Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

The two major themes that run through most of my guest blogs here are the idea that we are being manipulated by a Corporate Oligarchy, whose aim is to re-establish Feudalism in an American format. The second theme is my belief that their method of control is perpetrating this revision of America through manipulation of the National myths to which we have all been exposed. They have worked hard and somewhat successfully to take the myths and turn them into memes. One myth that I’ve recently written about is the “American Dream” that all of us have an equal chance of fulfilling all our aspirations based on our innate abilities and hard work alone. One meme that has been developed from this is that our Elite 1% are entrepreneurial heroes, who are the only “job creators” worth mentioning. The truth is that most of the 1% inherited their wealth, like the Koch Brothers or Donald Trump, while many others were born in privileged settings and rose in the world through their contacts with others from the same background.

Gene Howington, a friend and another guest blogger, has approached the same territory with his four part series of discussions of propaganda methodology. Gene and I are running on parallel tracks getting at the same thing and interestingly both of us set out on our parallel paths independent of discussion with the other. Gene and I have both touched on the mechanisms that are being used and in Gene’s case eve the science of the manipulation, but I think both of us have missed the specific science that has been adopted by corporations and used to perform this attempt to control. Today I came across an article at  that flashed the proverbial light bulb in my brain. When I read it my thought was, of course……. .Why haven’t I as someone trained in mental health seen this connection before? I will present extensive quotes from the article and then link it. I think it is important enough that everyone who visits here should read this article through.

“The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals. In psychologist B.F. Skinner’s best-selling book  Beyond Freedom and Dignity  (1971), he argued that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society.”

“During the height of Skinner’s fame in the 1970s, it was obvious to anti-authoritarians such as Noam Chomsky (“The Case Against B.F. Skinner”) and Lewis Mumord that Skinner’s worldview—a society ruled by benevolent control freaks—was antithetical to democracy. In Skinner’s novel Walden Two (1948), his behaviorist hero states, “We do not take history seriously,” to which Lewis Mumford retorted, “And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.” As a psychology student during that era, I remember being embarrassed by the silence of most psychologists about the political ramifications of Skinner and behavior modification.”

This article is titled: “Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?” and it is written by Bruce E. Levine . After some explanation of the methodology used to manipulate us, Mr. Levine goes on to provide the background of the Psychologist who most influenced B.F. Skinner and surprisingly, or perhaps not, this man gave up his profession to become an Executive with the famous J.Walter Thompson advertising Agency in the 1940’s.

“[B.F.]Skinner was heavily influenced by the book Behaviorism (1924) by John B. Watson. Watson achieved some fame in the early 1900s by advocating a mechanical, rigid, affectionless manner in child rearing. He confidently asserted that he could take any healthy infant, and given complete control of the infant’s world, train him for any profession. When Watson was in his early 40s, he quit university life and began a new career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson.

Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies that achieved tremendous power in the 20th century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.”

How exactly do we get from B.F.Skinner’s psychological theories to an anti-democratic manipulation?

“For Skinner, all behavior is externally controlled, and we don’t truly have freedom and choice. Behaviorists see freedom, choice, and intrinsic motivations as illusory, or what Skinner called “phantoms.” Back in the 1970s, Noam Chomsky exposed Skinner’s unscientific view of science, specifically Skinner’s view that science should be prohibited from examining internal states and intrinsic forces.

In democracy, citizens are free to think for themselves and explore, and are motivated by very real—not phantom—intrinsic forces, including curiosity and a desire for justice, community, and solidarity. What is also scary about behaviorists is that their external controls can destroy intrinsic forces of our humanity that are necessary for a democratic society.”

The “conditioning” of many Americans, the fruit of which we’re now seeing starts with our children:

“Behavior modification can also destroy our intrinsic desire for compassion, which is necessary for a democratic society. Kohn offers several studies showing “children whose parents believe in using rewards to motivate them are less cooperative and generous [children] than their peers.” Children of mothers who relied on tangible rewards were less likely than other children to care and share at home.

