One hundred years ago, the public relations profession as we know it didn’t exist. Edward Bernays, a government propagandist during World War I who opened his own business after the war, was the self-styled “father of public relations.” His business was influencing mass behavior, using the tricks and techniques of propaganda, and his influence on the advertising industry is still apparent.
There were no professional political consultants until 1933, when Clem Whittaker and Leone Baxter founded Campaigns Inc. Political consultants often use the same propaganda techniques as public-relations companies. Today nobody would dream of running for high office without political consultants. They have taught candidates that good slogans and empty promises get more votes than policy details.
During the 20th century, advertising, public relations and political consultancy grew into multi-billion-dollar industries that have transformed every aspect of modern life, using propaganda and behavior-modification techniques.
Democracy requires a well-educated and well-informed electorate. The purpose of propaganda is not to inform, but to influence or persuade. The propaganda industries influence opinions and behavior on a mass scale. Our republic cannot survive on a steady diet of this.
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