By Larry Romanoff for the Saker Blog
From their experiences in the formulation, manipulation and control of public perception and opinion with the CPI, both Lippman and Bernays later wrote of their open contempt for a “malleable and hopelessly ill-informed public” in America. (1) Lippmann had already written that the people in a democracy were simply “a bewildered herd” of “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders” (2) who should be maintained only as “interested spectators”, to be controlled by the elite “secret government”. They concluded that in a multi-party electoral system (a democracy), public opinion had to be “created by an organized intelligence” and “engineered by an invisible government”, with the people relegated to the status of uninformed observers, a situation that has existed without interruption in the US for the past 95 years. Bernays believed that only a few possessed the necessary insight into the Big Picture to be entrusted with this sacred task, and considered himself as one member of this select few.
“Throughout his career, Bernays was utterly cynical in his manipulation of the masses. In complete disregard of the personal importance of their sincerely held values, aspirations, emotions, and beliefs, he saw them as having no significance beyond their use as tools in the furtherance of whatever were the commercial and political ends of his hirers.”
In his book ‘Propaganda’, (3) (3a)(4) Bernays wrote, “It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda during the war that opened the eyes of the intelligent few in all departments of life to the possibilities of regimenting the public mind. It was only natural, after the war ended, that intelligent persons should ask themselves whether it was not possible to apply a similar technique to the problems of peace. 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.”
Bernays’ original project was to ensure US entry into the European war, but later he primarily concerned himself with the entrenchment of the twin systems of electoral democracy and unrestricted capitalism the elites had created for their benefit, and with their defense in the face of increased unrest, resistance, and ideological opposition. Discovering that the bewildered herd was not so compliant as he wished, Bernays claimed a necessity to apply “the discipline of science”, i.e., the psychology of propaganda, to the workings of democracy, where his social engineers “would provide the modern state with a foundation upon which a new stability might be realized”. This was what Lippmann termed the necessity of “intelligence and information control” in a democracy, stating that propaganda “has a legitimate and desirable part to play in our democratic system”. Both men pictured modern American society as being dominated by “a relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses”. To Bernays, this was the “logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized”, failing to note that it was his European handlers who organised it this way in the first place.
Lippman and Bernays were not independent in their perverted view of propaganda as a “necessity” of democracy, any more than they were in war marketing, drawing their theories and instruction from their Zionist masters in London. The multi-party electoral system was not designed and implemented because it was the most advanced form of government but rather because it alone offered the greatest opportunities to corrupt politicians through control of money and to manipulate public opinion through control of the press. In his book The Engineering of Consent, (5) (5a) Bernays baldly stated that “The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process”. In other words, the essence of a democracy is that a few “invisible people” manipulate the bewildered herd into believing they are in control of a transparent system of government, by choosing one of two pre-selected candidates who are already bought and paid for by the same invisible people.
Even before the war, the ‘secret government’, i.e., the European handlers of Lippman and Bernays, had fully recognised the possibilities for large-scale population control and had developed far-reaching ambitions of their own in terms of “Democracy Control”, and using the US government once again as a tool. Their interest was not limited to merely the American population, but quickly included much of the Western world. With Lippman and Bernays as their agents, these invisible people had the US government applying Bernays’ principles in nations all over the world, adding the CIA Project Mockingbird (6) (7) (8) (9) (10), the VOA (11) (12), Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty, and much more to their tools of manipulation of the perceptions and beliefs of peoples of dozens of nations. The US State Department, by now totally onside, claimed that “propaganda abroad is indispensable” for what it termed “public information management”. It also recognised the need for absolute secrecy, stating that “if the American people ever get the idea that the high-powered propaganda machine was working on them, the result would be disaster”. But the high-powered machine was indeed working on them, and continued to an extent that might have impressed even Bernays.
