Propaganda and Our Wonky Contemporary Political Apparitions

“Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.” — Edward Bernays

In 1922 Bertrand Russell gave a speech which was reproduced in a small volume titled Free Thought and Official Propaganda. One aim of his speech was to encourage people to read the newspapers in a less gullible manner, with less credulity.

“Don’t believe everything you read,” applies to every form of media and not just the Internet.

“There are two quite different evils about propaganda as now practiced,” Russell noted nearly a century ago. “On the one hand, its appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument; on the other hand, it gives an unfair advantage to those who can obtain the most publicity, whether through wealth or power.”

He went on to say his bigger concern was the latter of these two. He illustrates it with a story of two parties whose ideas are equally good, but one party has ten times more money to promote their ideas. “It is obvious that the arguments in favor of the richer party would become more widely known than those of the poorer party, and therefore the richer party would win. The situation is, of course, intensified when one party is the Government.”

Fast forward: 21st Century

Over the past 100 years it’s been pretty much established (in the U.S.) that there are really only two parties, the Republicans (GOP) and the Democrats. In the last 100 years has any other party achieved the White House?

The number of third party candidates who have attempted and failed are too numerous to cite. And since billionaire Ross Perot’s temporary blip, there are really no real challenges to the GOP/Dem stranglehold.

Why? Because as as Bertrand Russell notes, the arguments in favor of the richer party become more widely known than those of the poorer party.

They say that those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are destined to repeat it. It’s apparent that our current president had actually been paying attention to the failed bids of Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, Eugene McCarthy, Henry Wallace and numerous others.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister once said, “Think of the press as a great keyboard upon which the government can play.” This is the same man who said that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Well, one big lie in this country is that we have free elections. It may be true at the lower levels, but at the highest realm, where more is at stake, the game is rigged. Corporate dollars are flowing to the sure winners, and the sure bet is that it will be a Republican or Democrat in the White House again next term.

Returning to Russell: “The state is a collection of officials… drawing comfortable incomes so long as the status quo is preserved. The only alteration they are likely to desire in the status quo is an increase of bureaucracy and the power of bureaucrats.”

We have Republicans and Democrats in office. Every four year they vie like Sumo wrestlers for the Oval Office.

At the end of the day, when you step back and examine what our political leaders have done for the past 100 years, the trend lines are not difficult to recognize. One sees rising bureaucracy followed by rising taxes, followed by increasing bureaucracy, and more regulations limiting freedoms. And still more taxes. It hardly matters which political party is in office.

The Big Surprise

This blog essay was originally written during the Obama administration. In 2016 something unbelievable happened.

Every four years we see a continuous parade of candidates who all come from within this system, ever voting themselves more money and more power at our expense. No one on the national scene who seriously aimed to reverse this pattern is electable because both parties, Republican and Democrat, endorse this status quo situation that they so benefit from. Third parties have neither the money, nor the media assistance that the GOP and Dems have.

This is why Donald Trump played his hand inside the GOP camp. He saw what happened to Ross Perot, the richest outsider to ever make a run for it.

Trump’s victory and subsequent term in the Oval Office has been a truly disruptive force to the status quo in D.C. It’s not only shaken up the pundits but also jazzed a public that was in danger of quietly succumbing to apathy regarding our political process, especially with regards to the national scene. In fact, there might have been good reasons behind this widespread epidemic of indifference.

It waits to be seen how the the GOP and Dems will play their hands over the next 10 months. Any bets on the outcome of the Trump impeachment efforts?To be honest, I haven’t a clue how this soap opera will pan out. I concur with Mr. Dylan’s Oscar-winning “Things Have Changed” where he sings, “People are crazy, times are strange…”

Meantime, life goes on. Let’s live and learn.

Portions of this were originally published at

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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