Taking The Risk Out Out Of Democracy

A capitalist economy can’t run without taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy. (saying one thing and meaning another) If you understand how multinationals work, you quickly understand that they are bad for the vast majority of people. If what these companies sell us are things we really need. Why do they need to spend billions on convincing us? You will notice the countries who extol the virtues of “free” trade have the biggest armies, the most WMD and spend the most on taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy (public relations) when they carry out – free trade.

The following are excerpts from the book Taking The Risk Out Out Of Democracy by Alex Carey, a good place to start in understanding Public Relations and how they are used by the powerful, to frame and shape how they want the public to see things.

The management of public opinions
Training Vs Education
The origins of American taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy
The Manichean dichotomy
Decline in labour movement
The first popular challenge


The development of a theory of persuasion began as long as 500 BC in the Greek City states. At that time philosophers compiled a set of rules for the use of rhetoric and persuasion. So compelling were these systems that only small changes of theory took place until the Industrial Revolution opened the way for mass persuasion through mass marketing. After 1900 marketing studies began to be made of consumers’ wants and habits and their susceptibility to alternative kinds of salesmanship. It was however the advent of World War 1 which provided mass taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy in its central place in twentieth – century political thinking. For the first time taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy was used as a weapon of war.


Two men on either side of the Atlantic were deeply affected by this development. They were the democrat Harold D Lasswell, the first modern analyst of taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy, and Adolf Hitler, arguably its most perverse practitioner. Lasswell wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject and called it ‘taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy Techniques in the World War’. Several years earlier Hitler had written Mein Kampf, in which he had described the allies taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy was in contrast to German attempts at persuasion, the incompetence of which he believed had contributed in the demoralization of German soldiers and civilians and hence to Germany’s defeat



..ater the fascist Hitler was to turn his attention to managing public opinion in totalitarian Germany, while the democrat Lasswell studied the need for managing public opinion in democratic America. While totalitarian taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy is universally condemned in the West as a loss of personal and democratic freedom, the management of public opinion in a democracy is generally considered to be good business. Why the discrepancy?

The management of public opinions

Lasswell always seemed to be mesmerized by the power of taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy to propose a pluralistic defense against the management of public opinions in democracies like Australia and the United States. In this century many academics like Lasswell , as well as many members of the ‘free’ press, have tacitly assumed the need to take the risk out of democracy by assisting in the management of public opinion – a management which has been in the interests of business. This prudent academic and media conformity has helped to close the American mind to the kind of critical thought needed for a healthy culturally diverse and pluralistic democracy. That this management of democracy should seem necessary and go unchallenged for so long in what is often hailed as the leading democracy in the world is a situation which reflects on the intellectual character of political and academic leaders in the United States.

National interests

A perceived risk to business interests and how business interests are not sold to the public overtly as sectional interests protecting their wealth but are linked to national interests. National interests therefore come to be seen as identical with business interests and so together they are represented by such emotive words as ‘freedom’, ‘freedom of the individual’, ‘free enterprise’ and the ‘free market’.

Run trade union

Young Achievers program where Australian high school students spend twelve months learning how to make a profit by starting up a company. Most of us tend to view this activity as unproblematic. Yet imagine for a moment that we changed the subject so that the students spend twelve months learning how to establish and run a trade union. Such an educational activity is likely to be widely denounced as biased, one sided and ‘inappropriate’. Yet what has changed? In both cases a set of economic interests seek to have their values inculcated in the young. That profit over community appears more acceptable as only one indication of the nature and effects of taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy in our democracies

Training vs education

In this climate it is possible for education to be reformed into a training reform agenda a slippage has occurred between education and training, so that those in charge cannot distinguish between the two. In this agenda successful reform is referred to ‘competitive skills for Australians and Australian Enterprises’ by the Allen Consulting Group, who were in 1994 asked to review the progress of the agenda. To speed it up we are urged to develop a training ‘market’ which is centered on direct client – to – trainer providers, to ‘customize’ courses for industry and to focus on the competitive needs of industry. This is the language of the ‘free market’ applied to education which has traditionally been seen as having no market benefit.


