Rule from the Shadows – The Psychology of Power – Part 1
“Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”
-President Woodrow Wilson in his book the “The New Freedom” published in 1913
The quest for power is the primary driving force of history, always has been, always will be. Those who fail to recognize this principle are not spared in the grand chess game, but rather are moved and manipulated by forces that they do not understand.
From the perspective of those who dominate the board it is obviously preferable to have a population of ignorant pawns than it is to have an array of opponents which are capable of mounting an effective resistance. To that end it has always been in the interest of the ruling class to cultivate illusions which obscure the true nature of the game.
Elizabeth Sikorovsky: “Manufacturing Consent, What is that is that title meant to describe?”
Noam Chomsky: “Well the title is actually borrowed from a book by Walter Lippmann written back around 1921, in which he described what he called the manufacture of consent as a revolution in the practice of democracy. What it amounts to is a technique of control, and he said this was useful and necessary because the common interests, the general concerns of all people elude the public. The public just isn’t up to dealing with them, and they have to be the domain of what he called a specialized class.”
Walter Lippmann wasn’t speaking theoretically, nor was he commenting on a phenomenon that he had observed from a distance, he was part of that specialized class and he personally influenced the development of this new technique of control.
So what was this new technique that Lippmann was referring to?
The answer to that question takes us back to the beginning of World War I. In 1917 Woodrow Wilson formed the Committee on Public Information, also known as the CPI. It was a propaganda agency and it’s purpose was to build support for the war with the American people. The CPI, run by a man named George Creel was known for its crude tactics, blatant exaggerations and outright lies. However one member of the CPI, Edward Bernays, had a much more subtle approach. Rather than resorting to low brow tactics Bernays studied the mindset of the American people, then based on his observations he created a campaign to promote the idea that America’s purpose in the war was to “make the world safe for democracy”. This meme was wildly successful, so much so that continues to be used even to this day.
Edward Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, and like his uncle he was avid student of human psychology. Some documentarians such as Adam Curtis in his film “The Century of the Self” have mistakenly assumed that the psychological techniques that Bernays went on to develop were merely the practical application of Freud’s theories. However, though Freud had a significant influence on his nephew, the reality of the matter is that he was not the source of these ideas.
Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann all subscribed to a school of thought that was first put forth in 1895 by a French social psychologist named Gustave Le Bon. Le Bon wrote several books, the famous of which was entitled “Psychologie des Foules”. It was translated into English as “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”.
“The Crowd” was a revolutionary piece of work. In it Le Bon not only presented an in depth description of group psychology and how it differed from individual psychology but he also outlined a very simple set of principles that enable leaders to spark ideological contagion and thereby rise to power.
Hitler, Goebbels, and Mussolini all studied Le Bon’s writings and applied his techniques to the letter. The results they attained were precisely those that Le Bon claimed that they would have. Funny how they leave that little detail out of most history books don’t you think?
Sigmund Freud’s book “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego” was in fact a direct critique of the writings of Gustave Le Bon and William McDougall which focused on the relationship between individual psychology and group psychology, and explained how human groups can be controlled for long periods of time through the manipulation of group identity, belief systems and social structures.
Edward Bernays studied Freud, Le Bon, Wilfred Trotter, Walter Lippmann and many others. He then combined their perspectives and synthesized them into an applied science. He named that science public relations.
The success of his “make the world safe for democracy” meme during the war, both at home and abroad, planted the seed of an idea in his mind. Could group psychology tactics be applied during peacetime? After the Committee on Public Information was disbanded he decided to find out, and in 1919 he opened the world’s first pubic relations agency. He referred to his office as The Council on Public Relations.
This was Bernays’ specialty, engineering social trends for clients, and he was very, very good at it. Perception was now a commodity for sale to the highest bidder.
Bernays aided the CIA and United Fruit Company (known today as Chiquita Brands International) in a successful campaign to topple a democratically elected Guatemalan government in 1954, he headed up the public relations campaign to garner support for the fluoridation of municipal water supplies on behalf of the aluminum mining Alcoa Inc, who was looking for a cheap way to dispose of their industrial waste, and he even helped a company convince the American public to eat heavier breakfasts so that they would buy more bacon.
What made Bernays so successful was his skill in applying of 3 psychological tactics:
1. Creating carefully calculated associations with the subconscious fears and desires of individuals.
2. Influencing opinion leaders and perceived authority figures in order to reach those who followed them.
3. Initiating the contagion of behaviors and ideas through social conformity.
Bernays wrote several books promoting these psychological tactics including “Propaganda” and “Crystalizing Public Opinion”. In these books he specifically encouraged governments and corporations to use his methodology to manipulate public perception.
