Thought control can be described in the context of "black and white". This is called a "demand for purity." It divides the "world of experience into two (formatory)": pure versus impure, absolutely good versus absolutely evil, us versus them, and so forth. "Everything contributing to the state of 'impurity/evil/them' must be searched out and eliminated." This also "creates [an] environment of guilt and shame."
Thought control can be accomplished by "providing people with a vocabulary, a loaded language that constricts rather than broadens understanding." This can be seen in the examples listed below which have been repeated constantly by President George W. Bush and members of the Bush administration since the events of September 11, 2001.
"Thought control also discounts alternate belief systems and prevents questioning of the leader, doctrine or policy." It differs from groupthink in that in groupthink alternatives are overlooked or simply not taken into consideration. Groupthink is also when "people seek unanimous agreement in spite of contrary facts pointing to another conclusion." Thought control is imposed.
Thought control is frequently equated with brainwashing, a concept involving a lack of compunction regarding deceiving people and commonly associated with psyops, cults, mind control, and media control.
Thought control can involve the control of all of a person's or a group's "communication with the outside (all that he sees and hears, reads and writes, experiences, and expresses), but also in its penetration of his inner life over what may be called his communication with himself; creates an atmosphere uncomfortably reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984." Again, in reference to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the general public experience and imprint of the events have been accomplished through a constant blanket of media control.
Examples of "thought control"
Recent examples of words and phrases, that is "loaded language" used for "thought control" as well as to promote "groupthink", come from the numerous speeches made by President Bush regarding the motives and motivation of terrorists and the war on terrorism allegedly connected to not only the events of September 11, 2001, but also to subsequent activities. These examples include the repetition -- an incessant litany -- of the following words and phrases:
- Axis of evil (evil)
- cult of evil (evil)
- clear and present danger (evil)
- danger to civilization (evil)
- designs and power of evil (evil)
- enemies of freedom/"enemies of freedom are not idle" (evil)
- evil-doers (evil)
- evil knows no borders, no boundaries (evil)
- evil ones (evil)
- fight against evil (evil)
- freedom-loving people (good)
- innocent victims (good)
- instruments of evil (evil)
- motivated by hate (evil)
- out of evil comes good (evil versus good)
- terrorist cell (evil)
- War on freedom (evil)
- we will not rest/we will not stop/we will not tire (good)
- we're a compassionate nation (good)
- with us or against us (good versus evil)
- why do they hate us? (evil)
Related SourceWatch resources
- adjectives and adverbs
- capture of Saddam Hussein
- conspiracy theory
- political hate speech
- Manufacture of consent
- Neurolinguistic programming
- power of persuasion
- Reckless escalation of adversity
- think tank
- Using fear as a political tool
- weapons of mass destruction
- Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies.
- Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media.
- Robert Jay Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China.
- Jeff Schmidt, Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System that Shapes their Lives (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000). Review by Brian Martin.
- Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Trust Us--We're Experts!
- Thought Control: Unlimited Freedom of Speech, freespeech.org. Numerous links to related articles and web sites.
- Wikipedia: "Edward Bernays": "'If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it,' Bernays argued. He called this scientific technique of opinion molding the 'engineering of consent'."
- Disciplined Minds: Jeff Schmidt details the battle one must fight to be an independent thinker and to pursue one's own social vision in today's corporate society.