As the saying goes in medicine and psychology, "treatment without diagnosis is malpractice.” The same applies to the Battle for Your Brain that today’s propagandists are using to prevent "We the People” from restoring our alignment with FREEsponsibliity and the 5 Great Truths of Thriving Societies. One of my sound bites is, "you can’t break free from what you can’t see.”
To get free from today’s ongoing Mindjacking onslaughts from across the ideological, political, and special interest spectrum, we must first diagnose the spell that has replaced FREEsponsibliity and the 5 Great Truths, and the propaganda tactics that are being used to install and deepen that spell.
The starting place for this is understanding that we’re in the midst of a huge Civil Cold War whose biggest battle is what I call "The Battle for Your Brain."
The podcast episode this article is based on is thus your first — or next — step toward becoming Propaganda-Proof. In it, I’ll expose the mindjacking tactics that have been used for the past 100+ years and that are continuing to covertly manipulate our opinions — REGARDLESS of whether you are left-leaning, right-leaning, or a centrist.
Polarization is a war between propagandists over who will control your mind. Warning: By the end of this episode you’re not going to feel warm and fuzzy. However, you ARE going to be far more awake about, and therefore more immune to, the spell that’s being cast on our society day in and day out.
In articles and podcast episodes I’ll discuss solutions for becoming Propaganda-Proof that build upon what I covered in podcast episode #3, about FREEsponsibility and the Five Great Truths of Thriving Societies.
I will start by paraphrasing a comment by the most widely published observer of the emergence of the great American Experiment during the 1700s, Alexis de Tocqueville: When individual citizens stop being actively involved in governing themselves, they invite self-government to be replaced with manipulative tyranny.
His warning has now come true. Far too many citizens have stopped actively governing themselves, and, as a result, ideologues and special interest groups are now locked in a Battle For Your Brain.
To quote Russian pro-democracy leader and former world chess champion, Gary Kasparov, "The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.
"According to Parker Molloy, an Editor-at-large with Media Matters for America, “More than 95% of people who see a headline aren’t clicking to actually read the full story. The goal of journalism is to inform the public. If people are becoming LESS informed as the result of something you publish, that’s a big problem.”
I would say that becoming less informed while we pretend we’re becoming more informed is exactly the objective.In a nutshell, the main objective of Mindjacking is Filtered Reality that makes us believe what a propagandist wants us to believe, while we're thinking that we arrived at these beliefs through our own free will.
Mindjacking encourages us to insist that our picture of reality is “the truth.” Through this insistence, Mindjacking creates a spell in which we forget that we only see parts of the whole picture, in which we forget that we are supporting that picture by seeing spin as though it’s fact, and in which we forget that we have been manipulated into adopting many of the perspectives and positions that we have come to hold dear.
Here’s the hard truth: Mindjacking hijacks meaning to serve the purpose of propagandists, regardless of whether that perspective truly serves our own best interests.
J. Samuel Bois, the late founder of Epistemics, a branch of philosophy within the field of General Semantics, makes what I’m trying to say here brain-dead simple: From all of "Reality" we devote "Filtered Attention," which we then interpret (assign meaning), and out of this we make choices (take positions, put things into words, and take action).
Modern Mindjacking was birthed over 100 years ago by the undisputed father of modern public relations, an American named Edward Bernays. The name he gave to the propaganda strategies and tactics he developed was Manufactured Consent.
What makes Manufactured Consent as enduringly powerful as it is? Bernays developed Manufactured Consent based on his uncle’s understanding of how the unconscious mind works. Who was his uncle? Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology.
Bernays revealed his social engineering approaches in his books, the most famous of which is Propaganda, which is still in print even though it was published in 1928.
I view Edward Bernays as the original Darth Vader of marketing psychology and social engineering. His social Engineering tactics are so powerful that, to this day, they continue to be extensively used and built upon in frightening ways that I’ll get into later in this article.
What is Manufactured Consent? Manipulating people into supporting products, services, causes or candidates while thinking they’re doing this out of their own free will.Bernays initially developed Manufactured Consent to manipulate how the media reported Woodrow Wilson's negotiations to end World War 1, so the American public would support what he was doing. He then perfected his methods to manipulate consumers into buying products and services. He then further perfected his methods to manipulate Congress and the President to overthrow leaders of other countries who were interfering with the agendas of American companies in those countries.
Since then Bernays's proteges have used his tactics to get candidates elected in the United States and other countries.All of this is well-documented. For instance, in a British Broadcasting Company mini-series from 2001 called The Century of the Self. I also talked about Bernays in my TEDx Talk on The Hijacking of the American Dream.
