The Problem with Facebook “friends”

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indexWhen I de-activated my Face­book account for 6 months at the begin­ning of this year, it was because I had found it time-consuming, as well as being curi­ously depress­ing. Although, the rea­son I gave myself (and the one I posted on my wall) was that I needed to free myself up for plan­ning and exe­cu­tion of a move to another part of the world, there were many times when my social inter­ac­tions caused me stress and grief. I had blocked and been blocked, done busi­ness and been burned (not every time), been conned, been betrayed. And then there were the shriek­ers, the con­ceited ones, the com­pletely addled. I had begun to think that some of my “friends” or their friends com­ment­ing on their posts were paid lob­by­ists (this was before the news came out that there actu­ally are such people).

I had learned a lot, and even made a lit­tle money, reunited with a cou­ple of peo­ple, and won­dered why I had hooked up again with a lot more that I should never have started up with again. Any­one who knows me knows that I am hyper-sensitive (you can say it another way: I’m high strung), and so, unlike my truly close friends on Face­book, all of these shenani­gans affected me more than I wanted or could tolerate.

So, de-activating my account was the proper move for me.

Start­ing this sum­mer, move accom­plished, I started to re-structure all my social media. I got my LinkedIn up and run­ning, com­plet­ing all of my pro­file, reach­ing out to my pro­fes­sional con­tacts. I started actu­ally using my Twit­ter account and decided on what exactly I would be post­ing there. I con­sol­i­date my two Google+ accounts, edited and stream­lined all my photo albums in Picasa, made them acces­si­ble to rel­a­tives and a few friends, and even started a sep­a­rate Google+ page for my music posts. I tidied up my YouTube chan­nel and added a few more vids. I did much the same with my Sound Cloud account. Then I linked them all up in a vari­ety of ways, based on an ini­tial strat­egy, in order to present a new vir­tual self. I was re-making myself, includ­ing re-making my past, my present, my future.

Face­book remained there, de-activated. I actu­ally had three accounts (one of which I did not know about until spring this year, when I des­per­ately needed to search for a source’s per­sonal info (name, age) when writ­ing a story for Reuters Inter­na­tional). I decided to de-activate the other two and re-activate the one I’d been using, the one that con­tained all of the “friends” I still had.

My “friend” count had var­ied from 80 to 140 over the years of my Face­book life. While sev­eral of my most pop­u­lar friends were at the 800‑1200 level, my level had always been very low. I’m a one-on-one kind of per­son and very shy. I came to being more extro­verted in social set­tings (like SFNet) late in life, when I was in my 40s (in the early 90s).

There were rea­sons for this, which I may go into in another col­umn. But even though I had done a lot of social­iz­ing, I still always feel bet­ter relat­ing to indi­vid­u­als or small groups.

But there had been times, when Face­book used to have the “Joe Blow has ** friends in com­mon with you, Friend him/her” in the right side­bar, that I had robot­i­cally clicked the “Friend” request but­ton. I don’t know why. I guess it was to emu­late my other friends who had 1,000 “friends”?  No doubt.

Thus, I had around 120 “friends” most of them that I didn’t really know. And, unfor­tu­nately for me, I also had quite a few “friends” who I prob­a­bly did know (at a Net get or some­where), but had no idea any longer who they were and who they had been in my life in San Fran­cisco in the early to mid-90s. For one thing, they had aged 20 years and their faces in many cases had no resem­blance to their pre­vi­ous selves. For another they had taken on Face­book pseu­do­nyms that I had no mem­ory of. Either they were nicks from that long ago bbs that united so many of us in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area (and some­times beyond) that I had for­got­ten or they were com­pletely new nicks they were now using on Face­book. Some of them were gamers from when I was play­ing Far­mville and a few other Face­book games.

Truth­fully, I didn’t think about it. It didn’t bother me. Peo­ple are peo­ple and, I thought, the more the mer­rier, right? So, I re-activated and—Blam!—there they all were, 120 of them, back again.

Well here it is, almost 6 months later, and I am—again—feeling that old devil depres­sion and upset when­ever I get on ye olde Face­book (which now has what? sev­eral bil­lion users or something?).

So this week? It is more or less the begin­ning of the Hol­i­day Sea­son and I have a bit of a break from my uni­ver­sity stud­ies. And at the end of last week, the 50th Anniver­sary of the JFK assas­si­na­tion came up.

And so what has occurred in my Face­book life in the past 7 days is a Per­fect Storm: the curi­ous depres­sion of relat­ing on the most pop­u­lar social media site on Earth, my own hyper-sensitive per­son­al­ity, and the post­ings of my “friends” (and their “friends”) have strongly forced me to re-think the nature of friend­ship and rela­tion­ship in the vir­tual world of Facebook.

Because although I had spent part of this sum­mer re-structuring (or build­ing com­pletely new) other social media sites, I had done noth­ing of the sort with my Face­book.  It was all back and with it came the same prob­lems. Yes, I had planned a strat­egy: keep it to mostly music & pho­tog­ra­phy, try to keep it light, link my polit­i­cal posts from Twit­ter, but just let those post to my wall with­out comment.

But by Novem­ber, I had found that strat­egy to not be work­ing for me, for var­ied tech­ni­cal and per­sonal reasons.

Today, Thanks­giv­ing morn­ing I sat down and sorted my thoughts on the nature of friend­ship and rela­tion­ship that I have devel­oped all of my life in the non-virtual world and I real­ized that the cause of my angst around Face­book is due to my not fol­low­ing my par­tic­u­lar needs in rela­tion­ships on Face­book that I always fol­low on the street.

While oth­ers have no prob­lem what­so­ever with hav­ing a thou­sand (or ten thou­sand) “friends” and are looked at as great “friends” by all their adu­lat­ing “friends,” I was feel­ing irri­ta­tion and grief much of thetime. And I’m sure I am not alone. John Mayer deleted his Twit­ter account com­pletely after he made a series of over-shares that started a feed­back loop so neg­a­tive he just had to stop it altogether.

Per­haps oth­ers who might be read­ing this post, are feel­ing the same as I am.

So I wrote the ques­tion­naire below. I plan on imple­ment­ing it tomor­row morn­ing, on Black Fri­day, with every one of my Face­book “friends.”

When you read it, please don’t think I am being con­ceited or arro­gant. I am just being per­sonal.  Per­son­ally, how I feel about another human being I relate to is my busi­ness. As it is yours.

It is time to pare back. I have 8 fol­low­ers on share­my­jam, 70 sub­scribers on my YouTube chan­nel, 9 fol­low­ers in google+, 16 con­tacts on my LinkedIn.

