Propaganda & Persuasion – Benays’ Questions

Matthew Lipscomb

Dr. Heather Palmer

Propaganda & Persuasion, 2/1/2011

Benays’ Questions



1)How does Bernays defend propaganda?
       Bernays defends Propaganda because he feels that it is a necessary dynamic within our present culture, one that is inescapably critical to its continued stability and propagation. Given the ever-increasing complexity intrinsic to it – he sees it as sort of a cohesive glue that guides and instructs societal participants on a multitude of layers such as (for example) business methodologies, social thinking, and ethical assertions. Bernays labels the entities which control these thought frame-works or established cognitive reference points “invisible governors.’

When does it become “vicious and reprehensible?” Give a few examples.
       Bernays states that propaganda is only “vicious and reprehensible” when it purposefully and knowingly disseminates known lies and/or takes deliberate aim at certain cultural dynamics, which they also know to be generally oriented towards the “common good.”

Examples would include:

A) If Taco Bell, in order to save money on the cost of beef in its tacos were to purposefully replace a given percentage of beef with other meaningless and or useless fillers which are cheaper and offer no additional nutritional and/or flavor enhancement, then this would constitute a direct lie. A Recent suit filed in federal court claims that Taco Bell’s taco meat does not meet federal standards for actually being considered meat. Taco Bell has responded with a counter-campaign, arguing that what non-meat content is there, but that it is strictly for the purposes of flavor and cooking enhancement.

B) If a professor felt an intense hatred for Christianity because his parents made him go to church 3 times a week when he was younger, and he channeled that bitterness into perpetual confrontations with his students regarding Christianity, constantly arguing that Christianity had never done any good anywhere – then he would be purposefully attacking Christianity, not from any true academic standpoint, but only from his own existential and psychological dysfunction.

C) It is an established fact that a certain dynamic exists within so-called “Hollywood marriages.”  If a starlet who is a ‘B’ movie grade actor, experiences a substantial increase in her cumulative market value in terms of her acting potential/ability and movie/tv programming role placement, insofar has she then alternatively becomes a so-called “A-list”  actor, then it is known that with an almost clock-work like predictability, she will “upgrade” her Hollywood marriage, just as she has upgraded her status in the creative echelons of Hollywood. By nature of the legal and social status of marriage, and because it is a generally accepted norm as to make marriages hard to dissolve (as they are generally accepted communally as serious oaths; ‘for better or for worse, through sickness unto death, etc) the necessary employment of lies on the part of the party desiring separation against the opposite party is employed, especially in the event of the potential reticence towards the separative process on the part of the other spouse. Because it is generally understood that a high percentage of accusations made under such circumstances are in fact lies – it is law that such divorce details are sealed because of their often fantastic, spurious and usually thoroughly contrived and imaginative natures.
Noted actress Jeri Ryan achieve significant increase in her market viability through her roles as Star Trek Voyager’s Borg 6 of 9 character, and later role on TV’s Boston Public drama. On august 27, 1999 she predictably divorced her investment banker and then later senate candidate husband Jack Ryan. On June 22, 2004 Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider, by request of the Chicago Tribune and against the express wishes of both Jeri and her former husband, agreed to release details of Jeri Ryan’s accusations against her former husband which included accusations of demanding that she have sex with him in public and his supposed forcing of her to go to various strip clubs, one of which she described as “a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.” Then-Senatorial candidate Jack Ryan resultantly experienced a profound degree of humiliation and condemnation in the general media – and immediately withdrew his candidacy for the senatorial seat, which was later easily won by eventual-to-be-President Barrack Obama. Obama did not directly address or attempt to refute the actions or the attempts to open the scandalous files on the part of the media, until a week before the judge ruled the files could be opened. Up until that point, various sub-operators in his campaign and related organizational/ideological, political campaign counterparts/so-called ‘talking heads made extensive hay of the rumors and of the supposed necessity for the public need to have access to such knowledge, which, it should be pointed out, was as noted strenuously objected to by both the Ryans because they were concerned with their child and the effects that it would arguably have on them. The Judge, in the end, ruled that it would have no such deleterious effects upon them – and moved to make the accusations open information. As would be argued by some, Obama’s pseudo-innocuously late-to-the-game, grotesquely obsequious grandstanding, effectively shielded him from the collateral damage of being ever seen as directly participating in the controversy, yet afforded him all the benefits of its devastating effects against his primary opponent. Those who pointed this fact out, were – ironically – accused of being inappropriately salacious muckrakers in terms of their own political intentions –by the mere mentioning of any of it, themselves.




2)How does Bernays define “modern propaganda?”
       “Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.” He argues that this change took place after WWI.
In addition to this definition, Bernays argues for a more neutral understanding of the word, removed from its now generally derogatory understanding, which he argues began with the catholic churches use of the term in their own respective missional endeavors.

Why is it essential to our present social organization?
       It is essential because our society functions on a completely different level – as apposed to how it previous did. After the war, the complexity and the respective dynamics changed radically. Before the war, there was a default emphasis on the individual. The massive affects of the war and its organizational dynamics proved to both illustrate and entrap the individual as not just being an isolated unit of influence, but instead a participant in larger, ever converging and diverging streams of social affluence.

How has the practice of propaganda since the war (WWI) “assumed different forms”?
       Essentially, propaganda no longer only looks at the individual, as a cellular or granular component (because of the above paradigm shift) – but rather sees each individual as a member of a larger, interlocking component. It takes into consideration, not just the micro-existential (personal) dynamics, but also more so the macro societal-cultural dynamics in which that given person is inextricably immersed.


About hollerscholar

I'm a theology & philosophy student, writer, web developer, and medical laboratory professional.
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