The history of propaganda and its use in manipulating and controlling public opinion in the US, and in Western democracies generally, is a long story involving many apparently disparate and unrelated events. A major crisis point for elite control of American democracy was the Vietnam War, the one period in history when the American people were treated to accurate media coverage of what their government was actually doing in another country. Due to the horrific revelations of American torture and brutality, public protests were so widespread that the US was on the verge of anarchy and became almost ungovernable. Americans were tearing up their military draft notices and fleeing to Canada to escape military service. Streets and university campuses were overwhelmed with protests and riots, at least until Nixon ordered the students shot in the back. (13) (14) (15) That was in 1970, but in 1971, Daniel Ellsberg stole “The Pentagon Papers” from the RAND corporation where he worked, and leaked them to the media, and that was the beginning of the end. After the political fallout and Nixon’s resignation, Bernays’ secret government went into overdrive and the American political landscape changed forever.
A major part of this ‘democratic overdrive’ was the almost immediate creation in July of 1973 by David Rockefeller, Rothschild, and some “private citizens”, of a US-based think tank called ‘the Trilateral Commission’. (16) At the time, Rockefeller was Chairman of Rothschild’s Council on Foreign Relations as well as Chairman of the Rothschild-controlled Chase Manhattan Bank. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Obama’s Foreign Policy Advisor, was a ‘co-founder’. The necessity for the formation of this group was officially attributed to the Middle-East oil crisis, but they focused on a much more important crisis – that of democracy, which was exhibiting clear signs of going where no man should go. At the time, with a modicum of free press remaining, the Washington Post published an article titled “Beware of the Trilateral commission” (17). They would not do so again. Any criticism of the Commission is today officially listed by the US government as a ‘conspiracy theory’. (18)
I could find no record of any report by the Trilateral Commission on the Mid-East oil crisis, and it appears their first major report, published by New York University in 1975 only two years after their formation, was titled, “The Crisis of Democracy” (19) (20), a lead writer of which was a Harvard professor named Samuel Huntington.
In the paper, Huntington stated that “The 1960’s witnessed an upsurge of democratic fervor in America”, with an alarming increase of citizens participating in marches, protests and demonstrations, all evidence of “a reassertion of equality as a goal in social, economic and political life”, equality being something no democracy can afford. He claimed, “The essence of the democratic surge of the 1960’s was a general challenge to existing systems of authority, public and private. In one form or another, it manifested itself in the family, the university, business, public and private associations, politics, the governmental bureaucracy, and the military services.”
Huntington, who had been a propaganda consultant to the US government during its war on Vietnam, further lamented that the common people no longer considered the elites and bankers to be superior and felt little obligation or duty to obey. We needn’t do much reading between the lines to see that Huntington’s real complaint was that the wealthy elites, those of the secret government, were coming under increasing public attack due to revelations of grand abuses of their wealth and power. They were no longer admired and respected, nor even particularly feared, but instead were increasingly despised. The people also abandoned trust in their government due to the realisation of the extensive infiltration of the White House and Congress by Bernays’ “shrewd operators”, leading to, in Huntington’s words, “a decline in the authority, status, influence, and effectiveness of the presidency”.
Huntington concluded that the US was suffering from “an excess of democracy”, writing that “the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires apathy and noninvolvement”, stating this was crucial because it was precisely these qualities of the public that “enabled democracy to function effectively”. True to his racist roots, he identified “the blacks” as one such group that was becoming “too democratic” and posing a danger to the political system. He ended his report by stating that “the vulnerability of democracy, essentially the ‘crisis of democracy'”, stemmed from a society that was becoming educated and was participating, and that the nation needed “a more balanced existence” with what he called “desirable limits to the extension of political democracy”. In other words, the real crisis in democracy was that the people were beginning to believe in the “government by the people, for the people” part, and not only actually becoming involved but beginning to despise and disobey those who had been running the country solely for their own financial and political advantage. And of course, the solution was to engineer a social situation with less education and democracy and more authority from the secret government of the elites.
Democracy, according to Huntington, consisted of the appearance but not the substance, a construct whereby the shrewd elites selected candidates for whom the people could pretend to vote, but who would be controlled by, and obey their masters. Having thus participated in ‘democracy’, the people would be expected to return to their normal state of apathy and noninvolvement.