 How, in a democratic society, do children become ethical and caring adults? They need a history of being cared about, taken seriously, and respected, which they can model and reciprocate. Today, the mental health profession has gone beyond behavioral technologies of control. It now diagnoses noncompliant toddlers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and pediatric bipolar disorder and attempts to control them with heavily sedating drugs. While Big Pharma directly profits from drug prescribing, the entire corporatocracy benefits from the mental health profession’s legitimization of conditioning and controlling.”

I hope my quotations have given you enough of a taste of this article to cause you to follow this link and read it in its’ entirety, with the various backup evidence it offers. It will take perhaps 5 minutes of your time, but I think that time will be well worth it to you.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger


82 thoughts on “Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US”

  1. Excellent articles Mike, outstanding. It’s timely that you write these two articles on the same weekend because I see a clear connection in manipulation and the acceptance of double jeopardy (of a sort) in popular media and thinking. Popular media feeds the notion that justice is hard to come by and the need for extra judicial agents and means are necessary to achieve justice. Starting somewhere around “Robin Hood” and right up to last weeks premier of the Green Arrow adaptation “Arrow” for TV we are invited to root for the vigilantes, the anti-heroes and the (morally if not legally) corrupt police and prosecutors that achieve some form of (rough) justice. It is a constant thread on TV, in movies, popular writing and comics. It’s ubiquitous.

    The popularity of superheros is I think a reflection of the feeling that there are two justice systems and only an outsider can or will address certain high crimes or crimes based on class. The Dirty Harry’s, Dexter’s, Burke’s, Spencer’s and other working class outsiders (based on attitude or profession) in popular writing and TV/movies take care of street crime and other crime that preys on the working and lesser classes.

    There is another kind of popular TV fiction that strikes at a middle ground (between those extremes) that is interesting and infuriating to me though and they point up exactly the melding of attitude manipulation and double jeopardy: the Law and Order franchise and other popular police shows. They also aim for a middle-class or middle aged audience. In these shows the police and the prosecutors are characterized as hard-working, empathetic professionals that will use the law in all of its technical majesty to achieve the desired end.

    They present the law as being so ineffective (the major plot device in most regards) that only by exploiting every technical aspect of it can justice be achieved. This even when an investigation, arrest and prosecution would otherwise be thwarted by some aspect of the law itself, is the desirable method of getting justice. No legal reason to search/bad search? Not to worry, there is a loophole somewhere even if the basis for the search is determined post-facto. Arrested on a charge that won’t hold up? Not to worry, release the alleged felon and re-arrest on a different charge, repeat as many times as necessary to achieve cooperation, a plea or a trial. Trial isn’t going the way it ‘should’? Not to worry, mess with witness’, call in the state or Feds, threaten a hand-off and enhanced penalties or subsequent trials under a different jurisdiction with different charges. Anything goes.

    This kind of constant propaganda undermines people’s respect in the law while demonstrating a legal system that is both broken in major part, but capable, in able hands, of crushing anyone it chooses. It also adequately reflects that double jeopardy is not a strict prohibition in that the more contemporary story-lines have the police and prosecutors stating that since 911, charges, and prosecutorial venues are more fungible. This sends a very coercive message. Since the criminals are heinous in most of these shows one wants the law to win but it’s pretty obvious that the deck is stacked (technically) against a perceived wrong-doer and that by hook or crook, even minor infractions (of the secondary characters) can be manipulated to destroy one. That’s actually reinforce in the news media by the overcharging and loading on of charges and penalties we see reflected for very minor incidents.

    It’s my opinion that popular media can reinforce cultural attitudes or knowledge, can alter or ‘shade’ them and are indistinguishable from propaganda (great series Gene!), and that we can be manipulated thereby. I’m also not a fan of double jeopardy as it currently plays out among the various municipal, state and federal jurisdictions. I actually read your postings Mike, while Law and Order was on the TV for background noise (Some incarnation of it is all but 24-7 in my viewing area) and that confluence has been bothering me, a lot, ever since.

    Admittedly I have always been a fan of television police shows but now many of them just make me shake my head in disgust. I still like a good chase scene though.

    “St. James Boys Case: Will Terrorism Laws Now Cover Street Gangs?”

