The American Public Mind

The American Public Mind

The American Public Mind

The American Public Mind

Excerpt

Why do we behave like Americans? Whence come our ideas and ideals? What are the forces which mold our minds? Is the family bankrupt, the Church decrepit? Who controls our schools, and what do they teach? What newspapers and books do we read, and how do they influence our behavior? Are the movies and the radio enervating or elevating? Do our political parties adequately represent our opinions on public questions? If not, why do they endure? What function, if any, do lobbyists perform? Are we helpless victims of high-pressure advertising and propaganda? Is there an American Public Mind, and where is it to be found? These are questions which the following pages attempt in part to answer.

"The private citizen today has come to feel rather like a deaf spectator in the back row," says Walter Lippmann. "[Public affairs] are managed, if they are managed at all, at distant centers, from behind the scenes, by unnamed powers." What are these powers, and whose are the invisible hands pulling the strings which make the puppet public dance?

There has been an excess of laudation and lampooning of the public. It is a far cry from Aristotle's belief in the divine wisdom of collective humanity to the cruel cynicism of George Moore, who assures us that "Humanity is a pigsty, where liars, hypocrites, and the obscene in spirit congregate." Public opinion has been called the "voice of . . .

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