Rule from the Shadows: The Psychology of Power

Ratings: 8.61/10 from 436 users.


Rule from the Shadows: The Psychology of Power

The pursuit for dominance is the primary propellant of history, always has been, always will be. Those who don't identify this assumption are not excused in the grand chess game, but instead are displaced and exploited by forces they do not comprehend.

From the aspect of those who rule the board it is unmistakably desirable to have a populace of unaware pawns than it is to have a bunch of adversaries who can escalate an effective battle. To that end it has always been preferable for the rulers to build up illusions which conceal the true nature of the game.

Walter Lippmann explained the "manufacture of consent" as an innovation in the usage of democracy. Basically it's a method of domination, and he said this was beneficial and essential because the prevailing interests, the accepted concerns of the population elude the public. Lippmann wasn't theorizing, nor was he explaining anomaly that he had observed from far away, he was part of that particular class and he directly affected the evolution of this new method of control.

So what was this new method that Lippmann was alluding to? The answer to that inquiry takes us back to the dawn of World War I. In 1917 Woodrow Wilson assembled the Committee on Public Information, also known as the CPI. It was a disinformation bureau and its goal was to boost war approval among the American people. The CPI, controlled by a man named George Creel, was known for its vulgar approach, blatant overstatements and outright deceptions.

However one representative of the CPI, Edward Bernays, had a much more sophisticated approach. Instead of using nonintellectual tactics Bernays analyzed the psychology of the American people, then according to his scrutiny he conceived a campaign to advocate the idea that America's function in the war was to: "make the world safe for democracy."

More great documentaries

58 Comments / User Reviews

  1. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    Great doc!

    The Milgram experiment really illustrates
    our general level of complacency.

    Interested in corrupt social psychologies?
    Youtube: Activism of Care
    550+ 15min talks!

  2. Rodney Bresch

    Keep up the good work to the makers of this doc "series", and to the uploaders.

    I think it's been safe to say. I love this website.

  3. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    TDF is front and center on my bookmarks tab!

    In fact I've even concidered an "I love TDF(with logo)" tee shirt... seriously!

  4. bringmeredwine

    Well, it's only my second cup of coffee this morning and I'm all riled up about the CFR and it's cast of characters.
    Some very disturbing images too, so be warned.

  5. Alan

    The Kennedy speech was not about secret societies; it was about the Soviet Union, which even the most basic research would reveal. The director chose to toe the party line of conspiracy theorists. When things like this crop up in "truth-revealing" documentaries, I get skeptical. Some good elements though; worth watching, especially if you never heard of the CFR. Richard Perle goes unmentioned?

  6. Michael Jay Burns

    If, as Edward Bernays says,:

    "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society."

    how can such a society be called "democratic" at all?

  7. Jeremy

    I agree. It's a shame that the creator of this doc failed to mention this.

    There's always the possibility Kennedy could've been talking about this secret group, but the fact is he spoke that quote in a speech about the Soviet Union. Why not leave that decision to be made by the viewers, rather than cram it down their throats?

    Besides that, this did have some very intriguing information, and I plan on reading some of Bernay's books in the future

  8. jaberwokky

    Shhhhhh, you are ruining the atmosphere. First rule of JFK was talking about the soviets club is you don't mention JFK was talking about the soviets.

  9. jaberwokky

    I'll buy one! As long as it's not pink I'll buy one!

  10. Fabien L'Amour

    It's just an example of what the documentary is about : manipulation of the opinion of the masses...

  11. Fabien L'Amour

    It's a representative democracy. In such a system, politicians will try any trick in the book to convince you to give them their vote and have you act in a way that will support their agenda.

  12. jaberwokky

    Hmmm, interesting I suppose, although the Adam Curtis series he references near the start is much better. I'd like to know the full context of that clip where Hillary Clinton is talking to a CFR crowd.

  13. a_no_n

    just fling it in the wash with a blue shirt and you'll be fine.

  14. NX2

    There will be manipulation.
    But if there are a group of people ruling from behind a veil, i don't know, there might be an attempt, but i don't find it very likely.
    However, if there is a ruling from within a shadow, it's probably our own.
    An Interesting documentary non the less.

  15. DeckHazen

    ...and was Woodrow Wilson also talking about the Soviet Union in the first quote of this movie? I hear De Nile is nice this time of year. Does anyone have proof of Kennedy's intent?

