Selling Wars


by Not Sure

12 June 2022


                During the Great War, the Nations realized the necessity of selling their national aims and policies. They had special marketing problems. The attitudes and actions of their own people, of neutrals and of enemies towards them, depended to a great extent on how effectively they "sold" themselves. They discovered that arms and armaments are not the only weapons, that ideas are weapons too. They recognized in varying degree the importance of a scientific approach to the marketing of national aims and of national policies.

                The Marketing of National Policies: A Study of War Propaganda, Edward L. Bernays for Journal of Marketing, January 1942

                This week’s Redux is from Alan Watt “Cutting Through the Matrix” Live on RBN, 27 October 2009, entitled “Wanted -- Professional Psychopaths a Shoe-in, Sell Your Soul to the U.N”.  Alan talks about how wars are “sold” to the public and talks about the master propagandist Edward L. Bernays and his total disdain for the public.


                In Bernays’ own words from his 1928 book Propaganda, emphasis mine:


                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.

                We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

                Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet. They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.


                We often hear that term the Military-Industrial Complex bandied about.  Dwight D. Eisenhower’s words have been debated.  One of his biographers claim that an early draft of Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech used the term military–industrial–congressional complex.  Other scholars say that it was originally military–industrial–scientific complex.  Cultural critic Henry Giroux said it was meant to be the military–industrial–academic complex.

                This concept was floating around before Eisenhower or his speechwriters settled on their term.  In sociologist C. Wright Mills 1956 book, The Power Elite, Mills writes that a class of military, business, and political leaders, driven by mutual interests, were the real leaders of the state and were effectively beyond democratic control.  And of course, decades after the Eisenhower speech, George Carlin colorfully said, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

                What Alan is describing in this talk is the Pharma-Military-Industrial Complex and we could add to that Pharma-Agra-Military-Industrial-Complex.  We are looking at the same small clique of shareholders, always hidden behind their hedge funds and “institutional” investors.

                I was thinking about some of the key points that Alan made in this talk; how vegetarianism is pushed upon us.  The elite will eat meat, of course.  Their diets won’t contain genetically modified food.  He said the same group of shareholders behind so many of the companies that sell their products to governments who in turn force us to use them, e.g. vaccines.

                A funny thing happened when I looked up the word fascism.  I was unable to find what I knew to be at least one definition, the corporation merged with the state.  I was thinking along the lines of both public/private partnerships and also when governments use private businesses to execute the agenda, such as we see with what we’re now calling surveillance capitalism with companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

                But I found nothing like that in my search for a definition.  The fascio, a bundle of wooden sticks around an axe I was told means “there is strength in unity.”  But who is bundled? Who is unified?  According to Wikipedia, fascism is a form of far-right, ultranationalism where the state is led by a strong man or a dictator.  Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete.

                I finally found what I was looking for.  When you see that Snopes is debunking something, then, by George, you know you’re on the right trail.  From Snopes:


                According to a theory advanced by Academy Award-nominated director Adam McKay, there is a direct link between the modern corporation and 1930’s style fascism — one that Merriam-Webster even went so far as to censor from its definition of fascism following a corporate takeover in the 1980s.” 


                Snopes included the direct quote from McKay:


                Benito Mussolini created the word “fascism.” He defined it as “the merging of the state and the corporation.” He also said a more accurate word would be “corporatism.” This was the definition in Webster’s up until 1987 when a corporation bought Webster’s and changed it to exclude any mention of corporations.”  — Adam McKay. 


                Then Snopes carried on with their debunking of that definition and a general character assassination of McKay.  I was satisfied.  Another word, indeed another concept with real-world history, down Orwell’s memory hole. If what Mussolini really meant was the merging of the state and corporate power (Snopes was quick to correct McKay’s misuse of the word “corporation”), what did Mussolini mean by corporation?  Oh, that’s just a bunch of guild-type, union-y things, all organized as one body.  Fascists strove for national unity and opposed all forms of class warfare so they opposed both Capitalists and Socialists/Communists.

                So maybe what I was looking for wasn’t Fascism, maybe it wasn’t Corporatism.  Maybe what best describes much of the West and most certainly the U.S. is Corporatocracy, where the economic, political and judicial system are controlled by corporations or corporate interests.  Probably it doesn’t matter what we call it, but I like words, and I like to choose the word with the right meaning.  I am trying to define the world that we have lived in since at least the 1930s.


                Woodrow Wilson had been re-elected in 1916 with the campaign “he kept us out of war” but within five months of entering his second term he had changed his mind.  In April of 1917, he convinced Congress to declare war on the Central Powers, and the problem now remained how to “sell” the American people on the war.  Wilson authorized the creation of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) under the leadership of a former muckraking journalist, George Creel. 

