To Save The World We Must Overcome The “Us vs Them” Mindset

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In 1928 psychologist Dr. Edward Bernays authored his infamous book Propaganda. A seminal work exploring the usages of directed information campaigns to influence the ideas and behaviors of the masses, utilizing years of research in social sciences and psychological manipulations to create what would become a treatise on public relations.

Developing techniques for what he dubbed “the engineering of consent”. Throughout his career affluent political figures such as President Calvin Coolidge, corporate monopolies including General Electric and the American Tobacco Company, and media outlets the likes of CBS all benefited from Bernays’ aptitude for manipulating the subconscious mind to influence the masses for their own benefit. As he put it, to “control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it.” Essentially creating a textbook of social engineering.

Bernays himself wrote —

“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, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”

The techniques pioneered by Bernays were utilized for everything from influencing the outcome of the 1924 election, to the mass marketing campaigns of cigarettes despite known health risks, and even the engineering of the Holocaust once his work was adopted by Nazi Germany’s chief propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and used among the primary means of brainwashing the German public into supporting the Third Reich’s particularly heinous brand of barbary.

Perhaps more than any other it is his work that laid the foundation to develop the mechanisms of modern mind manipulation. As we can observe over the decades these techniques have been refined and refined again by the cadre of criminals we refer to as the predator class to maintain the status quo of the establishment; consolidation of power, systemic injustice, economic exploitation, societal division.

Another such prime example, which still receives very little recognition, occurred at roughly the same time as Bernays’ exploits, amid the foundations of what we know today as the American education system. Which, as it was designed via the machinations of corporate robber barons such as John D Rockefeller Sr under the auspices of altruism, were more seemingly intended as institutions of indoctrination rather than those to truly inform, uplift, and elevate the common man to being the best human they could possibly be for the betterment of themselves and collective society.

As stated by Rockefeller’s personal business advisor and co-founder of the General Education Board, Fredrick T Gates, in his 1916 book The Country School Of Tomorrow —

“In our dream we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.

For the task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are.”

In essence, by dominating the means with which society is educated maintaining them in a state of de facto serfdom dutifully subservient to corporate oligarchs and the state. Educated just enough to do as they’re told but nowhere near enough to question much less oppose the systems and institutions they live under.

Controlling the minds of the masses serves as a pivotal element in the agendas of the so-called elite. For without the carefully curated perception management to keep the public distracted and docile, and most importantly divided, the select few who have opportunistically positioned themselves to take advantage of the rest of humanity would soon find themselves drastically outnumbered by an irate populace all too aware that much of if not all of the world’s suffering falls solely at their feet. And all of the wealth and power in the world wouldn’t be enough to save them from the wrath they have incurred, and very much deserve.

Tantamount to preserving this model of mind control is the creation of an artificial adversary. An imaginary boogeyman which, amongst all the other nuances of manipulation, can be pointed to as the alleged source of the problem, the scapegoat. Pitting man against man, whether they be friends or strangers, in a manufactured crisis to redirect the attention and energy of the masses from seeking actually viable solutions on a united front. An aspect of the Hegelian dialectic / problem-reaction-solution strategy oftentimes prevents them from even seeing the true problem altogether.

This strategy is as old as time itself. It has been used by nearly every nation and infected nearly every ideology to instigate needless conflicts that only benefit the powers that shouldn’t be.

“Us vs Them” is the primary ideological vehicle that tyrants have used throughout time to maintain a firm grip of control over their would-be subjects. In fact, as such it is often a central component in many false flag attacks. A few historical examples we could point to would be the ways in which the aforementioned Third Reich used racist propaganda to scapegoat the Jewish community, or in ancient times how emperor Nero placed the blame for the fire of Rome on the early Christians.

More broadly, we can look at the ways in which the Roman Empire, after its Christianization and subsequent merging of church and state following the first council of Nicea in 325 CE, used religion as a political tool to oppress those the empire wished to conquer. A chain of events that would lead to the Vatican itself issuing a series of papal declarations in the 1400s vilifying any and all non-Christians, labeling them “infidels”, “pagans”, and “unbelievers”. Dehumanizing them to the point of justifying centuries of land theft, colonization, slavery, and genocide.

These are but a few of numerous examples, from both ancient times to the modern day. Even now these sorts of tactics are used on a regular basis on a mass scale; vaxxed vs unvaxxed, pro-war vs anti-war, etc, even boiling down to the most mundane of differences. Black vs white, man vs woman, gay vs straight, atheist vs religious, and of course let’s not forget left vs right, liberal vs conservative. All are reinforced by a slew of propaganda and manufactured crises that make them appear as though they are legitimate.

In fact these are all nothing more than fake paradigms and false dichotomies specifically designed to keep you at odds with your fellow human beings.

In truth, the only real enemy, if even such a word is appropriate, are those who make a conscious decision to abuse and exploit the innocent. Those who are still caught inside of these fake paradigms are implored to realize that you’re being used as pawns in this sick game.

