“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”
George Bernard Shaw
When one hears the term “mind control” they often think of some science fiction movie where an alien parasite takes over someone’s brain, or a mad scientist uses a device to overpower the will of his intended victims. To think of mind control in a serious context seems absurd to most people, yet as Shaw, as well as Edward Bernays, the father of modern advertising, recognized most people merely absorb the norms and values of their culture without critical analysis, without questioning, and does this not qualify as mind control? Of course neither Shaw nor Bernays could have contemplated how technology would make the task of shaping society so much easier than in their day. Yet the basic means of manipulating people remains the same as it always has been. If you are reading this chances are you are one of the tiny minority not wishing to be submerged into the vast corporate-entertainment industry-political collective unconsciousness. Let’s examine five basic methods that keep the 95% content and the remainder rather frustrated. Of course what we do with this information is up to us.
- The first can be said to be tribalism. What images appear in your mind, those of half-naked people living in the jungle dancing around an idol? Yet in the first of my “Freedom from Conscience” http://moaklang.tumblr.com/post/47194554291/book-review-title-melanies-journey-author books the main characters observe a pep rally before a big game at their school. The main character recognizes the similarity of such events to ancient pre-battle rituals…heavy music, chanting in unison, young cheerleaders in dance to excite the testosterone of the “warriors” and spectators…and yet we think we are advanced and our ancient ancestors so very primitive? Are we? Look at a commercial for the military, a half-time show at a sporting event complete with flags, or jets flying overhead. The intent is to erase the individual and the spectators merge in a symphony of conformity. Oh, tribalism also works to get people to buy into the latest trends, listen to the new “top hits” or tune into the new hit series on TV. The adage “Everyone is doing it” is the appeal to conformity and thus tribalism, be it ethnic, religious, national or based on your age or gender.
- Playing on guilt has always been a favorite of those in power. As I have dealt with before the emotion of guilt starts out in the child when we believe our parents are perfect; friends of God. We feel bad when we disappoint them. Later we project these feelings onto the society we grow up in as it becomes an extension of our parents. This is why people feel guilt when they do something they believe is against the rules, even though they had no direct connection to making those rules, or often in some act that someone deems that they should feel guilty for. Collective guilt is a powerful weapon in the hands of those who know how to use it to their advantage.
- Insecurity relates to the first two. As the studies by Solomon Asch demonstrated, people are more confident of a decision supported by a group than a single individual, and even if they know the group is wrong they are reluctant to voice a dissenting point of view. Ever found yourself in a class in which the teacher presents an opinion and everyone appears to agree? How many times did you wish you had said something but chose not to? It was uncomfortable, wasn’t it? The same concept applies to marketing clothing or even political opinions. People generally don’t want to stand out, to have to defend a radically different choice, and advertisers, politicians and the media know that. That is why what is “polite” is carefully framed in a given society.
- Maintaining a state of fear is perfect for insuring mind control. When we are scared we are likely to support whoever promises to keep us safe. Think of a small group of people thousands of years ago sitting around a campfire. Suddenly they hear the roar of lions in the dark. One, maybe not the brightest, maybe not the most likable, jumps up and grabs a spear and demands that the men do as he says because everyone knows he once killed a lion. When scared they put their trust in him. Everyone agrees to make him leader. However, after a few days there has been no sign of lions. Our lion-killer notes that people are losing their desire to obey his orders, and the younger women are no longer paying as much attention to him. So he goes out and kills a small deer, mangles it and puts it near some old lion tracks. When others discover the scene they run back and report that the lions are back. The lion-killer is made permanent leader and protector. Of course we are too smart to fall for such a thing today, right? Well, turn on the TV and see what dominates our corporate news programs. Our population is in a perpetual state of fear and that is why we have seen overall compliance with an erosion of civil liberties since 2001. And aside from political aspects of fear it is also a basic foundation of modern consumerism; fear of not being pretty enough, rich enough or successful enough. Of course Madison Avenue has a way to ease the pain…buy acceptance, buy symbols of wealth, and make sure to listen to “experts” and celebrities who will tell you what you need to do to not be left out or behind.
- Finally, appeal to animal or survival instincts. Look at modern advertising today, sex does indeed sell. One does not need to be a devotee of B.F. Skinner to see how products are marketed. Products from hamburgers to beer, are associated with sex. It is called classical conditioning and it is very effective in getting us to buy products that satisfy a sub-conscious need because we have been told the product is associated with the thirst to satisfy the instinctive drive. Of course governments and political organizations can merely appeal to survival needs by “educating” the population that unless they follow a certain course of action then their basic well-being is at stake, or the rulers can take credit for the living standards of the people and warn that if they are thrown out of power then prosperity will be in peril.
Overall mind control is not a process of turning a population into the easily manipulated zombies of 1950s movies, before zombies transformed into out-of-control eating machines. It actually involves creating a compliant populace of people who behave as the society wishes, conform to the wishes of the dominant elite and dare not think or act outside the “polite” parameters which are defined by education, the media and reinforced by peers. As Shaw states, only a few people dare to “think” and sadly it has become more difficult to do so in today’s media saturated society.