“Modify the standards of the in-group”: On Jews and Mass Communications — Part Two of Two

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“Millions of leaflets, pamphlets, cartoons, comic books, articles
and more recently radio and movie scripts — have been produced and disseminated in the propaganda war.”  Samuel H. Flowerman, Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry, 1947.[1]

The Protocols of Samuel H. Flowerman

Samuel H. Flowerman, as Research Director at the American Jewish Committee, as colleague of the Institute for Social Research, and as a kind of hub for the expansive Jewish clique of mass communications scholars, was at the center of the drive to put Jewish “opinion research” initiatives into practical action. The clearest articulation of what this practical action would look like was articulated in his 1947 essay, “Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry.” Flowerman’s foremost concern was that, although millions of dollars were being spent by organisations like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League on propaganda, propaganda may not by itself be sufficient for the mass transformation of values in the host population — in particular, for the weakening of its ethnocentrism.

Flowerman begins by explaining the format and extent of existing efforts: “Millions of leaflets, pamphlets, cartoons, comic books, articles — and more recently radio and movie scripts — have been produced and disseminated in the propaganda war (429).” Flowerman’s use of the language of warfare is of course interesting in itself and will be discussed further below. For now, we should focus on what Flowerman lists as the five aims of the “propaganda war”:

1. “The restructuring of the attitudes of prejudiced individuals, or at least their neutralization.”
2. “The restructuring of group values toward intolerance.”
3. “The reinforcement of attitudes of those already committed to a democratic ideology perhaps by creating an illusion of universality or victory.”
4. “The continued neutralisation of those whose attitudes are yet unstructured and who are deemed “safer” if they remain immune to symbols of bias.”
5. “Off-setting the counter-symbols of intolerance.” (429)

Flowerman concedes that the level of work and control required to achieve these aims would be extensive, and that the project was highly ambitious, seeking nothing less than “successful mass persuasion in the field of intergroup relations (429).” But he is equally clear in the conditions required for such success.

Flowerman’s first condition is “control by pro-tolerance groups or individuals of the channels of mass communication.” (430) Since Flowerman’s entire context of “pro-tolerance” activism was essentially Jewish, we may assume he is strongly implying that the channels of mass communication should fall into Jewish hands. Since “control” in Flowerman’s phrasing is not qualified, and since many newspapers, radio stations, and movie production companies were already in the hands of “pro-tolerance” Jews, the implication is also present that this control should be absolute. In addition, notes Flowerman, total control of these channels may still not be sufficient in itself. The host population will still need to be exposed to the productions of mass communications, and this was to be assured via “force, commercial monopoly, and/or crisis (designed or accidental).” (430) Only then would ‘pro-tolerance’ forces see “the persuasive devices and techniques of the elite playing upon the susceptibilities of the manipulated.” (430) Flowerman closes here with reference to Erich Fromm’s theory that people have “a desire
to be controlled.”

The second of Flowerman’s conditions for “successful mass persuasion in the field of intergroup relations” is saturation. This condition, like that of control and monopoly of the channels of mass communication, is intended as absolute. In other words, the message of “pro-tolerance” was to be ubiquitous and all-pervasive — beyond what was possible in 1947 and probably beyond what could even be conceptualized in 1947. In Flowerman’s words: “In addition to the large sums of money currently being expended on tolerance propaganda, significantly greater sums would probably be needed to achieve the degree of saturation — as yet hypothetical — required.” (430) The general idea here is to increase the “flow of pro-tolerance symbols” as a proportion of “the total stream of communications.”

In November 1946, a three-day convention, partly organized by Flowerman, was held in New York, bringing together “experts in the general field of public relations, including advertising, direct mail, film, radio, and press; professional workers on the staff of national and local agencies specifically concerned with fighting group discrimination; and social scientists from the universities and national defense agencies.”[2] Jews, of course, dominated all of these areas, and the list of attendees included the previously mentioned figures Bruno Bettelheim, Sol Ginsburg, Hertha Herzog (radio research director of McCann-Erickson, Inc.), Julius Schreiber, Paul Lazarsfeld, Joseph Goldsen, and Morris Janowitz. One of the findings of the mass communications scholars present at the convention was that even control and saturation may not be sufficient to ensure a transformation of opinions and values in the demographic majority. This was the case when the propaganda encountered particularly strong-minded individuals, or when the propaganda got lost in the overall stream of communications that one encounters in the course of everyday life. Flowerman thus writes with frustration that “we are developing a nation of individuals who work, worry, love, and play while news commentators, comedians, opera companies, symphony orchestras, and swing bands are broadcasting. This continuous onslaught for ‘something for everyone’ results in a kind of ‘radio deafness.’” (431) In order to overcome this obstacle, Flowerman returns to a key aspect of his first condition — the use of crisis (he writes that this can be “designed or accidental”) to focus attention on delivered propaganda. Flowerman writes:

As for overcoming the ‘radio deafness’ to commercial announcements and the general atmosphere of make-believe of radio entertainment, only symbols associated with acute crisis would seem to have a chance. For the great bulk of American people racial and religious intolerance is not regarded as a critical situation. … The absence of critical stress serves to diminish levels of attention to pro-tolerance symbols. (431)

Practical contemporary examples of what this tactic might look light would be the ubiquity of pro-diversity propaganda in the aftermath of Islamic attacks, Charlottesville, school shootings, moral panics about racism, ADL hype about the ever-present threat of anti-Semitism, murders by immigrants, and migrant drownings in the Mediterranean. The point here is that regardless of context, “crisis” is to be manufactured into almost every situation in order to focus attention on the real goal — the successful delivery of “pro-tolerance” messages, even (or especially) in circumstances in which tolerance has proven deadly, to the host population. Jews or, in the more ambiguous phrasing, “the agents of pro-tolerance,” would thus need to achieve (in Flowerman’s own words) the ambitious trifecta of “control, saturation, crisis.” (432) Crisis is therefore Flowerman’s third condition.

The fourth condition is the achievement of an alteration of predispositions in the individual via modification of their surroundings and peer pressure. Here Flowerman argues that “pro-tolerance” propaganda should not rely on intellectual means but instead on “social perception, which is affected by the predispositions of the audience. In turn, these dispositions are affect-laden attitudes which may have been produced by parents, teachers, playmates, etc.” (432)

The point here is that Flowerman and the mass communications clique believed that their propaganda would be better received by the masses if the psychological context of reception was itself changed. In other words, people raised in the demographic majority who are imbued with a sense of communal pride, social responsibility, cultural achievement, and national purpose are unlikely to be predisposed to be receptive to messages on behalf of outsiders. Some intervention in peer interactions and peer culture was thus necessary in order to break up such an obstacle to the reception of “pro-tolerance” propaganda. As just one example, we return here to Flowerman’s 1950 article for New York Times Magazine in which he argues for the training of teachers “as engineers of human relations instead of instructors of arithmetic and spelling.”[3] Children can thus “engineered” to be more receptive to “pro-tolerance” propaganda in adulthood.

This condition bleeds into the fifth — the manipulation of the basic instinct of humans to conform to group standards. Flowerman writes:

Consciously or unconsciously, individuals use group frames of reference in social situations even when they are physically separated from the group. … The strength of group sanctions is a potent force to reckon with even for an individual with a strong ego. … It would appear, then, that to be successful mass propaganda on behalf of out-groups would have to modify the standards of the in-group. … Mass pro-tolerance propaganda, to be successful, would have to change such values, which would be difficult to imagine without control, saturation, crisis, etc. (432)

What Flowerman is proposing here is essentially a revolution in values, after which a politically correct culture emerges where the demographic majority becomes self-policing and antagonistic to its own ethnic interests. In this environment — achieved via “control, saturation, crisis”— the strength of group sanctions among the White American in-group is directed towards manifestations of in-group ethnocentrism instead of outsiders. It’s nothing less than a proposal for the cultivation of White guilt and pathological altruism, and the diminishment of White ethnocentrism and cultural pride.

The sixth condition is the cultivation of influential figures on behalf of the “pro-tolerance” agenda. This required great subtlety. Flowerman writes that the research of his mass communications colleagues and co-ethics shows the targets of their propaganda:

are willing to assign to some individuals a stamp of approval which they deny to others … We know that many leaflets written and endorsed by popular heroes and accepted even by prejudiced individuals are often dismissed on the ground that they are being distributed by minority groups in their own self-interest. Many prejudiced individuals cannot conceive of such distribution by dominant groups. (433)

What Flowerman is here complaining of is the fact that some members of the demographic majority are perceptive enough to accurately point out the real origin of “pro-tolerance” propaganda, and to dismiss it on those grounds. By “minority groups,” the coy Mr Flowerman of course means Jews. He then cites a specific case:

In an experiment being conducted at the University of Chicago by Bettelheim, Shils, and Janowitz, veterans were exposed to pro-tolerance propaganda including a cartoon by Bill Mauldin. A prejudiced respondent, sharing the general esteem in which this popular soldier-cartoonist is held by ex-GI’s, said that he had regarded Mauldin as a “regular guy” but he supposed that if you paid a man enough you could get him to do anything; this respondent believed that the material he saw was being distributed by “a bunch of New York communists.” (433)

Thus we see the pathologisation of a veteran because he perceived with stunning accuracy the hand of subversion behind the use of a popular icon to promote an agenda entirely alien to his interests. Despite exceptions such as this veteran, the overall susceptibility of the masses was deemed sufficiently high for the strategy of “sponsorship” to be progressed. As a result, reports Flowerman,

propagandists, recognising the need for impeccable sources of authority, are producing material endorsed by popular heroes in sports, entertainment, and in the armed forces. Recently a plan has been developed to promote the insertion of full-page newspaper advertisements paid for and sponsored by “respectable” local business organizations. The effect of this campaign will have to be determined. (433)

Developed alongside his colleagues in the Institute for Social Research and the mass communications clique, these, then, are Flowerman’s six conditions for a radical transformation of values in the White American demographic majority:

1) Control of the channels of mass communications;
2) Saturation with Pro-tolerance messages;
3) Crisis, designed or accidental;
4) Diminishment of Cultural Pride and Self-esteem;
5) Cultivation of Self-Punishment and Group Self-Sanctioning;
6) Sponsorship of willing dupes or traitors.

