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An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
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Multimedia posted Mar 21 2006, 9:29 PM Source: InformationLiberation Print

The Century of the Self

The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires

"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.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized."
- Edward Bernays

THE CENTURY OF THE SELF

Adam Curtis' acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund's devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund's great grandson, Matthew Freud.

Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal.

Please Note: Viewers should be sure to read Ludwig Von Mises' 'The Anti-Capitalist Mentality' to balance the socialistic elements of this film.

This film was produced by BBC which is Britain's government run news channel, therefor it downplays the evils of government and plays up the vices of business. The enemy is not capitalism or 'consumption' but government and its insidious propaganda. Mass produced goods enrich society because they reduce the amount of time a person has to work to satisfy one's essential needs. Government propaganda debases society because it is used as an excuse for everything from murderous wars of aggression to oppressive economy killing taxation and regulation. When a business sells you something voluntarily you will only buy it if you think the product is worth more than the price you have to pay for it. When the government propagandizes you they are merely giving you excuses to submit to their use of force which will be bearing down on you whether you like it or not. The two are very different and this film does a disservice by confusing them. That said, it's important to understand the propagandists who serve to justify the crimes of the state. Selling someone a product they don't truly "need" hurts no one, selling people on a war they don't need gets millions of people murdered and destroys entire societies. - Chris, InformationLiberation


Happiness Machines
Part One



One: Happiness Machines

The story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud's ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn't need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.

Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.

His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile.

It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today's world.

See Ludwig von Mises "The Noneconomic Objections to Capitalism" and "The Argument of Happiness" to balance the propaganda in this section.

The Engineering of Consent
Part Two



Two: The Engineering of Consent

The programme explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud's ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses.

Politicians and planners came to believe Freud's underlying premise - that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires and fears. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany. To stop it ever happening again they set out to find ways to control this hidden enemy within the human mind.

Sigmund Freud's daughter, Anna, and his nephew, Edward Bernays, provided the centrepiece philosophy. The US government, big business, and the CIA used their ideas to develop techniques to manage and control the minds of the American people. But this was not a cynical exercise in manipulation. Those in power believed that the only way to make democracy work and create a stable society was to repress the savage barbarism that lurked just under the surface of normal American life.


There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads:
He Must Be Destroyed

Part Three



Three: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed

In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas in America. They were inspired by the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of Freud's, who had turned against him and was hated by the Freud family. He believed that the inner self did not need to be repressed and controlled. It should be encouraged to express itself.

Out of this came a political movement that sought to create new beings free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people's minds by business and politics.

This programme shows how this rapidly developed in America through self-help movements like Werber Erhard's Erhard Seminar Training - into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.

But the American corporations soon realised that this new self was not a threat but their greatest opportunity. It was in their interest to encourage people to feel they were unique individuals and then sell them ways to express that individuality. To do this they turned to techniques developed by Freudian psychoanalysts to read the inner desires of the new self.

[InfoLib Note: The portrayal of Wilhelm Reich in this film is completely wrong, Wilhelm Reich was one of the greatest men to ever live, check out his book "Listen, Little Man!"]

Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering
Part Four



Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

This episode explains how politicians on the left, in both Britain and America, turned to the techniques developed by business to read and fulfil the inner desires of the self.

Both New Labour, under Tony Blair, and the Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group, which had been invented by psychoanalysts, in order to regain power. They set out to mould their policies to people's inner desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learnt to do with products.

Out of this grew a new culture of public relations and marketing in politics, business and journalism. One of its stars in Britain was Matthew Freud who followed in the footsteps of his relation, Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations in the 1920s.

The politicians believed they were creating a new and better form of democracy, one that truly responded to the inner feelings of individual. But what they didn't realise was that the aim of those who had originally created these techniques had not been to liberate the people but to develop a new way of controlling them.

Other options to view the film:

1. Click here to watch it instantly in Real Media Format

2. Click here to get to Archive.org and download it for free

3. Download it directly from the following links, right click and choose "save as".

The Century of the Self -- Part 1--Part 2--Part 3--Part 4
(right click, save as)

There are four parts. Each part is around 160 MB. The video is in MP4 format which requires VLC Media Player (http://www.videolan.org).

