We’ve Been Dominated By Narrative Control Since The Dawn Of Civilization

The science of modern propaganda arguably got its start over a century ago during World War I when a young Edward Bernays was recruited to help sell the conflict to a reluctant American populace, after which he took what he’d learned on that front and folded it into a lifetime of work on the study of mass-scale psychological manipulation.

That was when propaganda as we know it today came into being, with the scientific method applied to the task of refining techniques for manipulating large-scale human behavior using modern media distribution. Those methods have been in research and development this entire time, and have advanced at least as much as our other instruments of warfare have advanced since World War I.

But that wasn’t the beginning of mass-scale psychological manipulation by the powerful. That has been going on since the dawn of civilization.

Back when humans were a nomadic hunter-gatherer species, there was no need for tribal leaders to impose mental narratives over their tribe in order to keep them moving and behaving in the way they wanted. The animal needs of food, drink, and safety were enough to keep those small societies moving, hunting, foraging, reproducing, and fighting wherever it was necessary; they would have done those things even without the existence of language, and our evolutionary ancestors probably did exactly that for millions of years before the behavior of speech first emerged in humans.

That all changed with the invention of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Once humans began learning to trick the Earth’s biosphere into making the food appear next to them, they became capable of sticking around in one place without starving, and civilizations began to emerge. Where as hunter-gatherers humans were only organizing in groups of a few dozen, with the ability to settle and build things we began congregating in villages and cities of hundreds or thousands.

Once you’re dealing with human groups of that size with sustenance coming from farmlands and livestock, the animal impulses of hunger, thirst and safety are no longer complex enough to determine the way those humans are going to be behaving from day to day.

Copious amounts of language will now be needed. Agreements. Protocols. Rules. Etiquette. How is the civilization planned out? How are decisions made? Who does the work? How are resources allocated? How are children conceived and raised?

From here you can already see how the possibility of abuse is opening up. Someone’s going to be doing the work. Someone’s going to be making the decisions. Someone’s going to be deciding where the resources go, and potentially assigning a lot more to themselves than to others. Someone’s going to be deciding who gets to have sex, and potentially assigning that responsibility entirely to themselves and their supporters, and potentially not leaving any say in the matter to the women.

Once humans moved from organizing in villages and cities to moving in kingdoms and empires, the potential for abuses increased exponentially. Then you’ve got the matter of wars and who should fight in them. You’ve got money and the capacity for vast wealth. You’ve got laws and the ability to determine what they are and whom they benefit. And you’ve got someone holding an immense amount of power over a very large number of people.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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