  16. dewflirt

    Boy with an echo mic sits in a bucket and tells you things you've heard before. Need better armour than that to defend yourself from the NWO. The trouble I see with films like this is that they get people angry at the wrong things and in the wrong way. It's just not possible to dismantle and rebuild an engine with a lump hammer, you need a plan and a spanner. And probably some other tools too, I'm no engineer so best just to ignore me actually. In the meantime, hopefully we can topple parliament by grumbling at the TV and sighing loudly.... could be that the winds of change might blow from the mouths of seven billion people. Ok Bucket Boy, rant away and I'll sigh along as i scrub pub toilets for minimum wage Grrrr! Hufffff! ;)

  17. jaberwokky

    Haha. Nicely said :)

  18. Epicurus

    One of the first and most well-known Western uses of the term was in Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, and in a call for a League of Nations following the devastation of World War I. The phrase was used sparingly at the end of World War II when describing the plans for the United Nations and the Bretton Woods system, and partly because of its negative associations with the failed League of Nations. However, many commentators have applied the term retroactively to the order put in place by the World War II victors as a "new world order."

  19. Epicurus

    this video is the problem with people who have just enough information but paint it with their biases.

    Sad really because there is lots of accurate info in here but it is then twisted as some malicious evil plot against everyone.

  20. DeckHazen

    Let's cut to the chase. The question is whether or not there exists an organized group of people that control the major decisions that affect our lives. For the moment, all we can do is speculate since as far as I know no solid evidence has been produced. I believe such a group exists and I believe they are connected to such groups as Bilderberg, the CFR, and a host of others. I believe this is true because the world has turned into such an evil brutish place far from what I hoped it would be as a child and because I don't know anybody that feels much different. Yet somebody has determined our current condition - I don't believe things get this bad by accident.

  21. Toy Pupanbai

    For something to read on the way, take,'The River War'!

  22. Justin Lesniewski

    "hopefully we can topple parliament by grumbling at the TV and sighing loudly.... could be that the winds of change might blow from the mouths of seven billion people."

  23. clernfimmel891

    Man's a herd animal. Socrates said that was what was going to kill him: their hemlock. He took it. Cognitive dissonance is the same thing; why people believe what is not in their self interest. Think about the kind of world you want to leave behind, and think about the end of corporate feudalism and warmongering.

  24. AntiTheist666

    I sort of like and dislike this doc, my spidey senses tell me
    something is out of step here. And that’s not including the deadly dull soundtrack or the poor production (outrageous Zeitgeist rip off), or the irritating graphics, or the wild claims - 11 mins. “Social conformity causes the brain to rewrite our reality” that’s quite a leap from observing brain activity in a contrived test. It might be that I was expecting Nietzsche to feature. I found it a little saccharine sweet, a little too twee. It tasted very empty at the end and had a hollow ring about it.

    It does have some good points. It features Chomsky’s
    “Manufacturing Consent” which is here on this site and well worth a watch. Anything that highlights how easily the masses have tyrannized themselves is good by me. Propaganda is so effective these days that consent is hardly needed, it’s assumed, cajoled or ignored. The really powerful (insert favourite/ most hated power group) don’t give a toss.

  25. veverk

    What's with the shoddy microphone? The narrator sounds like Bubble Boy from Seinfeld.

  26. John Doherty

    Propaganda=Public Relations - brilliant.
    Most people WILL follow the line of least resistance until sufficiently moved by an innate sense of right and wrong. "Obedience" experiments are no longer deemed ethical. Good documentary despite Antithesist666 minor faults. Couldnt read the bullet points AND listen to the voice-over simultaneously - something about my brain function

  27. r. d.


  28. coryn

    Awesome, I've listened to all these 'leaders' and their lies for 60 years now. How many innocent people have to be killed around the world to satisfy them? They know what they've done, however they cover it up and 'sanitize' it, and I hope it haunts them to the grave. 'The Greatest Nation On Earth'???? How bizarre.... real life is so, so much stranger than fiction.......

  29. gwhosubex

    It just rattles off lists and names. no analysis, no depth, no insight.

  30. GeorgeW

    Man, reading some of the comments leave me thinking; there is no "highly organized group using Beranys “Propaganda”, or Alinskys “Rules for Radicals” it ONLY seems that way, by gum…" so I will go back into denial.

    Go pull up a 6 pack for every Saturday sports, and another for Sunday Sports, and wait for the winners in the world to emerge, then wear their colors like a good sheep.

    Be weak my friend, you can always change back when the wind changes direction again… follow the public opinion as you are told it is, and emerge a victor regardless the powers that be.

    Yes, sit on the fence. Just be ready to jump.

    Bernays writings; there is no political power that would use such methods on their electorate, oh no, Bernays was merely theorizing what propaganda could be used for.

    Coryn Below speaks for me when he says "I've listened to all these
    'leaders' and their lies for 60 years now"

    Nothing haschanged in that regard, nothing.

  31. photonblaster

    The best part was in the beginning with the part about the power of the mob mentality to the point where the drive to conform actually changed peoples perception of reality. It really explains this whole 0bama phenomenon .

  32. Junior Sanchez Rivera

    That voice sound filter has to go.

  33. ollie_fin

    It was about the CIA, not Russia.

  34. joseph

    the best documentary I have ever seen, amazing truths, short simple and for the intelligent and the s*upid.

