Coups R Us – American Regime Changes and Their Aftermath from Hawaii to Libya
Narrated by former New York Times foreign correspondent Steven Ginzer, this documentary covers three major US-orchestrated coups: the 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala, overthrowing democratically elected Guatamalan president Jacobo Arbenz; the 2011 US/NATO military intervention to overthrow Libyan president Muamar Gaddafi; and the 1893 US invasion of the independent nation of Hawaii.
1954 CIA coup in Guatemala – relying on troops from neighboring Honduras, the CIA overthrow the Arbenz government at the behest of United Fruit Company. They objected to land reform initiative which sought to purchase vacant United Fruit Company land to transfer to landless peasants. The aftermath of the coup was 30 years of brutal dictatorship and the deaths of tens of thousands of indigenous peasants.
2011 Libyan regime change – after touching briefly on Libya’s ongoing civil war and its current failed state status, this segment follows the lives of two volunteers who devote hundreds of hours a year defusing landmines and unexploded shells left behind by ISIS militants.
1893 invasion of Hawaii – few Americans aware of the illegal US invasion and occupation of Hawaii, a highly advanced constitutional monarchy that installed electric lights and telephones before the US did. This segment also explores the growing indigenous movement seeking to end the US occupation of Hawaii.
A comprehensive biography of infamous CIA director Allen Dulles, this film is a treasure trove of hidden history. Dulles ran the CIA from 1953 until Kennedy fired him (in 1961) over the disastrous CIA invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs.
Prior to watching this documentary, I was unaware of Dulles’ long time collaboration with fascists of all stripes. For example, Dulles
(with his brother John Foster Dulles) was a founding member of the corporate elite round table group the Council on Foreign Relations (1921).
collaborated with George W’s grandfather Prescott Bush and W Averell Harriman to use Union Bank Company to launder Wall Street monies that financed Hitler’s military arsenal.
as a member of the Office of Strategic Services (the CIA’s precursor), served as the primary architect of the program to secretly bring Nazi war criminals to the US – where they became CIA spies, military analysts and space and mind control scientists.
with John Foster, represented the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the United Fruit Company as partners in the powerful Wall Street law firm Cromwell and Sullivan.
instigated coups against Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954) as a personal vendetta when their democratically elected leaders acted contrary to the financial interests of corporate clients.
as a Warren Commission member following the JFK assassination, demanded records destroyed relating to Oswald’s CIA employment.*
*The order was foiled by a Warren Commission staffer who secretly retained a copy.
The Century of the Self is a four-part BBC documentary that delves deeply into the life and work of Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays. Bernays was the first to perfect the science of thought control. In the political sphere, he referred to mass psychological manipulation as “engineering consent.” When he used propaganda and psychological manipulation to sell corporate products, he called it “public relations.” Parts 1 and 2 focus on the Freudian theories underpinning the early public relations movement.
The Century of the Self
BBC Documentary (2005)
Part 1 (Happiness Machines) and Part 2 (Engineering of Consent)
The Transformation from Citizen to Consumer
The twentieth century is frequently referred to as the selfish century. This documentary lays the blame for this at the feet of Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays.
Prior to World War I politicians and businesses used facts and information to win votes or to persuade people to buy their products. When Woodrow Wilson hired him to run his Committee for Public Information to produce pro-World War I propaganda, Bernays incorporated Sigmund Freud’s theory that human behavior was based on unconscious instinctual drives. By appealing to these unconscious and irrational feelings, he succeeded in selling World War I to a profoundly isolationist American public
As well as his pivotal role in engineering corporate and government propaganda, Bernays was also responsible for popularizing Sigmund Freud’s work by emphasizing its sexual content.
The Shift from a Needs to a Desire Based Culture
Curious whether similar techniques would also work in peace time, Bernays hired himself out to corporations to help them improve their sale of consumer products. His goal was to shift US society from a needs culture, where people only bought what they needed, to a desire culture, where they purchased products to make them feel better. Aware that the word propaganda had an extremely negative connotation, Bernays coined the term “public relations.”
Bernay’s stunning success gave birth to 1920s “consumptionism” and was largely responsible for the economic bubble that resulted in the 1929 crash. Already by 1927, social critics were concerned that Americans were no longer citizens but consumers. Confident of their ability to engineer consumer demand, banks funded national expansion of department store chains and hired Bernays to persuade ordinary people to borrow money to buy shares in the stock market.
Driven to record levels by borrowed money, the stock market collapsed.
During the Great Depression, Bernays shifted gears to focus more on influencing public political views. Neither Freud nor Bernays believed in the equality of man. Frightened by the rise of fascism in Europe, both believed that democracy was a fundamentally unsafe form of government (due to human beings’ dangerous unconscious drives).
Both believed that people must be controlled – that mass democracy could only work if popular consent was engineered. Bernays was also convinced that the best way to control people in a mass democracy was to render them passive consumers – by triggering a continuous irrational desire to consume and satisfying it with consumer goods.
Roosevelt Tries to Rein in Business
Unlike Freud and Bernays, Franklin Roosevelt believed that people were capable of knowing what they wanted and relied on the new science of public opinion polling (pioneered by George Gallup) to ascertain what people were thinking. His response to the Great Depression was to grant himself extensive executive power and subject business to central economic planning, which they hated.
In 1936, the National Association of Manufacturers hired Bernays to initiate an ideological campaign against the New Deal (and the rise of unionism as Alex Carey mentions in Taking the Risk Out of Democracy.
When World War II ended, the CIA hired Bernays to advise them on how to control the “irrational aggression” of the masses. In his CIA role, Bernays devised a campaign for the Eisenhower administration to convince the American public they were under imminent threat from Soviet Communism.
As part of this campaign, Bernays mobilized public and congressional support for the 1954 coup against Guatemala’s democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz. Bernays also worked for the United Fruit Company, which was concerned about Arbenz’s plans for land reform, i.e. breaking up their extensive Guatemalan banana plantations.
The First Focus Groups
Meanwhile the public relations industry hired psychoanalysts to set up focus groups to use advertising more effectively to improve consumer demand for corporate products. These early focus groups employed psychoanalytic techniques to help advertisers improve sales by secretly appealing to unconscious needs and insecurities.