Why do I need any more than who I really relate to as actual friends? Why do I have 115 “friends” on Face­book?  Many of the posts or the com­ments on the posts are more of a time-consuming drag than pos­i­tive or inter­est­ing, tak­ing me away from my cre­ative pur­suits and the busi­ness of mak­ing real friends that are loyal and engaging.

It is time for some­thing new. Tomor­row is a good day to begin.

For all of you who I have “known” over the last 20 years, you are cool, won­der­ful, great, tal­ented, amaz­ing. But some of you aren’t my friends. You aren’t my ene­mies either. You are just some­one I used to know.

This is what I came up with:

  • Do I know even know you (i.e., have we met in per­son or even on line)?
    • How do I know you (i.e., what were/are the cir­cum­stances of our rela­tion­ship, are there issues between us that are/are not pos­i­tive, the details)?
    • Have you engaged me in a 2-way fash­ion recently (as in you com­ment­ing on my posts or com­ments or reply­ing to my com­ments on your posts)?
      • Was that engage­ment of an igno­rant nature?
      • In that engage­ment did you dis­play a fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence in our belief systems?
        • If it did, do you acknowl­edge those dif­fer­ences or do you ignore these fun­da­men­tal differences?
          • Mean­ing, are you able to dis­cuss them, are you open to new thoughts from your “friend”?
  • What about your other “friends” who con­stantly com­ment in your threads?
    • Are your other “friends” nasty, crazy, igno­rant, or pre­pos­ter­ous consistently?
    • Do you mod­er­ate (i.e., com­ment) mak­ing it clear to your other “friends” that you don’t accept their nuttiness/nastiness/ignorance/preposterousness?
    • How often do I get into flame wars with your “friends” in your com­ment fields (more than twice in a week is too many times)?
    • How amenable are your “friends” (or even you) to any­thing rea­son­able (i.e., reports, papers, the­ses, videos, first-hand expe­ri­ence, etc.) from me on your com­ment threads (do you—or they—ignore them or worse)?
    • How often do I see log­i­cal fal­lac­ies (e.g., ad hominem, straw man, etc., etc.) being pro­posed by you or your “friends” in your posts and com­ment fields?
      • Have your other “friends” blocked me so that your com­ment threads have vast parts of them miss­ing where I can only see one side of the conversation?
        • Is it fre­quent enough and exten­sive enough so that read­ing and respond­ing to your com­ment fields is depress­ing or mad­den­ingly frustrating?
        • How often are you using Face­book to pro­mote your business/art/store/product and how irritating/depressing/maddening/distracting is that con­stant pro­mo­tion to me personally?
        • Do you come off as arro­gant (i.e., 1-way—post­ing your posts, but never reply­ing to com­ments, never com­ment­ing on my posts)?
        • How do I feel emo­tion­ally and intu­itively when I see your posts?
        • Finally, is there some­thing in the nature of our rela­tion­ship out­side of Face­book that super­sedes any of the other ques­tions (e.g., mother-son, boss-employee, dealer-junkie)

The answers to these ques­tions above can be gar­nered quickly and are an easy way to re-structure social rela­tions on Face­book. I expect to have maybe 20 or so friends left, but they’ll be good ones for me. Putting Face­book in per­spec­tive with the rest of my life is in all ways pos­i­tive. As time goes by, I’ll cul­ti­vate oth­ers who I have pos­i­tive his­tory and cur­rency with. I’m look­ing for­ward to it.

I hope that this may inter­est and help you, too.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s a Start


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Thomas Paine


Time for some­thing new. I’ve admired Tom Paine ever since the days of the Tom Paine site (now defunct) that was run by some pro­gres­sives a few years ago. Paine was extremely ahead of his time. And he paid the price. Tom Paine is still ahead of his time (some 200+ years later), but he remains my favorite Found­ing Father and for good reason.

More 0n Mr. Paine as this blog pro­gresses, but the point of nam­ing the blog after Tom Paine is that the blog will be ded­i­cated to his prin­ci­ples: that of equal­ity. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is the only thing to do. If a soci­ety doesn’t make things work for its people–a major­ity of its people–then it doesn’t stand a chance of surviving.

That is, unless you have a hege­monic coun­try, full of nut­bag neo-cons, push­ing to win, at all costs, no mat­ter what the con­se­quences.  Tom Paine knew that the con­se­quences would be dire.

So do I.

And so…let us begin.




Time for Something New

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Since Face­book has now become noth­ing more than a mar­ket­ing algo­rithm (oh, plus a way for any authority–your boss, your future employer, your school, your government–to keep tabs on you), I’ve decided to move off.

My meth­ods for doing that are counter-intuitive. I’m going to exper­i­ment with posts through my old re-activated blog, Lib­erty Hill Blog­ger, using Twit­ter­feed, which should post simul­ta­ne­ously to my Twit­ter, Face­book and Linkedin accounts.


Well, first, it’s a test. Does this even work? Posts I’ve made over the past six months via Pos­ter­ous, Reeder, Mr. Reader, Flip­Board appar­ently weren’t mak­ing it. It’s dif­fi­cult to tell, since all the set­tings for everyone’s friends on everyone’s Face­book accounts were changed  to the default, which is “Occa­sion­ally,” when the Time­line pro­file went into effect.

In other words, you only see occa­sional posts by all your friends unless you go to every friend in your pro­file and change that set­ting. While old Face­book would let you hide an annoy­ing friend who you didn’t wish to go to the extent of un-friending, now Face­book has for some rea­son set you up to start by semi-hiding all of your friends.

I have heard that this set­ting some­how is related to the amount of com­ment­ing you and your friends were mak­ing to each other at the time just  before the Time­line pro­file went into effect. Well, I was on vaca­tion  from com­ment­ing to my friends threads on Face­book at that time due to work and school com­mit­ments and so now, I am appar­ently fucked.  I mean I only have a hun­dred friends but I’m not going through every sin­gle one and chang­ing it.

But even if I did, they still wouldn’t see most or any of my posts because their set­tings are set the way they are.  Friends are peo­ple I engage with and who engage me. So now Face­book pre­vents that. Which I thought was the whole pur­pose of Facebook.

It’s the lack of feed­back, of engage­ment, that’s bug­ging me. It’s time to move off to a dif­fer­ent social medium with more pos­si­bil­ity of engage­ment and move off into real world social con­tacts like I have done as a jour­nal­ist and musi­cian in the past 6 months. Time to take that farther

My inten­tion is to leave Face­book con­nected but to start using Twit­ter exclu­sively. Google+ is even more exclusionary-based than Face­book so that’s out, though I have an account.

