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Commentary

‘Motivational research’ in politics

Mon, August 13, 2007   |   Author: Ron Gray   |   | Share: Facebook | Twitter   

I believe there's a big social change coming. When will it happen? How big will it be? Only God knows. But the signs of its coming are increasing.

While technology continues expanding, real science-the honest exploration and understanding of reality-is increasingly being replaced by the manipulation of ideas for political ends (think "global warming", and the growing demands for a centralized global power to counteract its alleged threats).

This political manipulation of science is not at all new. It probably began in earnest with Edward Bernays (Sigmund Freud's nephew), a showbiz publicist who applied his uncle's insights-about the irresistible power of subconscious motivation-when he worked as a propagandist for U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Bernays' ideas laid the foundation of public relations as a profession. In his 1947 essay The Engineering of Consent, Bernays wrote:

"[T]hose who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. 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 pull the wires which control the public mind."

Franklin Roosevelt further expanded this science of manipulating public opinion to sell his "New Deal", as did John F. Kennedy, and later Lyndon Johnson for his "Great Society". Some of Kennedy's and Johnson's political 'technocrats' were imported into Canada by Pierre Trudeau (in those days, we in the federal government called them "Trudeaucrats"); they used PR techniques to promote his "Just Society"; and the Liberal Party continued to use their techniques to maintain a near-monopoly on political power in Canada-only briefly interrupted by Brian Mulroney's use of the same techniques. The same tactics have been re-introduced, in the name of a "conservatism" that is actually "Liberal Lite", by Mulroney's protà ÃÆ'Æ''ÃÆ''Ã'Ã'¨gé, Stephen Harper.

But-in spite of the power of the unelected, self-appointed media elite-there are signs that all this manipulation of the public psyche may be losing its potency. More and more Canadians-those whose personal philosophy seeks achievement based on merit, rather than a socialist equalizing of outcomes-realize that what has been sold to them under the label "conservative" is only re-branded liberalism. They are beginning to realize that they've been had-and they yearn for something different.

In the late 1950s, Bernays' mantle was taken up by a psychologist from Vienna named Ernest Dichter. As you might expect from a disciple of Freud, Dichter's interpretations of underlying consumer motivations typically involved death and/or sex. Some in the PR trade back then called him "Dirty Doctor Dichter". One interpretation of his "Motivational Research" resulted in Ford Motor Company's greatest blunder (until their recent adoption of the 'gay' agenda as a marketing tool): the Edsel.

"But," some conservative Canadians will say, "what's the alternative? Do you want the Liberals back?"

No. Yet while the CHP offers a truly conservative alternative -morally and fiscally conservative-it's also true that we're not yet big enough to govern. We still have a lot of growing to do, and for that, we need the help of all thinking Canadians.

But today's Tories take pro-moral Canadians' (especially Christians') support for granted… and that won't change until those who embrace the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage are willing to discipline these so-called 'Conservatives' for their betrayal of the principles for which they were elected.

Stephen Harper's 'new' Conservative Party-Liberal Lite-got into office promising conservatism, but then turned their backs on pre-born children; tried to straddle the fence on same-sex 'marriage'; broke promises to seniors about taxing income trusts and to Atlantic Canadians about their Accord with Ottawa-and finally produced the most lavish-spending federal budget in Canada's history. Some 'conservatives'!

They could-they deserve to-become the Edsel of Canadian politics.

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time; but you can't fool all the people all the time," said Abraham Lincoln.



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