I Want Your Attention!

May 1st, 2012 - R. Rados 

I want your attention and you're going to give it to me. The master of psychoanalysis and crowd psychology, Edward Bernays, once said, “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society”. Bernays is known for helping the tobacco companies make it acceptable for women to smoke in the 1920's by using feminist ideas and patriotism. Among other things, Bernays is partly responsible for your perception of bacon and eggs and the subconscious reasons that make you feel weird for eating them for dinner instead of breakfast. The man was a genius and his techniques are alive and well today.

Bernays knew that propaganda was a dirty word, so he coined a term to replace the word in Western society and – eventually – the entire world. Bernays coined the term public relations, and every corporation, every government, every labour union, and every organization has a PR person or firm to represent and promote their ideas and their visions in the public realm.

The modern consumer scurries around its environment like an ant or a parasite in search of something to consume, to fornicate with, and to defecate on. That pretty much sums it up. The emotions, the so-called purpose that we all give ourselves, the spirituality – all of it means nothing on a larger scale. In the grand scheme of the universe, our existence falls into place with every other primitive life form. Every skyscraper is a termite mound. Every city is a rash spreading across skin. Every newborn is another cell that swells the tumour. Every emotion and feeling is nothing more than a biological mechanism to aid us in our survival. This is probably how Edward Bernays saw the human race. By using and manipulating these mechanisms, he was able to herd the masses in almost any direction. His success only proves the accuracy of his assessment.

In the West, prosperity comes with wealth. Everyone wants wealth and power. This includes governments, corporations, unions, scientists, religious institutions, and all groups and organizations. One of the ways to acquire wealth is through an existing market. Another way is by creating an entirely new market from scratch. Consumers don't just consume material goods and food, they consume entertainment and information.

If you were anything like me in your dorky adolescence, you took sick pleasure in watching doomsday shows about Nostradamus, the Anti-Christ, meteor impacts, Y2K, and the inevitable Apocalypse – and maybe you still take pleasure in those things. The geniuses who used the Mayan calendar to create yet another doomsday market have made millions by selling books, movies, documentaries, and fear. The only people who haven't made money in the 2012 market are governments and scientists, largely because the 2012 doomsday is unstoppable. No scientist or government has a solution or a cure for the carnage and destruction that is supposed to ensue on December 21st. No taxes can stop the Mayan calendar from reaching its end in the same way that they can apparently reduce carbon emissions.

Just like profit and handouts, taxes are money. Money is power and Climate Change is a viable and successful doomsday market. Private scientific research organizations and independent scientists have lobbyists in Washington and Ottawa that work diligently to receive regulatory privileges and pieces of the taxpayer pie in the very same way that corporations and unions do. Climate Change research makes them money. Since fear and doom sell, media networks gain ratings from the Climate Change Apocalypse, and when ratings rise, advertisers come knocking. Governments and bureaucrats use Climate Change to create new taxes and to expand their power.

With so many people benefiting from the Climate Change market, there is no incentive to disavow, denounce, or question any of the so-called science behind it. In fact, by hyping it and finding new ways to influence this prospering market, even more groups and organizations can see mutual benefits.

The grandiosity of the Climate Change Apocalypse trumps almost all other worldly problems like war, oppression, disease, and mass idiocy. This makes it particularly beneficial to Western governments. By distracting the masses with yet more fear and sick entertainment (in addition to the smart phones, video games, sporty SUVs, Jersey shores, and white picket fences), governments can wage wars, pass legislation, and pull the wool over the eyes of an increasingly gullible populace. The fear of losing everything is what makes the Climate Change Apocalypse and its deniers even more demonic and inhumane to those who are unaware that they've been consumed by the tried and true methods of PR firms.

When us Westerners take the time to poke our heads out of our convenient consumer bubbles, we see a primitive world of chaos and violence. We see bloodshed in Syria, murder in Afghanistan, and genocide in Africa. We seldom understand any of it. We find ourselves baffled by the mentality of these violent brutes. People like Bernays, however, aren't baffled at all. They see this mentality in all of us. The only thing stopping us from behaving like animals is our fear of losing what we've earned and having less to consume.

“Having nothing, nothing can he lose.” That quote is from William Shakespeare's King Henry The Sixth, Part Three. When we're at the bottom, we can only move up or die. Most of us choose to move in the direction that we perceive as up because no one really wants to die.

When someone has either lost everything or feels like they have nothing to lose – and are tired of having nothing – they usually plan a bank robbery or some sort of elaborate, violent, or desperate scheme. Nothing can mean different things to different people, but for most of us in the West it means “nothing of material value”.

The more we have to consume, the more distracted we become.

Distraction is the key to sustaining a successful and peaceful democracy. That was at least half of what Bernays meant when he uttered his infamous quote. The real world has real problems. A fantasy world has only delusions and aimless desires. Most of us live in a fantasy world, either because the real world is too complicated or too boring. People without the pleasantries of consumer products and material distractions live in the real world – the world where dissent, murder, poverty, survival, and true human nature are the only distractions. Western governments would rather have the less intelligent masses play Angry Birds than get involved in foreign and domestic policy. Policy-making is best left to those who know what they're doing. In regions like Palestine, Libya, and Sedan, there are far less consumer pleasantries. There are fewer television shows, smart phones, and elaborate video games and synthesized realities – there are more free thoughts. With thoughts come reflections, questions, scrutiny, and anger. With few distractions and very little to lose, the animals come out to play.