“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”
― Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays
The lessons of history from the 20th century onward are writ large with telling facts and insights about mind manipulation, propaganda and brainwashing for those who can see. While the various religions via for the right to be regarded as “THE Truth” , a much more pernicious and damaging form of thought control has been unleashed on the masses in utter disregard of truth claims, and the dignity of the person whose mind is to be persuaded.
While it is fashionable to talk about “religious brainwashing”, the real animus toward thinking, autonomous, responsible human beings is the corporate-government-media complex that has been manufacturing thought in this country for approximately 100 years. A brainwashing definition is not needed to realize the dangers involved in this kind of thought control.
In 1958 Aldous Huxley wrote, Brave New World Revisited. Read his description of the final revolution below.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution”
— Aldous Huxley
This blog post will examine quotes from Brave New World Revisited and provide some commentary (My comments in bold and italics). Hopefully the reader will be spurned to pick up a copy or read it for free online.
The Philosophical Starting Point For Modern Brainwashing Techniques
The masses are utterly contemptible. They are not able to think adequately for themselves in a complex society. An educated elite should appeal to the masses’ subconscious fears and anxieties and manipulate them toward the good of society as determined by this same elite. This was the philosophy embraced at the start of the 20th century, by numerous elite thinkers
All effective propaganda,” Hitler wrote, “must be confined to a few bare necessities and then must be expressed in a few stereotyped formulas.” These stereotyped formulas must be constantly repeated, for “only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea upon the memory of a crowd.” Philosophy teaches us to feel uncertain about the things that seem to us self-evident. Propaganda, on the other hand, teaches us to accept as self-evident matters about which it would be reasonable to suspend our judgment or to feel doubt.
Constant repetition through commercials, TV programming, news, government sources, public schooling, movies, Scientific organizations
In Hitler’s words, the propagandist should adopt “a systematically one-sided attitude towards every problem that has to be dealt with.” He must never admit that he might be wrong or that people with a different point of view might be even partially right.
Think diversity, climate change, gun control, immigration, Obamacare etc.
Opponents should not be argued with; they should be attacked, shouted down, or, if they become too much of a nuisance, liquidated. The morally squeamish intellectual may be shocked by this kind of thing. But the masses are always convinced that “right is on the side of the active aggressor.”
This is on display almost everyday on the nightly news or cable programs
Great Question – Will We Be Able to Think In the Future?
From his point of view and at the level where he had chosen to do his dreadful work, Hitler was perfectly correct in his estimate of human nature. To those of us who look at men and women as individuals rather than as members of crowds, or of regimented collectives, he seems hideously wrong. In an age of accelerating over-population, of accelerating over-organization and ever more efficient means of mass communication, how can we preserve the integrity and reassert the value of the human individual?
This is a question that can still be asked and perhaps effectively answered.
A generation from now it may be too late to find an answer and perhaps impossible, in the stifling collective climate of that future time, even to ask
Every 10 years a generation raised in comparative freedom from group think dies off. How much longer before free thought itself dies off and all that remains is indoctrination?
Government Brainwashing: Reality Of The Political Contest In 21st Century
Human beings act in a great variety of irrational ways, but all of them seem to be capable, if given a fair chance, of making a reasonable choice in the light of available evidence. Democratic institutions can be made to work only if all concerned do their best to impart knowledge and to encourage rationality. But today, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the politicians and their propagandists prefer to make nonsense of democratic procedures by appealing almost exclusively to the ignorance and irrationality of the electors. “Both parties,” we were told in 1956 by the editor of a leading business journal, “will merchandize their candidates and issues by the same methods that business has developed to sell goods. These include scientific selection of appeals and planned repetition. . . . Radio spot announcements and ads will repeat phrases with a planned intensity. Billboards will push slogans of proven power. . . . Candidates need, in addition to rich voices and good diction, to be able to look ‘sincerely’ at the TV camera.”
The political merchandisers appeal only to the weaknesses of voters, never to their potential strength. They make no attempt to educate the masses into becoming fit for self-government; they are content merely to manipulate and exploit them. For this purpose all the resources of psychology and the social sciences are mobilized and set to work. Carefully selected samples of the electorate are given “interviews in depth.” These interviews in depth reveal the unconscious fears and wishes most prevalent in a given society at the time of an election. Phrases and images aimed at allaying or, if necessary, enhancing these fears, at satisfying these wishes, at least symbolically, are then chosen by the experts, tried out on readers and audiences, changed or improved in the light of the information thus obtained. After which the political campaign is ready for the mass communicators. All that is now needed is money and a candidate who can be coached to look “sincere.” Under the new dispensation, political principles and plans for specific action have come to lose most of their importance. The personality of the candidate and the way he is projected by the advertising experts are the things that really matter.
In one way or another, as vigorous he-man or kindly father, the candidate must be glamorous. He must also be an entertainer who never bores his audience. Inured to television and radio, that audience is accustomed to being distracted and does not like to be asked to concentrate or make a prolonged intellectual effort. All speeches by the entertainer-candidate must therefore be short and snappy. The great issues of the day must be dealt with in five minutes at the most — and preferably (since the audience will be eager to pass on to something a little livelier than inflation or the H-bomb) in sixty seconds flat. The nature of oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among politicians and clergymen to over-simplify complex issues. From a pulpit or a platform even the most conscientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth. The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.
Is this not an exact description of our horribly corrupt political process?
How to Unplug From the Brainwashing Effects
The effects of false and pernicious propaganda cannot be neutralized except by a thorough training in the art of analyzing its techniques and seeing through its sophistries.
Pay close attention to the following…
In some way of which we are wholly unconscious, the reticular system of the brain selects from a countless host of stimuli those few experiences which are of practical importance to us. From these unconsciously selected experiences we more or less consciously select and abstract a smaller number, which we label with words from our vocabulary and then classify within a system at once metaphysical, scientific and ethical, made up of other words on a higher level of abstraction.
In cases where the selecting and abstracting have been dictated by a system that is not too erroneous as a view of the nature of things, and where the verbal labels have been intelligently chosen and their symbolic nature clearly understood, our behavior is apt to be realistic and tolerably decent.
But under the influence of badly chosen words, applied, without any understanding of their merely symbolic character, to experiences that have been selected and abstracted in the light of a system of erroneous ideas, we are apt to behave with a fiendishness and an organized stupidity, of which dumb animals (precisely because they are dumb and cannot speak) are blessedly incapable.
Example-Labeling unconstitutional government theft from one group of citizens to provide for another group of citizens as “Fairness”.
All Democracies Will change Their Nature
Under the relentless thrust of accelerating overpopulation and increasing over-organization, and by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms — elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest — will remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial — but democracy and freedom in a strictly Pickwickian sense. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.
Huxley wrote this in 1958. What ruling oligarchy was he talking about? What thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators are running the show behind the scenes as they see fit?
Distractions: The Bad News
A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.
Wake Up – Government brainwashing is already here on a daily basis. Will you live and die a free thinker or live in, to quote Huxley, the “painless concentration camp”-happy to have your needs met, distracted and oblivious.