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Propaganda: The Manipulation of the Masses
In the wake of swirling media disinformation regarding a virus coupled with blatant government overreach which has now been seemingly brushed aside for full fledged coverage of the newest calamity involving racism, propaganda becomes—as it always has been—a topic worthy of more attention.
The idea of manipulating the minds of a populace through the media is not a new phenomenon. This has existed in one form or another wherever there has been war and contention. We find a very meaningful portrayal in The Book of Mormon which was written specifically for our day.
In Alma 46-47 we find the treacherous ascendancy of Amalickiah to the position of king of the Lamanites through the age old pattern of conspiracy and murder. Notice now his very first directive as kind in Alma 48:
“And now it came to pass that, as soon as Amalickiah had obtained the kingdom he began to inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi; yea, he did appoint men to speak unto the Lamanites from their towers, against the Nephites. And thus he did inspire their hearts against the Nephites, insomuch that in the latter end of the nineteenth year of the reign of the judges, he having accomplished his designs thus far, yea, having been made king over the Lamanites, he sought also to reign over all the land, yea, and all the people who were in the land, the Nephites as well as the Lamanites. Therefore he had accomplished his design, for he had hardened the hearts of the Lamanites and blinded their minds, and stirred them up to anger, insomuch that he had gathered together a numerous host to go to battle against the Nephites.” (Alma 48:1-3)
He wastes no time to get the propaganda wheels turning, immediately inciting the Lamanites to go to war against the Nephites, and they give in. This is a group mind you, who only one chapter earlier were “fixed in their minds with a determined resolution that they would not be subjected to go against the Nephites.” (Alma 47:6) How did he convince them? He appointed men to speak from their towers—he used the media and brainwashed them, stirring them up to anger over some supposed offense that they were now entitled to make right through violence.
Hugh Nibley comments on the use of these towers in one of his Teachings of the Book of Mormon lecture:
“Notice, how often the Book of Mormon talks about these towers. . . What did they use them for? . . . They were for announcements, and they were always at ceremonial places. . .they were for public assemblies, announcements, preaching, and all the rest. But he had this systematically done from towers. As it were, we would say he had time on the air. He had all these stations that saturated the air with this. They were used as sort of a modern technique. Instead of broadcasting stations he had these towers spread throughout the whole country. They are the same thing as if you had broadcast stations. And he appointed speakers with their set talks. This is exactly what you do in public relations. You take a sample and find out what will sell. Then your people give that spiel. You hear the same program over and over again. You’d think people would get wise after a while, but the funny thing is they don’t…It may be a lie, it might be absurd, it may be unthinkable, but if you just keep saying it, they will go for it. They’ve found that out…Amalickiah had accomplished his design. The first part was to harden the hearts of the Lamanites so they would be willing. In order to do that he had to tell them lies and blind their minds. Then you stir them up to anger. This is the process, isn’t it? Win, win, win. Why do people act this way? As the Book of Mormon says, why do we? We are guilty of the same thing. First you harden their hearts. Then they don’t want to listen to the facts. You blind their minds and they get emotional about it. We get all wrought up and we are ready for war. It’s the silliest thing in the world, but we do it.” (Teachings of the Book of Mormon Vol. 3, p. 102-103)
We find here nothing more or less than clear manipulation, and look at what it cost both sides in the war chapters. Propaganda operates off the idea that if you portray something just right, and repeat it enough times, people will believe it, thus enabling you to accomplish your agenda. Nehor functioned on this same principle earlier in the book, preaching that “every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands” but rather should be “supported by the people.” He further declared that “all mankind should be saved at the last day…for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.” Nehor “did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money.” (Alma 1:3-5) Propagandists, like Nehor, are careful to slip in some truth with their lies to make their campaign believable.
Consider the advertising efforts the Gadianton robbers must have employed to get to this point:
“And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations. And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.” (Helaman 6:39-40)
Sadly, Nibley’s lament that “it’s the silliest thing in the world, but we do it” is all too accurate when one considers patterns from history, especially in America. An in-depth investigation into the wars the United States has been involved in the last 100 years will reveal Amalickiah’s selfsame template of propaganda used over and over again.