Although these six conditions form most of the body of “Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry,” Flowerman also spends some time discussing the ideal content of “pro-tolerance” propaganda. In this regard, he comments:

The most striking feature, the spearhead, of propaganda, is the slogan. … Current pro-tolerance or anti-intolerance slogans urge unity and amity, warn against being divided by differences of race and religion, describe our common origin as immigrants to these shores, remove myths about racial differences, and denounce bigots and bigotry. Some popular slogans are: Don’t be a Sucker!, Americans All – Immigrants All, All Races and All Creeds Working Together etc.

Don’t Be A Sucker! was the name of a wartime film produced by the Army Signals Corps at a time when it was working heavily alongside Jewish Hollywood executives and script writers; its film production center was headed by Col. Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Cohen.[4] According to Wikipedia, the film:

has anti-racist and anti-fascist themes, and was made to educate viewers about prejudice and discrimination. The film was also made to make the case for the desegregation of the United States armed forces. An American who has been listening to a racist and bigoted rabble-rouser, who is preaching hate speech against ethnic and religious minorities and immigrants, is warned off by a naturalized Hungarian immigrant, possibly a Holocaust survivor or escapee, who explains to him how such rhetoric and demagogy allowed the Nazis to rise to power in Weimar Germany, and warns Americans not to fall for similar demagogy propagated by American racists and bigots. In August 2017 the short film went viral on the internet in the aftermath of the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and various copies have been uploaded to video sharing sites in the past year.

Flowerman was dissatisfied with the slogans of his time, however, believing them to be too “general in nature, vague as to goals, and unspecific as to methods.” (434) He believed that merely defining fascism as the enemy was insufficient because, at that time, the host population believed “fascism was strictly a foreign phenomenon characteristic particularly of Nazi Germany.” Propaganda depicting fascism as the enemy was therefore going to be ineffective in making the host population see its own values as oppositional and requiring destruction. Referring to works like The Authoritarian Personality, Flowerman writes: “Studies abound in which subjects subscribed to tenets of fascism although they rejected the fascist label itself. The pervasiveness of prejudice in so many individuals makes it difficult to set up a real enemy.” (434) He acknowledges that “in much anti-intolerance propaganda” the enemy is defined as “white, native-born Protestants,” but makes it clear that he wishes this to be expanded “for logical and psychological reasons.” One gets the impression that “Diversity is our Strength” and “Fight Hate” would have been much to his satisfaction.


We now find ourselves returning to our point of departure. “The whole story is transparently barmy,” said the Guardian’s Jason Wilson when discussing “conspiracy theories” about Cultural Marxism. Consider again what he says this “conspiracy theory” amounts to:

The vogue for the ideas of theorists like Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno in the 1960s counterculture culminated with their acolytes’ occupation of the commanding heights of the most important cultural institutions, from universities to Hollywood studios. There, the conspiracy says, they promoted and even enforced ideas which were intended to destroy traditional Christian values and overthrow free enterprise: feminism, multiculturalism, gay rights and atheism. And this, apparently, is where political correctness came from. I promise you: this is what they really think … The theory of cultural Marxism is also blatantly antisemitic, drawing on the idea of Jews as a fifth column bringing down western civilisation from within, a racist trope that has a longer history than Marxism.

In light of the facts addressed in this essay, such a theory would seem thoroughly borne out, with the only required alterations being that the process started before the 1960s and involved many more figures than the staff of the Institute for Social Research. The problem with people like Wilson is that they are proof of the very ‘conspiracy theory’ they refute. Raised in a controlled media, saturated with pro-tolerance propaganda, psychologically blasted with crisis after crisis, stripped of cultural pride, consumed by White guilt, and influenced by purchased “sponsors,” he is the perfectly gullible product of the protocols of Samuel H. Flowerman and the mass communications clique.

Not barmy, but more or less ridiculous, Wilson becomes an intellectual pygmy biting at the heels of his betters — those who, like the veteran in the study of Bettelheim, Shils, and Janowitz, see the true origin of the propaganda and are pathologized for their perceptivity.

[1] Flowerman, S. H., “Mass propaganda in the war against bigotry,” The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 42(4), (1947) 429-439.

[2] S.H. Flowerman and M. Jahoda, “The study of man – can prejudice be fought scientifically?” Commentary, Dec., 1946.

[3] S. H. Flowerman, “Portrait of the Authoritarian Man,” New York Times Magazine, April 23 1950, 31.

[4] See for example, Richard Koszarski, “Subway Commandos: Hollywood Filmmakers at the Signal Corps Photographic Center,” Film History Vol. 14, No. 3/4, (2002), 296-315.

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