Renowned critic and MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, one of the classic voices of intellectual dissent in the last decade, has compiled a list of the ten most common and effective strategies in a “hidden” agenda to establish a manipulation of the population through the media.
Historically the media have proven highly efficient to mold public opinion. Thanks to the media paraphernalia and propaganda, they have created or destroyed social movements, justified wars, tempered financial crisis, spurred ideological currents, and has given the phenomenon of media as producers of reality within the collective psyche.
But how to detect the most common strategies for understanding these psychosocial tools which, surely, we participate? Fortunately Chomsky has been given the task of synthesizing and exposing these practices — some more obvious and more sophisticated than others, but apparently all equally effective — and from a certain point of view, demeaning.
A key element of social control is the strategy of distraction, to divert public attention away from important issues and changes determined by the political and economic elites, continuously flooding society with insignificant information. Distraction is vital to curb public interest in knowledge about society, education, science, economics, psychology, neurobiology, cybernetics... Distracted, people turn their back on actual social problems, not finding or taking time to consider their own condition or that of fellow (human) beings.
2: Create Problems, Then Offer Solutions
Problem + Reaction + Solution
Create a problem, a “situation” to cause a desired reaction in the audience only to offer your premeditated solution. Stage or instigate violence to make the public susceptible to safety laws and policies to the detriment of individual freedom, and to boost the false economy that is the military-industrial-complex by waging war abroad. Create an economic crisis so people accept the necessity of abolishing social rights and dismantling public services.
3: Change Gradually
To gain acceptance for an unacceptable proposition, just apply it gradually, drop-by-drop, over the years. This is how neoliberalism imposed radical socioeconomic conditions: minimal state, privatization, precarious jobs, insecurity and anxiety, flexibility requirements, massive unemployment, shitty wages, longer hours, dependency. Enforced at once, these changes would have resulted in revolution.
To accept an unpopular decision, present it as a “painful necessity”, gaining public acceptance for what’s only a future burden. It is easier to accept a future sacrifice over immediate loss. People have a tendency to naively expect that “everything will be better tomorrow” and that the sacrifice required today may be avoided tomorrow. This prepares the public to get used to the idea of change and accept “fate” with resignation when the time has come.
Most all advertising uses speech and argumentation from a patronizing perspective as if addressing a child or a mentally deficient person. The more the audience is to be deceived, the more infantilizing the tone. Why? If one talks to a person as if they are 12 years of age or less, then — thanks to the power of suggestion — with a certain probability, this person tends to have a reaction lacking critical thinking, as if indeed 12 years old.
6: Provoke Emotion, Not Reflection
Playing on emotions is a classic technique for causing a short circuit on rational analysis and critical thinking. Emotions open the door to the unconscious, to implant ideas and ideologies, evoke anxiety, fear, desire, compulsion, hate, and eventually induce behaviors.
7: Keep Ignorant
Keep the public ignorant and in mediocrity. Make people incapable of understanding the technologies and true methods used for control and enslavement. Make the quality of education for lower social classes as poor and mediocre as possible to make the gap of ignorance towards upper social classes impossible to surmount.
8: Promote Mediocrity
Put a positive spin on mediocrity and promote the belief that it is fashionable to be stupid, vulgar and uneducated.
9: Play On Self-Blame
Blame and have individuals blame themselves for their misfortune as a failure of their intelligence, abilities, or efforts. Thus, instead of rebelling against an unjust system, individuals shame and blame themselves resulting in depression …one effect of which is to inhibit action. And without action, there is no disobedience, rebellion, or revolution.
10: Know Them Better (Than They Know Themselves)
Advances in science and technology have created a growing gap between public knowledge and what is owned and operated by the dominant elites. Thanks to information technology, biology, neuroscience, psychology, etc… the “system” has developed a sophisticated understanding of human beings, both physically and psychologically. The system has thus become more acquainted with common people than they know themselves, exerting greater control and power over individuals.
* Related Post from Business Week (from 2012, so this article needs some updating) These 6 Corporations control 90% of the Media in America