  35. steve whetstone

    Well, of course such a group exists. there's a religion call "The church of Bob" (google it) with thousands of members and it's deliberately mostly nonesense. so a more reasonable group for world control would obviously be imagined and tried by somoene. Whether they actually are in charge and to what extent is debatable. The absence of a public group dedicated to world domination is evidence that the group must be secret.

  36. steve whetstone

    the NYtimes is often mentioned by noted linguist and world famous scholar Noam Chomsky for stories that communicate on two levels. One level for the political class and another level for the public. phrases like "new world order" for example are for the public merely a catchy phrase, but for the political class who know the history and meaning of the phrase "new world order" there's a very specific meaning.

  37. steve whetstone

    It might be noted that assuming this is all true. it might also be a necessary and viable solution to the malthusian trap.

  38. Michael

    Or you could be an absolute sucker and believe every apparent intriguing conspiracy theory that comes your way. In doing so you can play a part in distracting the public from issues that truly matter and leading them into fantasy land concerning asinine conspiracy theories without a shred of actual empirical evidence simply because they are intriguing. Then you can call every person who detracts from your whirlwind obsession with everything that sounds intriguing to you as sheeple. When in reality you are no better than a person who never questions their government. You are simply a person who accepts without critical thought every assertion of negativity towards the government. Believing in a secret cabal makes you a sucker. A secret cabal without a shred of evidence to support its existence. In doing so you fail to realize the actual issues and problems of this world simply because these conspiracies are more intriguing and interesting to your simple mind than actual reality. People like you would make a wonderful case study for a psychologist, but then again he would be working for the NWO, wouldn't he? You are an example of the biggest group of suckers on the planet.

  39. GeorgeW

    Timely reply Michael.
    I just watched an entire weekend of "Ancient Aliens", back to back to back, and it has changed the way I see the world, and who REALLY is in control.
    The NWO is, like you say, just an illusion. It is actually the OWO.
    What we are actually facing is the same group of aliens who were here to build the Pyramids, amongst other inexplicable ancient structures. Their real purpose here was to mine gold, which was shipped back home.
    Once they got the low hanging fruit, they left us, their slaves, to grow wild. They did leave the "Shadow Rulers", the offspring of them mating with humans.
    Their incredible intelligence is passed on to the males, females carry only human females genetics.
    The reason their numbers remain small is that 99% of their offspring are unable to reproduce.
    They remain unseen, and no one dares to question them or they face very severe consequences. (its only in the mind, not physical)
    We have reached a crossroads though. Some of their genes have made it into the human Genome and the resulting increase in human intelligence has us waking up.
    That is why there is so much turmoil on Earth right now.
    So, if you got this far Michael, I would like you to make up another story for me, but this time based on this reply to you.
    I was totally intrigued by your reply today, and look forward to further analysis.

  40. KillCaliber

    He has to because of the revealing information he and his team put out for the public. I don't think he would last long if the governments and corporations knew who he and his team are.

  41. KillCaliber

    He has to because of the revealing information he and his team put out for the public. I don't think he would last long if the governments and corporations knew who he and his team are

  42. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    blue + pink = purple?

    I'd rather pink than purple...

  43. a_no_n

    The imperial purple makes the best shroud - Empress Theodora. ;)

  44. veverk

    It sounds like the guy recorded himself talking in a toilet cubicle...amateurish and annoying

  45. gefafwisp

    Bernays is quoted as the father of public relations. Perhaps the creators of this doco could learn a thing or two from that particular school of thought. Despite the fact that the creators appeared to back up their opinions with credible evidence (I don't have the time or enthusiasm to examine their sources in depth) the fact is that this whole video has the vibe of a conspiracy theory program and that instantly turned me off. If you want to reach people who aren't convinced Obama is trying to steal their sperm, turn the voice modulator off and tone it down a little bit. Also the whole thing is so sped up that I don't have time to really process what I'm hearing. Possibly its own form of propaganda?


    the simple fact of this/y.our control matrix is the legal name fraud/slaves. we want to/feel so smart that its got to be more complex than this. show me your papers is ubiquitous with 99% of beings on earth. just ask yourself one simple question - are you a living conscience being or a dead legull.ible fictional 'person' (another zombie). this Truth will set you free again... lose the name . com and have a nice day.

  47. Charles Peden

    No. Another attempt at selling you a conspiracy theory. It jumps around and instead of continuing with Bernays and public starts going off on a tangent that left me shaking my head. Irrational and severely over-rated.