In the context of WWII, Edward Bernays, who “succeeded within six months in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, warmongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans from limb to limb, go to war, and save the world” (Noam Chomsky, Talk at MIT March 17, 1991); 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, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …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 understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928)
In the same lecture on Alma 48, Nibley, who as a soldier in WWII travelled around Europe working in battlefield intelligence, commented on the war:
“Why are we determined to make war as ever? Well, it’s profitable. It’s enormously profitable. . . I found out all sorts of things I shouldn’t have found out. The whole thing was being run as a game for profits. . . The whole thing was operated, controlled, and orchestrated by the same interests on both sides. . . I could tell you stories that would amaze the faculties of eyes and ears, chill your young blood, and cause ‘each particular hair to stand on end, like quills upon the fretful porcupine.'” (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 100)
How about the pattern? Create a false flag tragedy, catastrophe, hardship, calamity, etc., tell a story in the media, paint someone as the enemy, depict any opposer as unpatriotic, get the public buy-in, go to war, profit regardless of who wins through debt and a military industrial complex, prolong the war, keep the people in a state of fear, knock the liberties down like dominoes and take control and power—all in an effort to move toward centralized world power.
Consider these statements regarding the United States Civil War, which seem to indicate there may have been more behind the meaning of the war than simply the issue of slavery:
“Slavery was not the real issue behind the Civil War. It was used as an emotional trigger point to stir up the unsuspecting citizens to rally around the flag and fight another war for the bankers. Powerful interests felt that it would be desirable for the United States to be divided, lest it become too much of a rival for the European nations. Additionally, there was always money to be made on a war. Since trained propagandists could fan sentiment, it was an easy matter to mobilize sectionalist fervor over issues.” (June Grem, The Money Manipulators, 1971)
“I know of absolute certainty, that the division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. These bankers were afraid that the United States, if they remained one block as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over Europe and the world. Of course, in the ‘inner circle’ of finance, the voice of the Rothschilds prevailed. They saw an opportunity for prodigious booty if they could substitute two feeble democracies, burdened with debt to the financiers…in place of a vigorous republic sufficient unto herself. Therefore, they sent their emissaries into the field to exploit the question of slavery and to drive a wedge between the two parts of the Union.” (Otto von Bismark, Chancellor of Germany, 1876.)
“Propaganda pushed the issue of slavery to the fore but the actual purpose behind the war…was to drive both sides to accept the same money system Rothschild had fastened on England and the continent…to bleed the vast productivity of the whole American people.” (William G. Simpson, Which Way Western Man, 1986) [Each of the three quoted in Vile Acts of Evil: Banking in America Vol. 1, p. 54-55]
Wouldn’t we be naive to think the latest wars and “struggles” of the U.S. are any different? The patterns from the scriptures and history paint a much different tale than the main-stream media. Which are we willing to listen to? It has been Satan’s design from the beginning to incite people to go to war, as the Lord himself taught: “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” (3 Nephi 11:29)
When you see what is going on around you, real or portrayed, do you immediately buy in and take a side? Or do you judge what is taking place against the backdrop of the scriptural records we have, and “search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil”? (Moroni 7:19) Do you allow yourself to become emotionally charged and stirred up to anger against your fellow children of God? Do you take time to consider who may be benefiting from the narratives and storylines that are presented?
The Zion individual is fully connected to the Spirit of Truth, which as Jacob taught, “speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be,” with this Spirit, confusing things “are manifested unto us plainly.” (Jacob 4:13) Zion individuals are thus filled with a knowledge of truth, which is “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” and they recognize that “whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.” (D&C 93:24-25) Therefore they experience greater peace of mind, an emotional state void of anger, malice, or hatred, and God can trust them with more of His power, more responsibility, and more spiritual gifts. How can you trust someone who believes lies and propaganda?
Suggestions for Application:
Completely disconnect from the main-stream media
Go to God in prayer and ask for the truth regarding what is taking place in the world, receive revelation from Him. Ask Him to lead you to correct sources of information.
Prayerfully consider reading the book None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen, recommended to all Latter-day Saints by Ezra Taft Benson in General Conference in 1972. (Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints)
Prayerfully consider reading Jack Monnet’s books Awakening to Our Awful Situation: Warnings from the Nephite Prophets and Awakening to Our Awful Situation: Responding to Satan’s War on Agency