I’ll post any­thing that I find that is inter­est­ing with­out regard to how it might affect my employ­ment in the cor­po­rate world that has taken over all of us and see if I can fol­low and retweet others.

I’m @restless94110, here goes.

May you live in inter­est­ing times.”  – Chi­nese curse.

Freelance Work & New Posts

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I’ve started some free­lance blog work for hire recently and have just had my first piece pub­lished on the Amer­i­can Con­sumer News site. The arti­cle is about a book rec­om­mended to me over 10 years ago by an acquain­tance, “Your Money or Your Life.” Read my arti­cle here.

In other news, this site has been dor­mant for a bit of time, but I’m ready­ing pieces to pub­lish and I’ll be acti­vat­ing it in the next 2 weeks. I’m always open to guest writ­ers as well, so drop me mail if you wish to pub­lish and we’ll talk.

It’s the begin­ning sum­mer and the heat is ris­ing in more ways than one. Stay tuned.

Medieval Times Come To America

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By Rest­less [Orig­i­nally on goofy­blog 4.25.08]

“The treat­ment of crime and crim­i­nals is one of the most unfail­ing tests of the civ­i­liza­tion of any coun­try.” — Win­ston Churchill

The United States cur­rently incar­cer­ates 738 peo­ple per 100,000 of pop­u­la­tion. Europe’s aver­age is 200 (The United King­dom is 145). Only Rus­sia comes close at 603 per 100,000.

The U.S. is the only Democ­racy that indef­i­nitely dis­en­fran­chises non-incarcerated felons, a prac­tice pro­hib­ited by the inter­na­tional covenant of civil and polit­i­cal rights to which Amer­ica is a sig­na­tory.
But who cares about these crim­i­nals and their namby-pamby “rights?”

Answer: You do.

Stud­ies show that 2/3rds of ex-convicts vote Demo­c­ra­tic. 5.4 Mil­lion Were dis­en­fran­chised in 2000 and 2004. Do the math – we should have had a dif­fer­ent Pres­i­dent all these long years.

Fur­ther­more, allow­ing those who’ve served their time to vote would have pre­vented at least 7 key Repub­li­cans (John Warner, Con­nie Mack, Mel Mar­tinez, etc.) from stay­ing in, or get­ting elected to office.

The United States is also the first coun­try to re-instate the prac­tice of civil death or “Dead in Law” once pop­u­lar in Europe about 500 years ago. It is the idea that a per­son can never repay their debt to soci­ety; after they do their pen­i­tence (in a pen­i­ten­tiary) they must run a gaunt­let of years of parole or probation.

Then, the death part begins: Inva­sive back­ground checks ensure unem­ploy­ment or under-employment. Hav­ing a crim­i­nal record can keep you from get­ting an apart­ment, a gov­ern­ment loan, even a driver’s license in some states.

The vaunted dip of unem­ploy­ment in the US dur­ing the 90’s? Over 2 mil­lion pris­on­ers and 600,000 more await­ing trial went unac­counted for, and still remain excluded. Mean­while, 60% of black men have done time by the time they reach their mid 30’s.

True, the crime rate dipped in the 90’s, but was it the pros­per­ous times, or was it the dra­con­ian sen­tences being meted out daily through­out the land? As eco­nomic times worsen, the crime rate is ris­ing, putting the lie to this cruel prac­tice that harms fam­i­lies and rel­a­tives of the Ex-Convict, and soci­ety in general.

What’s up with this? A Soci­ety turns on its own peo­ple. Cre­ation­ism taught in schools, Laissez-faire cap­i­tal­ism is king, a coun­try mov­ing backwards.

Senator Brownback

We don’t want to build more pris­ons; we don’t want to lock peo­ple up.” — Sen. Sam Brown­back, Con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­can, for­mer Pres­i­den­tial Can­di­date, after spend­ing a night in a cell at Angola prison in Louisiana.

Date­line Cal­i­for­nia –

In a move to ease chronic over­crowd­ing, Cal­i­for­nia approved the largest sin­gle prison con­struc­tion pro­gram in the nation’s his­tory. The plan will cost $8.3 bil­lion and add 53,000 prison beds.

Based on cur­rent spend­ing trends, California’s prison bud­get will over take spend­ing on the states uni­ver­si­ties in 5 years. But Cal­i­for­nia has all but guar­an­teed that pris­ons will eat up an increas­ingly large share of the taxpayer’s money because of chronic fail­ures in a sys­tem that the state is now plan­ning to expand.

Film Review: No Country For Old Men

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No Country For Old Men

By Rest­less [Orig­i­nally on goofy­blog 3.8.08]

In Decem­ber I watched the new Coen Broth­ers film, No Coun­try For Old Men, which has gone on to win the Acad­emy award for Best Pic­ture. It is a tragedy, a work of unremit­ting violence.

As I left the mul­ti­plex, I was moved by what I had seen, but I wasn’t sure why. I thought: What are these guys say­ing here?

I mean, the Coens, the actors (Josh Brolin, Javier Bardim), all the artists who put this together, who made this con­sid­er­able effort to con­struct some­thing far more sub­stan­tial than the usual mean­ing­less mish mashes of action and may­hem like oth­ers (Tarintino’s Kill Bill 1 & 2, Rodriguez’s Sin City and Scorsese’s The Departed being the most notable exam­ples) have done recently.

The best art reflects soci­ety back on itself, reveal­ing the under­ly­ing real­ity by peel­ing away the white noise, the sta­tic (Amer­i­can idol, any­thing Britney/Lindsey/Paris, “real­ity” shows, Fox News, happy “news”) that clogs understanding.

AristotleSo what real­ity was revealed by this film? For help, I con­sulted Aristotle’s Poet­ics, the 2000-year-old tome still con­sid­ered the Bible of dra­matic construction.

The film opens in the late 70’s with what passes now-a-days for a Greek cho­rus in the guise of Tommy Lee Jones’ aging Texas coun­try sher­iff, which as Aris­to­tle says serves to com­ment on and rein­force the cen­tral idea of the work: things ain’t what they used to be. Or, to be more clear, decent peo­ple can’t stand up to or stop the ruth­less, socio­pathic evil unleashed by the unwinnable “War on Drugs” ini­ti­ated by Nixon, who was then reel­ing from his fail­ures in the Viet­nam War.

This idea is reit­er­ated through­out by Tommy in voice over and on cam­era as well as by other sec­ondary characters–another type of mod­ern Greek cho­rus (for true Greek cho­ruses in mod­ern film, see Jonathon Richman’s guitarist-in-the-tree in “There’s Some­thing About Mary” or the full-on Greek cho­rus used by Woody Allen in “Mighty Aphrodite”).

