As Bernie Sanders frequently refers to Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) during his speeches, it would be worth to examine a few things on how the corporate establishment tried to fight back, when Roosevelt took the presidency. How the current establishment will try to crush Bernie in case he get elected?
The mouthpieces of the US establishment must be feeling now quite nervous, seeing Bernie Sanders coming literally from nowhere to take the presidency. One can identify a growing embarrassment and confusion by the mainstream media, which shows that they don't know what to do to break the stormily rising popularity of Bernie Sanders within the U.S. electorate. Many poor journalists probably receive huge pressure by the media hierarchy all over the top, to do whatever they can, to present Sanders as a non-reliable candidate for the US presidency.
As already mentioned in previous article, the powerful establishment in the US will do whatever it takes to force Sanders to comply with the "business as usual" agenda, and force him to withdraw his promises for a real change towards the benefit of the majority. But Bernie shows that he will not be an easy target. With the wide and constant support of the American people, he has a good chance to win the battle and bring a real change.
As Bernie frequently refers to Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) during his speeches, it would be worth to examine a few things on how the corporate establishment tried to fight back, when Roosevelt took the presidency. Some interesting and useful information can be found in the first part of the exceptional documentary The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis.
As Curtis describes, Freud's nerphew, Edward 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.
Roosevelt believed it was possible to explain his policies to ordinary Americans and to take into account their opinions. To do this, he was helped by the new ideas of an American social scientist called George Gallup.
Gallup and Fortune Magazines analyst Elmo Roper, rejected Bernays' view that human beings were at the mercy of unconscious forces and so needed to be controlled. Their system of opinion polling was based on the idea that people could be trusted to know what they wanted. They argued that one could measure and predict the opinions and behavior of the public if one asked strictly factual questions and avoided manipulating their emotions.
What Roosevelt was doing was forging a new connection between the masses and politicians. No longer were they irrational consumers who were managed by sating their desires, instead, they were sensible citizens who could take part in the governing of the country. In 1936 Roosevelt stood for re-election. He promised further control over big business. To the corporations it was the beginning of a dictatorship. But Roosevelt was triumphantly re-elected.
Faced with this, business now decided to fight back, to regain power in America. At the heart of the battle would be Edward Bernays and the profession he had invented, public relations.
According to the Historian of Public Relations Stuart Ewen, following that election, business people started to get together and started to carry on discussions, primarily in private and they started talking to each other about the need to sort of carry on ideological warfare against the New Deal. And to sort of reassert the sort of connectedness between the idea of democracy on the one hand and the idea of privately owned business on the other. And so, under the umbrella of an organization which still exists, which is called The National Association of Manufacturers and whose membership included all of the major corporations of the United States, a campaign was launched explicitly designed to create emotional attachments between the public and big business; it was Bernays' techniques that had been used totally on a grand scale.
In response to the campaign, the government made films that warned of the unscrupulous manipulation of the press by big business. And the central villain was the new figure of the public relations man. The films also showed how the responsible citizens could monitor the press themselves. They could create a chart that analyzed the reporting for signs of hidden bias. But such earnest instruction was to be no match for the powerful imagination of Edward Bernays. He was about to help create a vision of the utopia that free market capitalism would build in America if it was unleashed.
In 1939, New York hosted the World's Fair. Edward Bernays was a central adviser. He insisted that the theme be the link between democracy and American business. At the heart of the fair was a giant white dome that Bernays named "Democra-City", and the central exhibit was a vast working model of America's future constructed by the General Motors corporation.
According to Ann Bernays, daughter of Edward Bernays, the World's Fair was an opportunity for him to keep the status quo. That is, capitalism in a democracy, democracy and capitalism and that marriage. He did that by manipulating people and getting them to think that you couldn't have real democracy in anything but a capitalist society which was capable of doing anything; of creating these wonderful highways, of making moving pictures inside everybody's house, of telephones that didn't need chords, of sleek roadsters. It was consumerist but at the same time you inferred that in a funny way that democracy and capitalism went together.
That system today is probably more complex and powerful. After nearly four decades of domination of the neoliberal doctrine in favor of the financial and corporate elites, people learned to worship the free market and hate the state.
However, the system also shows serious signs of saturation. After repeated financial disasters, free market has been proved a fairy tale. At the end, big banks are rescued by the state, while the powerful corporate lobbyists don't hesitate to mobilize the internal government channels in order even to start wars, to increase their profits. That's because the state has been completely occupied by these private lobbyists. Sanders wants to change that and retake the state for the benefit of the people.
Sanders today speaks about Socialism and social policies, but his popularity rises. Surely, this activates a warning alarm to the establishment, which seeks to maintain current status quo by any means. But today, public relations is not something new and unknown. What will the establishment do? Does it have another Bernays in its sleeve, who has already a new method to manipulate the masses? Or is it time for an open class war?