Noam Chomsky also noted in an article that in the student activism of the 1960s and early 1970s, the nation apparently risked becoming too well educated, creating the Trilateral Commission’s ‘crisis of democracy’. In other words, the ignorance necessary for the maintenance of a multi-party government system was at risk of being eroded by students who were actually learning things that Bernays’ secret government didn’t want them to learn. “The Commission in a report decried the focus on what it called “special-interest groups” like women, workers and students, trying to gain rights within the political arena that were clearly “against the national interest” [of the top 1%]”. The Commission stated it was especially concerned with schools and universities that were not doing their job of “properly indoctrinating the young” and that “we have to have more moderation in democracy”. From there, the path forward was clear: young people in America would now be “properly indoctrinated” by both the public school system and the universities, so as to become “more moderate”, more ignorant, and above all to avoid demanding things like social equality and workers’ rights that were so clearly against the ‘national interest’ of the elites and their ‘secret government’.
Before Huntington and the student activism of the 1960s, we had another renowned expert on propaganda, politics and fascism, in the person of another American Jew, Harold Lasswell, who has been admiringly described as “a leading American political scientist and communications theorist, specializing in the analysis of propaganda”, with claims Lasswell was “ranked among the half dozen creative innovators in the social sciences in the twentieth century”. His biographer, Almond, stated firmly that “few would question that [Lasswell] was the most original and productive political scientist of his time”. (21) High praise indeed, reminiscent of that ladled onto Lippman and Bernays – and for the same reasons.
Even earlier, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the University of Chicago held a series of secret seminars on “communication”, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, that included some of the most prominent researchers in the fields of ‘communications and sociology’, one of whom was Lasswell. Like Lippman and Bernays before him, and Huntington et al after him, Lasswell was of the opinion that democracy could not sustain itself without a credentialed elite shaping, molding and controlling public opinion through propaganda. He stated that if the elites lacked the necessary force to compel obedience from the masses, then ‘social managers’ must turn to “a whole new technique of control, largely through propaganda”, because of the “ignorance and superstition of the masses”. He claimed that society should not succumb to “democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests”, because they were not. Further, “the best judges are the elites, who must, therefore, be ensured of the means to impose their will, for the common good”. The Rockefeller and other Foundations and think-tanks have been slowly executing this advice now for almost 100 years.
Among the many results of the work of Lippman and Bernays was the subsumption, of initially the Executive Branch and eventually the Legislative Branch as well, of the US government, into a global plan of the European and American bankers and their US corporate and political interests. We speak openly today of the White House and US Congress being overwhelmingly controlled by the Jewish lobby and their multinational corporations, but this forest was planted 100 years ago. By the early 1900s we already had an American government firmly under the powerful influence of, and effectively controlled by, what Bernays termed the “secret government”, and which was controlled in virtually the same manner as the bewildered public herd. During his presidential election campaign in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt said, “Behind the visible government there is an invisible government upon the throne that owes the people no loyalty and recognizes no responsibility”, (22) and claimed it was necessary to destroy this invisible government and undo the corrupt union of business and politics. Roosevelt again:
“It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor and other people’s lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness. These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.”
Arthur Miller wrote that “Those who formally rule, take their signals and commands not from the electorate as a body, but from a small group of men. It exists even though its existence is denied, and this is one of the secrets of the American social order, but one that is not to be discussed.” And, as Baudelaire told us, “The devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist”. The truth of this is everywhere to be seen, but few want to look.