Anton Chigurh

We catch first sight of this ruth­less evil just after Tommy Lee’s first solil­o­quy in what Aris­to­tle calls a Par­ode, a “par­ody” of the action to come, a pre­view, a warm-up that sets up the action in the film with the thun­der­ously vio­lent escape from cus­tody of the film’s vil­lain, Anton Chigurh.

From there the film moves directly into what Aris­to­tle calls the “Com­pli­ca­tion,” – Lewe­lyn Moss, a Viet­nam vet out hunt­ing ante­lope on his day off, comes across the vio­lent remains of a drug shoot-out with one-half of a sur­vivor. He recov­ers a satchel full of money and makes it back to his trailer-park wife with no one the wiser and his for­tune seems assured.

But, Aris­to­tle teaches there would be no drama at all with­out a rever­sal of for­tune. He writes in Poet­ics that this rever­sal must come from an error in judg­ment, not from deprav­ity. And finally, said error must instill pity and/or fear in the audi­ence (not dis­gust and/or revulsion).

Thus, when Josh Brolin’s Llewe­lyn decides that the right thing to do is to take the sole sur­vivor the water he so des­per­ately had requested, it sets up the roller coaster of action of the rest of the film. Aris­to­tle calls this the “denoue­ment,” our hero’s tragic rever­sal of for­tune. But, this is just the first of sev­eral mis­judg­ments Llewe­lyn makes, always how­ever stem­ming from his basic decency and goodness.

From then on, every scene in the movie ham­mers home the sin­gle idea: Decent men and women don’t stand a chance against amoral evil. They are either destroyed by it, or cor­rupted by it. There is no escape.

But, Aris­to­tle writes that the denoue­ment in a story must build up a well of pity and fear in the audi­ence that will finally lead up to cathar­sis, a release of the built up pity or fear.

In this film’s case, as in the only other mas­ter­piece of the first decade of the 21st cen­tury, David Cronenberg’s “A His­tory of Vio­lence,” cathar­sis comes at the end when we finally real­ize that the urge to decency, to good­ness, can never be com­pletely exter­mi­nated by cor­rup­tion or evil.
This makes for mature, mod­ern entertainment!

No Coun­try For Old Men is the place our coun­try has come to inhabit.

Check it out!

4 Fantastic Films — III

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The Century of the Self

By Rest­less [Orig­i­nally on goofy­blog 11.30.07]

1. The Cen­tury of the Self (2002) Pt. 3

At the end of the 50s, Anna Freud’s psy­cho­an­a­lytic meth­ods were being chal­lenged by those alien­ated by busi­nesses’ use of them to sell prod­ucts and also by a grow­ing aware­ness of sev­eral major fail­ures: Dr. Cameron’s exper­i­men­tal treat­ments using drugs and shock had failed, and the fam­ily on which Anna had based her treat­ment model had suf­fered casu­al­ties. Then there was Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe.

The 60s: The Tower Burns

The Freudi­ans

Marilyn MonroeThe abuses of Dr. Cameron and the sorry state of Anna’s failed guinea pigs were not well-known, but Mar­i­lyn was famous world­wide. In 1960, she had turned to Anna Freud’s Los Ange­les asso­ciate, Dr. Green­son, for treat­ment. Employ­ing Anna’s tech­niques, he tried teach­ing Mar­i­lyn nor­mal­ity and see­ing her daily, even hir­ing an assis­tant to mon­i­tor her at home. His treat­ment included drug ther­apy, and Mar­i­lyn became depen­dent on barbiturates.

When she killed her­self in 1962, many in and out­side the psy­cho­an­a­lytic world were shocked. Chal­lengers and crit­ics rushed the gate.

The Chal­lengers

In the late 50s, a small group of rene­gade ther­a­pists in New York City had begun prac­tic­ing new ther­a­pies, influ­enced by the teach­ings of Wil­helm Reich – him­self an orig­i­nal dis­ci­ple of Sig­mund Freud. Reich had formed a con­cept of human behav­ior rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent than Sig­mund & Anna’s: repres­sion of essen­tial human nature was the cause of all indi­vid­ual and social ills.

Accord­ing to Reich, sex­ual energy is the pri­mal force ani­mat­ing every per­son, thus all neu­roses were caused by fail­ure to orgasm. Free a patient’s sex­u­al­ity and he would flour­ish. Sta­tic soci­eties needed to be changed to be made more liv­able, human, sex­ual.

The Crit­ics
The Hidden P:ersuaders

In 1957, Vance Packard pub­lished The Hid­den Per­suaders, a book that called atten­tion to busi­nesses’ use of Freudian the­ory to cre­ate Pavlov­ian mass con­sumers. It had been a best seller, the book title itself becom­ing a com­mon fig­ure of speech.

Rad­i­cal philoso­pher, Her­bert Mar­cuse, had begun crit­i­ciz­ing the empty pros­per­ity that had been cre­ated by the broad con­for­mance to a sta­tic social model. The idea peo­ple needed to be con­trolled was wrong, said Mar­cuse, agree­ing with Reich: the indi­vid­ual should not con­form. The unhealthy forces Anna Freud had seen in peo­ple were caused by a repres­sive soci­ety.

Ghet­tos rag­ing; stu­dent, hip­pies protest­ing, play­ing; Baby­lon burning
Protestors 1968

Mar­cu­sian the­ory was used by the new Stu­dent Left to jus­tify protests that attacked cor­po­ra­tions and demon­stra­tions oppos­ing the Viet­nam War. The mind­less con­for­mity of the 50s had led inevitably to a mind­less war in South­east Asia. Amer­i­can busi­ness and US gov­ern­ment inter­ests had become one with nei­ther the advice nor con­sent of the people.

The stu­dents saw them­selves as autonomous cit­i­zens in a democ­racy, able to make their own deci­sions, and rejected any secret or overt manip­u­la­tion by busi­ness and gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­dists, still using tired Freudian tech­niques. Rebelling against con­sumerism, they exper­i­mented with non-conformist, anti-corporate ideas: com­munes; sex­ual free­dom; long hair; funky attire; civil rights; women’s lib­er­a­tion; gay lib.

Bobby Kennedy

When the strong lead­ers, those who had radi­ated hope and pushed for non-violent change, were assas­si­nated, and the US con­tin­ued pur­su­ing the war, even in the face of mas­sive stu­dent oppo­si­tion, some of the Left decided they needed to go farther.