In a climate where there is almost religious worship of the ‘free market’ it is possible for a federal labour government (traditionally representing unions and workers) to set up an Inquiry in to a National Competitive Policy. This Hilmer Enquiry has equated ‘anti-competitive potentials ‘with the public interests and seeks to institute measures so that non-market benefits have to prove there worth. This position reverses the democratic ‘onus of proof’, in that it is democracy which now has to prove its worth to the market, rather than the market proving its worth to the democratic community.

The origins of American taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy

Academic and practicing experts are agreed on what taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy consists of: taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy is the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols.. Collective attitudes are amenable to many modes of alteration..intimidation. economic coercion…drill. But their arrangement and rearrangement occurs principally under the impetus of significant symbols; and the technique of using significant symbols for this purpose is taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy. (Lasswell Bardson and Janowitz 1953: 776-80 )

Skills- sacred and satanic

Thus the successful use of taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy as a means of social control requires a number of conditions: the will to use it; the skills to produce taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy; the means of dissemination; and the use of; ‘significant symbols’, symbols with real power over emotional reactions – ideally, symbols of the Sacred and Satanic. The United States has for a long time, provided all of these conditions in greater abundance than any other Western country.


Such control through taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy is, Lasswell concludes, response to ‘the immensity the rationality, the wilfulness of the modern world. It is the new dynamic of [a] society..[where] more can be won by illusion than coercion.


The propagandist in the United States with advantages deriving from independent features of American society which predispose its members to adopt – or accept – a dualistic, Manichean world-view. This is a world view dominated by the powerful symbols dominated by the Satanic and the Sacred (darkness and light). A society or culture, which is disposed to view, the world in Manichean terms will be more vulnerable to control by taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy. Conversely, a society where taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy is is extensively employed, as a means of social control will tend to retain a Manichean world-view, a world-view dominated by symbols and visions of the Sacred and Satanic. In addition US society has a pragmatic orientation. This is a preference for action over reflection. If the truth of a belief is to be sought in the consequences of acting on the belief, rather through a preliminary examination of the grounds for holding it, there will be a tendency to act first and question later (if at all- for once a belief is acted upon the actor becomes involved in responsibility for the consequences and will be disposed to interpret the consequences so that they justify his belief and hence his action) If it is American culture, compared with most others, values action above reflection, one may expect that condition to favour a Manichean world-view. For acknowledgements of ambiguity, that is a non- Manichean world where agencies or events may comprise or express any complex amalgam of good and evil – demands continual reflection, continual questioning of premises. Reflection inhibits action, while a Manichean world-view facilitates action. On that account action and a Manichean world-view are likely to be more congenial to and to resonate with the cultural reference found in the United States.



More over the kind of evangelical religious belief to which American culture has always been held hostage provides habits of thought already formed to accommodate the Manichean world-view. Some indication of the Manichean distinctiveness of American culture is provided by an International Gallop Poll about religious belief conducted in America and ten European countries in 1968. The poll yielded the following results. More people in America claimed to believe in god (98%) and in Heaven (85%) than in any other country polled ( Britain, 77% and 54% France 73% and 39% ).Similarly 60% of Americans claimed to believe in the Devil and 65% in hell ( Britain, 21% 23%; France 17& and 22% ).Here to Americans held all the rest, with the single exception in which they lost to Greece by seven points with respect to the devil. These are surely surprising results in a country characterized by a more advanced technological development and a more extended education process than any other.

The Manichean dichotomy

The Manichean dichotomy that has been most powerful – as a means of social control – in respect to both domestic issues and foreign policy issues is not God/Heaven versus Devil/Hell but the secular equivalent of these. Thus on the one hand an extravagant idealization of the spirit of America, the purpose of America, the meaning of America, the American Way of Life, the transcendent values by which the United States is presented to the world as the Manifest Destiny of the world in Piety and Virtue ( see Morgenthau 19600. On the other hand the extravagant negative idealization of evil secularized in communism/socialism as sui generis, in all places at all times, malevolent evil oppressive, deceitful and destructive of all civilized and human values.


