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Psychology as a method of domination
by New Debate and Elisa Gratias
Friday Jul 9th, 2021 10:56 AM
The current pandemic policy has given the world the ultimate understanding of how democracies (...) transform themselves into totalitarian because inhumane systems. (...) Long live the courage to resist and refute.
Psychology as a method of domination
The emancipatory energy for change in the population is perpetually directed toward diversionary goals by those in power.
From New Debate
[This article published on 7/3/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

The ruling elite groupings are becoming increasingly invisible. The exploited mass of the world's population, on the other hand, is becoming more and more transparent by means of expanded surveillance. With Corona, the various elites sit even more firmly in the saddle of their rule, while society has atomized in unprecedented ways. It is now easier than ever to nip any buds of revolt in the bud.
Arbitrariness and subjugation are instruments of totalitarianism. The publicist Hannah Arendt already described terror as an indispensable tool of totalitarian regimes. The division of society, propaganda, the constant bombardment with certain political information and fear-mongering paradoxically strengthen the longing for authoritarian leadership within the population. Apparently, as in the 1930s, societies are in a critical and dangerous phase.

Power, domination and psychology
At the Idealism Prevails fireside chat (moderated by Doris Peczar), clinical psychologist Elisabeth Mayerweck and psychologist, communication and education scientist Roman Braun describe the psychological methods used by media and politics to influence the population and public opinion. This has not only been happening since the beginning of the so-called Corona crisis, but is an essential building block to secure the existing relations of domination.

The psychological methods of the authoritarian state: propaganda, permanent fear-mongering and repression (Source: YouTube/Idealism Prevails)

Currently, phenomena such as fear, conflict, spying, denunciation and censorship can be observed. Partly responsible for these effects are the propaganda tools used by those in power, which are familiar from totalitarian regimes.

There is definitely a system behind all this, says Dr. Roman Braun. However, not only since 2020, but already since 1920, when one began on the part of the elite to make war palatable to an enlightened society.

The diversionary goal
While until the 19th century war was a part of the market economy, the argumentation for wars became more and more difficult in the enlightened society. Therefore, an "external enemy" is needed (and not infrequently constructed) to justify war and warlike actions and also to prevent the empowerment of the people - thus democracy.

This enemy, which represents a "diversionary target", can be, for example, terrorism or Islam or even a virus. Whatever the case, the important thing from the point of view of those in power is that the fear and pent-up energy of the population is never directed against the government, but always against this diversionary enemy, says Roman Braun.

If the diversion doesn't work, repression remains. Democracy, i.e. rule by the people, would therefore only come about if the costs of this repression were too great. For Braun, it is clear that the powerful and the rich have never been interested in democracy. In his view, there are only three reasons for democratic concessions on the part of the powerful:

Promises to the masses can no longer be credibly conveyed (for example, "...the next three weeks will be decisive" or "No more lockdown"). Conflict within the elite. Popular uprising or revolution.
Since the world's richest multi-billionaires were able to significantly increase their fortunes during the Corona crisis, there will be no conflict within these elites for the foreseeable future, Dr. Braun predicts. A popular uprising is also not to be expected, certainly not in Austria. The population - also for historical reasons - is hardly inclined to revolutions.

However, it seems possible that the government's failure to keep its promises in the Corona crisis and the current corruption cases surrounding the neoliberal ÖVP could affect the credibility of those in power and thus significantly reduce the population's approval of the government and its actions.

Fear as a method
The fundamental issue of people's inclination to "obediently" follow the dictates of the powerful is partly physio-economic. It is clearly more costly for people to refuse power than to follow the masses and resist domination. Second, changing one's mind is experienced as considerably more costly than sticking with an opinion once it has been formed.

Part of the manipulation is also that the government always presents itself as inscrutable and keeps changing rules, whereas the population becomes more and more transparent (example: "green passport"). This keeps the population in fear and makes them more controllable for those in power.

Editorial note: This text first appeared under the title "Psychology: The Methods of the Authoritarian State" at New Debate. The linked video was produced by Idealism Prevails.

The Propaganda Matrix
In this Rubicon exclusive interview, Professor Michael Meyen explains why the fight for free media will determine our future.
By Elisa Gratias

[This interview published on 7/3/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet,]
At the end of 2019, the online media Rubikon founded its own book publishing company just in time before the start of the Corona crisis, in order to offer its content to a broad public in a sustainable way offline and to promote democratic opinion-forming. Today, this decision enables Rubikon to push a comprehensive Corona education offensive independently of large publishing houses - with great success so far. The first four books on the current situation are already bestsellers. In the fifth book of this campaign, which will be published by Rubikon on July 20, communications scientist Michael Meyen devotes himself intensively to the role of the leading media and explains in conversation with Jens Lehrich why his book title cannot do without the term "propaganda," despite initial reservations.

