Psychology as a Tool of Political Repression

Thomas L Wayburn, PhD in chemical engineering

Applied Psychology

The Payola Scandal

In the late 40s or early 50s, the Payola Scandal hit popular music.  The radio stations had discovered that they could determine public choices from within the popular music of the day simply by playing a phonograph recording on the air.  If a disk jockey played a rendition of a particular song by a particular artist sufficiently often on the radio, eventually a large enough number of listeners in his audience would decide that they preferred that particular phonograph recording over all others to make it what was then called A Hit.  I wonder how many such recorded compositions subsequently ended up on the Lucky Strike Hit Parade to take their place in phonograph recording history and from time to time make the performing artist and the composer Stars in the firmament of the pernicious Star System, which culminated in the Pure Star, a person with no other notable attribute, certainly not musical talent or ability, than Stardom Itself.

It wasn’t long before disk jockeys or their employers, the radio stations themselves, began to accept, then demand, bribes to play a particular rendition on the radio.  The scandal followed.

Rock and Roll

But, now the radio stations knew something about mass psychology that they didn’t know before.  They knew how to determine public choice among samples of the popular music of the day.  And, the radio stations grew weary of paying royalties to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) every time they played a recording of a song written by one of its members on the air.  They wondered if they could determine public choice among styles of popular music.  To be charitable, we may assume that professional psychologists did not intentionally foster the following scheme: 

To avoid paying royalties to ASCAP, they formed their own publishing company, Broadcast Mutuals Incorporated (BMI).  They hired songwriters and other professional musicians by the hundreds to sit at drafting tables in large rooms, together, without pianos, even, and write simple songs principally based upon The Blues, which had enjoyed a long and noble tradition until then.  They chose songs from among these and played renditions of these songs to the exclusion of ASCAP songs like Stardust and Night and Day, which had been written by great and talented songwriters like Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, performed by a completely new generation of recording Stars created by themselves.  Thus, was born Rock and Roll and the abominable popular music of today.

Certainly, within any musical genre, talented individuals arise from time to time and exceptions to the great banality and downright ugliness of today’s pop music can be found; but, people who actually like this junk should realize that they are victims of a deliberate conspiracy to increase profits at the expense of public taste.  They have had bad taste in music foisted upon them with what we shall refer to in the sequel as brainwashing, the ironic term given by American, anti-communist propagandists to the Communist Chinese program of re-education, which had been employed in the wake of Mao Tse Tung’s revolution as an alternative to the brutal purges employed by Stalin to rid a new nation of hopeless relics from an unacceptably evil political past.  I should refer to the technique used by anti-communist propagandists as brainstuffing, but I shall continue to employ the dictionary word brainwashing used nowadays always in the ironic sense.  In revolutionary China, believers in capitalism really did need to have their brains washed in analogy with the traditional practice of washing with soap the mouth of a foulmouthed child.  By now, professional psychologists had entered the picture, which brings us to our next topic.

People who are devoted to contemporary American popular music will please remember the payola scandal and BMI when they are accused in the sequel of disparaging political institutions that facilitate wealth-sharing only because they have been subjected to anti-communist propaganda of the same nature as the indoctrination that has made them into fans of contemporary American popular music, namely, endless repetition.  In other words, people who listen voluntarily to contemporary American popular music are very likely susceptible to anti-communist propaganda too.  Amusingly, Senator Orin Hatch of Utah called susceptibility to “communist propaganda” a serious hazard of smoking marijuana.  Given that what he refers to as “communist propaganda” is merely anti-anti-communist propaganda, I wonder to whom this “susceptibility” is a hazard.  Certainly not the smoker.

Adversarial Psychology


Influencing popular music is one thing and, really, a very minor thing except that once the seeds of corruption are sown the growth is unbounded.  Broadcasters set their sights on bigger and better things as did businesspeople in general.  Market systems provide (seemingly) unlimited opportunities for profit based upon sales and marketing.  Capitalists have always known the importance of increasing market share within a constantly growing market.  One could say that Capitalism is based on such growth and cannot exist without it.  I took a quick stab at analyzing this fact in another paper many years ago.  (See Capitalism.html.)

But, subsequent to World War II, and, presumably with the Payola Scandal well in mind, advertisers began a new push toward rampant consumerism based upon the latest psychological theories, to the everlasting shame of professional psychologists.  We now suffer a constant blitz of promotional material at every minute of practically every show on television.  The ads and promotions, almost all false with the remainder in abominable taste, are continued apace while the show goes on in voice-overs or banners.  Thus, the corruption noticed by Thoreau in all profit-oriented endeavor consumes everything in its path culminating in the consumption of Earth and all of Her inhabitants.