In the sixteen century witches were regarded as possessed by (that is as obedient and remote and magical control by) the Devil. In 1955 a reputable American journal that catered to intellectuals editorialized’ that [Ho Chi Minh] is our enemy is obvious. He belongs to that particularly dangerous species of men whose nervous system has been rewired to make it obedient to remote control from Moscow’ (‘Who – What -Why’ 1955: 8) During the past sixty years this form of crass stereotyping was made tolerable because of the defeat of a culture of critical consciousness.

The early years

The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.


The techniques used to achieve these results are variously called ‘public relations’, ‘corporate communications’ and ‘economic education’.


The use of these tactics to defend business interests against the mass-based power of popular movements and of the labour movements has had large institutional – hence – enduring consequences for American society. Their long continued use has brought into being a vast complex of institutions, which specialize in taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy and related social science research. This complex of institutions has been created expressly for the purpose of monitoring of public opinion and managing it within ideological confines acceptable to American business

Decline in labour movement

Despite the likely importance of American society of business taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy on the vast scale that has been developed, the subject has been ignored by the relevant scholarly disciplines over some seventy years The neglect includes, moreover, the role of corporate in the drastic decline of the American labour movement in recent decades


Target audience

Finally since the concept of taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy is central to my argument, I should provide some information of the meaning I attach to it I refer to communications where the form and content is selected with the single – minded purpose of bringing some target audience to adopt attitudes and beliefs chosen in advance by the sponsors of the communications

A Record

It is arguable that the success of business taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy in persuading us, for so long that we are free from taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy is one of the most significant taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy achievements of the twentieth century

The first popular challenge

Between 1880 and 1920 in the United Kingdom and the United States the franchise was extended from around 10 – 15 percent of the populace to 40 or 50 percent (Lippman 1955 :39-40 ) Graham Wallas and A. L. Lowell, leading students of democracy in Britain and the United States, warned as early as 1909 of the likely consequences of this development. Popular elections, they agreed ‘may work fairly well as long as those questions are not raised which cause the holders of power’ to make the full use of there resources. But should they do so, ‘there is so much skill to be bought, and the art of using skill for the production of emotion and opinion has advanced that the whole condition of political contest would be changed for the future, (Lowell 1926: 43 ) Four years later in 1913, a committee of the U S congress was established to investigate the mass dissemination of taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy by The National Association of Manufacturers (N A M ), the leading business of the time, for the purpose of influencing legislation by influencing public opinion. The committee appears to have been no little awed by the apparent ambitions of the N A M for meeting the challenge to its interests from popular democracy by controlling public opinion. It reported that the ‘aspirations’ of the N A M were ‘so vast and far – reaching as to excite at once admiration and fear – admiration for the genius that conceived them and fear for the effects which the . accomplishment of all these ambitions might have in a government such as ours (Lane 1950:58 ) The committee’s report coincided with the beginning of World War 1, during which the Allied governments expended unprecedented resources on the development and dissemination of taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy to heighten patriotism and hatred. taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy became a science and profession. A campaign launched by President Wilson on America’s entry into the war in 1917 filled every home, workplace and leisure activity with its messages. The campaign produced within six months so intense an anti – German hysteria as to permanently impress American business ( and Adolf Hitler, among others ) with the potential of large – scale taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy to control public opinion. Walter Lippman, the eminent journalist, and Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, served with Wilsons taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy organization. Bernays led the transfer of wartime taking-the-risk-out-out-of-democracy skills to business’s peacetime problems of coping with democracy. When the war ended Bernays (1952:87 ) latter wrote, business ‘realizing the great public could now be harnessed to there cause as it had been harnessed during the war to the national cause, and the same methods could do the job’.


See Fraud
Taking the Risk out of Democracy Alex Carey