    “Edgar Morales Case: Court Mulls Whether NYC Man Convicted In Shooting Is A Gangster, Or A Terrorist”

    “They applied a statute that New York lawmakers passed just six days after hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, ….

    He was convicted of manslaughter, attempted murder, weapon possession and conspiracy – each count enhanced in seriousness by the anti-terrorism law.”


    America’s Schools: Breeding Grounds for Compliant Citizens

    By John W. Whitehead
    October 15, 2012

    “For those hoping to better understand how and why we arrived at this dismal point in our nation’s history, where individual freedoms, privacy and human dignity have been sacrificed to the gods of security, expediency and corpocracy, look no farther than America’s public schools.

    Once looked to as the starting place for imparting principles of freedom and democracy to future generations, America’s classrooms are becoming little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens. The moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed and snooped on.

    Add to this the epidemic of arresting schoolchildren and treating them as if they are dangerous criminals, and you have the makings of a perfect citizenry for our emerging police state—one that can be easily cowed, controlled, and directed. Now comes the latest development in the sad deconstruction of our schools: “smart” identification cards containing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that allow school officials to track every step students take. So small that they are barely detectable to the human eye, RFID tags produce a radio signal by which the wearer’s precise movements can be constantly monitored.

    A pilot program using these RFID cards is being deployed at two schools in San Antonio, Texas’ Northside School District. In the so-called name of school safety, some 4,200 students at Jay High School and Jones Middle School are being required to carry these “smart” ID cards embedded with an RFID tracking chip which will actively broadcast a signal at all times. Although the schools already boast 290 surveillance cameras, the cards will make it possible for school officials to track students’ whereabouts at all times.

    School officials hope to expand the program to the district’s 112 schools, with a student population of 100,000. As always, there’s a money incentive hidden within these programs, in this case, it’s increased state funding for the school system. Although implementation of the system will cost $500,000, school administrators are hoping that if the school district is able to increase attendance by tracking the students’ whereabouts, they will be rewarded with up to $1.7 million from the state government.

    High school sophomore Andrea Hernandez, who is actively boycotting the RFID cards, was told that “there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card.” Students who refuse to take part in the ID program won’t be able to access essential services like the cafeteria and library, nor will they be able to purchase tickets to extracurricular activities. Hernandez was prevented from voting for Homecoming King and Queen after school officials refused to verify her identity using her old ID card. According to Hernandez, teachers are even requiring students to wear the IDs when they want to use the bathroom.

    This is not the first time that schools have sprung RFID chips on unsuspecting students and their parents. Schools in California and Connecticut have tried similar systems, and Houston, Texas began using RFID chips to track students as early as 2004.

    RFID tags are not the only surveillance tools being used on America’s young people. Chronically absent middle schoolers in Anaheim, Calif., have been enrolled in a GPS tracking program. Some schools in New York, New Jersey, and Missouri are tracking obese and overweight students with wristwatches that record their heart rate, movement and sleeping habits. Schools in San Antonio have chips in their lunch food trays, which allow administrators to track the eating habits of students. Schools in Michigan’s second largest school district broadcast student activity caught by CCTV cameras on the walls of the hallways in real time to let students know they’re being watched.

    Some school districts have even gone so far as to electronically track students without notifying their parents. In 2010, it was revealed that a Pennsylvania school district had given students laptops installed with software that allowed school administrators to track their behavior at home. This revelation led to the threat of a class-action lawsuit, which resulted in the school district settling with irate students and parents for $600,000. Similarly, in 2003, a Tennessee middle school placed cameras in the school’s locker rooms, capturing images of children changing before basketball practice. Thankfully, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the practice in 2008, ruling that students have an expectation of privacy in locker rooms.

    Clearly, there’s something more sinister afoot than merely tracking which students are using the bathroom and which are on lunch break. Concerned parent Judy Messer understands what’s at stake. “We do not want our children to be conditioned that tracking is normal or even acceptable or mandatory,” she shared.

    “Conditioned” is the key word, of course. As Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham recognized in their book, Work Redesign, laboratory animals, children, and institutionalized adults “are necessarily dependent on powerful others for many of the things they most want and need, and their behavior usually can be shaped with relative ease.” Taking those ideas one step further, psychologist Bruce Levine noted, “Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies which achieved tremendous power in the twentieth century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.”

