Propaganda [read online for free] by Edward Bernays, Horace Liveright in New York, 1928.

A seminal and controversial figure in the history of political thought and public relations, Edward Bernays (1891–1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he famously dubbed engineering of consent. During World War I, he was an integral part of the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI), a powerful propaganda apparatus that was mobilized to package, advertise and sell the war to the American people as one that would Make the World Safe for Democracy. The CPI would become the blueprint in which marketing strategies for future wars would be based upon.

Bernays applied the techniques he had learned in the CPI and, incorporating some of the ideas of Walter Lipmann, became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic and corporate manipulation of the population. His 1928 bombshell Propaganda lays out his eerily prescient vision for using propaganda to regiment the collective mind in a variety of areas, including government, politics, art, science and education. To read this book today is to frightfully comprehend what our contemporary institutions of government and business have become in regards to organized manipulation of the masses.

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling [read online for free] by John Taylor Gatto, New Society Publishers in Gabriola Island, 2010.

John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction focuses on mechanisms of familiar schooling which cripple imagination, discourage critical thinking, and create a false view of learning as a by-product of rote-memorization drills. Gatto's earlier book, Dumbing Us Down, put the now-famous expression of the title in common use worldwide. Weapons of Mass Instruction promises to add another chilling metaphor to the brief against schooling.

Here is a demonstration that the harm school inflicts is quite rational and deliberate, following high level political theories constructed by Plato, Calvin, Spinoza, Fichte, Darwin, Wundt, and others, which contend the term "education" is meaningless because humanity is strictly limited by necessities of biology, psychology, and theology. The real function of pedagogy is to render the common population manageable.

Realizing that goal demands the young be conditioned to rely upon experts, conditioned to remain divided from natural alliances, conditioned to accept disconnections from the experiences, which create self-reliance and independence.

The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America: A Chronological Paper Trail [free online version] by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, Conscience Press in Ravenna, 1999.

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education, blew the whistle in the `80s on government activities withheld from the public. Her inside knowledge will help you protect your children from controversial methods and programs. In this book you will discover:

  • How good teachers across America have been forced to use controversial, non-academic methods;
  • How "school choice" is being used to further dangerous reform goals, and how home schooling and private education are especially vulnerable;
  • How workforce training (school-to-work) is an essential part of an overall plan for a global economy, and how this plan will shortcircuit your child's future career plans and opportunities; and
  • How the international, national, regional, state and local agendas for education reform are all interconnected and have been for decades;

This book argues that the academic meltdown in our public education system is intentional. It asserts that change agents have been working at the Education Department to change curriculum, not to improve teaching but to promote a socialist agenda. Their role is to create schools which will mold obedient citizens who no longer have the knowledge and skills to improve their lot in life, but are dependent on governement/multi-national companies' guidance to survive. The system will create imprisoned citizens that will be managed from cradle to grave to serve the needs of the state's managed economy. The book is clearly written, copiously documented, and finally asnwers the question "Why can't our kids read, write, and count?" A must-read for anyone with children. It presents a scary view of America's future if nothing is done to bring back our schools to the excellence of the turn of the century.

Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy [read excerpts online for free] by John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney, New Press in New York, 2006.

Thomas Frank called Tragedy and Farce “an appeal to reason in a dark time.” Including the sharpest analysis of 2004 election coverage yet and the first detailed look at the burgeoning media reform movement, this book is both an exposť and a call to action. In it John Nichols and Robert McChesney—two of the country’s leading media analysts—argue that during the 2004 election and throughout the Iraq war and occupation, Americans have been starved of democracy’s oxygen: accurate information. More than anything John Kerry, George Bush, or even Karl Rove did, the media’s miscoverage of the campaign and war decided the election. Most disturbingly, the flawed coverage reflects new, structural problems within U.S. journalism.

Tragedy and Farce dissects the media failures of recent years and shows how they expose the decline in resources and standards for political journalism—as well as the methodical campaign by the political right to control the news cycle. In our highly concentrated media system it has become commercially and politically irrational to do the kind of journalism a self-governing society requires.

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media [read excerpts online for free] [watch corresponding documentary online for free] by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Pantheon Books in New York, 2002.

In this pathbreaking work, now with a new introduction, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky show that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous, obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and defense of justice, in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.

Based on a series of case studies—including the media’s dichotomous treatment of worthy versus unworthy victims, legitimizing and meaningless Third World elections, and devastating critiques of media coverage of the U.S. wars against Indochina—Herman and Chomsky draw on decades of criticism and research to propose a Propaganda Model to explain the media’s behavior and performance. Their new introduction updates the Propaganda Model and the earlier case studies, and it discusses several other applications. These include the manner in which the media covered the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent Mexican financial meltdown of 1994-1995, the media’s handling of the protests against the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund in 1999 and 2000, and the media’s treatment of the chemical industry and its regulation. What emerges from this work is a powerful assessment of how propagandistic the U.S. mass media are, how they systematically fail to live up to their self-image as providers of the kind of information that people need to make sense of the world, and how we can understand their function in a radically new way.

Updated on February 20th, 2015