It’s been a century since Edward Bernays wrote his seminal “Propaganda,” unveiling a PR industry that had previously operated only behind the scenes and triggering its growth into an industrial behemoth that now reaches the far corners of the earth. Wars are fought on the level of “hearts and minds” as much as bombs and guns, and huge swathes of the population won’t make a move unless they believe it’s approved by Public Opinion. In the past few decades, technology has allowed PR to consolidate its hold on the human mind in a way that was not previously possible. The end goal is to divorce us from everything that makes us human, creating hollowed-out automata eager to receive their marching orders. Far from the days in which advertising was a resented intrusion, we now line up overnight to receive our personal propaganda-delivery devices, and for too many of us, received propaganda has supplanted the development of an individual self.
Where is this headed, and can it be stopped?
(i gave this talk on January 19, 2020, not too long before the coronavirus pandemic was announced...sometimes i hate being right)
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