                Creel’s job was to fire up the American public who were not interested in this war into "the white-hot mass of patriotism," sharing America’s democratic values with the rest of the war.  How often have we been sold that line since?  “Bringing democracy to the world.”  Creel put together an army of journalists, academics, graphic artists, advertising men and key people from the newly created industry of public relations.  The Four Minute Men were 75,000 local notables delivering speeches from carefully worded scripts that they delivered in church halls, movie theaters and wherever Americans were gathered.  Remember, this was in the days before television and radio.

                 From the CPI came the iconic Uncle Sam used for recruiting and from the CPI came techniques for manipulation of the emotions of the masses that are widely in use today and have been honed to a very fine art and science which now employs neurolinguistics, psychology and behaviourism.


                Edward Bernays was a member of the CPI.  The skills he honed there he would go on to use for countless campaigns throughout his career, selling the American people on ideas and behavior on behalf of government and private industry.  Alan Watt often described Bernays as the nephew of Sigmund Freud and I learned in my research that was true.  Twice over.  His mother was Freud’s sister Anna, and his father, Ely Bernays, was the brother of Freud’s wife Martha.  

                The Century of the Self is a 2002 Adam Curtis documentary about Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud and Edward Bernays.  Well worth watching.


                This is how Noam Chomsky described the importance of Edward Bernays in shaping the minds of Americans:


                [The] American business community was also very impressed with the propaganda effort. They had a problem at that time. The country was becoming formally more democratic. A lot more people were able to vote and that sort of thing. The country was becoming wealthier and more people could participate and a lot of new immigrants were coming in, and so on.

               So what do you do? It's going to be harder to run things as a private club. Therefore, obviously, you have to control what people think. There had been public relation specialists but there was never a public relations industry. There was a guy hired to make Rockefeller's image look prettier and that sort of thing. But this huge public relations industry, which is a U.S. invention and a monstrous industry, came out of the first World War. The leading figures were people in the Creel Commission. In fact, the main one, Edward Bernays, comes right out of the Creel Commission. He has a book that came out right afterwards called Propaganda. The term "propaganda," incidentally, did not have negative connotations in those days. It was during the second World War that the term became taboo because it was connected with Germany, and all those bad things. But in this period, the term propaganda just meant information or something like that. So he wrote a book called Propaganda around 1925, and it starts off by saying he is applying the lessons of the first World War. The propaganda system of the first World War and this commission that he was part of showed, he says, it is possible to "regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies." These new techniques of regimentation of minds, he said, had to be used by the intelligent minorities in order to make sure that the slobs stay on the right course. We can do it now because we have these new techniques.

               This is the main manual of the public relations industry. Bernays is kind of the guru. He was an authentic Roosevelt/Kennedy liberal. He also engineered the public relations effort behind the U.S.-backed coup which overthrew the democratic government of Guatemala.

                 His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn't smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield. You know all the techniques—models and movie stars with cigarettes coming out of their mouths and that kind of thing. He got enormous praise for that. So he became a leading figure of the industry, and his book was the real manual.”

                —Noam Chomsky

                (From Chomsky's "What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream": a talk at Z Media Institute, June 1997)


                The president of the American Tobacco Company realized that because it was taboo for women to smoke in public he was missing a huge share of the market.  He hired Edward Bernays to change the taboo and persuade women to smoke.  Bernays contacted the psychoanalyst Abraham Brill who told him that feminists saw cigarettes as “torches of freedom”, symbols of nonconformity and freedom from male oppression.  A female friend of Bernays organized the most fashionable New York City society women to march in the 1929 Easter Day parade and smoke.

                “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!”  (#MeToo)

                In 1934, Bernays hired interior and fashion designers, department stores and prominent women to push Lucky Strike’s forest green package color as the most fashionable color.  That year forest green was the color of women’s clothing, fashionable balls, gallery exhibits and window displays.

                After his semi-retirement in the 1960s, Bernays worked with anti-smoking, pro-health campaigners to convince the public of the evils of smoking.

                When the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) needed a repository for their aluminum waste, they hired Bernays who convinced the American public that water fluoridation was safe and beneficial to human health.  He used the American Dental Association in a very successful media campaign.

                On behalf of United Fruit Company and the U.S. government, Bernays ran a propaganda campaign that ultimately ended in a coup against Guatemala’s democratically elected president Jacobo Árbenz.  Bernays’ PR campaign smeared Árbenz with the label “communist.” 

                Árbenz was born into a wealthy family, the son of a Swiss German father and a Guatemalan mother.  Witnessing the violent repression of agrarian workers by U.S.-backed dictator Jorge Ubico contributed to Árbenz’s progressive views.  After his election to the presidency, the centerpiece of his agrarian reform policy was the expropriation of uncultivated large land-holdings and the redistribution of this uncultivated land to poverty-stricken agrarian workers.  This policy was not to the liking of the United Fruit Company.  Enter Bernays and the CIA.  Alan Dulles, the head of the CIA, was a major shareholder in United Fruit Company.