    Thus, if Americans have come to view freedom as expedient and expendable, it is only because that’s what they’ve been taught in the schools, by government leaders and by the corporations who run the show.

    More and more Americans are finding themselves institutionalized from cradle to grave, from government-run daycares and public schools to nursing homes. In between, they are fed a constant, mind-numbing diet of pablum consisting of entertainment news, mediocre leadership, and technological gadgetry, which keeps them sated and distracted and unwilling to challenge the status quo.

    Whether or not the powers-that-be, by their actions, are consciously attempting to create a compliant citizenry, the result is the same nevertheless for young and old alike.”

  3. Mike,

    I think you’re spot on about Skinner and the role of behavioralism in propaganda. He figures promenently in the next installment in my propaganda series as well. He is, I think, part of a larger picture of how psychology and (increasingly) neurophysiology are impacting the practice of operant conditioning both in advertising and political polemics (which are naturally kissing cousins). I also think we cannot discount the effects of classical Pavlovian conditioning either or the effect it has on priming as a mechnism for influence. This array of science and technology has blossomed in the age of broadband mass media to become a kind of full-spectrum warfare against independent critical thought. That being said though, I think it’s fair to consider Skinner the Irwin Rommel of propaganda techniques. His methodolgy is brutally effective in a wide range of potentially losing situations. Consider the Skinnerian manipulation of the press (and the judge for that matter) by the “Dream Team” defending OJ as an example.

  4. Here’s another way that “they control US”: the run from

    America’s Stasi
    by Peter Van Buren

    “My case also illustrates the crude use of “national security” as a tool within government to silence dissent. TheState Department’s Diplomatic Security office, its internal Stasi, monitored my home e-mail and web usage for months, used computer forensics to spelunk for something naughty in my online world, placed me on a Secret Service Threat Watch list, examined my finances, and used hacker tools to vacuum up my droppings around the web – all, by the way, at an unknown cost to the taxpayers.

    Diplomatic Security even sent an agent around to interview my neighbors, fishing for something to use against me in a full-spectrum deep dive into my life, using the new tools and power available to government not to stop terrorists, but to stop me.

    As our government accumulates ever more of what it thinks the American people have no right to know about, there will only be increasing persecutions as prosecutions. Many of the illegal things president Richard Nixon did to the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg are now both legal (under the Patriot Act) and far easier to accomplish with new technologies.

    There is no need, for instance, to break into my psychiatrist’s office looking for dirt, as happened to Ellsberg; after all, the National Security Agency can break into my doctor’s electronic records as easily as you can read this page.

    With its aggressive and sadly careless use of the draconian Espionage Act to imprison whistleblowers, the Barack Obama administration has, in many cases, moved beyond harassment and intimidation into actually wielding the beautiful tools of justice in a perverse way to silence dissent.

    More benign in practice, in theory this is little different than the Soviets executing dissidents as spies after show trials or the Chinese using their courts to legally confine thinkers they disapprove of in mental institutions. They are all just following regulations. Turn the volume up from six to ten and you’ve jumped from vengeance to totalitarianism. We’re becoming East Germany.”

    Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq as team leader for two State Department Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Now in Washington and a TomDispatch regular, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His book,> We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), has recently been published.

  5. wgward
    1, October 15, 2012 at 11:12 am
    There is a huge difference between being vigilant and not trusting anyone. If you want to live your life in a constant state of fear and self induced terror then feel free to not trust anyone. Or, in the alternative, be trustworthy and understand that fear happens to people but does not have to define them. Be trustworthy and understand that fear is a temporary state and know that people rise to their best selves if allowed to do so. Be trustworthy and don’t support those who use terror and fear as tools because at the end of the day, it may just be that they have nothing else to offer…

  6. idealist707: a response, in a nutshell: we can “cooperate and defend ourselves through joint action” and still not trust anyone. One learns to always maintain an awareness and to rely on oneself, on one’s own instincts. Human nature being what it is, however, it can lead to paranoia in weak-minded individuals: the antidote? Know what “paranoia” is and don’t go there. As for me, my father laid “it” on me on my way to Vietnam, many years ago: it bothered me, at first, but in time, I realized the exceptional value of the principle…to this day.