The Weath­er­men group began a series of bomb attacks against the cor­po­rate struc­ture. The police and FBI struck back hard. At the 1968 Demo­c­ra­tic Con­ven­tion police were set upon pro­test­ers, club­bing them at will. After 4 stu­dents were killed by the National Guard at Kent State, the Left began falling apart.

Out-gunned, they started turn­ing inward, using Reich’s the­o­ries again: go inside, change one­self, change soci­ety from within.

The 70s — The Me Gen­er­a­tion? – Reichi­ans triumph
Eselen Institute

Esalen, ini­tially a small West Coast retreat near Big Sur became the locus of this move inward. Fritz Perls – an Esalen ther­a­pist trained by Reich – cre­ated gestalt ther­apy as a new way for indi­vid­u­als to see and express their hid­den inner feel­ings, and in so doing, free them­selves of all social conditioning.

Exper­i­ments in social change via per­sonal lib­er­a­tion were attempted, first with black and white rad­i­cals, then with a con­vent. As the nuns found lib­er­a­tion, they released their repressed sex­u­al­ity. In the end, over half renounced their vows, some became rad­i­cal les­bians — the con­vent closed its doors.

Thou­sands flocked to Esalen and other cen­ters that were founded to emu­late it. Then philosopher/entrepreneur Werner Erhard devel­oped a method for mass pro­duc­ing self-expressive indi­vid­u­als. Call­ing it est – erhard sys­tems train­ing – he did his train­ings with large groups in gru­el­ing all-day ses­sions, strip­ping off par­tic­i­pants’ lay­ers of social con­di­tion­ing, going down to their noth­ing­ness. Once there, indi­vid­u­als were free to re-create them­selves from that noth­ing­ness. They could be any­thing they wished to be.

werner erhard founder of est

Erhard taught that it was one’s high­est duty to become a fully actu­ated indi­vid­ual. One of his apho­risms was “Par­tic­i­pa­tion is health.” These newly actu­ated indi­vid­u­als would change soci­ety by sheer num­bers.
Est became hugely suc­cess­ful and was repli­cated all over Amer­ica, the UK and other parts of the world.

As this inter­nal “rev­o­lu­tion” took hold, Busi­ness won­dered: how could they reach these new indi­vid­u­als? Their old focus group model was of no use — fewer peo­ple were inter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing. More­over, exist­ing meth­ods of mass pro­duc­tion wouldn’t work with this new urge for indi­vid­ual expres­sion by consumers.

A lead­ing mar­ket researcher, Daniel Yankelovich, was hired. Using sur­veys Yankelovich dis­cov­ered a sur­pris­ing truth about the Human Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment. Express­ing one­self had become the most impor­tant thing, super­sed­ing all else.

The urge to change soci­ety had become irrel­e­vant. What now emerged was the idea that peo­ple could be happy sim­ply within themselves.

By 1980, a vast major­ity of the pop­u­la­tion had become pre­oc­cu­pied with the self. Then Ronald Rea­gan stepped onto the stage, and using Reichian the­ory, became the first politi­cian to talk to these new beings and in so doing he defined the way to polit­i­cal vic­tory for the next 27 years … and count­ing.

Ronald Reagan
[more tomor­row]

Now a Word…

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By Rest­less [Orig­i­nally on goofy­blog 11.27.07]

confused mouse

My abject apolo­gies. Right in the mid­dle of writ­ing and pub­lish­ing the series on the 4 Fan­tas­tic Films, my lap­top punked out.

My tech skills are pretty rusty, and it was the day after Thanks­giv­ing. I imme­di­ately thought: has to be the hard drive. Quick get on craigslist, 2 hours later a meet­ing at a Star­bucks and prob­lem solved? Not quite.

When I bought this Dell Insp­iron 2 years ago, I added a 1-year on-site war­ranty. That was good because it failed imme­di­ately. Error mes­sages say­ing the “mod­ule” wouldn’t seat onto the moth­er­board – which mod­ule? The only mod­ules I had was the CD-R or the hard drive, but Dell Sup­port instructed their sub-contractors to replace the moth­er­board instead – and they had to do it 3 dif­fer­ent times.

So, twice, in a Star­bucks, and once, in an empty trash-strewn 2-room office about a block from Ground Zero, I watched and learned. Now, it was my turn.

Layer by layer I pulled the Insp­iron apart – first the hard drive, then the DVD-R (a free upgrade for all my “trou­ble,” evi­dently the prob­lem in the first place). Then, key­board, screen, modem.

Finally, I got down to the fan hous­ing and pulled it away from the cop­per heat sink that lead to the cov­er­ing over the cpu.


A thick layer of black dirt and hairs was clog­ging the heat sink! I’d won­dered why the fan was work­ing so extra hard at the end of the sum­mer. The chip was fried.

Oh well. The guy who’d sold me the hard drive had thrown in an exter­nal drive cas­ing, and kind rel­a­tives had donated an old desk­top. No data lost … just a dead laptop.

A quick search on eBay and I’d bid and won a new chip from a com­pany in Geor­gia – I’ll be portable again in another week.

The desk­top was wrecked – old SIMM, funky hard dri­ves (WARNING: IBM hard dri­ves are defec­tive, that’s why they went out of the hard drive biz in 2002). All I had to do now was com­pletely rebuild the oper­at­ing sys­tem and install all the pro­grams I use daily (Office, Pho­to­shop, etc.).

4 false starts later, I’m up and run­ning. Then a jil­lion upgrades, ser­vice packs and patches more, and finally, I’m done.

The doc­u­men­taries are worth see­ing and def­i­nitely worth writ­ing about. I’ll start up again tomor­row. Stay tuned for the 60s and the age of Reich (below).

Wilhelm Reich

4 Fantastic Films

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four_gif By Rest­less [Orig­i­nally on goofyblog11.20.07]

months ago, the best aggre­ga­tor of full-length video, – see my arti­cle of March 5th — changed urls, now Youtube and other sites are great for short vid­clips; this site is the best repos­i­tory for the longer stuff.

Want standup — Pablo Fran­cisco, Dane Cook, Car­los Men­cia, Bill Hicks, Dave Chap­pell, Andy Kauf­man, George Car­lin? Click the Enter­tain­ment link.

What about movies? There’s “It’s a Won­der­ful Life,” “The Lost World,” “Joan the Woman.”

New, old; more are added weekly.

Docs on Iraq or 9–11? The site is the most com­pre­hen­sive I’ve seen.

But, what’s best about this fan­tas­tic site are the Doc­u­men­taries links. In the past 4 months, I’ve watched 4 remark­able works, three of which can be found there, that have fun­da­men­tally altered my under­stand­ing of the how we got to where we are today. That knowl­edge is power is true; the power to see where we can and must go now.