                After the coup, the Guatemalan civil war began, during which time 40,000 to 50,000 people were disappeared and approximately 200,000 were killed.  Árbenz went into exile through several countries, where his family gradually fell apart, and his daughter committed suicide. He died in Mexico in 1971. In October 2011, the Guatemalan government issued an apology for Árbenz's overthrow.  Because, you see, Árbenz was a communist and the U.S. was spreading our democratic values to the world.




Wanted -- Professional Psychopaths a Shoe-in, Sell Your Soul to the U.N.:

"How You Arrive at 'Your' Decision?

Obedience to Authority and 'Fact' Repetition,

An Organized Front of 'Those in the Know'

Decide the Direction Your Conclusions will Go,

Professionals Seeking Status/Wealth, Ego Desire,

Are Chosen by Controllers, Careful of Hire,

Campaigns Designed to 'Create Public Awareness'

Means Horrors to Scare, then Offers to Save Us,

You Must Give Up All Freedoms, Be Guided, Mind You,

By Government Keepers Over Planned Global Zoo"


                This is an excellent little talk from 27 October 2009.  It’s amazing what Alan Watt could pack into forty-five minutes.  I had hoped to draw your attention to some of what Big Pharma has gotten up to over the years or gone into the major marketing push around the Swine Flu vaccine campaign of 1976 with the disastrous fallout that accompanied.  Or perhaps I would have had time to write about the scandal ridden Pandemrix vaccine of 2009.  I could have written about “suicided” nuclear experts and “suicided” biochemists.  Maybe this talk was a good time to remember the 300,000 suicides of Indian farmers which many have attributed to the monopolization of GM seeds and the application of terminator technology.

                If time had allowed, I could have brought your attention to Bayer AG’s recent victory in a Missouri court suit against Monsanto.  Bayer released the following statement, "The jury's verdict in favor of the company brings this trial to a successful conclusion and is consistent with the evidence in this case that Roundup does not cause cancer and was not the cause of Mr. Shelton's cancer."

                In 2019, a California jury ruled unanimously in favour of Edwin Hardeman, citing Roundup’s glyphosates as likely carcinogenic.  Monsanto appealed and that case is in front of the Supreme Court this week.

                Alas, that cruel taskmaster, Time.  I had also looked into some of the tentacles of the United Nations and wanted to highlight the latest from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Monetary Fund, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Bank Group, and finally, the World Health Organization. 

                One comment that Alan made in this 2009 talk was that we could expect an amalgamation of the Americas in 2010 and the United Nations coming out as the de facto controlling body of a world government in 2012.  Considering that we are halfway through 2022, I thought the timeline was worth comment, until I mulled over the completeness of the control apparatus we live under.  The United Nations is into our lives down to the ingredients of school lunches.

                The main case for the International Treaty on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response or Pandemic Treaty, which aims to have a draft agreement ready in May of 2024, is the idea that science (represented by the WHO) could’ve dealt effectively with Covid, but was prevented from doing so by national governments going their own way or failing to follow its recommendations.

                Meanwhile, yesterday I read that the Jesuit College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts is naming their science complex after their alumnus Anthony Fauci.  You know how when you enter the halls of higher learning there’s often a statue of someone with a plaque in Latin?  It’s all erudite and stuff.  Well, I can just imagine the bronze of old Foxy Fauci and the plaque that reads Ego sum scientia.  (I am the science.)

                We can wait for the formal decree that we’re under global tyranny, but we’ll be waiting a long time.


© Not Sure


Additional reading:


The manipulation of the American mind—Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations


Selling regime change wars to the masses


The Century of the Self (2002)


War in Europe and the Rise of Raw Propaganda


George Monbiot says farming should be ABOLISHED to save the planet: Climate change activist says meat can be replaced with lab-grown food like protein pancakes


New coalitions announced at the UN Food Systems Summit to increase access to healthy diets from sustainable food systems


The Promotions of Sustainable Lunch Meals in School Feeding Programs: The Case of Italy


Environmental Sustainability Perspectives of the Nordic Diet


Bayer’s Troubled Monsanto Megadeal Finally Shows Promise


Monsanto ordered to pay $289 million in world's first Roundup cancer trial


Teacher’s fight against glyphosate pitted him against N.B.’s most powerful interests


Glyphosate: a step closer to reauthorisation in EU?


Farmer-suicide in India: debating the role of biotechnology


Swine flu vaccine case settled but hopes for legal precedent dashed


Pandemrix vaccine: why was the public not told of early warning signs?


Pandemrix: The scandal-ridden vaccine that did not work


The Time America Tried to Inoculate Everyone Against a Swine Flu Pandemic That Never Showed


List of United Nations organizations


Propaganda, Edward L. Bernays


Edward Bernays, Father of Public Relations and Propaganda


How Woodrow Wilson’s Propaganda Machine Changed American Journalism


The Marketing of National Policies: A Study of War Propaganda