“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.”
Edward Bernays. Propaganda (1928) First two paragraphs of Chapter 1.
I am tempted to begin every future article I create with the above quote. Read it again… slowly. Let it sink in, let it permeate your consciousness. Read it not as a disconnected third party, but read it with the realization that YOU, and everyone you know, are one of the ‘masses’. That we constitute the manipulated, the molded minds, the taste formed, and the ideas suggested. Read it with the understanding that it was not written by some idealistic, isolated academic but from someone who actually DID IT, and then literally wrote the book, the above book, on how to do it. I highly recommend reading the book. It’s a short book, fast read. Here is a free PDF. Here it is for $9.50 at Powells.com*.
The above paragraph by Bernays is also a concise explanation of what Social Engineering is. The controlling of society, the manipulation of human behavior. Not parts here and there, but all of society, from top to bottom, rich to poor, black to white, and literally everything in between. And propaganda is but one element, one tool, of the Social Engineers. Today Social Engineering has become a complex system of control, really a System of Systems. A Pyramid of Systems. Here are some of the systems;
- Government (City/State)
Which on a practical level means people who live in modern societies live under and are controlled by numerous systems of control. The average person in the USA lives under four layers of government, five if you want to include whatever edicts the United Nations spews upon the Earth; Town/City, County, State, National. And then each of those levels of government then have their own sub-systems, and in many cases each level has the same sub-system. The Courts are found at the County, State, and National level. You are taxed at each level. Sales taxes, property taxes, income taxes. Each level has it’s own Law Enforcement arm. In Texas you have the local police, the County Sheriff, Department of Public Safety at the State level, and of course numerous different Law Enforcement agencies at the national level; FBI, DHS, DEA, FBI. Public Education, implemented at the local level, is heavily influenced by the State and National governmental entities. Your roads are also maintained at the Local (city streets), County (county roads), State (highways), and National (Interstate system) levels.
So we live within a multi-layered system of systems, with numerous sub-systems. It has become a very complex system. But it did not start this way. Humankind has progressed to this level over thousands of years. If we trace back through history to humans earliest know existence we find the original system of control, the prototype society… the tribe. Evidence dates back 100,000+ years to mans tribal nature, a very successful system. Several hundred million humans still live tribally today. In fact humans around the world are still very much tribal beings. But large modern societies have diluted the importance of the tribe, downplayed, or in many cases ridiculed ‘tribal man’. But we are all still very much tribal. It’s just that the ‘modern’ tribe today takes on a very different form and function than the classic tribe.
The primary purpose of the classic tribe is survival. The tribe works together in mutual self interest. The individuals long term prospects are much better as part of the tribe. The tribe is basically a collection of families. The tribe is generally small, couple of hundred at most. The tribe always has a leader. Sometimes the tribe is run by council, but even here the council is usually controlled by one individual. This tribal model also creates the social dynamic of one controlling many. This person, normally male but sometimes female, became the leader for various reasons;
- Hunter – the leader is such because of their hunting skills
- Protector – the leader is such because of their fighting skills
- Solver – the leader is such because of their ability to solve problems
- Manipulator – the leader is such because of their ability to manipulate others
- Abuser – the leader is such because of their use of violence to coerce others
Why/how a particular type becomes the leader is based on numerous factors. If the tribe is relatively isolated with peaceful neighbors then the Protector is not needed. Land where it is difficult to farm the Hunter will be prominent. Harsh climates will favor the Solver. The manipulator and abuser can be found anywhere. The first three, the contributors, rule from a position of positive contribution, the last two have negative foundations. You could argue that the Manipulator and Abuser don’t have the skills to be a Provider, Protector, or Solver. But still very much want to be the leader. Hence they turn to other means to control.
The contributors do little to any real ‘social engineering’. They are the leaders by general consent. They are the leaders because of what they provide. The other tribe members follow the leader because he /she actually are real leaders. The leader’s respect has been earned. The tribe follow and listen to the leader for their own individual survival needs. Hence there is no need for the leader to ‘manipulate’ the tribe. The leader is not concerned with ‘controlling’ the tribe because they are in control. But these contributors are not authoritarians, or power mad. The leader is an integral part of the tribe, they are one of the tribe. They are not above or separate from the tribe. They are an intimate member of the group. They know the names of every tribe member. They were raised by the tribe, and will be taken care of by the tribe when they are old. The wise leader is looking out for what is best for the tribe, not for their own selfish gain.