This is the first in a series of arti­cles on these films. Don’t miss them!

1. The Cen­tury of the Self (2002)

Czar Alexander III, the Last AristocratPer­haps the best doc­u­men­tary I’ve ever seen. A his­tory of the 20th cen­tury — in just 4 hours.

The century’s begin­ning marked also the begin­ning of the tri­umph of democ­racy. In its first 2 decades, most monar­chies in the West were destroyed or saw their pow­ers reduced to impo­tent orna­men­ta­tion. By mid-century, most Asian ones had dis­ap­peared as well.

In 1900, most lived in rural com­mu­ni­ties under an aris­toc­racy. By 2000, most lived in urban com­mu­ni­ties under some form of democracy.

But, as they say: the more things change, the more things remain the same. The dream of rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy, gov­ern­ment of the peo­ple, by the peo­ple still eludes us.

This doc­u­men­tary shows clearly how elites still rule — not by aris­to­cratic cus­tom, but by ideas first devel­oped at the turn of the cen­tury in Vienna by the father of psy­cho­analy­sis. It is about the most influ­en­tial fam­ily of the 20th century.

Freud – WWI — the end of the aris­toc­racy — birth of mass culture

Sigmund Frued

After unsuc­cess­fully pro­mot­ing cocaine as a new won­der drug, Sig­mund Freud invented new tech­niques for ana­lyz­ing the indi­vid­ual. From his analy­ses, Freud the­o­rized there were pow­er­ful, hid­den prim­i­tive sex­ual and aggres­sive forces deep in humans, forces that if not con­trolled would lead soci­eties and human beings into chaos and destruc­tion. It was only decades later, that many of his con­clu­sive the­o­ries were proved mis­guided at best or false at worse, such as the con­cept that his women patients who com­plained of incest were hys­ter­i­cal, imag­in­ing things or that all sex­ual urges or feel­ings were dan­ger­ous and needed to be repressed.

When WWI broke out, fol­lowed by the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion, Freud felt he was on the right track — his new the­o­ries about human nature were proved.

Edward BernaysAt the time, his nephew Edward Bernays was a US press agent for opera singer Enrico Caruso, but when Amer­ica entered the War, Pres­i­dent Wil­son appointed Bernays to pro­mote the neces­sity of our entry, which was counter to the cam­paign promises he had made in his recent re-election. Wil­son declared he was enter­ing the war not to restore the empires, but to spread democ­racy through­out Europe, and Bernays proved extremely adept at spread­ing this con­cept both in the US and Europe.

When the War ended, he was asked to accom­pany Wil­son to Paris, where he real­ized just how suc­cess­ful he had actu­ally been as masses of peo­ple jubi­lantly greeted Wil­son as a Sav­ior. Bernays decided that what he could do in times of war, he might be able to in times of peace.

But how? He turned to the writ­ings of his Uncle Sig­mund. From Paris, he had sent his Uncle a box of Havana cig­ars and in return had received a copy of Freud’s The­ory of Psy­cho­analy­sis. Freud’s depic­tion of the hid­den forces in humans fas­ci­nated Bernays. Could he make money from people’s irra­tional hid­den desires? He returned to New York and opened the first pub­lic rela­tions firm.

Freud’s Nephew & the Roar­ing 20s

Women smokers in the 20s

Bernays first effort was to see if he could get women to smoke, which was a strong soci­etal taboo at the time. He called in the Amer­i­can psy­cho­an­a­lyst, A. A. Brill. Using Freud’s the­ory of penis envy, Brill told Bernays that women would feel more pow­er­ful if they smoked for then they would have their own penises, chal­leng­ing men. Bernays devised a stunt that changed soci­ety and became known the world over.

Per­suad­ing a group of wealthy debu­tantes to do a “group smoke” at New York’s Easter Day parade, he touted their rebel­lious act as light­ing “torches of free­dom.” He prop­a­gated the idea that when women smoked they became more pow­er­ful, more inde­pen­dent, more free.

Cor­po­ra­tions sud­denly became extremely inter­ested. Up until then, goods and prod­ucts were pro­moted solely for their prac­ti­cal value. Because of the great suc­cesses of assembly-line mass pro­duc­tion, busi­ness­men were now wor­ried they would soon sat­u­rate the mar­ket­place and then see their prof­its decline.

If peo­ple could be per­suaded to believe that smok­ing cig­a­rettes would make them more free and pow­er­ful, they might be made to believe buy­ing other prod­ucts were good for them regard­less of their actual need.

Bernays showed busi­ness how they could make peo­ple want things they didn’t need, by link­ing their desires to mass pro­duced items. Out of this, would come a new polit­i­cal idea about how to con­trol the masses. By sat­is­fy­ing people’s inner self­ish desires, one made Jazz Babythem happy and thus docile, which was the start of the all-consuming self, which has come to dom­i­nate our world today.

Bernays used his uncle’s the­o­ries as the foun­da­tion for the cre­ation of the mass con­sumer. He used movie stars & sports fig­ures in the first tes­ti­mo­ni­als and began the first prod­uct place­ments in movies, clev­erly pro­mot­ing cars as sym­bols of male power and energy.

Then, start­ing with Coolidge, Bernays was called upon to pro­mote polit­i­cal fig­ures. Pub­lic rela­tions had entered into politics

By 1927, the US had become not a nation of cit­i­zens but a nation of con­sumers. Bernays prop­a­gated the idea con­sumers should also par­tic­i­pate in the stock mar­ket, buy­ing shares on credit.

Freud Dark­ens — Infects Pol­i­tics — Intel­lec­tu­als Embellish

Mean­while in Vienna, by the mid 20s Uncle Sig­mund was nearly broke in a war-ravaged and depressed Europe and appealed to his nephew for help. Bernays responded by get­ting Freud pub­lished for the first time in the US, becom­ing his agent, get­ting him accepted there, fun­da­men­tally affect­ing jour­nal­ists and writ­ers – the Amer­i­can intelligentsia.

By then Freud’s ideas on human nature had become more pes­simistic. In the after­math of the war, he saw groups of peo­ple as ani­mals dri­ven irra­tionally by deep forces of sadism. The guid­ing prin­ci­ple of democ­racy – cit­i­zens were ratio­nal and could be trusted to make deci­sions based on the facts – was wrong.

The influ­en­tial Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, Wal­ter Lipp­man, the­o­rized that if this was so, then it was nec­es­sary to rethink democ­racy, which was now too dan­ger­ous; what was called for instead was a new elite that could man­age the “bewil­dered herd.”