Media Lens critiques aspects of the film

The Unspoken Rule of Media Reporting: The BBC's The Century of the Self - Part 2 - Part 3



























Comments 61 - 80 of 91 Add Comment < Page of 5 >
Anonymous

Posted: Oct 27 2010, 11:32 PM

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69165 If you take out anything from these vids, please let it be that "right-wing" and "left-wing" parties both are vehicles for the domination of the moneyed elite. Our divisions are their strength. Always have been.

If you want to know who to look out for in this day and age, look no further than any numbered bank account taken at random in financial institutions in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Delaware, Belgium, the City, Caiman Islands, Hong Kong, Monaco, etc. etc.
compukatz

Posted: Jan 26 2011, 9:23 PM

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This was just an eye opening documentary! It was so interesting that I watched all four parts back to back. Everyone should see this film. I heard about this particular film on Glenn Beck Show. Thanks for making it available!
Anonymous

Posted: Jan 31 2011, 4:06 PM

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7195 the corporations would rather donate thier riches to future charity than share it with the general population through realisric wages!!!!!!
profane

Posted: Feb 24 2011, 2:04 AM

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98232 One of the most striking points, the idea that manufacturers are concerned that with mass production, soon everyone will have what they want. Don't worry says the marketing people, "you keep manufacturing the products and we will keep manufacturing the demand."

We the people. No, it is me, mine and I. We are all insecure, selfish, self-absorbed mice being fed pablum in ever decreasing amounts.

What is going to happen when gas hits $5.00 a gallon next year. I bet you we'll be blameing illegal immigrants, the underclass, the emerging world, and finally the Chinese. When Chinese society becomes rabid consumers just like us, can we really co-exist?

Anonymous

Posted: Mar 24 2011, 6:41 AM

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12261 Chris, I don't 100 percent agree with your quote above part one of this film. Selling goods that people don't need ABSOLUTELY does hurt the individual. People are constantly bombarded by advertising of useless goods they don't need and are endlessly going into debt to buy 'junk'. They perform at mindless jobs that don't enrich them at all and then need to bounce back from the malasse the work week enduced by a bit of retail therapy which is available pretty much 24/7. The government and big business are not independent from each other - they're in it together. Advertising is the new propaganda.As a result there is very little "voluntary" spending. It is all a beautifully worked out system. Don't forget about the "harmless" sweatshops employing people for a dollar a day or in some cases like the Chocolate trade, total slavery, to produce goods for the masses insatiable satisfaction. Capitalism has run rampant. See Inside Job for an idea of that. The Corporate machine even tries to make money from employees death - see Michael Moores Capitalism: A Love Story for that one. I certainly don't advocate socialism, but some social responsibility. That has to start with the people and taking responsibility for their own awareness.
Chris

Posted: Mar 25 2011, 7:21 AM

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Hey 12261, the difference is buying a good you don't "need" (who really "needs" most of what they buy?) is an entirely voluntary transaction. The only onus on the individual is to make a decision for themselves as to what they themselves want. That's the onus put on people in a free society (or in a market economy), they have to use their brains to advance themselves. I don't really see that as a problem, the alternative is using force and violence to deal with people and letting so-called "experts" decide for them (that's government).

As to the mindless jobs, they perform them voluntarily, they don't need to choose a mindless job, but if they choose not to attain any skills or try anything different then obviously they're going to be stuck with their decisions, again that's the onus freedom puts on people. Granted, we don't live in some sort of free market utopia, government wastes trillions of dollars a year on socialism/murdering people, if that money was simply left to the people who produced it to be spent in the market economy, there would be tons more wealth to go around, to get someone to do a mindless job in that society you'd probably have to pay a lot more.

I agree corporatism is pure evil and the state and corporations working together to screw people and usurp the market economy and profit loss system that is capitalism is the highest of evils, you won't find me defending the state and its deprivations, the state pollutes everything it touches.

I think you're making the classic mistake of confusing crony capitalism/corporatism with the free market economy, a mistake I myself made before learning about free-market anarchism/anarcho-capitalism etc. I would recommend nothing on this site more highly than our introduction to Austrian economics, give it a look-see and tell me what you think: http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=30611
Anonymous

Posted: Apr 27 2011, 5:04 PM

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46230 I very much appreciate those that worked to make this documentary available. But be careful how you pitch it. In the intro, it says "Selling someone a product they don't truly need hurts no one, selling people on a war they don't need gets millions of people murdered and destroys entire societies."
Instead of telling us how we need to read things, let the consciencious viewers use their brains and think critically about it before giving your take on it. To say that the modern ways of mass consumerism and the power of base desires are harmless is a disservice. Every part of the system creates harm--consumerism, capitalism, business, governments and ideological propaganda. We need to see through ALL the veils and illusions and get the core of what drives it all, starting with our selves--our attitudes, desires, our apathy, and otherwise...
workingclasshero

