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Thread: Engineering of Consent: Guatemala Coup 1954

  1. Default Engineering of Consent: Guatemala Coup 1954

    Edward Bernays is known as the 'Father of Public Relations'. His clients included the Eisenhower administration and the United Fruit Company during the process of "engineering consent" for the overthrow of capitalist democracy in Guatemala 1954 which was secretly orchestrated by the CIA. Bernays' propaganda operation used the media to frighten the population into believing that President Arbenz was a puppet of Moscow and that Guatemala had become a Soviet beachead. The media however willfully neglected to inform the public that the Arbenz administration had been overthrown by the CIA. Instead, they chose to report it as a liberation from Communist tyranny by freedom fighters for democracy.

    "You may have to sell [intervention or other miltary action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman Doctrine."

    -Samuel Hunnington, Harvard Government Proffessor, Foreign Policy Advisor, Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council (1977-79)


    "The century of the self" by Adam Curtis. Story behind the coup d'etat which toppled elected president Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. The film explains how Edward Bernays, recruited by United Fruits, created the conditions for a government intervention. Mass media were successfully used for manipulating the public and generating consensus around a military action involving the CIA.
    United Fruit Company public relations specialist, Thomas P. McCann, wrote of their success in using the press to create a favorable climate of opinion for the CIA-orchestrated Guatemalan coup of 1954:

    For about eight years (1953-1960) a great deal of the news of Central America which appeared in the North American press was supplied, edited and sometimes made by United Fruit's public relations department in New York.[1]

    It is difficult to make a convincing case for manipulation of the press when the victims proved so eager for the experience.[2]
    For the Public Relations manual's opening words, see Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda, New York: Horace Liveright, 1928. The exact language (pp. 9, 31):

    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.

    Clearly it is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically. In the active proselytizing minorities in whom selfish interests and public interests coincide lie the progress and development of American democracy.
    Edward L. Bernays, "The Engineering of Consent," The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 250 ("Communication and Social Action"), March 1947, pp. 113-120. An excerpt (pp. 114-115):

    Leaders, with the aid of technicians in the field who have specialized in utilizing the channels of communication, have been able to accomplish purposefully and scientifically what we have termed "the engineering of consent." This phrase quite simply means the use of an engineering approach -- that is, action based on thorough knowledge of the situation and on the application of scientific principles and tried practices to the task of getting people to support ideas and programs. . . .

    The average American adult has only six years of schooling behind him. With pressing crises and decisions to be faced, a leader frequently cannot wait for the people to arrive at even general understanding. In certain cases, democratic leaders must play their part in leading the public through the engineering of consent to socially constructive goals and values. The responsible leader, to accomplish social objectives, must therefore be constantly aware of the possibilities of subversion. He must apply his energies to mastering the operational know-how of consent engineering, and to out-maneuvering his opponents in the public interest.
    For some articulations of this leading doctrine of liberal-democratic intellectual thought, see for example, Edward L. Bernays [the leading figure of the public relations industry], Propaganda, New York: Horace Liveright, 1928. An excerpt (pp. 19-20):

    In the days when kings were kings, Louis XIV made his modest remark, "L'Etat c'est moi." He was nearly right. But times have changed. The steam engine, the multiple press, and the public school, that trio of the industrial revolution, have taken the power away from kings and given it to the people. The people actually gained power which the king lost. For economic power tends to draw after it political power; and the history of the industrial revolution shows how that power passed from the king and the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie. Universal suffrage and universal schooling reŽnforced this tendency, and at last even the bourgeoisie stood in fear of the common people. For the masses promised to become king.

    Today, however, a reaction has set in. The minority has discovered a powerful help in influencing majorities. It has been found possible so to mold the mind of the masses that they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction. In the present structure of society, this practice is inevitable. Whatever of social importance is done to-day, whether in politics, finance, manufacture, agriculture, charity, education, or other fields, must be done with the help of propaganda. Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.
    Last edited by Horhey; Apr 27 2012 at 07:25 PM.
    "As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance".

    --John Dewey

  2. Default

    Hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans would not have been murdered or died from malnutrition or diseases if the media didnt act as enablers for these policies. If the public had been informed of the truth Washington wouldnt have been able to get away it. Every major newspaper and television station supported Washington's terrorist wars in Central America.
    "As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance".

    --John Dewey

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