    And, as for “fear,” well, it is an emotion/concept that is created by a person (e.g., a boss, a minister, a terrorist…) to aid in that person’s “control” of you/others; the antidote? Stay informed, maintain your self-reliance and self-resolution, etc. and do not let “fear” control your life in any way. Stonewall Jackson said it best, “Do not take counsel of your fears.”

  7. wgward,

    If we trust no one, how then can we cooperate and defend ourselves through joint action? How then can we stop a following erosion of the socketal contract between the individual members. If we do not trust how can we avoid becoming, if not clinically paranoid, then becoming harmfully effected?
    From a fearful person.

  8. David T: your fear tactics analysis is correct–during the 2004 election, all those factors you described were preyed upon and Bush won. After his election, there were no more Red Alerts, remember? Meanwhile, after the First Debate in this election cycle, why did so many voters change their “minds” after listening to Romney’s lies? Scary.

    But, as to the topic as a whole, the key is just never to trust anyone. You should also teach your children: not to trust anyone.

  9. “And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.”

    Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc. Sounds like religion to me.

  10. MANIPULATIONS—how many íntegrated and synergistic ways do we not have today. Who shall count them and what shall we do about them.

    Let us examine the past. FDR gave hope and more particularly he primed the pumps with public works and employment projects. But the improvement up to 1929 levels lagged.

    Did he start a war, based on deficit financing, to get the nation rolling again? There are indictions that he did.
    The attack from Japan had been formally warned for by them due to our blockading their conquest of SE Asia, etc. We did not reply to them. Did he make a bad decision? I don’t believe that Europe and Asia could have not come under German and Japanese control if we had not. So my question may be moot.

    Are we back again to using major shocks to move the nation?

    Here’s a little excerpt on “liberalism” as written in Wikipedia. I personally am confused, when did liberal become libertarian and Ayn Rand, and where is a link to conservatism and neo-con?

    “Deficit spending sparked by World War II eventually pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. From 1940 to 1941, government spending increased by 59 percent, the gross domestic product skyrocketed 17 percent, and unemployment fell below 10 percent for the first time since 1929.[50] By 1945, after vast government spending, public debt stood at a staggering 120 percent of GNP, but unemployment had been effectively eliminated.[51] Most nations that emerged from the Great Depression did so with deficit spending and strong intervention from the state.”


    If we made all cops hold a healthy weight, a healthy strength, and required 3 months of “people psychology” every two years; what do you suppose would happen.?

    Would they have a need of such weapons? There are other weapons known for hundreds of years to force compliance usnig bare hands.

    But of course nobody makes money off of them.

  12. Didn’t they all love shock therapy back then too? Still in use for ‘pain’ ‘compliance’:

    “Drive Stun” capability, where the Taser is held against the target without firing the projectiles, and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the target. “Drive Stun” is “the process of using the EMD weapon [Taser] as a pain compliance technique. This is done by activating the EMD and placing it against an individual’s body. This can be done without an air cartridge in place or after an air cartridge has been deployed.”

    Guidelines released in 2011 in the U.S. recommend that use of Drive Stun as a pain compliance technique be avoided. The guidelines were issued by a joint committee of the Police Executive Research Forum and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The guidelines state “Using the ECW to achieve pain compliance may have limited effectiveness and, when used repeatedly, may even exacerbate the situation by inducing rage in the subject.”

    Amnesty International has expressed particular concern about Drive Stun, noting that “… the potential to use TASERs in drive-stun mode—where they are used as ‘pain compliance’ tools when individuals are already effectively in custody—and the capacity to inflict multiple and prolonged shocks, renders the weapons inherently open to abuse”

  13. Nightmares??? Yeah, that was 9/11. And the JFK assassination. And the WS bust. And the dive of the K’s. Add as you feel to the list.

  14. Ask and you shall receive. You know this might make the story of manipulation both interesting and valuable to us.
    Thanks to both. This is the kind of stuff I think MikeS wants to be generated here in response.
    I am impressed.

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