In 1971, the late Saul Alinsky published a political warfare manual that explains 13 rules for manipulating change, called Rules for Radicals (http://www.openculture.com/2017/02/13-rules-for-radicals.html). Alinsky's tactics continue to be used to this day by both the left and the right to manipulate public opinion. See how many you recognize, and think about the wide range of leaders and influencers that are using these:
1. “Power is not only what you have\, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power comes from 2 main sources – money and people. Alinsky’s perspective was that since “Have-Nots” lack money\, they must build power from flesh and blood.
2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” Alinsky understood that doing this results in confusion\, fear and retreat\, whereas feeling secure in our purpose and beliefs strengthens our backbone for taking action.
3. “Whenever possible\, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Alinsky always looked for ways to increase insecurity\, anxiety and uncertainty.
4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” For instance\, if a company’s or elected official’s rule is that every letter gets a reply\, send 30\,000 letters to them. In other words\, rob your enemy of power by identifying ways that you can force them to have to disobey their own rules.
5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” Because ridicule is irrational and infuriating\, Alinsky saw it as a powerful tactic because people don’t know how to defend themselves against it. He therefore used ridicule as a key way of forcing opponents into making concessions.
6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” Alinsky understood that people will keep doing things they enjoy without having to keep urging them. In fact\, he understood that when people do subversive things they enjoy they will come up with even better ways of being subversive.
7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Alinsky therefore advocated switching tactics regularly as a way of never becoming old news.
8. “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” An offshoot of the previous tactic is to keep trying new things in order to keep your opposition off balance. As soon as your opposition starts figuring out how to counteract a tactic you’re using\, hit them with a next new tactic\, and a next new one and a next.
9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." Alinsky knew that if he could invent threats\, people’s imaginations would dream up many more terrifying consequences than he could. And he knew that the more terrified people became about an imaginary or exaggerated threat\, the more he could mobilize them to do his bidding.
10. "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition." Alinsky also knew that relentless pressure causes one’s opponent to react in self-defeating ways that in turn contribute to the success of a campaign.
11. “If you push a negative hard enough\, it will push through and become a positive.” Alinsky knew that because the public sympathizes with underdogs\, if he could provoke the other side into being violent\, he could win the public to his side.
12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Always have an over-simplified solution to problems you’re getting people terrified about\, because unless you do\, your opponent will defeat you.
13. “Pick a target\, freeze it\, personalize it\, and polarize it.” Target people more than institutions because attacking people hurts faster than attacking institutions. Alinsky was a particular fan of attacking them in ways that make them harder for the public to sympathize with because he knew that if this was his focus of attack\, he could undercut people’s support of those individuals.
In the 1980s, a Russian KGB defector named Yuri Bezmenov exposed the 4 Stages of Ideological Subversion used by the Soviet Union to manipulate national dynamics in order to destabilize nations. Here are those stages:
Stage 1 — Demoralization (takes 15-20 years to demoralize a nation): Limit access, exposure to, and belief in the value of, true information. Replace this with educating an entire generation in the ideology you want them to believe. Install it so deeply that even if people are showered with information and authentic proof, they will refuse to believe it.
Stage 2 — Destabilization (generally takes 2-5 years to destabilize a country): Create volatility in the economy, foreign relations, & defending against enemies.
Stage 3: Crisis/Insurgency (can take as little as 6 weeks to bring a country to the verge of crisis): Sudden disruptive change of power, structure and economy (sometimes violent). Not until this massive disruption occurs, and/or the military boot comes crashing in, do people realize what has occurred. By then the momentum of Ideological Subversion has become too strong to stop.
Stage 4: “Normalization” (a cynical expression borrowed from Soviet propaganda) => Period of stability until the next demoralization cycle is initiated and approaches a crisis point.
Information Warfare Theory, Psychological Warfare Theory (PsyWar) & Information-Psychological Influence: Tactics for implementing the 4 Stages of Ideological Subversion.
Here's a quote from page 56 of the Handbook of Russian Information Warfare that was published in 2016 by the NATO Defense College: "The vast majority of the population of the victim country does not even suspect that it is being subjected to information-psychological influence. This leads in turn to a paradox: the aggressor achieves his military and political aims with the active support of the population of the country that is being subjected to influence. Control over strategically important state resources is handed over voluntarily, since this is seen not as the result of aggression, but as a progressive movement toward democracy and freedom." (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313423985_Handbook_of_Russian_Information_Warfare)
A journal article on the Negative Information-Psychological Impact on Individual Consciousness Based on Socio-Engineering Approach says that: Social engineering methods are used to change people's perception of objective reality, through psychologically manipulating a person’s mental state, feelings, thoughts and actions. This even includes installing the belief that the social engineers have positive motives that are worthwhile to support. This manipulation of people’s psyches is accomplished in ways that people don't recognize as a threat. http://its.iszzi.kpi.ua/article/view/136929 (https://doi.org/10.20535/2411-1031.2017.5.2.136929)
Customized Propaganda: Bernays, Alinsky, Bezmenov, and Psychological Information Warfare on Steroids.