Returning to Bernays and his propaganda to save democracy, and the versions promulgated by his heirs, there were two intermixed currents in that river. The most important was for the (largely foreign) bankers and industrialists to regain full control of the US government, especially the economic sectors, the first step being to repair the loosened control of the political parties themselves and the politicians inhabiting them. There is an interesting Chinese document that accurately addresses the deep Jewish influence on the US government at the time, stating: “The Democratic Party belongs to the Morgan family, and the Republican Party belongs to the Rockefeller family. Rockefeller and Morgan, however, belonged to Rothschild.” (23) Then, new and extensive efforts were required to regain social and political control of the population. What they needed was a vaccine, not to protect the American people, but to infect them with an incurable disease pleasantly named ‘democratisation’, but which would be more readily recognisable as zombification. They succeeded.
Democracy had always been hyped in the West as the most perfect form of government, but under the influence of an enormous propaganda campaign it soon morphed into the pinnacle of enlightened human evolution, certainly in the minds of Americans, but in the West generally. Since a multi-party electoral system formed the underpinnings of external (foreign) control of the US government, it was imperative to inject this fiction directly into the American psyche. They did so, to the extent that “democracy”, with its thousands of meanings, is today equivalent to a bible passage – a message from God that by its nature cannot be questioned. Bernays and his people were the source of the deep, abiding – and patently false – conviction in every American heart that democracy is a “universal value”. One of the most foolish and persistent myths these people created was the fairytale that as every people evolved toward perfection and enlightenment, their DNA would mutate and they would develop a God-given, perhaps genetic, craving for a multi-party political system. This conviction is entirely nonsense, without a shred of historical or other evidence to support it, a foolish myth created to further delude the bewildered herd.
But there was much more necessary in terms of social control. By the time Regan replaced Carter in 1980, all the wheels were in motion to permanently disenfranchise American citizens from everything but their by now beloved “democracy”. Regan’s assault on the American public was entirely frontal, with Volcker of the FED plunging the US into one of the most brutal recessions in history, driving down wages and home ownership, destroying a lifetime’s accumulation of personal assets, dramatically increasing unemployment, eliminating labor unions almost entirely, and making the entire nation politically submissive from fear. Interestingly, the more that their precious democracy was impoverishing and emasculating them, the more strongly the American public clung to it, no longer retaining any desire for equality but merely hoping for survival. The eight years of Regan’s presidency were some of the most brutal in US history, but with the power of the propaganda and the willing compliance of the mass media, the American people had no understanding of what was happening to them. The lessons of the 1970s and the Vietnam War were learned well, and Bernays’ “invisible people” reclaimed the US as a colony, both the government and the people, the reclamation cleverly “engineered by an invisible government”.
The full Machiavellian nature of this propaganda, its true intent and results, will not be immediately apparent to readers from this brief essay. The next essay in this short series, a description of the further transition of Bernays’ propaganda methods to education and commerce, will fill in many of the gaps and permit readers to connect more dots and obtain a clearer picture of the entire landscape.
Introduction – If America Dissolves… https://thesaker.is/if-america-dissolves/
Bernays and Propaganda – Part 1 of 5 — https://thesaker.is/bernays-and-propaganda/
Bernays and Propaganda – Part 2 of 5 — The Marketing of War — https://thesaker.is/bernays-and-propaganda-the-marketing-of-war/
Bernays and Propaganda – Part 3 of 5 –– Democracy Control
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 30 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’.
His full archive can be seen at
He can be contacted at: email@example.com
(12) The VOA surrounded China from all neighboring countries, and including a massive presence in Hong Kong, broadcasting American seditionist propaganda into China (according to Bernays’ template) 24 hours a day for generations. It failed, and was finally shut down in 2019. Also, when the Taiwanese scientist identified the 5 original haplotypes of the COVID-19 virus and proved they had originated in the US, it was the VOA that harrassed the man so badly online that he closed all his social media accounts and went dark. Democracy being a coin with only one side, the US greatly resented China Radio International broadcasting “Beijing-friendly programs on over 30 US outlets, many in major American cities.” http://chinaplus.cri.cn/opinion/opedblog/23/20181006/192270.html
(23) The Age of Innovation 2013 Issue 6 95-97 pp. 3 of 1003, The database of scientific and technological journals of Chinese science and technology; http://www.cqvip.com/QK/70988X/201306/46341293.html