Albert Pike - Paul Foot - Charlie Chaplin - W E Gladstone - Edward Bernays - John Ruskin - Terry Pratchett - Adolf Hitler - Niccolo Machiavelli - Hannah Arendt - Malcolm X - Che Guevara - Reds 1981 - Stuart Ewan - Adam Curtis TV - William Shakespeare - Voltaire - Johannes Kepler - Vladimir Lenin - Mao Zedong - Carl Jung - Rosa Luxemburg - Stokely Carmichael - Noam Chomsky - John Stuart Mill - Atharva Veda - Ralph Waldo Emerson - Denis Diderot - George Orwell - F R Leavis -
All that is required of them (i.e. the brainwashed masses) was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because, being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice. George Orwell
Fictions are necessary to the people, and the Truth becomes deadly to those who are not strong enough to contemplate it all in its brilliance. In fact, what can there be in common with the vile multitude and sublime wisdom? The truth must be kept secret, and the masses need a teaching proportioned to their imperfect reason. Albert Pike, Sovereign Grand Commander & Mother Supreme Council of the World, the Supreme Council of the 33rd degree, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
Only the working masses can change society; but they will not do that spontaneously, on their own. They can rock capitalism back onto its heels but they will only knock it out if they have the organisation, the socialist party, which can show the way to a new, socialist order of society. Such a party does not just emerge. It can only be built out of the day-to-day struggles of working people. Paul Foot, Why You Should Be a Socialist
Revolution? Is that not a distant and even a ridiculous idea in the last decade of the 20th century? Is it not something which happened 200 years ago in France and 70 years ago in Russia, but is hardly even thinkable today?
The answer is that there have been as many revolutionary situations in the past twenty-five years as in any other quarter century in history. In France in 1968, for instance, there was a students’ revolt and a general strike which for an instant threatened one of the most powerful and complacent ruling classes in the world. In 1974 there was a revolution in Portugal. In 1979 there was a revolution in Iran. In 1981, as we have seen, the workers of Poland came within a whisker of bringing down the regime. In all these four cases, the whole structure of class power was in jeopardy. In each case, a new system of society, a socialist system, was made possible by the revolutionary actions of the masses.
In each case the masses were defeated. The revolutionary wave subsided, and society slid back into reaction. There was nothing inevitable about this. What was missing in all four upheavals was a strong organisation of socialists linked to the fighting spirit of the working class. Paul Foot, The Case for Socialism ch6
The argument, which swept like wildfire through the rapidly growing labour parties in Europe, was contested by a revolutionary minority boosted by two enormously powerful pamphlets – Rosa Luxemburg’s Reform or Revolution (1900) and Lenin’s State and Revolution, written in the revolutionary summer of 1917. Both pamphlets continued in the tradition set out by Marx in the 1840s. Far from contrasting socialism with democracy, they started from the principle of a democratic society controlled from below. Lenin specifically hailed the ‘elective principle’ as indispensable to a socialist society. Rosa Luxemburg’s passionate identification with the spontaneous movements of the masses shines out of every sentence she wrote. Her whole approach was democratic from start to finish.
Like Marx’s, their argument was not at all that there is some choice to be made between socialism and democracy but that the two are indivisible. The problem, they argued, with the ‘democratic’ approach proposed by the main European workers’ parties was that their democracy was not strong enough to contest the hierarchies of the rich. It locked democracy up in a small parliamentary island, while control over the ocean – industry, finance, law, armed forces, police, media – stayed in the hands of the unelected rich. The contest between the new confined democracy in parliament and the boundless undemocratic hierarchies of the rich would be, they warned, no contest. The rich would win; and in the process the workers would lose confidence in themselves and lower their guard still further. For the essence of the parliamentary argument was that ordinary people could and should do nothing to emancipate themselves. They should leave the sophisticated business of emancipation to their betters, to the educated elite within the movement who would make their way to parliament. If and when, as was inevitable, this elite failed to achieve even a small part of the emancipation they promised, the workers would be left high and dry, rudderless and hopeless. If the educated elite couldn’t do the job, they would ask, who could? Passivity would lead to despair, to the triumph of the right, with disastrous consequences for democracy.
The experience of parliamentary democracy this century grimly vindicates what Lenin and Luxemburg predicted. Paul Foot, Socialism & Democracy
Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded. Charlie Chaplin
I will venture to say, that upon the one great class of subjects, the largest and most weighty of them all, where the leading and determining considerations that ought to lead to a conclusion are truth, justice, and humanity – upon these, gentlemen, all the world over, I will back the masses against the classes. W E Gladstone, speech 29th June 1886
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. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society ... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind. Edward L Bernays, Propaganda
If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it. ibid.
We want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always working, and we call one a gentleman, and the other an operative; whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the thinker often to be working, and both should be gentlemen, in the best sense. As it is, we make both ungentle, the one envying, the other despising, his brother; and the mass of society is made up of morbid thinkers and miserable workers. Now it is only by labour that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labour can be made happy, and the two cannot be separated with impunity. John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice: The Nature of Gothic
The intelligence of that creature known as a crowd is the square root of the number of people in it. Terry Pratchett, Jingo
The masses are feminine and stupid. Adolf Hitler
For, besides what has been said, it should be borne in mind that the temper of the multitude is fickle, and that while it is easy to persuade them of a thing, it is hard to fix them in that persuasion. Wherefore, matters should be so ordered that when men no longer believe of their own accord, they may be compelled to believe by force. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince chIII
Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda. Hannah Arendt
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. Malcolm X
In our zeal as revolutionists we try to move ahead as fast as possible, clearing the way, but knowing we must draw our sustenance from the mass and that it can advance more rapidly only if we inspire it by our example. Che Guevara
Voting is the opium of the masses. Reds 1981 starring Warren Beatty & Diane Keaton & Jack Nicholson & Gene Hackman & Edward Herrmann & Jerzy Kosinski & Paul Sorvino & Maureen Stapleton & Nicolas Coster & William Daniels & E Emmet Walsh & Ian Wolfe & Bessie Love et al, director Warren Beatty, Emma
Both Bernays’ and Lippmann’s concept of managing the masses takes the idea of democracy and it turns it into a palliative. It turns it into giving people some kind of feel-good medication that will respond to an immediate pain or an immediate yearning, but will not alter the objective circumstances one iota. The idea of democracy at its heart was about changing the relations of power that governed the world for so long; and Bernay’s concept of democracy was one of maintaining the relations of power. Stuart Ewan, public relations historian
A hundred years ago a new theory of human nature was put forward by Sigmund Freud. He had discovered he said primitive sexual and aggressive forces hidden deep inside the minds of all human beings. Forces which if not controlled, led individuals and societies to chaos and destruction. Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self I: Happiness Machines, BBC 2002
Bernays was the first person to take Freud’s ideas about human beings and use them to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations for the first time how they could make people want things they didn’t need by linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires. Out of this would come a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying people’s inner selfish desires, one made them happy and thus docile. It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate our world today. ibid.