How Propaganda Killed Democracy

The election cycle of 2016 in the US was interesting in many ways. Like it or not; we have Donald Trump to thank for that. What made it particularly interesting was not articulate debates, campaigns or the difference in the candidates’ political views; we have seen it all before. What was yet unseen, was the complete meltdown of institutions many saw as impartial communicators of information. Over the course of the cycle, the public’s trust in these institutions continued to plummet to levels that would leave Great Leader of North Korea embarrassed. Main stream media took a serious blow, but not without a fight. The use of propaganda and lies to control the public is not a new idea, but over the last century, the theories and strategies have been greatly improved and weaponized.

Media – The Hidden Hand

WikiLeaks played a significant role in the downfall of the giants. By leaking e-mails from the DNC, they became a beacon of truth in an ocean of lies. Most people are probably still unaware of the extent and magnitude of the corruption, collusion, conspiracies and dirty play that was revealed, because of the complete blackout of these stories in the same media that was revealed to be nothing but propaganda; or as Trump put it: ‘very fake news’. I could go into detail about how questions for debates were given to Clinton beforehand, how her campaign got to write ‘hit pieces’ on Trump or how they covered up scandals like the DNC paying homeless people to stir up violence. This article is not about the election, however, but rather the forces at play and who controls them.

The Shadow Government

What had until recently been seen as a ‘tinfoil conspiracy theory’ was also confirmed to be true. FBI released documents about the investigation into Clinton’s illegal e-mail server which referred to ‘a powerful group of very high-ranking state officials‘ referred to as ‘The Shadow Government‘ or ‘7th Floor Group‘. In this particular case, they supposedly met every Wednesday to discuss the FOIA-progress. I assume this group has much more than Clinton’s crimes to spend their time on, but few details are public. The establishment of the existence of such a powerful group will suffice for the scope of this article.

To better understand how such a group, a ‘shadow government‘, gradually cemented their position; we will take a look at a very important historical event, and how people in the shadows deployed massive amounts of propaganda to change people’s minds. A ‘democracy’ is basically a tyranny if you can control the public opinion. The people running the show figured this out a long time ago, and has used it to their advantage.

How the US was lured into World War I

28. July 1914 is generally seen as the start of World War I, the first of two devastating wars fought among (for the most part) European people, for reasons most people are still blissfully unaware of. The United States had wisely decided that this was not their war to fight. Woodrow Wilson got reelected in 1916 because of his efforts to keep America out of the war, using the slogan ‘He kept us out of the war’. The opposition to war was massive and several attempts to sway public opinion had already failed. At some point during 1916, Zionist Jews decided to take advantage of Europe’s hopeless situation. A proposal was put forward to UK: promise us Palestine, and we will secure US entry into the war.

Samuel Landman was one of the men in the shadows, and for reasons unknown, he printed a pamphlet describing his role. In 1936, the New Zionist Press printed the pamphlet with the title: ‘Great Britain, the Jews and Palestine‘. Although this document connects some dots as to why US entered the war, it has received little to no serious attention by historians. How has such an important document become memory-holed? There is not even a Wikipedia-page for Samuel Landman, but traces can still be found. Leon Simon was another leading zionist who helped draft the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and served on the Zionist Commission with Chaim Weizmann and Samuel Landman. Landman’s affiliation with the Zionist elite lends credence to his version of the events, although it is likely that even he was not aware of all the powers in play.

The following is an excerpt from this document:

During the critical days of 1916 and of the impending defection of Russia, Jewry, as a whole, was against the Czarist regime and had hopes that Germany, if victorious, would in certain circumstances give them Palestine. Several attempts to bring America into the War on the side of the Allies by influencing influential Jewish opinion were made and had failed. Mr. James A. Malcolm, who was already aware of German pre-war efforts to secure a foothold in Palestine through the Zionist Jews and of the abortive Anglo-French démarches at Washington and New York; and knew that Mr. Woodrow Wilson, for good and sufficient reasons, always attached the greatest possible importance to the advice of a very prominent Zionist (Mr. Justice Brandeis, of the US Supreme Court); and was in close touch with Mr. Greenberg, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle (London); and knew that several important Zionist Jewish leaders had already gravitated to London from the Continent on the qui vive awaiting events; and appreciated and realized the depth and strength of Jewish national aspirations; spontaneously took the initiative, to convince first of all Sir Mark Sykes, Under-Secretary to the War Cabinet, and afterwards M. Georges Picot, of the French Embassy in London, and M. Goût of the Quai d’Orsay (Eastern Section), that the best and perhaps the only way (which proved so to be) to induce the American President to come into the War was to secure the co-operation of Zionist Jews by promising them Palestine, and thus enlist and mobilize the hitherto unsuspectedly powerful forces of Zionist Jews in America and elsewhere in favour of the Allies on a quid pro quo contract basis. Thus, as will be seen, the Zionists, having carried out their part, and greatly helped to bring America in, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was but the public confirmation of the necessarily secret ‘gentleman’s’ agreement of 1916 made with the previous knowledge, acquiescence and/or approval of the Arabs and of the British, American, French and other Allied Governments, and not merely a voluntary altruistic and romantic gesture on the part of Great Britain as certain people either through pardonable ignorance assume or unpardonable ill-will would represent or misrepresent.


The Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration

Samuel Landman’s account of the Balfour Declaration accords with that of James Malcolm, who wrote a similar document and gave it to The British Museum during the bombing of London in 1945. When mainstream history is written; these testimonies are not mentioned, but they give us a unique insight in what really happened. As Landman writes; this secret agreement would ‘enlist and mobilize the hitherto unsuspectedly powerful forces of Zionist Jews in America‘. On the 2nd of November 1917, the Balfour Declaration was made public; ‘the public confirmation of the necessarily secret ‘gentleman’s’ agreement of 1916‘. Without context, this document alone seems a bit out of place. Nowhere does it mention what the cause for the sudden strong support for a Jewish homeland was. Addressed to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild; a family name that should be familiar to many readers; this shows that very powerful forces were indeed put into play.

The sinking of ‘RMS Lusitania’

7th of May 1915, the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania was sunk. As part of their naval blockade, Germany had submarines outside UK to stop them from getting supplies for their mainland forces. To get around this, UK started to use civilian ships to transport ammunition and military supplies. Germany had declared the seas around UK a war zone, and the German embassy in US placed adverts in magazines to warn US civilians of the dangers. When Lusitania was sunk outside UK on her travel from New York to Liverpool, she was carrying hundreds of tons of ammunition, a fact the US denied up until 1982. Because of the massive amounts of explosives being smuggled, the resulting explosion from the torpedoing was much larger than expected and Lusitania sank in just 18 minutes.

Among the casualities were 128 American citicizens. Germany issued a statement saying Lusitania was carrying ‘contraband for war’ and was a legitimate target. Herman Winter, Assistant Manager of the Cunard Line, denied that she was carrying munitions. In reality, the ’empty shells’ listed as cargo had a total of 50 tons of explosives. The sinking of Lusitania would later play an important role in the decision to go to war.

‘The Zimmerman Telegram’

Arthur Zimmerman was the foreign minister of Germany during the war. In January 1917 he sent a telegram to Mexico offering to ally with them, should they decide to go to war with the US. Upon further inspection the telegram makes absolutely no sense, unless you assume this was one of the efforts to sway public opinion in the US.

The telegram was initially dismissed as a hoax by the anti-war forces in the US with the compelling arguments that it made no sense, and that it very well could be a plot from London. Why would he send a telegram of this nature via the heartland of his enemy? No real evidence was presented, and the only thing that could convince people that this was not a hoax, was a confirmation from Germany. Zimmerman did exactly that, with his public confirmation of its’ authenticity, giving the anti-war side a serious blow.

The same Zimmerman helped Lenin later in 1917 to get from Zürich to Russia for the Bolshevik revolution.

‘Shaping public opionin’

At the outbreak of the war in 1914, the American public was decidely against entering, and President Wilson was reelected in 1916 because of his strong public position against it. Lusitania had been sunk in 1915, but at this time President Wilson refused to declare war. We now have some insight into what changed his position on the war, and we know that Lusitania was indeed a legitimate target, as unfortunate as it was that UK used civilians as a shield to transport munitions. Had the ship not been loaded with explosives, the second and more powerful explosion would not have happened, and civilians would have had a much larger chance of survival. The US got the full list of cargo less than a week after the sinking, which may explain why Wilson played the incident down and refused to go to war; loaded with American munition, how could the US possibly claim to be neutral? The fact that the US publicly denied that Lusitania carried munitions for more than fifty years is an indication that there was some collusion that would not go well with the neutral-victim-narrative that was taken at this point.

Example of American attrocity propaganda

Example of American attrocity propaganda

The push for war

Powerful forces were lobbying for war, including the President, who was ‘taking advice’ from Justice Brandeis, a powerful man; leader and spokesperson of American Zionism. Public opinion changed drastically from the intitial decisive ‘no‘ to the final declaration of war.

Historians such as Ernest R. May have approached the process of American entry into the war as a study in how public opinion changed radically in three years’ time. In 1914 most Americans called for neutrality, seeing the war a dreadful mistake and were determined to stay out. By 1917 the same public felt just as strongly that going to war was both necessary and wise. Military leaders had little to say during this debate, and military considerations were seldom raised. The decisive questions dealt with morality and visions of the future.

On April 2, 1917, Wilson asked a special joint session of Congress to declare war on the German Empire, stating, “We have no selfish ends to serve”. To make the conflict seem like a better idea, he painted the conflict idealistically, stating that the war would “make the world safe for democracy” and later that it would be a “war to end war”. Four days later, April 6, 1917, Congress declared war.

What happened that changed the mind of the public?

‘Committee on Public Information’

The Committee on Public Information was an ‘independent’ agency of the government of the United States created to influence U.S. public opinion regarding American participation in World War I. In just over 26 months, from April 14, 1917, to June 30, 1919, it used every medium available to create enthusiasm for the war effort and enlist public support against foreign and perceived domestic attempts to undercut America’s war aims. It primarily used propaganda techniques to accomplish these goals. Officially, it was established April 13th, 1917 to secure further support for the then declared war.

