Earlier this week I saw a morning report on the odious BBC about the rise in shoplifting in the UK, where the reporter said how mothers had been caught nickling baby formula and baby food, he asked a man on the street whether he thought people who were stealing from shops did so out of ‘desperation or greed’, (with there being, I suppose, no possibility of a myriad of other reasons) the man said he had shoplifted before because he had been a drug addict…A representative of the retail industry bemoaned the fact that shops were having to put security items on items it was ‘uneconomic’ to electronically tag – in other words not worth tagging for the shops, but worth nicking to the poor…
The reporter concluded, that shoplifting was the reason for price-rises paying customers would have to endure and that there ‘was an alternative’ in the form of charity foodbanks. This blatant piece of propaganda for the rights of the truly greedy property-owning class made me think how far the art of propaganda has penetrated our world, from marketing and advertising to government ‘advice’ and electioneering, to stimulate the economy through conditioning people to want to consume stuff they do not need by spending the little money they have, to expand the market for products and to ensure ‘growth’.
The father of modern advertising, Edward Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and he wrote a book on the subject of ‘Propaganda’ where he stated that the most important feature of a democracy was the manipulation of the ‘mass mind’ through advertising and the media. This book was apparently read by the Nazi Minister Joseph Goebbels who adopted his ideas in order to gain the consent of the German people for the Hitler dictatorship and an imperial racial world war.
Advertising and politics have, since the early part of the last century been very close bed-fellows, and have both utilised the relatively new science of psychology in the pursuit of the aims of power and wealth. Both Bernays and Hitler were fond of Gustave Le Bon’s infamous book The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind . So whether it was the selling of genocidal racism or nylon stockings, the aim was the same- to influence people’s thinking and opinions.
Propaganda and advertising (essentially one and the same thing) both depend on creating a mind-set based on a variety of false psychological needs and in essence producing what is known as a ‘conditioned reflex’ – a term coined by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov after his well-known experiments on dogs, where he conditioned them to salivate in anticipation of being fed, in association with the ringing of a bell ( he measured the saliva by making a hole in the dogs cheeks, exposing the salivery gland and attaching a phial in which the spit was collected). He discovered that without the food, and just by the ringing of the bell the dogs would start to slobber. Hence the expression ‘Pavlov’s dog’.
What is less known about the good Professor Pavlov is that he conducted the same experiments on children- the homeless and the orphaned- using exactly the same vile methods. The Soviet government feted Pavlov, and he won a Nobel prize for his ‘discoveries’.
Advertising and propaganda equally seek to produce a conditioned reflex, or response, from their subjects to want things, from the supposed social approval and staus of having the latest iPhone, to believing a certain product will enhance your chances of gaining a sexual partner, to accepting that the invasion of another country is justified based on untrue fear-mongering about ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ , to using children in the adverts for cars to subliminally associate them with safety, innocence, pleasure and an ecologically sound future and to buying into the false economy of poorly made, disposable crap , believing it has some intrinsic value, by artificially creating demand for shoddy goods with built-in obsolescence within a system of artificial scarcity. Ultimately, advertising and marketing ensures the cyclical turnover of the production and circulation of commodities that maintain the flow of wealth upwards towards the already very wealthy.
Meanwhile, the BBC and other corporate media outlets peddle the capitalist version of reality day in and day out, they fail to mention that an increase in shoplifting is a direct result of the collapse of the financial system in 2008 brought about by the unrestrained greed of the bankers and their errand boys in politics, that employee theft is far greater than the losses incurred by shoplifters, that the ‘loss’ is already built into the product nicked and covered by insurance.
They glibly report the vulgar and Nazi-like Tory hate campaign aimed at the unwaged- a crass device to divide working class people against each other- claiming that the ‘idle’ live a life of luxury, sleeping in, owning the very largest of that coveted product the flat-screen TV, that scroungers and skivers are the enemy of working people, ignoring the fact that those who are to have their benefits cut are recipients who are actually in work…(Just as in the same way the rioters in 2011 were berated for their ‘greed’ in looting high-end consumer goods, electrical and ‘posh’ clothing ). Then they carry stories on how the government wishes to promote the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables- why? Because the marking men have promoted crapulent dross as the coolest, best and most convenient food to eat- and that effects people’s health to such an extent that it means a higher expenditure on healthcare- and certainly not because they give two shits for people’s health…
We live in a constant state of siege whereby the pushers of commodities and of ‘Order’ want to manipulate you into a state of slack-jawed submission and the passive acceptance of the exploitation of yourself and others, into accepting the word of the media as being the’ gospel truth’.
Well, they can GO FUCK THEMSELVES, because more and more of us see through the veil of the 24hr rolling lie-machine, and we refuse to salivate on demand…
‘The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.’
(17th Century English proverb)
THE RICH ARE OUR MISFORTUNE.