. ,. >ernays Edwards. .ropaganda. Few Kork5 '. <iveright 79,@. ?. >ennett 4. <. Fews5 The .olitics of Illusion. >oston5 <ongman ,--?.

B. 'orkheimer +a! Theodor 4. 6dorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. :th ed. Stanford C65 Stanford *niversity .ress ,--,. :. >arnouw Erik. Conglomerates and the +edia /Ch. The Corporate Takeover of Fews0. Few Kork5 The Few .ress 799@.