This suggestion did not fall on deaf ears.
His techniques worked so well that they were adopted by virtually every sector that sought to influence the public: media, politics, advertising, even the military. As Walter Lippmann had indicated, it was a revolution.
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, found Bernays’ approach very useful. Bernays acknowledged this fact in his 1965 autobiography entitled “Biography of an Idea” where he wrote:
“Karl von Wiegand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Wiegand his propaganda library, the best Wiegand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Wiegand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. … Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.” (Biography of an Idea, page 652)
The events that transpired in Nazi Germany stunned the world and they inspired several prominent psychologists to investigate how populations are convinced to commit atrocities. In the process they inadvertently established the science behind Le Bon’s and Bernays’ methods.
In 1951 psychologist Solomon Asch set out to study and measure the effects and causes of social conformity and its ability to alter perception. To do so he ran a series of experiments in which he asked groups of students to participate in what he told them was a “vision test.” In reality, all but one of the participants in each test were were actually actors, each of whom had been prepped to give specific answers at specific times.
The subjects were shown a card with a line on it, followed by another card with 3 lines on it labeled 1, 2, and 3. They were then asked which line in the second card matched the line on the first card in length. The lines were made in such a way that correct answer was obvious.
Each member of the group was asked to give their response one at a time, and the “real” participant always answered last or next to last. For the first two trials the actors gave the obvious, correct answer, however beginning on the third trial, they would all give the same wrong answer. The goal was to ascertain how many people would conform to the perception of those around them when the group’s position contradicted their own senses.
The results surprised Asch. He had believed that the majority of participants would not conform and give an answer that was obviously wrong; however, results showed that 37% of people would conform to the crowd consistently and 75% conformed at least some of the time.
Asch was uncertain as to whether this conformity was limited to social compliance or whether it was actually influencing perception at the neurological level.
In 2005 neuroscientist Gregory Berns sought to answer this question. Berns created a variation of Asch’s experiment, this time measuring brain wave activity during the test to determine at what level of the brain this conformity was taking place. The results showed very clearly that the Occipital and Parietal lobes were the most active when the participants were answering incorrectly. This meant that conformity was actually altering the perception of the test subjects at the neurological level.
Take a moment and register what that means. Social conformity literally causes the brain to rewrite our reality. Keep in mind these tests were conducted using subject matter that was physically verifiable. Imagine the implications for matters of opinion or faith.
In 1961 Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, conducted a series of experiments which measured the willingness of individuals to obey authority figures.
In the experiment test subjects were placed in a scenario where they were led to believe that when they flipped a switch an electric shock was being delivered to a person in the adjacent room. They were then ordered by a man in a white jacket claiming to be the official scientist in charge to ask the person in the next room a series of questions. If they received an incorrect response they were to punish them by flipping the switch thereby administering a shock.
As the test progressed the voltage level was steadily increased and the screams from the next room became more and more desperate, begging to stop the test and stating multiple times that they had a heart condition.
Many of the subjects expressed hesitation about continuing with the experiment upon hearing the person in other room scream and beg for help. Those that did were informed by the scientist that they had no choice but to continue. No consequences were threatened, yet just this assertion was usually enough to achieve compliance.
Under the influence of an apparent authority figure 50 to 65% of subjects continued administering the shocks even up to the maximum 450 volt shock. They even continued after the person in the other room stopped screaming which indicated that they were unconscious or dead.
The Milgram authority experiment has been repeated numerous times over the years, using individuals from a wide range of economic and social backgrounds and the conclusions are always consistent. The aura of authority exercises an almost irresistible force over the human mind, easily overriding core morals and ethics. Even more shocking is the fact that no legitimate authority is necessary. Appearances suffice.
“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.”
– Edward Bernays – “Propaganda” 1928
The invisible government that Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays, and Woodrow Wilson had referred to was not just an abstract concept. It was a very real and concrete reality, and they were were well positioned to comment on it, because they directly participated in its creation.
It all started as an inquiry. “The Inquiry.” to the select few who knew, was a group of 150 men assembled by Woodrow Wilson to gather the data they thought necessary to “make the world safe for democracy” after World War I was over.
Among the known members of the inquiry were Walter Lippmann, Paul Warburg (better known as the father of the Federal Reserve), and Edward House, Wilson’s closest advisor, the man responsible for convincing Wilson to sign the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.
From 1917 to 1918, the group compiled over 2000 documents to be used during postwar negotiations. The most famous of these was the 14 points document, authored by Walter Lippmann, which proposed the creation of the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations.
