Necessary Illusions

Necessary Illusions is a 1989 book by Noam Chomsky which I most likely read in 1990 or so, long before I was capable of grasping the message delivered by the book. It is subtitled “Thought Control in Democratic Societies.” I could see at that time that propaganda was a major industry, but thought we had escape chutes to exit, exist and think for ourselves. I had no idea of the degree, in 1990, of control that already existed. I would be fated to indulge in partisan politics, voting, and permitted exit chutes, Ralph Nader and Chomsky himself, for example.

I don’t have the book anymore, but won’t go looking for it. Wikipedia does a short blurb on it, comparing the phrase “necessary illusions,” which I understand to have originated with the Canadian cleric Reinhold Niebuhr, with the works of others: “noble lies” (Plato), “public relations” (Edward Bernays), and “myth making” (Machiavelli). All for our own good. We’re sheep, and need to be herded.

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Trotter and LeBon … Trotter and LeBon … Trotter and Le ….

This may seem off-topic given our current focus on Las Vegas, but I think plays right in.

Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and “father of modern advertising” wrote a book in 1928 called “Propaganda,” an easy read and accessible for anyone with basic reading skills. But the content of that book surely was not meant for the everyman, so I have to suspect that the reading habits of the American public then were like now, only a few engaged. He was talking over the crowd to the people in the balcony who could rattle their jewelry in appreciation.

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