Customized Propaganda uses AI analytics to orchestrate personalized manufactured consent through delivering customized propaganda to you through internet search engines and social media platforms.
Cambridge Analytica was a pioneer in Full Service Customized Propaganda services. Even though they’re now out of business, the tactics they tapped into are now being used in more widespread ways than ever.
The Steve Bannon Doctrine is, "To fundamentally change society to your vision of it you must break it first.” Steve Bannon was a Cambridge Analytica Vice President.
Customized Propaganda accomplishes manipulation objectives by using AI to target “persuadables,” and to use weapons-grade communication techniques to place customized propaganda in front of each “persuadable” to manipulate them into taking the desired action.
Learn more about the Customized Propaganda is being used in the Battle for Your Brain to Mindjack you by watching the movie, “The Great Hack.” As of when I’m writing this article, this movie is available on Netflix.
Based on all of this, as well as my own observations about the dynamics of propaganda since 2001, I have identified 10 steps that ideologues use to covertly manipulate public opinion and support:
1. Adopt an ideological stance and set an agenda to seize power so you can put your ideology into action “for everyone's own good”
2. Create a campaign of allegations\, and/or orchestrate staged events\, using the tactics that Bernays and Alinsky taught\, that are designed to manipulate people into supporting your ideological stance.
3. Make your allegations appear to be facts\, and publicize these fake facts and your staged events\, on as many websites as possible.
4. Repost these “stories” as memes that can rapidly spread virally on social media sites like Facebook\, Instagram\, Twitter\, Pinterest\, and so forth.
5. Assemble all of your virally “validated” allegations and manufactured hypotheses into a conspiracy theory that you can then present as fact because people who are looking for evidence of your theory now see lots of websites carrying stories about part or all of it.
6. Make sure that the conspiracy theory or allegations you have strung together are too big a package for anyone to fully fact check it. Preferably\, sprinkle in enough actual facts so people are more inclined to swallow the conspiracy theory or package of allegations as though it must be true and\, again\, so attempts to fact check or challenge these can never be completely done.
7. When the pieces that are capable of being fact checked are shown to be false\, claim that the fact checkers are skirting the ”real” issue by cherry picking individual details that don’t by themselves disprove the allegations\, or insist that the fact checking sources are biased and untrustworthy.
8. If attacking the fact checking doesn’t work\, manipulate your adherents into believing that your cause is so righteous that ends-justifies-the-means are justified because what you’re combatting is so dangerous or evil\, and the stakes are so high\, that there’s no alternative but to do this.
9. Attack attempts to poke holes in your story as proof that verifies the existence of the conspiracy you are promoting. Make it seem like the challengers of your conspiracy theory are themselves attempting to cover-up the conspiracy that you’re exposing. Attack and attempt to expose whistle blowers as the enemy who has invented lies to serve their own nefarious agenda.
10. Use overt mass propaganda tactics and covert customized propaganda tactics to accomplish all of this.
The job that each of us has in today’s daily Mindjacking onslaughts across the ideological, political, and special interest continuum is to stay at least one step ahead of the propagandists. You now know more about how to spot the dynamics, strategies, and tactics they use than 99% of the world.
Mark Twain once said “It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.” Join me in proving him wrong.
If after all I’ve revealed in this episode you still don’t see ways that elected officials and media influencers in BOTH parties use a bunch of these mindjacking methods, look again. Re-listen to this episode and then look again. Keep at it until you finally break the spell and Wake Up.
The system is broken. Mindjacking across the boards is at an all-time high.It is up to We the People to start demanding that politicians, the media, and companies stop using Mindjacking on us.
Even more importantly, it is up to us to start refusing to vote for politicians in both parties who use these methods, to refuse to tune in to pundits who use them, and to refuse to buy from businesses that use them… because the Mindjackers will keep using these methods until we stop them.If not you, who? If not now, when? The time is now for you and me and all of us to Wake Up, Wise Up, and Step Up.
In closing, I implore you to…
1. WAKE UP to the Mindjacking dynamics that are being used across the ideological\, political\, and special interest continuum to manipulate you and each of us. I’ve exposed you to those dynamics in this episode.
2. WISE UP to the specific Mindjacking tactics that are bombarding you each and every day. I’ve revealed these tactics to you in this podcast episode.
3. STEP UP to Propaganda-Proofing yourself\, starting with realigning yourself with FREEsponsibility and the 5 Great Truths of Thriving Societies. If you’re not yet familiar with FREEsponsibility and the 5 Great Truths\, listen next to podcast episode #3 to familiarize yourself with these. In some of the upcoming episodes, I’ll provide you with specific Propaganda-Proofing and societal repair tactics so you can Step Up even more.
Spread this article and its corresponding Wake Up, Wise Up, Step Up podcast episode far and wide. The more of us who start seeing through Mindjacking attempts to win The Battle For Our Brain, the sooner we will return to societal sanity.