Media, Information and Technoculture 2200F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Edward Bernays, Disinformation, Mind Control
DepartmentMedia, Information and Technoculture
Course CodeMIT 2200F/G
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MIT 1700 Lecture 10 March 15 , 2011
Control: Corruption of the Public Sphere
-We control people through luxuries and commodities
-The Soviets were not the only ones in the business of information gathering and use
-The Nazis, CIA and advertisers were the most meticulous record keepers
-Human beings possess highly destructive drives (Freud) beneath the veneer of civilization
resides an animal prone to self interest, violence and war
-Edward Bernays (Freud’s nephew)
-Needs based economy; you buy what you need, essentials. You don’t really need a Mac. People
bought commodities and valued their durability, not the promise of being satisfied at some
-There used to be an emphasis on things lasting a long time. Most products today are sold
without this ever being the case.
-If we did make things that lasted, it would destroy our economy
-Economy is wrapped up in disposability.
-Bernays assisted in the transformation from a Needs - Desire based economy which
would satisfy the sexual and aggressive natures within.
-By sexualizing products Bernays was a pioneer in modern day advertising. Products were seen as having
an allure which it doesn’t naturally possess
Culture of Fear
-After WWII a new enemy and world view came into effect using the principles of Josep Goebbels
(minister of propaganda for the Nazis)
-U.S created a culture of fear against its’ new enemy; Communism.
-Goebbels said that to provoke the masses, anxiety needed to be induced, functioning at an optimal level.
-Set the precedent for propaganda to come
-Instruments of Social Control: weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass distraction
-Rampant consumerism was embedded by the rise of the supermarket, ‘keeping up with the Jones’”
-Shopping began to quell the fears of imminent destruction and falsely filled a void in the identity of
-Archie Comic World; system of brainwashing
-An entire generation was taught to value: sexism, homophobia, etc. underlying which was the message:
your duty is to participate in the economy by purchasing power
-No longer citizen, just consumer. Keep buying things. This is how you show faith in your country.
-1950’s government funded industries defeated the Soviet Union and used science to control the social
life of the populace.
-Wanted to know how to have a competitive edge over the Soviets and how to control the population
-Excellence is a “sell word” we have a positive connotation to it but - what does it really mean?
-What is the “student experience?”
-Strauss’ legacy was carried on by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.
-Antidepressants came on the market to solve all our problems, so that we couldn’t criticize the state.
-Are things so much better now than they were in the 1960’s?
-Been trained to believe that if we speak out we’ll lose all of our stuff “comfortably numb”
-Fear is keeping us in line. Fear of loss of our possessions, way of life, etc. It’s controlling us.
-Information becomes heavily politicized, used as an instrument of control/enlightenment to push an
agenda or change our perception of the world through misinformation and disinformation.
-Those who have info, collect it etc. can be said to have power. Access to information act allows citizens
to apply for public information but only If they know what they are looking for.
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