SEMINAR: Hayek’s _The Road to Serfdom_ (post #3)

More from F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, chapter 11, “The End of Truth”, p. 171:

Although the beliefs [embedded in the social plan] must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants.  If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.

This is, of course, brought about by the various forms of propaganda.  Its technique is now so familiar that we need say little about it.  The only point that needs to be stressed is that neither propaganda in itself nor the techniques employed are peculiar to totalitarianism and that what so completely changes its nature and effect in a totalitarian state is that all propaganda serves the same goal — that all the instruments of propaganda are coordinated to influence the individuals in the same direction and to produce the characteristic Gleichschaltung [coordination – ed.] of all minds.

A central issues raised in this first section of chapter 11 concerns the compatibility of a top down / socialist vision of a coercively ordered “good society” with dissent from divergent value / plan perspectives inherently incompatible with the value and belief demands assumed by the centrally conceived and directed political-bureaucratic program.  The leftist legacy media in America are constantly trying to establish the non-legitimacy of various “non-PC” conservative or free market or Republican perspectives, especially those out of favor with powerful professional elites.  There are all sorts of techniques of marginalization used by the legacy media, one of the most common being the ever popular “they’re stupid” smear or the equally popular “they’re greedy, they’re racists, they’re bigots, they’re you-fill-in-the-blank” smear.  And all of this really come down to the idea that the leftist / Democrat program — whatever it might be at the moment — is not to be challenged.  Why?  Well, because challenges to it are illegitimate, coming as they are from “outside of the mainstream”, e.g. from “the far right”, from “the ultra-conservatives”, from wing nuts and “haters” out beyond the margins where only the evil and the truly stupid exist.  Ronald Reagan thus became the evil and stupid “Ray Gun” who never read a book.  Goldwater became “an ally of neo-Nazis in Germany” (CBS News) and a mental case who couldn’t be trusted with “the bomb” — and simple-minded to boot.  You hardly need these reminders — and I won’t even mention Sarah Palin.

Well, what do you think.

UPDATE:  Government funded propaganda in the age of Obama — “Earn Big $$$ The NEA Way!” …

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