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How to Politically Condition a Generation

Some insights from The Rape of the Mind.
2 ½ min

With all of the intolerance of “offensive” speech and ideas, it’s worth considering what could be happening. Is it all just to create a better society or are we being coerced into a certain mindset?

Sure, what’s going on is not on the level of some of the tyrannies of the 20th century or fictions such as Clockwork Orange, nonetheless the tactics seem eerily similar.

In The Rape of the Mind, Joost Meerloo points out that:

“…he who dictates and formulates the words and phrases we use, he who is master of the press and radio, is master of the mind.”

And who today dictates and formulates the words and phrases we use? Usually, those that matter originate in our universities and institutions of higher learning. They then trickle down through society as those who were embedded with the new words and phrases make their way through society and eventually into positions of leadership. It is the long march through institutions to bring about cultural and then political change.

As more and more individuals have been imprinted with the new way of looking at the world, the more the new thinking permeates the culture and pushes out dissenting views:

“Such is the Pavlovian device: repeat mechanically your assumptions and suggestions, diminish the opportunity of communicating dissent and opposition. This is the simple formula for conditioning the masses. This is also the actual ideal of some of our public relation machines…”

And the goal of political conditioning?

“Political conditioning should not be confused with training or persuasion or even indoctrination. It is more than that. It is taming. It is taking possession of both the simplest and the most complicated nervous patterns of man. It is the battle for the possession of the nerve cells. It is coercion and enforced conversion. Instead of conditioning man to an unbiased facing of reality, the seducer conditions him to catchwords, verbal stereotypes, slogans, formulas, symbols. Pavlovian strategy in the totalitarian sense means imprinting prescribed reflexes on a mind that has been broken down.”

If political conditioning is the goal, how is it achieved?

“In order to tame people into the desired pattern, victims must be brought to a point where they have lost their alert consciousness and mental awareness. Freedom of discussion and free intellectual exchange hinder conditioning. Feelings of terror, feelings of fear and hopelessness, of being alone, of standing with one’s back to the wall, must be instilled.”

That sounds a bit like speaking out against the cultural and intellectual norms found in much of our society. Say the wrong thing in corporate America, and you will find yourself alone and terrorized. Do you dare to ask the tough questions in school, or do you keep quiet to protect your grades? Who dares poke their heads up, prepared for the two-minutes of hate that will descend upon them? And let’s not mention how and what the media reports.

Does it worry you? Are we being tamed? 

Devin Foley

Devin Foley

Devin is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Charlemagne Institute, which operates Intellectual Takeout, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and the Alcuin Internship. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College where he studied history and political science. Prior to co-founding Charlemagne Institute, he served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota.

Devin is a contributor to local and national newspapers, a frequent guest on a variety of talk shows, such as Minneapolis' KTLK and NPR's Talk of the Nation, and regularly shares culture and education insights presenting to civic groups, schools, and other organizations. In 2011, he was named a Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation.

Devin and his wife have been married for eighteen years and have six children. When he's not working, Devin enjoys time with family while also relaxing through reading, horticulture, home projects, and skiing and snowboarding.

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