How to Eat an Elephant - Propaganda - Introduction

This book is a great starting point to understand the nature of the modern world. It is a short and easy read, written in common language, that anyone can easily understand. The only difficulty is in actually accepting and digesting what I can only inadequately describe as the sinister implication of the work.

It should also be noted that while this book is at the foundation of a much larger body of work that we will explore in the coming months, it is not the very beginning nor is it alone in prescribing the manipulation of the masses. Other authors and works, many even predating this one, include:

  • “Poison” Ivy Lee

    • The principal competitor to Bernays and the originator of modern crisis communications.

    • Employed by the Rockefellers to diffuse the public outrage after the Ludlow Massacre, a coal miner strike where 21 people were killed.

    • He paved the way to create a more humanized portrayal of Rockefeller (John D. Jr).

    • This feels much like how Bill Gates rebranded himself from monopolist into philantropist.

  • George Creel

    • Head of the Committee on Public Information (CPI, a propaganda organization created by President Wilson during WW1.

    • Creel was ostensibly anti-censorship, but under his direction censored “dangerous” and “unfavorable” news about the war.

    • At the end of WW1, the CPI was regarded as the greatest public relations effort in history.

  • Walter Lippmann

    • In one of his books, Public Opinion (1922), Lippmann called for a government propaganda machine to lead the bewildered masses.

    • He was a proponent of an elite ruling class that would guide the nation.

    • Later in life he changed his opinions and thought that the masses would be able to overcome the complexities of modern life. On this point he debated John Dewey.

These men are all interesting in their own regard, but we must begin somewhere and the simplicity and directness of this book offers a respectable jumping off point.

I encourage everyone interested to read the work for yourself and use these lectures as a supplement to understanding, but I realize that most people simply do not have the time to dive into the works I’ll be covering and I will do my best to present an adequate condensation of the material.

Further, I expect there can be classified two types of people that might be watching this now. First the so-called conspiracy theorists, who will likely find confirmation of what they have already suspected. Second would be those that are only starting to see some of the cracks in the Mainstream, of maybe more accurately called Legacy, Media. If you fall into the latter category, much of what will be cover might not be particularly easy to swallow. I assure you thought that the language in this and the forthcoming lectures will leave little to the imagination. People like Bernays and his followers (witting or otherwise) have written extensively about what they feel for the masses and, needless to say, the word disdain falls quite short.

I’d also like to take a moment to point out that the term conspiracy theory/theorist is generally used as a pejorative. When used this way it is often accompanied by some kind of outlandish claims: the belief that the earth is flat, belief in bigfoot, or other such nonsense. This is general an ad hominem attack (attacking one’s character, not their argument) and is slowly losing power as more and more corruption is seen among the ruling class.

I am a self proclaimed conspiracy theorist and I have one simple belief:

There exists a class of people (the so-called elite) that have wealth, power, and influence. They work together with other wealthy, powerful, and influential people to both maintain and advance their wealth, power, and influence.

Two other quotes that might be useful to consider before we begin:

  1. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

I think this, while not completely backwards, is used to dismiss malice as incompetence. Many times people will argue that a corporation or government is so stupid, but when we see such organization making the same “mistakes” over and over again, should we not at least consider that feigning ignorance would be a useful tactic to hide one’s malicious intent?

An example of this might be the United States monetary policy. Many claim the idea of “printing” money and growing the national debt is stupid, but those that are doing (and influencing) just that are reaping tremendous rewards. The same “stupid” policies have failed over and over again, yet they are repeated. Don’t think for one second the “banksters” don’t know exactly what they are doing.

Another, sillier example: If I were to tell you I am going to design a new Super Soaker water gun and go off to my shed to build it, but when I returned I had built a flame thrower, no one would call me stupid. Clearly you can’t accidentally build a flame thrower when you said you were building a water gun. It isn’t stupidity, it is a lie. I lied when I said I was building a water gun.

Examples of policies having the opposite effect are manifold: like the banks and their “mistakes” that keep making them richer, like the war on drugs that has led to more drugs and overdoses, and like the war on poverty leading to more people living in poverty. In my opinion, you have to be a fool to think that all of these things, and countless other examples, getting worse while the “leaders” keep mouthing platitudes that they are doing their best to solve these problems isn’t direct malice. If it was ignorance or stupidity or naivety, the odds are that something would go right once in a while, even if randomly.

  1. The other quote, from Ian Fleming (of James Bond fame) is: “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action.”

Taken together with the litany of examples of things getting worse, I think we should assume enemy action at this point when trying to understand why such-and-such happened.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get started with Propaganda. Written by Edward Bernays. Initially published in 1928.