World War II

Hitler discussed propaganda, which had been used throughout history to achieve political goals, in his famous book, Mein Kampf.  He noted its importance; praised the British propaganda effort during World War I, which he perceived as a major factor in their victory; and, finally, determined to do even better himself.  Both the Axis Powers and the Allies used propaganda lavishly during World War II.  Arguably, the Allies, who had a head start in propaganda (according to Hitler), did the better job despite the genius of Joseph Goebbels.  But, US and British propaganda efforts were just getting started.

The Cold War

Beginning in about 1890, with the first Red Scare, capitalists, who constituted the ruling class in most Western nations, began the War Against Communism that has progressed through public school education, the purpose of which was to indoctrinate young children with anti-communist propaganda (see John Gattos’s website ); union busting; the Cold War, with the Space Race, the Arms Race, the Korean War, the Vietnam War; and culminating in the monumental anti-communist propaganda attack mounted by the United States since Ronald Reagan took office that has permeating every aspect of American society, every newspaper story, every television show, every school lesson plan, every election campaign, until it is so pervasive that it is mistaken for life itself and is no longer noticed.  It is a fact of life, akin to the Survival Instinct itself, that no rich person wants to become poor.  The accumulation of wealth was understood quite well by Durkheim before any of this began to happen.

Communism did not collapse.  It was driven down at a cost that can be roughly estimated as the magnitude of the National Debt of the United States, which today is almost 8 trillion dollars.  Further discussion of this and the explanation of the simple fact that nothing has been proven about communism can be found at various places on my website that can be found with a desktop google, for example, by any of my friends who has had the foresight to download everything against the day of my demise.  Professional psychologists have played a huge part in fostering the present negative attitude toward any suggestion that the social dividend should be shared.  I hope they are proud of their criminal careers.

Evolutionary Psychology

Past Political Progress

But, despite Conservative Propaganda and Reactionary Repression, every single Conservative position has been overthrown eventually by a Liberal position that has become subsequently a new Conservative position, which Conservatives claim they have always embraced.  Certainly, champions of progressive causes rise to power and become corrupt, which gives rise to new revolutionary movements led by new progressive leaders who, in turn, overthrow established power, rise to power themselves, become corrupt and are, in turn, overthrown.  Thus, history moves in cycles modulated by slow progress toward more enlightened views to become The Spiral of History that has characterized historic times but not necessarily every pre-historic human era.  (See Chapter 4 of On the Preservation of Species.)  Certainly, in this (historical) era, political  progress has continued but not in a straight line.  The Magna Carta and, indeed, the Constitution of the United States, itself, represent the sort of progress I have in mind.  Clearly, the time is ripe – and over-ripe – for another such revolution.

Many people hope to restore American democracy to that which they imagine the Founding Fathers envisioned; a smaller number of people would like to establish True Democracy; and an even smaller number would like to establish Political and Economic Democracy, which might as well be called Communism except for the fact that most of my readers will have been brainwashed to cringe when they hear that term, which, after all, is what I am talking about – the cringing when they hear that term, I mean.  Only a very few people wish to establish Anarcho-Communism, which is the only form of Economic Democracy that preserves the freedom of the individual living in a community.  It is not hard to see that each of these political positions represents a definite movement in a certain direction, a direction toward Freedom many people considered progress when it moved from Monarchy or Theocracy to Constitutional Democracy and which I consider progress as far as I can see in that direction.  The next step might be Anarcho-Communism (or Libertarian Communism for people who are not ashamed to trade on the false propaganda effort of the Libertarian Party) with no punishment for infractions of the Social Contract that replaces the Constitution as the basis for all Law.  (See Chapter 1 of On the Preservation of Species.)

There is no reason to imagine that anything inherent in Human Nature could prevent progress in that direction (toward Freedom).  If Human Nature dictates that no further progress can occur, presumably because of some trait coded into our genes because it favored survival, why did not that trait prevent progress from Feudalism to the Magna Carta to the US Constitution!  But, the Ruling Class and other Conservatives wish to prevent such progress if they can.  They have already enlarged their fortunes and consolidated their power in a political system where Money is Power by expanding the market economy using the results of research by professional psychologists and the lessons they have paid professional psychologists to teach them – psychologists who are eager to prostitute their science.  Psychologists have corrupted everything their science has touched.  It remains only to corrupt their science itself.

