Saturday, August 16, 2014

Public Relations- An Activist's View

      Well, television advertising has become very entertaining, and been that way for a long time now.  However, along with Public Relations, the business of Advertising became scientific a long time ago, and has obviously become part of the military-industrial complex and big business.  Subliminal Seduction was a great book by B. Wilson Key, I recall, but is fairly hard to obtain now.  Vance Packard wrote about it, but it goes back to people like Ed Bernays and another guy named Drecht, or something of that sort.   His name isn't mentioned in this wikipedia review.  The review does mention that the series may have been inspired by Stuart Ewen's PR! A Social History of Spin.  The film talks about the founding of the National Association of Manufacturers during the Roosevelt Administration, and Bernays' key role in the CIA's covert operations in the Guatemalan coup d'etats of 1954.  Cheers.  

The Century of the Self is a British television documentary series by Adam Curtis, released in 2002. It focuses on how the work of Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and Edward Bernays influenced the way corporations and governments have analyzed, dealt with, and controlled people.[1]


1. Happiness Machines (17 March 2002)
2. The Engineering of Consent (24 March 2002)
3. There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed (31 March 2002)
4. Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering (7 April 2002)


"This series is about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy." —Adam Curtis' introduction to the first episode.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed the perception of the human mind and its workings. The series describes the propaganda that Western governments and corporations have utilized stemming from Freud's theories.
Freud himself and his nephew Edward Bernays, who was the first to use psychological techniques in public relations, are discussed. Freud's daughter Anna Freud, a pioneer of child psychology, is mentioned in the second part, as is one of the main opponents of Freud's theories, Wilhelm Reich, in the third part.
Along these general themes, The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism, representative democracy, commodification and its implications. It also questions the modern way we see ourselves, the attitudes to fashion and superficiality.
The business and political world uses psychological techniques to read, create and fulfill the desires of the public, to make their products or speeches as pleasing as possible to consumers and citizens. Curtis raises the question of the intentions and roots of this fact. Where once the political process was about engaging people's rational, conscious minds, as well as facilitating their needs as a society, the documentary shows how by employing the tactics of psychoanalysis, politicians appeal to irrational, primitive impulses that have little apparent bearing on issues outside of the narrow self-interest of a consumer population.
The words of Paul Mazur, a leading Wall Street banker working for Lehman Brothers, are cited: "We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. [...] Man's desires must overshadow his needs".[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Germany Showing Backbone

  Germany is showing some gumption in recent trade talks.  A comment at the site goes beyond the article to suggest that it is the German people who are influencing a none too brazen government.  The German people have successfully lobbied a few times, and actually led much of the effort to create the favorable conditions for their renewable energy strength, following Denmark's pioneering steps, a very lonely but robust UK effort, and all along with the US and Spain's less democratic versions.  The selection below comes from Yes Magazine online.

 Why Germany Is Backing Away From a Trade Deal that Lets Corporations Sue the Government

A new round of international trade agreements threatens to increase corporate power over national governments. But news out of Germany suggests the deals aren't inevitable.

posted Aug 06, 2014

by Alexis Goldstein

A new round of international trade agreements threatens to increase corporate power over national governments. But news out of Germany suggests the deals aren't inevitable.
In a move that has many on the left cautiously celebrating, Reuters reported on July 28 that Germany might reject a new trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
Some commentators see Germany's move as proof that organizing against the new round of trade agreements is gaining ground.
The deal is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. It’s part of a new wave of large, aggressive trade deals that also includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union, and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) between 12 countries of the Pacific Rim.
If all the deals passed, they would affect more than half of the world’s economy. But the red light from Germany could signal that these agreements are not as inevitable as their advocates suggest.
Germany’s objections are centered specifically on the so-called “investor-state dispute settlement” provisions in CETA. These provisions—also known by the acronym ISDS—allow transnational corporations to take legal action against individual governments if they believe that the country’s domestic laws violate a trade agreement. And the legal disputes happen through arbitration, which is a way to settle disputes completely outside of the involved countries’ courts.
We’ve seen this movie before. Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) stipulates that three-person panels of private attorneys decide who wins in disputes between corporations and individual governments. These proceedings are closed to public observation.
The fallout has been dramatic: Corporations have used the NAFTA tribunals to win big-ticket monetary settlements from the taxpayers of nations whose domestic laws interfere with corporate profits. According to a report by the consumer-rights advocacy group Public Citizen, there are 17 pending claims in which corporations are seeking a total of $38 billion through NAFTA and other deals.
The compensation won through these claims hits particularly hard in Argentina—the most frequent target of these cases according to a 2014 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. In one example, Argentina was ordered to pay $185.3 million to the energy company BG Group, who sued for profits lost when the country froze gas prices in 2001.