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04-23-01: Goebbels and today's mass mind control: Part One
How PR opinion-shapers turn the people against their own interests
By Carla Binion
April 23, 2001 -- Today's right-wing public relations spin has much in
common with the propaganda methods of Hitler's PR man, Joseph Goebbels.
Goebbels admired Edward Bernays, a self-proclaimed founder of the public
relations industry. Bernays, a Vienna-born nephew of Sigmund Freud,
opened a New York office in 1919. According to John Stauber and Sheldon
Rampton, (Toxic Sludge is Good for You, Common Courage Press, 1995)
Bernays pioneered the PR industry's use of psychology and other social
sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns.
Bernays wrote in Propaganda, (New York: 1928, pp. 47-48) If we
understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible
to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their
knowing it. Bernays referred to this scientific opinion-control as the
engineering of consent.
In his autobiography, Bernays discusses a dinner at his home in 1933
where, Karl von Weigand, 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 Weigand his propaganda library, the best
Weigand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Weigand, 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,
Today, corporations spend millions on public relations campaigns to
crystallize public opinion, often in an effort to convince the public
that harmful things are actually good for us. Sometimes the companies
start by bending the minds of our elected representatives.
This is the first part of a series. In part one, we'll focus on the ways
in which corporations and their public relations mind-shapers worked to
destroy the Clinton health care plan. Today forty-four million Americans,
about one in five people, have no health coverage, and many people cannot
afford needed pharmaceutical drugs. Most Americans probably wonder why,
despite repeatedly broken campaign promises, Congress never does anything
to improve the health care system.
As far back as November 8, 1999, a Newsweek article reported that half or
more of eligible heart attack patients are at greater risk because they
can't get needed beta blockers. The article stated that two-thirds of
people surveyed say they are worried that health care is no longer
affordable. Conditions haven't improved since then.
In 1993, the Clinton administration tried to do something about the high
price of prescription drugs, hinting at possible government-imposed price
controls. The pharmaceutical industry then turned to the Beckel Cowan PR
firm to oppose the administration's designs on lowering the cost of
prescription drugs -- although, of course, the Clinton plan would have
benefited the public.
Stauber and Rampton write that Beckel Cowan created an astroturf [or,
fake grassroots] organization called 'Rx Partners' and began deploying
state and local organizers to, in the words of a company brochure,
'generate and secure high-quality personal letters from influential
constituents to 35 targeted members of Congress.'
At the same time, Beckel Cowan managed a mail and phone campaign which
produced personal letters, telegrams and patch-through calls to the
targeted members' local and Washington, DC, offices. The PR firm built a
network of supporters in 35 congressional districts and states.
Pharmaceutical companies weren't the only corporations to oppose an
improved health care system. The insurance industry went to work to fight
against the Clinton health care plan, recruiting PR-man Robert Hoopes.
According to Stauber and Rampton, the 300,000 member Independent Insurance
Agents of America (IIAA) hired Hoopes as their grassroots
coordinator/political education specialist.
Campaign Elections magazine reported the IIAA activated nearly 140,000
insurance agents during the health care debate, becoming what Hoopes
describes as a new breed of Washington lobbyists, wrote Stauber and
Rampton. Hoopes said the lobbyists have behind them an army of
independent insurance agents from each state, and members of Congress
understand what a lobbyist can do with the touch of a button to mobilize
those people for or against them.
In Campaign Elections magazine (Killing Health Care Reform,
October/November 1994) Thomas Scarlett writes of the insurance companies
PR moves, Through a combination of skillfully targeted media and
grassroots lobbying, these groups were able to change more minds than the
president could, despite the White House 'bully pulpit.'