The other members have given their consent to be led. Not to be ruled or dominated by the leader. Not to be servants to the leader. The tribe works together for the mutual benefit of each individual member of the tribe. A true healthy community. A community of selflessness, sharing, cooperation.
It is very important to mention here that the classic tribe is a very open society, little to no social stratification, generous and sharing. I’ve always enjoyed reading and watching about other cultures, both modern and from the past. Because of this regular exposure a common theme is discovered. As European explorers expanded across the globe they consistently described the tribal peoples they encountered as being happy, generous, honest, and content.
However, not every tribe was a healthy community. Some were violent. Some were thieves. Some the men treated the women badly. Ultimately the tribe was a reflection of its leader. And not every leader ‘earned’ their position. Some stole it. Like the manipulator, or the abuser. And these leaders… I hesitate to use that word, these ‘controllers’ were very much social engineers, for that is how they obtained and maintained their positions. So unlike the natural leader who earned their position from contribution, the ones who stole it are constantly worried about losing their position and therefor constantly working to control the tribe.
Up to this point there is one leader type I have yet to identify. In part because of the unique nature of this leader. I allude to the mystical, the spiritual, the mythical… the Shaman. The Shaman was the spiritual leader of the tribe. Many tribes had both a Leader and a Shaman. Sometimes the Shaman was also the tribal leader. But the role of the Shaman was unique. For unlike the Leader, the Shaman was not the provider of shelter, food, or physical protection. The Shaman was the provider of spiritual food and of answers. In fact it is in this role of provider of answers that solidifies their position and bestows power upon the Shaman.
Homo Sapiens are in their dominant position because of curiosity. And in fact one dominant trait of all species considered intelligent is curiosity. Curiosity is seeking to understand our environment. In particular addressing the questions of why and how. For primitive tribal humans everything is a mystery. And this is where the Shaman comes into prominence, by providing answers to the questions of why and how. Humans don’t like unanswered questions. And the Shaman provides answers and explanations. Whether the answers are true or accurate is immaterial. The critical function of the Shaman is to satiate the need to understand. Which brings a measure of assurance and stability to tribal members. The more plausible, realistic, or accurate the better.
One other critical difference between the Tribal leader and the Shaman. The leader controlled by action(s). The provider, the contributor. The Shaman influenced and hence controlled through words. Therefor it is logical to conclude that the first true Social Engineers arose from the Shamanic tradition. It was their ‘stories’ of why and how the Earth was that first mesmerized and spellbound the listeners. It was the Shaman who first learned to understand and appreciate the power of words, and symbols to control the tribe. It was the Shaman who came to understand just how suggestible humans are.
And it is from the Shamanic tradition that organized Religion arose. Just as organized Government arose from the position of Tribal leader. As Tribal leaders expanded their control beyond their local tribes, thus nations and societies were born, the need for tools and methods of control became quickly apparent. Government was the system created to manage the scattered peoples and provide order. Religion was the system used to unite the different peoples with a common ideology and belief system, which could transcend differences in language. For most of human history, until the past few hundred years, Government and Religion were intertwined. The separation of Church and State is a modern phenomenon, and one the foundational pillars that made the United States Of America unique.
But let’s return to our current time. Modern Tribal Man. Indeed. For humans are still very much tribal. 100’s of millions still live the classic tribal tradition today. Humans are in no way separated from their tribal roots. Modern humans are still very tribal, hence Modern Tribal Man. But, what is very different in modern cultures is how tribalism plays out. Modern tribes have many forms, and most people are members of multiple tribes. But every person has a primary tribe. It is this primary tribe that the individual derives their identity from. A primary tribe can be almost any group or organization. But the most common primary tribes are; family, work, religion, school, hobby/leisure activity. We know of the person’s whose ‘work is their life’, the person who lives to work. But also some jobs are tribal by nature. Law Enforcement, Pro Sports Teams, Legal Profession, but to name a few. Any job where a uniform is worn there is a natural inclination towards tribalism, which is actually one of the purposes of a uniform (uni = one, uniform = oneform). We have the person’s whose primary identity is their religion, and I speak primarily of the parishioner, follower, convert. And of course the classic examples of the Alumni who live and breath their College/University. Counter to ‘live to work’, we have the ‘work to live’ crowd. Those whose identity is their hobby, whatever form it may take. Surfer, runner, knitter, collector, sports fan, amateur sport player, MMORPG player… the list is endless.