Propaganda exists only in dictatorship. In the "democratic" societies of the rich industrialized countries, therefore, we do not need to deal with this topic at all, according to the often-unquestioned belief. Michael Meyen is a communications scientist and concerned about the state of the leading media.

He initially resisted the publisher's idea of using the term propaganda. The author grew up in the GDR (East Germany) and thus has a preconceived relationship to the word. In an interview with Jens Lehrich, he explains why, thanks to his work on this book, which he originally wanted to call "The Media Matrix," he realized that what the leading media engage in must indeed be called propaganda.

Michael Meyen explains how French sociologist Jacques Ellul's insights on propaganda helped him. I get curious and even find the description in Wikipedia for what I observe in myself and my fellow humans:

"Ellul's basic assumption is that propaganda is a sociological phenomenon and not 'something that certain people do to achieve a particular purpose.' Technological society, he argues, is a condition for the existence of propaganda, and propaganda, in turn, ensures the survival of this form of society. (...)

Ellul distinguishes between agitation propaganda and integration propaganda. He declares the educational system to be a basic condition of propaganda. Intellectuals, he adds, are the social group most receptive to propaganda because they want to form definitive opinions on all the 'important questions of the day.'"

Meyen goes on to explain why the leading media still have such great importance despite the Internet. Even if a counter-view can be published on the net, if something is reported on the Tagesschau, we have to assume that everyone has seen it or heard about it - not to mention the fact that censorship is practiced without the existence of a state censorship body. With alternative media from the Internet, such a large influence does not exist (so far). Even if we don't agree with what the Tagesschau says, we assume that the majority of the population is influenced by this information and forms its opinion based on it.

The situation seems hopeless. Our current society corresponds exactly to what Ellul recognized to propaganda. Our worldview is formed in school and so most journalists probably do not even realize that they are participating in propaganda. Neither do academics and intellectuals realize that they are falling for it. This is exactly where the danger lies: If propaganda is not only not recognized as such by the majority despite all education and enlightenment, but apparently precisely because of it, our future looks bleak.

So why is Michael Meyen almost beaming into the camera while talking to Jens Lehrich? I imagine the facial expression of someone who is digging in the deepest muck of the modern media landscape differently. When asked if he is angry, the author replies that he is probably not the personality type to get angry or express anger.
What is important to him is that we - the readers of his book and the viewers of the video - become aware of what is going on and that "the fight for free media" is not yet decided. I can't wait to read his book, because already in the video interview he briefly touches on what fighting techniques we have to defend and support free media in order to live self-determined lives in the future.

"Has everything important already been said on the topics of media and media criticism? Michael Meyen brilliantly proves us wrong. The author introduces us to the branching debate, condenses it, brings it to a head and pushes it forward, develops perspectives - stylistically brilliant, rousing, illuminating. Media-critical enlightenment as a reading pleasure!"
Ulrich Teusch, co-editor Multipolar Magazine

"Michael Meyen, one of the few experts in the German-speaking world who knows the media system of the East and West, writes about the propaganda matrix of the 21st century and the hostage-taking of entire societies in its totalitarian maelstrom. It is about the machine of the globally coordinated leading media which is financed by corporations (...). The current pandemic policy has given the world the ultimate understanding of how democracies (...) transform themselves into totalitarian because inhumane systems. (...) Long live the courage to resist and refute."
Yana Milev, sociologist

"Anyone who, like Goethe's 'Faust,' wants to know what 'holds the world together at its core' must read Michael Meyen's brilliant account, which provides deep insights into the contemporary media matrix. With narrative ease and analytical acuity, the insights of intellectual greats such as Hannah Ahrendt, Ulrich Beck, Pierre Bourdieu, Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Walter Lippmann, and Niklas Luhmann are made fruitful for observation (...). Visible become the 'blind spots', but also the new chances of democratic participation and self-determined cognition."
Carsten Gansel, literary scholar

"Michael Meyen is about more than understanding his subject. He offers his expertise, clarifies, makes understandable, and illustrates mechanisms with nothing less than freedom in mind. A white paper for better journalism, if not for a revolution in media!"
Martin Sinzinger, Nature Photographer

Elisa Gratias, born in 1983, grew up in Saxony-Anhalt. In 2005, she emigrated to France, where she completed her studies to become a translator. In 2014, she moved to Mallorca and has since worked there as a freelance translator, author and artist. Her emigration experiences and her penchant for pondering gave her many insights on happiness, fulfillment and society. She writes about this on her blog She shows her art at

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