  48. anthony

    All is required is a small jump to freedom and real democracy, people in
    power as the peoples representatives listening and willing to stand
    with us the people. I am 40 i have a lovely wife and three children that
    are heading into slavery as i was sold the idea that you get a job work
    hard and retire then live a few more years then die. Happy with that
    are you bloke NO way. I will stand by you in any real democracy
    will you stand by me? Would we work for the betterment of the people
    that place their trust in us or will we full our pockets with dirty
    money and look after only our mates ?? that are also fulling their

    I have read all of the comments and this is exactly the divide, and rule that we have today confusion rains and the few rule and enslave. thank you edward snowden and fellow fight backers of the real people.

  49. Bender

    Lot's of people with really judgmental comments. I would love to see some of your work...oh wait, you don't produce documentaries. You are quite the expert in something that you have never taken part in creating. I thought it was a very interesting film, I did not care much for the "old timey" overlay, but, then again it's not a big deal. I am just happy that I don't have to watch something about dolphins or vagina's. Side note, I love the word "conspiracy" people toss it around like they actually know what the hell is going on. They rave about evidence and have none themselves. If you want to get to the brass tax of things, scientifically speaking you cannot even prove anything exists beyond your own mind. (phaneron) So go suck eggs figments of my imagination.

  50. Adele

    Hi I know you posted this ages ago but I'd like to comment :) The thing about critical thinking is, to get to the zero point, you must strip away your bias (which could be your tendency to be drawn to this type of stimuli) and view the idea as something neutral - being cautious of what you are viewing which is good. Everything is propaganda in the sense that everybody has an agenda, which can be either non-harmful or harmful and that has been programmed since the beginning of our conscious mind by experience determined by the outcomes of the pathways we have chosen to take and the results of that pathway, more inclined to repeat what we define as a positive outcome. Then you must try to strip away the remaining bias - the part that is still having an opinion, which is the hardest part of all. It's dehumanizing yourself in an attempt to understand the world around you in a dissociated state. I don't agree with either of you in a broad sense, but you seem easier to talk to about not believing everything you see/hear. It's just that last step you might be missing to get a real perspective of the world. As always, I could be the wrong one. There is no way of knowing for sure. It's a weird way to go about it, but you'll find with the act of questioning the thoughts you have, you are in a better mind to question the thoughts and theories that other people have and in trying to disprove them without bias, you can find out some pretty cool things. That's the problem though, you can never tell if you have bias because it's who we are and we can't know how to understand what it is to be without it. Yeah. And if you reply I don't have an account so I'm sorry I have to just leave it.

    That's pretty much it, as always, I could be wrong :) -Adele

  51. ProudinUS

    All life form, humans included, have survived on one universal trait, 'survival of the fittest'. Whether it's from a physical, emotional, or mental way of doing it.

  52. Hodd

    You do realize this phrase was coined to describe economic theory? Not to mention that if you're going to try and reduce "survival" down to a simple phrase while ignoring the almost infinite number of variables one should consider in the always evolving process of survival, you will be wrong every time.

    Contrary to your claim, many species rely on cooperation in order to survive. Humans and their social nature included.

  53. ProudinUS

    It's still revolves around the same concept of survival at any cost/ survival of the fittest. Economics, health, mental state, these all are/ can be manipulated. Mental state being the number 1 tool. A 'weeding out' for what the powers may be' consider a threat to society, or unfit to socialize in their version of what normal folks should be.

  54. ProudinUS

    Name one organism, that doesn't in one shape or form, rely on survival of the fittest as to it's survival? All life revolves around it.

  55. deed

    Watched the first 5 minutes before the echoing voice got to me. Sounds like another tin foil hat film anyways.

  56. metanoic

    The echo voice was definitely a bad call but it's not that bad. I thought the first 20-30 minutes of the film were good but much too similar to 'Century of the Self' by Adam Curtis. After that I thought the film lost direction. While it presented some interesting information it struggled to connect this information to the main theme. You won't regret watching this but if you only watch one film on psychological control make it 'Century of the Self'.

  57. Hodd

    This strikes me as incoherent actually. Humans organize themselves in a cooperative manner in societies so I don't see how "survival of the fittest" has anything to do with it other than the reference to the neurotic greed game. It's an overly simplistic way to try and analyze these things imo.

    So what's your point anyway? You've reduced all understanding to survival of the fittest, so what does that mean to how you behave in life? Is everyone a threat? Trust no one? What does this ultimately say in your mind?

  58. Kay

    I like the content of this documentary, but the quality and delivery takes a lot away from it. For one, the narrator speaks too quickly. Instead of trying to squeeze all that content in half an hour, either present a deeper analysis, or take more time. Secondly, in the end, the narrator mentions a list of books and authors, without writing these on the screen. The average human mind cannot remember all that info, presented at that is better to list the titles and authors so that the viewers can read them.
    I watched Century of The Self before this, and I found the delivery much better and more memorable. I actually learnt something. Here, there is a lot to learn, but it needs to be condensed a bit more, and the agenda of the producers need not be too obvious.
    All in all, great content, but delivery can improve a lot.

Leave a comment / review: