Thursday, May 21, 2020

Propaganda or Education; Patriot or Traitor; Riot or Protest?

 In one of many examples of how he knew the herd better than it knows itself, Edward Bernays, the man who took "propaganda" and rebranded it "public relations,"pointed out in the late 20's that whether you perceive something as "propaganda" or "education" depends upon what you've adopted to explain the world for you: your belief system; which god you worship. That's shamefully self-evident and explains why most are, almost literally, physically unable to consume "their" "news."

Whether you would have seen our 18th century mobs as "patriots" or "traitors" depended upon the same thing: chosen identity and an adopted perspective skewed by subjective "faith." Stampeding herd dynamics functioned the same in Boston and Philadelphia as in Paris, Moscow, Havana, and Berlin. The difference between these four and ours is that our founders understood and feared the mob. They attempted to straddle saddling a temporarily useful but snarling and unpredictably dangerous beast with long-term stability and "liberty." 

The French? They failed miserably. The other three didn't give a frog's fat ass about individual freedom. Lenin, Hitler, and Castro rode their Dragon to King's Landing then turned it on "the people." Including many of those who had helped them storm the political castle but quickly proved insufficiently pure when it came time to subdue the agitated flock for their own purposes. "Revolutions devour their young."

The Tyranny of the Majority deserves far more consideration than it gets. Our founders wrote things like the electoral college and indirect democracy into the Constitution because they didn't want future generations becoming the political prey of the beast they, themselves, rode to glory.
What can happen if "the multitude, the vulgar, the herd, the rabble" maintain such open defiance of authority? -John Adams, 1774

"In times of such commotion as the present, while the passions of men are worked up to an uncommon pitch, there is great danger of fatal extremes. The same state of the passions which fits the multitude, who have not a sufficient stock of reason and knowledge to guide them, for opposition to tyranny and oppression, very naturally leads them to a contempt and disregard of all authority. The due medium is hardly to be found among the more intelligent. It is almost impossible among the unthinking populace. When the minds of these are loosened from their attachment to ancient establishments and courses, they seem to grow giddy and are apt more or less to run into anarchy." -Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, 1775
LeBon, Freud, Lippmann, Mencken, Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Ellul, McLuhan, Postman, Haidt, Carr: they all spoke to The Stampeding Herd in various ways. Who's not? Who never will? Those exploiting it, and you, politically or financially; your media and your carnival barking political rabble rousers.

Seekers > Preachers; truth won't be found inside any stable disguised as some real or metaphorical temple. Your intellectual autonomy is completely up to you.