Posted: May 15 2011, 12:44 PM

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LOL... been posting this for years, I immediately saw the importance of this series.. I've been amazed at the rejection it and I have received from quote un quote "freedom loving people" You can call yourself a Libertarian.. Progressive... Etcetcetc. The fact is when you show folks what it is that's pushing their buttons and pulling their strings, they get frightened and then mad.. when you point to something they recognize is wrong but has been serving them, or fuels their desires.. rather than look at it and say.."Jesus, that's what is making me want this thing that I don't need.. but can think of nothing else" they say to themselves "This is Bullshit, I have my own free will"

well John and Jenny Public you don't..we are all in this generation a creation of the "Purchase" machine. You must buy to be happy in order to be happy you must have more things... things are happiness... things are success... things are identity. What things do you own? Oh only this and that? Well I own this this and that.. so therefore I must be "better" than you...

simplified? maybe... accurate? definitely
workingclasshero

Posted: May 15 2011, 12:49 PM

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So much of what has been written here is by Middle class people who had myriad choices and opportunities... and thusly they assume everyone has these same choices to make.. hey "Chris' this is for you... you sound like a spoiled brat.. good thing you made the perfect choice on everything n your life.. oh wait what's that? You had a nice comfy house and 2 parents that loved and provided for you.. you're white and options is your middle name and birth right ?

When did Libertarians become so spoiled ?
Anonymous

Posted: Jun 02 2011, 4:48 PM

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7128 sorry stacy we do need laws some what, but i'm assuming you're an anarchist.
Anonymous

Posted: Jun 02 2011, 4:58 PM

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7128 UM working classhero, what exactly makes Chris spoiled? Or libertarians?
Anonymous

Posted: Jun 02 2011, 5:45 PM

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7128 OH working classhero, that's not even an argument that's an ad hominen fallacy
Anonymous

Posted: Jun 02 2011, 6:03 PM

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7128 "the thing is is that the govt has been TAKEN OVER by corporations.. so anything the GOVT currently does is being dicated by the WHIMS of the Corporation...."

This is the stupidest thing i've ever heard of corporations can't force anyone They can't arrest you and put in handcuffs, they can't force you to buy their product. The only instituion that has a monopoly on force would be the government. The politicians pick and cooose who wins or looses, not exacty a model of free market capitalisim
Anonymous

Posted: Jun 02 2011, 6:05 PM

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7128 And another thing Michael Moore is an idiot, he doesn't understand economic business or capitalism it's a typical leftist propganda.
Anonymous

Posted: Jun 03 2011, 5:52 PM

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7128 wow that's amazing, " Ronald Reagon disguised the harshness", give me a break, all he was doing is telling the truth.
Anonymous

Posted: Jun 03 2011, 6:06 PM

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7128 And how about this "maybe Mr; President is right that the problems we have are big government and politicians CREATED the problem not CORPORATIONS
Anonymous

Posted: Aug 17 2011, 10:46 PM

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98232 Hiw about that Ann Coulter, she is one hot conservative. I may not put any credence in what she says, but I sure like to watch her speak.
Anonymous

Posted: Aug 20 2011, 3:03 PM

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75143 Just turn on God, & turn off the world.
He'll tell you anything!
Anonymous

Posted: Sep 19 2011, 5:18 PM

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20677 Outstanding summary of our world as it is. Now I'm looking for the effects of the mortgage hoax and how corporate America manipulated the desires of the people then manipulated politics for money: the fear of political take over instead of business being in charge. Hmm

"Can you see the needs of one who is truly oppressed when the needs of the masses are at unrest?" -KR
Anonymous+2

Posted: Jan 23 2012, 12:34 AM

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76111 "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Why do so many people respond positively to films such as The Matrix? My answer is because its a perfect mirror image of the disinformation age of governments, corporations, & their paid for whores in the media.
People suffer through lack of knowledge... this has remained true throughout the ages of time.
May you be blessed with truth & the light of wisdom which comes from understanding knowledge (which is true power)...So say be it... So say we all...
Comments 61 - 80 of 91 < Page of 5 >


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