Bernays had found it easy to manip­u­late the masses and thought peo­ple were stu­pid; said so many times. He took Lippman’s the­ory as his own. Peo­ple needed to be socially con­trolled, their hid­den desires needed to be stim­u­lated, then guided to the accept­able solu­tion. Democ­racy could be run this way; the masses could be man­aged, docile, happy, through the cre­ation of a con­sumerist soci­ety. When Hoover was elected in ‘28, what Bernays called “enlight­ened despo­tism” became the new model for run­ning democracy.

By the end of the 20s, he had become one of the rich, influ­en­tial elite in this new world.

Stock Market Crash 1929

Then in the fall of ’29, his suc­cess at pro­mot­ing stock mar­ket spec­u­la­tion by the masses –shoeshine boys had stocks by then – back­fired and the sim­ple world of the docile con­sumer ended.

[Con­tin­ued mañana]

4 Fantastic Films — II

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By Rest­less [Orig­i­nally on goofy­blog 11.21.07]

Century of the Self

1. The Cen­tury of the Self (2002) – Pt. 2

In 1929, the stock mar­ket crashed and peo­ple sim­ply stopped buy­ing any­thing they didn’t need. Sig­mund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, saw the power and influ­ence he had amassed dur­ing the 20s whither as busi­ness and gov­ern­ment lost con­trol of the peo­ple, now riot­ing against the cor­po­ra­tions they blamed for the down­turn. As the depres­sion in Amer­ica deep­ened, it helped to worsen the eco­nomic & social sit­u­a­tion in Europe.

The 30s: Freud, Hitler & Roosevelt

Freud in Vienna became con­vinced humans were full of dan­ger­ous impulses and should never be allowed to truly express them­selves. Democ­racy was illog­i­cal. He wrote Civ­i­liza­tion & Its Dis­con­tents wherein he warned that peo­ple could eas­ily be manip­u­lated to love their lead­ers, while being turned against any outsiders.

Adolf Hitler in 1933

His writ­ings influ­enced Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, who came to power pro­mot­ing the con­cept democ­racy was too dan­ger­ous, chaotic, lead­ing only to unem­ploy­ment and dis­as­ter. Soci­eties must be planned. In 1933, his gov­ern­ment started dis­man­tling democ­racy, first con­trol­ling busi­nesses, then more and more aspects of Ger­man life.

Elected in 1932, Roo­sevelt had sim­i­lar ideas about busi­ness but com­pletely dif­fer­ent ideas about peo­ple and democ­racy. Yes, busi­ness must be reg­u­lated and reigned in. Peo­ple on the other hand were ratio­nal and could be relied upon to make wise deci­sions when well-informed. The Founders con­cept of democ­racy was to be pre­served and enhanced under his watch.

He worked with Joseph Gallup, who devised the first-ever polls of the peo­ple to find out what they wanted and what they were feel­ing. Armed with their opin­ions Roo­sevelt felt it was government’s role to enact the people’s will.

Hitler’s Min­is­ter of Enlight­en­ment and Pro­pa­ganda, Joseph Goebbels, agreed with Roo­sevelt in regard to busi­ness: cor­po­ra­tions must be con­trolled by gov­ern­ment so that peo­ple had work and could sup­port them­selves. But when the Nazis took Aus­tria in 1938, they employed Freud’s warn­ing as their game plan, unleash­ing the deep frus­tra­tion of the unem­ployed masses on the out­siders, the Jews.

See­ing this, Sig­mund fled to Britain with daugh­ter Anna, whom he had ana­lyzed and then trained in his psy­cho­an­a­lytic techniques.

FDR in 1932
When Roo­sevelt was re-elected in a land­slide in 1936 by promis­ing even more con­trols on busi­ness, cor­po­rate lead­ers, fear­ing a dic­ta­tor­ship, decided they had to fight back. Call­ing on Edward Bernays and oth­ers, they began to pro­duce pro­pa­ganda: films extolling busi­ness as the true and only engine of pros­per­ity, news arti­cles that were noth­ing more than pub­lic­ity for busi­ness giv­ing the impres­sion that they were the movers for good not sole profit in soci­ety and thus their motives should not be con­trolled or questioned.

1939 World's Fair

The abil­ity to insin­u­ate this type of pr into main-stream jour­nal­ism was clever and has been used in many ways since, but Bernays’ piece de resis­tance was in the cre­ation of the New York Worlds Fair in 1939. Financed by cor­po­ra­tions such as Gen­eral Elec­tric, the Fair was a truly impres­sive work effec­tively prop­a­gat­ing the mes­sage that only busi­ness could bring con­sumers what they needed offer­ing a vision of peo­ple, not as active cit­i­zens, but as pas­sive consumers.

Their ratio­nal thoughts were not in charge any longer, instead only their desires were, which can be then con­trolled by busi­ness elites.

As WWII began, Sig­mund Freud died of can­cer and Anna became head of the Psy­cho­an­a­lytic move­ment. A severe, vir­ginal woman, first ana­lyzed by her father once he dis­cov­ered she was mas­tur­bat­ing, her goal was to push her father’s the­o­ries as the only true way. She had a mes­sianic fer­vor and could never admit any mis­take or acknowl­edge any other pos­si­ble path.

The 40s: the Tri­umph of Con­for­mity
Anna Freud

Just before the war had begun, a wealthy New York mother of 4 fled her divorce, bring­ing her chil­dren to Anna for treat­ment. She began an exper­i­men­tal ther­apy, strictly con­trol­ling the envi­ron­ment of her young patients, believ­ing the chil­dren could be taught to con­form to fam­ily and social norms, and then their egos would be strength­ened. In this way they would be able to con­trol the dan­ger­ous forces within them­selves. By adapt­ing to the soci­ety around them they would be happy. Soci­ety and thus democ­racy would be secure.

But Anna never ques­tioned if the soci­ety itself was caus­ing the irra­tional behav­ior in her patients.

Shell shocked US Marine WWII

After America’s entry into WWII in 1942, the mil­i­tary became alarmed at the large num­ber of sol­diers suf­fer­ing what is now called post-traumatic stress dis­or­der – see my arti­cle of Feb­ru­ary 13th. A Freudian psy­cho­an­a­lyst, Karl Men­ninger, was given author­ity to do a mas­sive study on Amer­i­can sol­diers and civilians.

Using Cen­tral Euro­pean refugee psy­cho­an­a­lysts – due to a short­age of trained ana­lysts in the US – they probed hun­dreds of Americans.