But modern tribal man is not doing well, these modern tribes have significant drawbacks. The first issue is tribal competition or conflict. I speak not of one tribe conflicting with another. But that of the individual who is a member of multiple tribes, which is everyone. Work, Religion, Family. Being a member of multiple tribes automatically creates conflict. Tribal confusion. Work and Religion are a classic confrontation. But on a practical level you have multiple tribes pulling at the individual, which creates stress. Unlike the classic tribe which is the very definition of stable, modern tribes are very unstable. They change constantly. Members come and go. Businesses fail. People are laid off. Sports leagues rise and fall. Hobby clubs tend to have short lives. The modern tribe is the very definition of unstable. Which, leads to more stress.
I wanted to mention one other type of tribe, the local community or neighborhood. This should be a tribe, but it is not. In fact the local community is quite fractured. Local neighborhoods rarely today have any closeness between neighbors. This has been socially engineered purposely.
And so we have modern man and women. Who live under many different systems of control. Who are members of multiple tribes. And Social Engineering is occurring within all of these systems, and from most of these tribes. It should come as no surprise then why modern humans are so stressed. Conflicting messages, conflicting demands. Always changing, rarely stable.
Modern man lives within a Social Engineering matrix. Taxes, tax breaks, government assistance (EBT, Medicare, Social Security, College loans, home loans), now healthcare are all forms of Governmental social engineering. Interest rates and debt are the primary tools of the Financial system, now moving to negative interest rates to try and encourage people to spend their money, instead of save. Remember when saving was considered wise? The Judicial system uses laws and penalties to control and direct human behavior. Education’s primary purpose is not to teach the people HOW to think (logic, reason, problem solving), but WHAT to think… also called indoctrination. Or to learn nothing at all; memorize, regurgitate, forget. Education also subtly implies that an ‘expert’, called a teacher or professor, is required in order to learn something new. And of course Religion and all of it’s requirements and rules, not to mention their own taxation scheme. Churches don’t tax you say? Well, the Church won’t sue you or throw you in jail if you don’t tithe, or give a ‘love gift’, but guilt is a powerful motivator. As is absolution… paying for sins, such as the use of indulgences in the Catholic Church.
Our entertainment industry is one giant social engineering system. And an extremely powerful and effective one. But TV and Radio have a new rival, the network connected computer. In fact you can get your TV and Radio on the computer plus it has provided what possibly might be the most powerful social engineering tool to date… social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Not only can the controllers easily and quickly manipulate using these tools, but they get instant feedback on effectiveness and penetration. The computer also provides another historic first. And by computer what I’m referring to is any device, with a screen, CPU, and internet connection. So PC, laptop, Smart TV, tablet, smartphone, etc. The computer in conjunction with social media allows mass control at the individual level. So each person can be categorized, grouped and targeted based on the treasure trove of data they’ve provided. And tracked as well, and if you’re using a smartphone not only track who you communicate with, and where you visit online, but also track where you do this in the physical world as well. A ‘Smart’ device is a ‘Spy’ device.
So the System of Systems, or Pyramidal System always has a top system. Historically this has been Government and/or Religion, or most likely the combination. But in 2016 things are very different. For the past 100 years the we’ve had a new top dog, the Central Bank. Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, and Bank of Japan to name the big ones. And Western civilization cultures obsession with money, wealth, and material goods clearly bear this out. For greed runs rampant, and most people’s god is not Yahweh, Jesus, Buddha, Shiva or Allah but the almighty Dollar. And for those who don’t know, the Federal Reserve is a ‘private’ organization, with private owners (some foreign) and is not part of the US Government.
But it appears the Central Banks run as the top dog is short lived. For a new contender has emerged in the past two decades. Information. For information is power. And the computer has provided the tool to monitor, collect, sort, store, and retrieve, this information on an unprecedented scale. A very powerful scale, an Orwellian scale. And the smartphone in particular is allowing constant monitoring and control. Edward Snowden’s revelations barely scratched the surface of what is really going on, as none of the really important or shocking information he captured has been revealed. Was this a CIA Op to expose the NSA? Was it simply a vehicle to tell the world that EVERYTHING they do online is being recorded? Don’t expose my secrets or I’ll expose yours? For the NSA has surpassed the CIA in power. And the NSA is a tool of the US Military.
Power shifts rarely go unopposed. But Central Banks fiat currency ponzi scheme of debt based money is quickly coming crashing to an end. For debt is an extremely effective tool of control, but their is a limit. And the World as hit the debt limit, and is drowning in it. But hoping for Central Banks to go quietly in the night is wishing thinking…
And the War drums are beating in earnest in Syria.