Friday, May 3, 2013

The Century of the Self - a good place to look if you want to understand progressivism

If you want to understand progressivism, the BBC's documentary called "The Century of the Self"(CotS) is a surprisingly good place to start. Not just in what it does say, but in what it does not say and does not emphasize greater. Unfortunately, an accurate watching of CotS requires a certain level of built in knowledge. Much more than I could or will cover in one blog posting, for example, CotS mentions Woodrow Wilson as well as the CPI. That's beyond the scope of this blog posting to go in-depth, but I have covered both extensively and made plenty of information freely available for you to have access to. Any original sources that you come across, feel free to take them and do with what you wish.

I am coming up on the tail end of my recording of Walter Lippmann's book "Public Opinion" which means that much of the notes I have made regarding some of the things I have seen I will be covering in the coming days and weeks, but I do not want to leave the sole impression that I lay the blame squarely at Lippmann's feet. The corruption of the press goes wide and deep, well before Lippmann's tenure(and since), yet his importance cannot be ignored all the same. I'll give you two examples as a reference point not just for my readers, but for my own purposes.

1: John Dewey is considered the "Father of Modern Education", but that doesn't mean you can lay 100% of the blame at his feet either. John Dewey held Horace Mann in a very high regard, yet Horace Mann wrote the following: "We, then, who are engaged in the sacred cause of education, are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause". While there is a clear relation, this highlights that the corruption of education happened at least in part, before Dewey.(and of course, since)

2: In Lippmann's own writing, he points out the following: (page 40)

"Major Cointet, had invented a method of calculating German losses which obviously produced marvelous results. Every fortnight the figures increased a hundred thousand or so. These 300,000, 400,000, 500,000 casualties put out, divided into daily, weekly, monthly losses, repeated in all sorts of ways, produced a striking effect. Our formulae varied little: 'according to prisoners the German losses in the course of the attack have been considerable' ... 'it is proved that the losses' ... 'the enemy exhausted by his losses has not renewed the attack' ... Certain formulae, later abandoned because they had been overworked, were used each day: 'under our artillery and machine gun fire' ... 'mowed down by our artillery and machine gun fire' ... Constant repetition impressed the neutrals and Germany itself, and helped to create a bloody background in spite of the denials from Nauen (the German wireless) which tried vainly to destroy the bad effect of this perpetual repetition."

Which is exactly what the media did during the Iraq war. They bombarded us with this exact perpetual repetition. Lippmann didn't make this up. This is a good example of how the pen is mightier than the sword.

Yet Lippmann is quoted twice in Bernays' book Propaganda. If it weren't for the fact that Bernays left journalism to help Wilson with his propaganda, then go on to do propaganda for corporate america, he might very well have become the Father of Modern Journalism himself, instead of Lippmann. Even as an old man, you can see by watching BBC's documentary how sly and crafty the guy was.

This gets at point 1 of "The Century of the Self": It completely omits the fact that Edward Bernays was himself a journalist. It can't help but note that he had journalist friends because of the Torches of Freedom incident, but it never specifically states that that's initially what Bernays did. He was a journalist. That's how he was picked up by the CPI. Wilson's Committee for Public Information heavily employed members of the press.

So in this instance, the BBC is itself relying upon the tactics of Edward Bernays in doing a documentary about Edward Bernays. That's quite an interesting thing, isn't it? How different would the BBC's reporting have to be if the BBC incorporated the journalist's role in crowd control? One study even points out how the power to omit information gives journalists a huge amount of overall power. This includes CotS. By omitting Bernays' days as a journalist, the BBC successfully kept themselves out of examination. If the press were ever seriously examined, I do believe there is at least a potential for mass unrest. I do not think it would lead to violence, but there's no question that we have been betrayed by those who are supposed to be defending us; the "free press". And in that, there would be much anger if it were ever widely known.

Second, while the CPI is mentioned, this documentary largely glosses over government propaganda and sticks with the usual media formula of how evil and rotten the corporation is. The corporation is hardly an angel in any equation and in quite a large amount of instances, they're completely indefensible. However, how different would the BBC's reporting have to be if the BBC incorporated government propaganda efforts for the problems of peace? A phrase, which they even incorporate into their very own documentary!(Bernays uses the phrase) Once again, highlighting how the BBC is itself relying upon the tactics of Edward Bernays in doing a documentary about Edward Bernays.

Which is what I meant at the outset of this posting. You need a certain level of built in knowledge for a more accurate viewing of CotS. But once you have that information, which it has been my intent to give you, you can then begin to see how CotS is a great prep into the mindset of progressives.

Though you have to be looking for it, the BBC does inevitably swerve into the journalists' role in crowd control. They clearly don't want to discuss it. But it's right there in the documentary. The Torches of Freedom Incident simply could not have happened without the help of sympathetic figures in the press. This is probably the easiest place for anybody to see and then stop and ask themselves "hey wait, there's clearly something not right with that", and then end up asking even more questions.

1 comment:

  1. It's important to note that much of what I typed is regarding the first hour segment of CotS, particularly the first 20 minutes. My observations are largely foundational. Like many other things, once something is started it takes on a life of its own. Pandora's Box if you will.