They con­cluded Freud had been right: just under the sur­face, human beings were dri­ven by prim­i­tive irra­tional forces – they saw a vision of human nature as incred­i­bly destruc­tive. If allowed to go untreated these forces could infect soci­ety, they were a threat to democracy.

They came to believe what had hap­pened in Ger­many and ear­lier in Rus­sia dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion was the result of uncon­trolled dri­ves. The Men­ninger study con­vinced polit­i­cal lead­ers who were reel­ing from the shock­ing dis­cov­er­ies of the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted dur­ing the War: some­thing must be done.

In 1946, Pres­i­dent Tru­man signed the Men­tal Health Act of 1946, which set up hun­dreds of Guid­ance Cen­ters in the US to deal with these men­tal health “prob­lems” revealed in Americans.

The exper­i­men­tal tech­niques Anna had used on the New York fam­ily were used by the Men­ninger broth­ers to re-shape the psy­ches of their patients, not just chil­dren as Anna had, but adults also.

The goal: to teach peo­ple to con­trol them­selves and con­form by using the new “sci­ence” of psy­cho­analy­sis thus mak­ing for a bet­ter soci­ety . The Men­ninger clinic was founded and psy­cho­an­a­lytic work­ers were trained to use these meth­ods at Cen­ters sit­u­ated in hun­dreds of towns across the nation.

The 50s: the Strat­egy of Desire

Busi­ness also was inter­ested in the secret self of the Amer­i­can con­sumer. Betty Crocker Foods was mar­ket­ing a new prod­uct — instant cake mixes — but it wasn’t sell­ing well. They employed, Ernest Dichter, one of Anna’s peers and Dichter devised the first focus groups, find­ing there was uncon­scious guilt about how easy the pow­dered prod­uct was to use.

Using Bernays’ old-school tech­niques of manip­u­la­tion, Betty Crocker reduced guilt by chang­ing the instruc­tions on the box, telling con­sumers they must add a totally unnec­es­sary egg to the mix. Guilt assuaged, con­sumers bought Betty Cro­ker by the millions.

Dichter’s suc­cess led busi­ness to rush to employ psy­cho­an­a­lysts using the new con­cept of focus groups to probe American’s under­ly­ing secret traits, the sex­ual and social secrets too embar­rass­ing or uncon­scious for peo­ple to ver­bal­ize. Prod­ucts now were being mar­keted as hav­ing a ther­a­peu­tic value: using prod­ucts made you more secure, and thus more suc­cess­ful – to your ben­e­fit and for the bet­ter­ment of society.

Mean­while, when Soviet Rus­sia tested its first nuclear bomb, politi­cians turned to Edward Bernays to quell pub­lic fear. But Bernays had always felt the only way to deal with the pub­lic was by manip­u­lat­ing their sub­con­scious desires and fears. At heart, he believed peo­ple were stu­pid and they could not be told the actual rea­sons they had to be fooled and tricked. He suc­cess­fully argued that the public’s fears should be ampli­fied and then used as a tool in the Cold War.

Now, Amer­i­can affairs began to take a turn. Forces in Pres­i­dent Eisenhower’s Admin­is­tra­tion became con­vinced that Amer­i­can busi­nesses must be pro­tected at all costs, see­ing busi­ness and democ­racy as one and the same. In 1950, a mildly social­ist pres­i­dent had been elected in the minis­cule coun­try of Guatemala.

Vice President Richard Nixon

Up until his elec­tion, the giant US cor­po­ra­tion United Fruit owned much of the land and had been con­trol­ling that nation’s gov­ern­ment while run­ning their plan­ta­tions there. Pres­i­dent Arbenz was promis­ing a land reform and the end to the dom­i­na­tion of this Amer­i­can busi­ness. United Fruit turned to Bernays who ran a pro­pa­ganda cam­paign using false­hoods and dirty tricks to imply Arbenz was a com­mu­nist pup­pet of Soviet Rus­sia, while CIA oper­a­tives trained an army, hand-picked a new leader, then sent in bomber planes to par­a­lyze the country.

After Arbenz was top­pled, Richard Nixon, Eisenhower’s VP, flew to Guatemala City and, in front of stacks of Com­mu­nist book­lets planted in the Pres­i­den­tial palace by Bernays, gave a speech sup­port­ing the “over­throw of the com­mu­nists by the people.”

The Cor­ro­sion of Conformity

50s Cadillac Tail Fin

By the mid-50s, Freud’s ideas had pen­e­trated Amer­i­can busi­ness, polit­i­cal, enter­tain­ment and jour­nal­is­tic spheres. Psy­cho­an­a­lysts were rich and influ­en­tial, sought after. Once again as in the 20s, the masses could be con­trolled by feed­ing their under­ly­ing desires, but now it was the future of a sta­ble democ­racy that was at stake.

Peo­ple needed to con­form to soci­etal mores for the good of the whole. Their ani­mal natures needed to be subjugated.

The foun­da­tion of our democ­racy is that change can and should be brought about by an informed and free cit­i­zenry, but Freud had chal­lenged this, see­ing peo­ple as inca­pable of decid­ing any­thing ratio­nally. His the­ory was author­i­tar­ian: soci­ety would remain sta­tic unchange­able, instead the indi­vid­ual must adapt to it. The idea that an elite could con­trol the masses via con­di­tion­ing for their own good had tri­umphed. Aside from a few beat­niks there was not much chal­lenge to this brave new world.

Venice West Cafe 1950s

With the suc­cess of the Guatemala coup, the CIA began to take these ideas much fur­ther. Hear­ing that the Sovi­ets were pos­si­bly able to pro­gram peo­ple in any way they wished, they set out to find if they could do it, too. They poured mil­lions into uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try in an effort to deter­mine if mind con­trol could be done.

One of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the CIA’s fund­ing, Dr. Cameron, became impa­tient with psy­chother­apy: it was tak­ing just too long. He began exper­i­ment­ing with psy­che­delic drugs and elec­troshock, putting tapes under patient’s pil­lows attempt­ing to change them sub­lim­i­nally to quickly alter human behav­ior. Instead, he reduced his patients to a veg­e­ta­tive state. In the end, all his exper­i­ments ended in com­plete failure.

And though Anna Freud had tri­umphed, her meth­ods were not hold­ing up. The fam­ily upon which she had for­mu­lated her the­o­ries weren’t respond­ing cor­rectly. Now in mid adult­hood, they had become alco­holics, suf­fered divorces, were hav­ing ner­vous break­downs. One had com­mit­ted suicide.

Some­thing was really out of whack.

[More Fri­day – Happy Thanks­giv­ing]