Propaganda and Knowledge as Power

All that human kind holds within its domain of cognition is but a drop in the ocean of universal knowledge. Even as I have the propensity to search for the sharp edge that might cut through all falsity, I too must admit that I am inclined to believe in the fatuous presumption that my limited capacities of conscience might somehow grasp “the truth” of the universe in all its entirety.

Who can contend with the idea that the suchness of a human being is that of limitation? Who can deny that there is a delineated capacity to what one can know? And though we concede that our disposition in comprehending the universe around us is very limited, we persist in our quest for ultimate knowledge.

Because of this struggle to understand, scientific men and women are the heroes of our story – facing the daunting odds of defeat by the dark obscurities of the star ocean’s depths with the intention of bringing forth light to a world of unreason. Let us hope science does not fail us. Let us hope that science will bring us an innovated perception of our lives. Yes, let us hope that science will satisfy the existential imperative to formulate an understanding of why we are here.

But of course, such objectivity will not satiate our subjective cravings, for what we want is the incontrovertible, the absolute. We want perfect knowledge to beset our imperfect minds in that we may finally rest with the certitude that we have found meaning and the most correct way to live. We would rejoice with the reception of idealistic omniscience with the exclamation, “I hold understanding of all the cosmos!” Yet it is perhaps a most grand tragedy to believe that knowledge of the infinite can be endowed to the finite.

This notion of omniscience has consistently been the defining attribute of our gods and is perhaps a psychological projection of humankind’s desire to know. The Genesis story of Eden’s tree of knowledge and the partaking of its fruit by the origins of the human species under the tempting of the serpent is perhaps an allegory of a genuine human condition. The awareness of the self impels us to seek out answers to our existence; even at the cost of our own peril.

From this allegory the ideals of theistic satanism have taken its roots in proclaiming the serpent, often connoted to be lucifer, as the light bringer more worthy of adulation and devotion than the god who attempted to conceal the light from humankind. A parallel to this is the myth of Prometheus who stole fire from the gods and gave it to the peoples of the earth. What value humanity has held to truth is evident in myth.

This sanctification of truth follows from the power derived from it. Truth is conducive to knowledge (having knowing) and the state of knowing a thing leads to advantage. This advantage is power to those who lack it.

Little illustration of this concept is necessary for the verification of it as a real principle. But for those who are thirsty for explanation, suffice yourselves to look to all the advances of humankind. They have left in their wakes marvelous achievements of eminence spanning the gamut from resource acquisitions, electronics, and chemical synthesis through applied chemistry, to Hadron colliders, complex architectural design, and the atom bomb. All of these are resultant from the power of knowledge.

He who has correct knowledge (Truth) holds immense power. Conversely, the ill-educated and utterly ignorant are most subject to enslavement by systems they cannot understand.  Because the most salient feature of our species is a robust brain which has demonstrably afforded us advantage on the earth, all that is necessary to make one a slave is the taking hold of the individual’s mind. Why then is it so hard for so many to grasp the potency of ideas?

The human mind is a system with a propensity for absorbing massive amounts of information. This is obvious. What is less obvious however is the phenomenon that flows from the human disposition to arrange conduct in accordance with information that has not been subjected to logical analysis.

Do you really believe that the torrents of images and taglines that flit across your inner screen do not affect the elements comprising your human consciousness? Personal bias, a proclivity to desire this informational item over that one, is not a static construct. It can be altered by anyone who understands that the nature of consciousness is such that the systems which inform it are not of a closed quality.

With this understanding one can see how exceedingly simple it is to polarize the moral character or general ideological composition of a given population. In fact, the primary subject of a 1928 book by nephew of Sigmund Freud and father of ‘Public Relations’ Edward Bernays was propaganda and the phenomenon of subversive manipulation of the human mind.

Bernay’s writes in his first chapter on ‘Organizing Chaos’:

“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.”1 (Bernays 1928 Propaganda)

What more is needed for demonstration that there exists today, as in the past, a perpetual war for allegiances to ideological artifices that serve the powerful? For god’s sake just open up a book on propaganda and read the tactics and techniques employed to sway the human mind. This engineering of consciousness is ongoing and the only defense against it consists of an engagement of the higher functions of the human mind: rational awareness.

Furthermore, if the manipulation of the human mind via propaganda was wholly a pseudo-scientific phenomenon, then I ask you pointedly, “Why do militaries around the world regiment forces to effectively utilize ‘Psychological Operations’ against allies and enemies?”.

Pulling directly from the 2003 U.S. military manual on Psychological Operations (PSYOP), the nature of a PSYOP is purposed at:


“convey[ing] selected information and indicators to foreign target audiences (TAs) to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of all

PSYOP is to create in neutral, friendly, or hostile foreign groups the emotions, attitudes, or desired behavior that support the achievement of U.S. national objectives and the military mission. In doing so, PSYOP influence not only policy and decisions, but also the ability to govern, the ability to command, the will to fight, the will to obey, and the will to support.”2

This statement substantiates the notion that propaganda is used as a tool to subvert and redirect an enemy or ally in a combat or potential combat environment, and it is therefore not outside the bounds of respectable reasoning to infer that governments at home and abroad have geo-political agendas that may be best served via propagandizing the public to accede to their objectives.


  1. Bernays, E. (1928). Propaganda.
  2. S. Dep. of Army. (2003). FM 3-05.301 Psychological Operations Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures.

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