From the comments on Eschaton.blogspot.com: "So, seriously, what's your professional assessment of the changes in America over the past 35 years?"
R. Manhammer, moaner - 4:43 pm"
Assuming the questioner really was serious, I offered the following synopsis:
That shoulda been (and partly was) the subject of a (my) dissertation:
I maintain that we are living amid the most extensive, most expensive, most expansive most thoroughly 'mediated' (in all senses of the word), "internal, agitprop" propaganda campaign (See, Ellul, Propagandas, 1965) ever conceived or executed in the history of humanity, beginning with Eduard Bernays in the first decades of the 20th century.
Bernays was freud's favorite nephew, and sometime amenuensis. He recognized that Freud's insights, coupled with the emergent power of the centralized, corporate mass media, offered the very best chance ever in history for 'social engineering.' He is the soi disant "father" of the pseudo-academic discipline, Public Relations: "If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits." (Propaganda, 2005 ed., p. 71.) He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the "engineering of consent." This theme is echoed and elaborated critically in Hermann & Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent" (1988).
Bernays was a Liberal of the Wilsonian/Leninst stripe: the educated elite/vanguard intellectual whose natural gifts and social advantages elevated them to a position of social superiority and (in their own minds) unassailable leadership. He created and then strenuously upheld the spurious difference between 'advertizing' and 'propaganda', which is the source of our own certainty that propaganda is "lies" intended "for others."
The "media" and the "school" work together, almost seamlessly. The schools, over the last 50 years at least, have become the sites at which children (but really, all exogenes) are indoctrinated into instructional apprenticeships for the construction of the consuming class which (probably around 1970) supplanted the 'citizen' as the legitemate 'product' for which schooling was conducted.
The purpose of schools today can be read backwards from the consequences of schooling (and not just the public schools): despite a lot of blather to the contrary about education being the teicket to social mobility, schools exist primarily to ensure that as few children as possible escape the socio-economic niches into which they were born.
The most telling statistic, imho, in all educational research is this: upwards of two thirds of all variance in the scores of individual students on achievement/placement/graduation exams is accounted for by one--and only one--variable: the socio-economic status of the parents
And as much as half of that is accounted for by one additional variable: the mother's attendance in (not graduation from) some form of 'higher education.'
23 hours ago