The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph, cable and movies to broadcast its message. It recruited about 75,000 ‘Four Minute Men’; volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for an ideal length of four minutes, considering that the average human attention span was judged at the time to be four minutes. They covered the draft, rationing, war bond drives, victory gardens and why America was fighting. It was estimated that by the end of the war, they had made more than 7.5 million speeches to 314 million people in 5,200 communities. Events were designed for specific ethnic groups, and different propaganda was designed for different classes. Factories were filled with posters promoting the critical role of the American worker in the war effort.

The propaganda and activities were so thorough and massive that  historians have later stated, using a midwestern family as example, that

Every item of war news they saw – in the country weekly, in magazines, or in the city daily picked up occasionally in the general store – was not merely officially approved information but precisely the same kind that millions of their fellow citizens were getting at the same moment. Every war story had been censored somewhere along the line— at the source, in transit, or in the newspaper offices in accordance with ‘voluntary’ rules established by the CPI.

Shifting the American public’s opinion from anti-war to pro-war in World War I was achieved just by carefully selecting which facts to present and to exaggerate, and which to bury. This is perhaps one of the best ‘known’ examples we have of how propaganda can be utilized to shift the power of the state from the hands of the people, to the hands of a few.

‘Propaganda’ by Edward L. Bernays

“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.”

Propaganda, an influential book written by Edward L. Bernays in 1928, incorporated the literature from social science and psychological manipulation into an examination of the techniques of ‘public communication’. Many euphemisms exist for what really is ‘propaganda’, and ‘public communication’ is one of them, ‘public relations’ is another. In essence, they all deal with the same ‘problem’; how to shift the opinion of the public masses. In other words; how to shift the power from the hands of the public (democracy) to the hands of a selected few, operating in the shadows.

Both Bernays and his mentor, Walter Lippman, was active in the propaganda movement to bring the US into World War I under Woodrow Wilson. The war was sold to the American people as ‘Bringing Democracy to Europe’. Does it sound familiar? Europe would not be the last to be blessed with the gift of ‘democracy‘ from America.

“The great Allied campaign to celebrate (or sell) Democracy, etc., was a venture so successful, and, it seemed, so noble, that it suddenly legitimized such propagandists, who, once the war had ended, went right to work massaging or exciting various publics on behalf of entities like General Motors, Procter & Gamble, John D. Rockefeller, General Electric.”

“Here was an extraordinary state accomplishment: mass enthusiasm at the prospect of a global brawl that otherwise would mystify those very masses, and that shattered most of those who actually took part in it. The Anglo-American drive to demonize “the Hun,” and to cast the war as a transcendent clash between Atlantic “civilization” and Prussian “barbarism,” made so powerful an impression on so many that the worlds of government and business were forever changed.”

Bernays was the double-nephew of Sigmund Freud, and his great grandfather was Isaac Bernays, chief rabbi of Hamburg. During a trip to the United States in 1927, Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi wrote to his mentor Sigmund Freud stating that he had meet the president of the (World) Zionist Organisation, Chaim Weizmann, at Bernays’ home. Was it pure coincidence that Weizmann, the man who did the secret deal to get US into the war, met with one of the people behind the massive propaganda campaign to do the same?

‘Propaganda’ explores the psychology behind manipulating masses and the ability to use symbolic action and propaganda to influence politics, effect social change, and lobby for gender and racial equality. By labeling cigarettes as ‘torches of freedom‘ he successfully persuaded feminists to start smoking to fight the patriarchy after his war efforts. As ridiculous as this may sound today; it shows how you can use ’empowerment’ to make ‘victims’ do almost anything.

For people familiar with how communism utilizes class warfare to control the population and make sure that no threat to the oligarchy can rise; the similarities to our modern western democracies should be worrying. In a pursuit of ‘equality’ and ‘social justice’,  we see genders, classes, religions and races pitched against each other. The people who could be a threat to the existing power structures must be neutralized. The ‘privileged, white, heterosexual male’ is the ultimate target of these attacks in our current societies, and if you are unable to see it, you can try to substitute ‘white’ with ‘black, ‘male’ with ‘female’ etc.


The ‘white male’ was chosen because it is the most obvious example of this warfare against the population from the ‘hidden tyranny’, but all lines of division are used to underline inequality, real or imagined, to provoke envy. A divided population poses no threat to the ruling elite, and while the common people are fighting ‘oppression’ within a limited window, the true ruling powers can continue to decide the issues that really matter. When they have decided who should be the puppethead of the US, or say, Iraq needs to be destroyed; their powerful tools are put in motion to make this happen. The propaganda infrastructure, led by the media, will work night and day to ‘influence public opinion‘ to the point where their decision is finally accepted by the masses. If you think the fight for ‘social justice’ has the goal to actually achieve it; think again. Some people are well-meaning, but if you were to achieve ‘justice’ among different groups; you would take away the most important tool to keep a ‘democracy’ under control: division.

This last quote is not from the writings of Edward Bernays, but in many ways it sums up ‘propaganda’ perfectly:

By deception, thou shalt make war.

Viva is a Norwegian writing about historical and recent events.