After the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 a portion of the Inquiry met at the Hotel Majestic with a number of British diplomats to discuss forming a permanent institution. This meeting eventually led to the decision to join forces with a group of high-ranking officers of banking, manufacturing, trading and finance companies led by Elihu Root, a powerful corporate lawyer who was also a former United States Secretary of War, and leading advocate of Americas entry into the World War I. On July 29, 1921 the merged group filed a certification of incorporation, officially forming the Council on Foreign Relations, also known as the CFR.
The CFR, went on to build a membership comprised of the worlds most powerful business leaders, politicians and corporations. Among the corporate members are Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP Oil, General Electric, Raytheon, Lockhead Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Bloomberg, Rothschild North America, and Dyncorp international. You can find a complete list on the CFR website.
John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under president Eisenhower, is listed as one of the founding members of the CFR on their own website. It was Dulles that convinced Eisenhower to use the CIA to topple the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. The Shah, a puppet who was installed to take his place, was a brutal dictator. He enjoyed full support from the U.S. government until he was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Dulles was also the man behind the 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala. And remember Bernays ran the propaganda for that operation. The tactic Bernays chose was to convince the public that the Guatemalan government was backed by the Soviets.
Bernays’ tactic worked even though the Soviet Union didn’t even have diplomatic relations with Guatemala at that time.
Once again Bernays set a trend, and for the next 40 years the U.S. government would use the specter of communism to justify invasions and covert operations around the globe.
Another member of the CFR McGeorge Bundy was National Security advisor under Kennedy and then under Lyndon B. Johnson. He was also the man responsible for encouraging the escalation of the Vietnam War. A prospect that Kennedy opposed and would not have allowed had he lived. This is according to documents written by Bundy himself.
President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger is also a member of the council. Kissinger was the man behind the CIA coup which overthrew the democratically elected president of Chile Salvador Allende. The puppet they installed in Allende’s place, Augusto Pinochet, was another brutal dictator who tortured and killed thousands of his own citizens. The U.S. government politely looked the other way.
Carter’s National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski is also a member of the council.
It was Zbigniew Brzezinski who was behind the funding and arming of mujahideen in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A tactic designed to incite the Soviets to invade. These islamic militants later came to be known as the Taliban.
In this clip Hillary claims that the U.S. funded what they now call Al Quaeda in response to the Soviet invasion of 1979. However Zbigniew Brzezinski himself admitted in a 1998 interview with the Le Nouvel Observateur that the U.S. began funding the insurgents before the invasion and that this in fact was designed to draw the Soviets in.
Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisors Richard V. Allen and Robert C. McFarlane are also members of the council as was his Secretary of State George Shultz. George Shultz was behind the attempted overthrow of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. This was part of the Iran Contra scandal. The Contras which Reagan and Shultz were arming and training through the CIA, killed, tortured, raped, mutilated, and abducted hundreds of civilians they suspect of sympathizing with the Sandinistas. Yet when the scandal broke the media put all of the focus on the source of the funding for the operation rather than on the crimes that were being committed with that money.
George H. W. Bush was a director of the CFR from 1977-79 and his Secretary of State James Baker is a current member.
You might remember this clip from 2012 where Baker and Clinton Joked about the plan to take out Iran.
Kinda sounds like an inside joke doesn’t it?
One year after this interview the Obama administration attempted to initiate an attack on the Syrian government. This was designed to draw in Iran which has a mutual defense agreement with Syria. Obama took an indirect route by funding and arming militants, who then committed atrocities and blamed them on government forces. Sound familiar? Perhaps that’s because Zbigniew Brezinski was Obama’s personal mentor.
Bill Clinton is also a member of the Council, and his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright is currently serving on the Board of Directors.
Madeline Albright was in charge of the sanctions on Iraq that were in place during the entire Clinton administration.
Colin Powell, who led the charge to war with Iraq by presenting false evidence to the U.N. in 2003 is also currently on the CFR board of directors.
George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are also members of the CFR.
Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, was the man behind the banker bailouts in 2008. Goldman Sachs, which just happens to be a corporate member of the CFR was one of the primary beneficiaries of that bailout.
Another CFR member Robert Gates, was Secretary of Defense under both Bush and Obama.
Obama’s first National Security Advisor James L. Jones is a CFR member, as is Obama’s second National Security advisor Tom Donilon, his 3rd National Security advisor Susan Rice, his second Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, his first Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as was his first Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. John Kerry, Obama’s second Secretary of State, acknowledged that he was a member of the CFR in a speech given at the Council in 2003 but he is no longer listed in the official roster.
