Could this quote by Benjamin Franklin be any more applicable to today’s society? People have fallen asleep and are letting themselves be controlled by government either intentionally, or without notice. It has happened very gradually and delivered to us with the kind of words that make it seem beneficial and essential to America-but it’s not.
If we approach the idea of governments in general with the belief that all of them will turn tyrannical if given the opportunity, then we will be in a much better position to fight it off, if it does happen. Unfortunately, it’s happening now and people don’t realize it; those that do will voice their dissatisfaction but not know how to cut through a government with so many levels and non-transparency to eradicate the problem.
Hitler believed that the key to subverting and subjugating his society was to use a propaganda strategy that was popular, appealing to the masses, and “accommodated itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it sought to reach.” This means the propaganda had to be so simple yet effective, that even the dumbest in society would fall prey to it. In first world countries we are more susceptible to constant propaganda in all forms, and if it’s executed in such a way that we are drawn to its simplistic persuasiveness, then propaganda has done its job. Without critical thinking you’re easily trapped-that is why it was necessary for Hitler to have a stupid populace in order for him to carry out his plan. He promised tremendous change for his country. They didn’t realize until the damage was done that change is not always good.
Currently the American government is relying on the same idea: an uninformed nation is an easy target for speaking lies that seem like the truth. People today believe too much of what they hear and don’t do enough research by themselves to find out the validity of claims. Many also form their political views based off of what they see on television or see on social media. This is probably one of the most successful ways of securing an ill-informed voter base-but it is what works in creating the “sheep” Ben Franklin is talking about.
There are many distractions in life in the 21st century. You pick up your phone to check the time and immediately forget what you picked up your phone to do. There are big and small distractions meant to lead people astray, like the press focusing on one event to cover up something else happening behind the scenes. In order to resist tyranny and leaders who would otherwise take advantage of us, we need to be an informed society and not a society that believes propaganda in the form of videos, or any mechanism through which propaganda flows. We have to sift through the false propaganda and get to the truth.
The quote by Ben Franklin is as true today as it was during his time, human nature hasn’t changed, but methods of trickery are always changing. Will Americans continue to be the subjugated sheep or the carefully discerning?