Friday, July 11, 2003

The Fear Merchants:

Tomorrow's Guardian has an excellent editorial piece on the marketing of 9-11 in America, as a tool to sell SUVs and sell out civil liberties. Vance Packard would have recognized the themes herein, all too well. A tidbit below:

"The United States lost the public relations war in the Muslim
world a long time ago," Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab
American News, said in October 2001. "They could have the
prophet Mohammed doing public relations and it wouldn't help."
At home in the US, the propaganda war has been more effective. And a key component has been fear: fear of terrorism and fear of attack.

Early scholars who studied propaganda called it a "hypodermic needle approach" to communication, in which the communicator's objective was to "inject" his ideas into the minds of the target population. Since propaganda is often aimed at persuading people to do things that are not in their own best interests, it frequently seeks to bypass the rational brain altogether and manipulate us on a more primitive level, appealing to emotional symbolism.

the article also includes the by now famous Goering quote about persuading ordinary people that they want war. Since so many in the blogosphere have quoted it, I guess I don't want to feel left out, so here:

During the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, psychologist Gustave Gilbert visited Nazi Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering in his prison cell. "We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction," Gilbert wrote in his journal, Nuremberg Diary.

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? ... That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship ... That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

but there's more, including some yummy quotes from Gallic marketing imp Clottaire Rappaille; read the rest here.