In the Senate Diane Feinstein is listed as a member, as is John Mccain, Joe Lieberman and former Senator Christopher Dodd. Christopher Dodd is currently the president of the Motion Picture Association of America in that role he was the driving force behind the SOPA and PIPA internet bills.
Three out of six of the current board members of the Federal Reserve, Daniel Tarullo, Jerome Powell, and Janet Yellen are all publicly listed as members of the Council.
This cozy relationship between the Federal Reserve and the CFR goes back to the very beginning. Paul Warburg was a founder of both organizations and he held positions in both of them concurrently. He was a director of the Council from its creation in 1921 until his death in 1932 and he served on the Federal Reserve board From 1921 to 1926.
His son James Warburg, who was also a CFR member, is most famous for the statement he made before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on February 17, 1950 in which he said, “We shall have world government, whether or not we like it. The question is only whether world government will be achieved by consent or by conquest.”
Caroll Quigley was an author and professor of history at Georgetown University. He was also a personal mentor of President Bill Clinton.
Quigley served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, the Smithsonian Institution, and the House Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration. He was not a fringe lunatic by any stretch of the imagination, but was in fact a respected member of the establishment. That’s what makes the statements he made in his book “Tragedy and Hope” so significant.
“Tragedy and Hope” was a dense and highly detailed historical volume which covered world history from 1914, with an emphasis on analyzing of the driving forces of civilization. The book was completely uncontroversial, that is until you get to the middle where he makes the following statement:
“There does exist and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates to some extent in the way the Radical Right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960s, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.”
Quigley specifically identified the CFR and the Institute of International Affairs as key hubs in this Round Table network and he confirmed its close relationship to banking and finance.
The Institute of International Affairs, also known as the Chatham house is the sister organization of the CFR. It was created in 1920 by the British diplomats who attended the meeting at the Hotel Majestic in Paris in 1919. There are chapters of the Institute of International Affairs in Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Finland, Hungary, Sweden, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, Japan and in other countries as well.
The secret to the power the Council on Foreign Relations and the other round table groups wield lies in a clever application of the techniques that Bernays developed.
They target individual psychology by cultivating a sense of exclusivity and prestige which plays upon people’s desire to feel important and powerful. This is how they attract new members.
Like Bernays they manipulate the public indirectly by targeting opinion leaders and authority figures. By influencing their membership, which is comprised of men and women in the highest levels of government, business and finance they hijack the phenomenon observed in the Milgram Authority experiments while bypassing the electoral process. Most of the meetings held at the CFR are run under Chatham house rules meaning that the ideas discussed there may be used and spread by those present but no one is allowed to mention where those ideas came from.
These closed door discussions and their exclusive membership process work together to engineer the phenomenon demonstrated in the Asch conformity experiments. New members must be nominated by an existing member, seconded by three members and approved by board of directors. This process ensures that ideological continuity is maintained as social conformity brings new members into line with the group.
It’s important to remember that wealth, social status and official positions of power do not reduce the effects of group psychology.
To put it in simple terms the politicians aren’t calling the shots. They’re puppets. Voting the bums out doesn’t work, and now you know why.
Even if we remove every single corrupt oligarch from the councils of government we will end up right back in the same situation unless we deal with the psychological underpinnings of our enslavement.
But how do we do that? How do we reach the group mind and shake the crowd from its slumber?
Group psychology is a weapon and like all weapons it is capable of being used for good or for evil. For many years it has been in the wrong hands. It has been hidden from the public and used against them. It’s time for the people to pick up that weapon and use it to free themselves.
Time to start studying.
Read Gustave Le Bon’s books: “The Crowd” and “The Psychology of Revolution”.
Read Edward Bernays’ books: “Propaganda” and “Crystalizing Public Opinion”.
And read Gene Sharp’s books: “From Dictatorship to Democracy” and “National Security Through Civilian-Based Defense”
Learn the theory. Learn the techniques and start using them to spread the truth rather than hiding it. Start using them to prevent wars rather than start them. Start using them to stop the militarization of the police and to end the surveillance state. Use them to bring this corporate mafia to its knees.
To some of you this might be a bit frightening. This is dangerous stuff. These are ideological m-16s with boxes of ammunition.
If even a few motivated individuals started using these techniques effectively it could seriously disrupt the balance of power.
But that’s exactly what’s needed.
I challenge you to look around. Look at the state of the world. Look at where these psychopaths are taking us. If you do not feel the imperative to change the course we are on, then you are not paying attention.
To be continued (Parts 2 and 3 are already under way).
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