Public Opinion

The combined thinking, or the power of thought manifested, from the general populace is called public opinion. It is this entity that frightens public officials more than any other thing. Several angry letters do not bother politicians as long as they feel the majority of the public is on their side. However, let the favorability rating of those who give them power drop below 50%, and suddenly they will become very concerned and at least attempt to show they are on the people’s side.

It is very understandable that elected officials will go out of their way to cater to majority opinion, but many do not realize that the power of thought is so great that even the most hardened dictators are also very concerned about it. This is illustrated by the fact that as soon as a tyrant assumes control, the first thing he does is to seek to gain control of the media and the press.

A recent headline in the news read that Hugo Chavez is taking control of 34 radio stations that oppose him. Even a dictator cannot stay in power if the power of people’s thoughts are turned against him. The only solution is to control their thinking. That can be done by controlling what goes in the public’s mind. If the “Dear Leader” has complete control of the media, then he can control the information that enters the public’s mind and thus control their thinking. It is not only important what the public does receive, but what they do not receive if thought manipulation is to succeed. They must not only constantly receive positive reinforcement concerning the leader, but all negativity must be eliminated.

Anna on the TV series “V” said what is in many politicians’ hearts when she ordered the reporter to not report anything negative about the Visitors.

When negativity is eliminated, there are still a few who can read the truth between the lines, but, unfortunately, the majority succumb to the poor nourishment that has been fed their brains and follow the line of least resistance.

It is interesting that even dictators with an iron-fisted grip on their people must maintain popular support or be removed.

Perhaps the public turning on and executing Marie Antoinette is the most famous example.

Mussolini lost popular support in 1943 and was removed from power. The only thing that saved him for a while was his reinstatement by Hitler using the overwhelming force of the Nazi presence and the execution of those who opposed him.

He remained as Hitler’s puppet, and, near the end, he said this in 1945 in an interview with Madeleine Mollier:

“Yes, madam, I am finished. My star has fallen. I work and I try, yet know that all is but a farce…. I await the end of the tragedy and — strangely detached from everything — I do not feel any more an actor. I feel I am the last of spectators.”1

Finally, near the end of the war, he was captured and executed and hung in a public square on a meat hook. The public who seemed to adore him so much earlier took great satisfaction in throwing stones at his body.

This event sent shock waves to Hitler and he swore he would not let such a thing happen to him; he committed suicide rather than risk even letting his dead body be exposed to true German public opinion.

The Soviet Union ruled its people with an iron fist, and did everything possible to make sure the thinking of the people was tightly regulated and controlled. Then, Gorbachev came along and thought he could just introduce a small amount of freedom through Perestroika and Glasnost. He soon found out why a little freedom was not allowed in the past, as he later witnessed the entire empire crumble around him.

The fall of the Soviet Union illustrates the fact that people can only be controlled by tyranny when their thought is completely controlled. When given just a little freedom, the desire for more grows like a good seed and eventually prevails.

The war in the Falklands between Britain and Argentina in 1982 is a lesser-known, but quintessential example. This illustrates the power of indoctrination in molding public opinion, but, more importantly, the power of public opinion over a dictatorship.

On the Argentina side, public opinion was directed in favor of repossessing the Falklands through teaching the people from their first history classes in school that the islands were a part of Argentina. They were taught that Britain had an unlawful possession of them. Thus, when the military dictator, Leopoldo Galtieri, ordered the invasion of the Falklands, the people supported the idea of getting back that which they thought was stolen from them. Public opinion was roused further by glorious promises of victory.

After the war began, the dictatorship saw that they had to keep public opinion on their side, so they told many lies to the people through their controlled media. If Britain would shoot down six planes, they would say they lost one, and if Argentina would sink one British ship, they would report three. If they had to retreat because of superior British forces, the dictatorship would tell the people they were consolidating forces to strike a master blow. The people were greatly deceived and supported the war up to the last moment.

Finally, the moment of truth came. The British gained the victory, and it became crystal clear to the people that they had been deceived, and they felt like fools. Public opinion rose with one voice against Galtieri, a totalitarian dictator, and he was out of office in several days.2

The common people are the masters of the world. History records that they are; presidents and priests obey them, and kings and dictators fear them. If the common people can bask in the light of truth, there would always be progress toward peace. If the Argentines were taught the history of the Falklands in a true perspective, they would not have made the first aggressive act. They may then have looked upon the Falklands in a similar light as the French look upon Louisiana that Napoleon illegally sold to America, or as Mexico does Texas, which Mexico lost to the U.S.

Another good example of this power was the resignation of Richard Nixon. He was a man with perhaps as great of an attachment to leadership and power as can be found, yet he stepped down. Why? Not because he felt guilty over Watergate. Not because he was impeached. It was because public opinion demanded it. He would have faced a life in chains or even risked his life to retain control if the public had supported him, but they did not. His master spoke and he obeyed.

If the people are presented the truth in a way they can understand, they will generally make the right decision, and that decision – be it good or evil – is all powerful. All repressive governments could be overthrown in a day if the people so willed it. The common man must awake to the power he has so he can use it intelligently.

If public opinion can strip proud men of their power and control the rise and fall of world leaders, could it not accomplish the simpler feat of influencing the President and Congress to follow the will of the people?

Believe it, and be prepared to change your thinking and take back your power.

Next: The One Thing