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" The songs of our ancestors

are also the songs of our children "

The Druid Way

The Century of the Self

December 6th, 2008

I’m still suprised that so few people I know have seen ‘The Century of the Self’ – one of the most illuminating documentaries I have ever seen. It is now on Google Video in 4 parts. Here’s Part One:

2 Responses to “The Century of the Self”

  1. We were both really impressed with this series when we first saw it, so much so that Laurie began lecturing about Benays to his students- I found it amazing that I had never heard of him, when he has had such a major impact. The ‘engineering of consent’ is a deeply cynical idea which is completely at odds with true democracy. Bernays’ rather evil genius was to persaude that democracy and free market capitalism were inseperable; Bernays’ concept of ‘democracy’ was a desire driven, consumerist one, that was unltimately passive, docile and controllable – he despised humanity really. One of the worst of his legacies is the switch from a needs based to a desired based consumerism – it has led us to so many of the problems we face at present. We are still in the grip of what he helped to initiate, and I think that now’s the time to ask ourselves whether we want to be ‘active citizens’ or ‘passive consumers’.

    Attempting to control the irrationality of the mass in order to bring stability seems simplistic and fear-based, and it makes the erroneous assumption that the self-elected ‘elite’ who seek to control and manipulate society are somehow not suggestible to those same irrational forces. Bernays’ daughter described his ideal vision of society as being an ‘Enlightened Despotism’, and I thought it very telling that she saw him as a man who could not relate very easily to individual human beings – if you can’t percieve of the good in the person stood in front of you, then you are unlikely to see the potential of that good collectively.

    There is no doubt that collective human force can be a deeply destructive thing but I believe that this happens for many complicated social, economic and psychological reasons; I don’t believe that it is necessarily inherent or the dominating foundation of our being.The answer to these problems is not mass control but mass understanding; a belief in the potential good in humanity; encouring folks to understand themselves a little deeper that they might function with a greater awareness in the collective. Democracy only truly works if we are all engaged and informed – now that really would have scared the pants off Bernays!

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