Preventing Further Political Progress

Psychologists have long been engaged in the process of repressing political progress with their marvelous contributions to political propaganda and brainwashing.  (We continue to use the dictionary word in the ironic sense even though the word ‘brainstuffing’ would be more proper and could be used without irony.)  This is good enough to make the word ‘communism’ anathema to ordinary people with no intellectual pretensions, but something more is needed to prevent another rush toward The Left like the one that occurred during the Vietnam Era with the advent of Height-Ashbury, Flower Children, Hippies, Communes, and the quite general gravitation toward Communism by most intelligent youths and all intelligent adults.  In my opinion, Robert Persig, in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, gave Conservatives the idea that books aimed at intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals might be used to repress social progress, but I don’t insist upon it.

Sometime during the 80s, William Buckley wrote his “Agenda for the Nineties”.  (Please see On William Buckley’s ‘Agenda for the Nineties’.)  In 1983, when I entered Academia for the second time, the Conservative trend on college campuses had begun.  College administrators were willing to dumb down the faculty if that’s what it took to get Left-Wing professors off campus.  Is it any wonder, then, that professors and researchers in the Social Sciences understood what was expected of them if they wanted to succeed in Academia, i.e., make more money and achieve higher rank.  For a long time now, most heads of Sociology Departments have been Criminologists.  What could be more Conservative than Fighting Crime!  Witness the density of stories about Crime and Punishment on the Fox News Channel.  (In the Nineteenth Century, Dostoevsky had already shown that punishment causes crime.)  Soon, most heads of Psychology Departments will be Evolutionary Psychologists.  Evolutionary Psychology is just the ticket to ensnare intellectuals too smart to be trapped by Evangelical Christianity.  Every fisherman knows the importance of the right bait for the right fish.

But, if Evolutionary Psychology is bait to catch a fish, it is not likely to be a valid science.  Indeed, although Freud was right about most things, most of what he did after the post-hypnotic suggestion experiment is not science.  If individual A does X, it’s the Oedipus Complex; if he does not-X, it’s also the Oedipus Complex, which is no better than astrology.  If I do X, it’s because I am Aries; if I do not-X, it’s also because I am Aries or my moon is ascendant or some such nonsense.  Marxism, too, fails Popper’s famous Demarcation Test (of Falsifiability).  If society does Y, it’s because of Class Conflict; if it does not-Y, it’s also because of Class Conflict.  And, Marx was a very great man too.  Evolutionary Psychology suffers from the same defects as Freudianism, Marxism, and Astrology.

Many valid criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology can be found on the Internet.  In the next edition of this paper, I will list a few URLs.  But, primarily, the difficulty is that, although it can explain many past events by extremely plausible storytelling, it cannot predict.  Moreover, it cannot prove that the stories it tells about past events had to come out the way they did because of some intrinsic scientific principle that belongs to Evolutionary Psychology.  One cannot build a science on epidemiological evidence without establishing the mechanisms that connect evolutionary causes to psychological effects.  Even if this could be done, evolutionary psychologists would be a long way from showing that Human Psychology inevitably leads to unique Human Behavior.  And, even if that could be done, the connection between Human Behavior (or Human Nature) and Social Change is impossible to establish because Social Change is effected normally by a few individuals working or writing independently; and these individuals are precisely those who exhibit deviations from Human Nature – just as mutants affect the evolution of the species.


Thus, some people do not believe further human social progress is possible because our genes, which affect our natures adversely, have evolved in such a way that we are psychologically indisposed to accept or live in a world where wealth is shared without distinction of any kind and each adult human being governs himself and no one else save his own children, in short, a world of mother and fathers and brothers and sisters living in harmony with Nature and with each other.  These people have been imposed upon egregiously by corrupt intellectuals who have themselves been similarly imposed upon for over a century and a half by ruling classes and other conservatives most of whom have vanished from the face of the Earth.  The purpose of this anti-communist propaganda has been to prevent any form of social justice, economic equity, or personal freedom from arising out of the ashes of American-style capitalism, which is the only form of capitalism possible.  Once Pandora’s Box is opened it cannot be closed.  It can only be dematerialized.  (Please see Chapter 9 of On the Preservation of Species.)  It is to these victims of evolutionary psychology that the next paragraph is addressed.

If one thing happens, you’ll say it was inevitable because of Human Nature.  If the other thing happens, you’ll say the same.  You are not more scientific than astrologers.  But, astrology started out to be the rudimentary beginning of a science too before it became what it is today, an ordinary con game.  Some things will not go on as they have ‘always’ gone on, and one of these is industrial capitalism with its economic progress in the materialistic sense.  But, some things will go on as they always have gone on, and one of these is change itself.  You can think of reasons why change to a better world, as described in the last paragraph, cannot occur because of Human Nature.  I can think of reasons why the preceding change, from Feudalism to Constitutional Democracy, say, could not happen because of Human Nature.  But, it did.  Genes are not political philosophers.

Houston, Texas

August 9, 2005