These sinister agendas play on mankind’s natural inclination towards tribalism. On a primal level, human beings are still predisposed to the tribal tendencies of animalistic behavior. We are merely evolved primates, after all. When these tendencies are met with other aspects of human nature, such as the propensity for critical thinking skills to decrease during heightened states of emotion causing us to be more reflexively reactive than rationally reactive, or the power of suggestion to influence the subconscious mind, it makes it that much easier for those who understand the methods by which human thoughts and behaviors can be directed by external stimuli to discern how individuals may be manipulated and facilitate the means of doing so.

This is why as an author I have always stressed the importance of the average individual educating themselves on understanding at least the basic fundamentals of psychology, behavioral science, sociology, and neurology, and the ways in which they overlap and affect one another as a means of better understanding themselves, the people around them, and the driving motivations behind why many people behave the way they do, and how through understanding this we can help each other to see past these manipulations and break these cycles of toxic behavior.

The predator class benefits the most from separating people from compassion and empathy.

Effective psychological manipulation via divide and conquer narratives and dehumanization propaganda makes people lose compassion and empathy for their fellow human beings because now they’ve been categorized as “other” or “less than”; allowing not only for the abuse of human rights and civil liberties of those marginalized individuals, but to also facilitate the future oppression of those that would allow it. Apply this logic to any “Us vs Them” rhetoric and you immediately recognize it for the trap that it is.

Even at this very moment, people are hotly debating whether or not it’s morally acceptable or ethical to be carpet bombing a concentration camp full of children in Gaza, or whether or not we should use barbed wire to shred apart migrants who wish to come to this country for a better life only after their own homes were destroyed by the foreign policy of the very country they are now fleeing to.

These are not normal conversations to be having. While each of these instances certainly have their own complexities that necessitate more nuanced analysis and discussion, that doesn’t invalidate the basic premise that not shredding migrant families with barbed wire or not dismembering Palestinians with military explosives is the common sense ethical position to be held. But because we’ve been conditioned to view these people through a lens of dehumanization, that somehow their arbitrary differences or extenuating circumstances make their lives any less valuable than ours, these kinds of faux political debates are the result.

This kind of rhetoric that we have been constantly subjected to, much like how lies on repetition come to be accepted as truths, has seemingly divorced us from a fundamental part of ourselves — our humanity.

I say seemingly because under different circumstances and in different contexts that is clearly not the case. In times of hardship, we rush to the side of our loved ones in need without hesitation. Amid natural disasters, strangers often flock to render assistance to one another with no thought of what may be gained in return, and who except for the most heartless among us could honestly say that if they happened upon a defenseless puppy being kicked in the street that we wouldn’t step in to intervene?

Our humanity isn’t lost. It’s apparent when we’re put in circumstances that cause us to view others as our equals. We’ve just been made to forget it at times. It is made to be so buried under the biases, and the prejudices and the dogmas of tribalist thinking that we lose sight of it.

So how do we gain sight of it again?

Through understanding.

As cliché as it may sound we regain our humanity, our empathy, and our compassion for others by seeking to understand them.

Though that still requires work on the part of the individual. A willingness to set aside preconceived notions and look beyond manufactured prejudices. To look inside of oneself and come to terms with one of the oldest philosophies known to man, one that we are all taught when we are children; to treat others how we wish to be treated.

It requires a conscious effort to be open to new ideas and to view things from alternative perspectives. And to realize that we have far more in common with each other than the small subtleties that separate us.

I’m reminded of the immortal words of Anne Frank —

Tribalism will never go away. It’s hardwired into who we are as a species, so rather than attempting to eradicate it what we must instead intend to do is transcend it. Harness it for our benefit and consciously transcend our tribalism to the level that we recognize all people, all life in general, including the animals, and the earth itself as our tribe. And defend it as such.

To treat each other with respect and dignity we are all born deserving.

That’s a lot easier said than done. We all still have a lot of work to do, introspectively to heal from our own traumas and toxic behaviors.

As well as externally to actually put forth the effort. As monumental a task as it may seem it begins with ourselves and our immediate surroundings. It begins with becoming a better version of yourself, finding who you truly are, and loving yourself. And then choosing to be the change that we want to see in the world.

Yes, another cliché, but a true one nonetheless. Human beings are products of our environment. As a survival mechanism, we adapt the traits and characteristics best suited for our immediate surroundings to better function in them. So what happens when we start to change the environment for the better rather than allowing that which was deliberately created to stifle our own prosperity to continue to hinder our advancement?

We have to embody what we want the world to become. Each of us leads by example and is willing to help and be helped if needed. If we want the world to be more loving then we must be more loving. If we want it to be kinder then we must first be kinder ourselves. If we want the world to be more peaceful, we must be more peaceful. If we wish to be understood then we must try to understand. In all that we wish the world to become we must first put it into it. As the environment changes, so too do the people within it and vice versa.

There is no “me vs you” or “us vs them”. There is only us. We are all one. We are a part of this world just as it is a part of us. It is what we allow it to be.

And the most beautiful part about this concept? Every day is a new opportunity to be better.

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