in ,

The Illusion of Democracy: The Thin Line Between Democracy and Manipulation

How Politicians Borrowed from Business Playbooks

In the pursuit of power, politicians have long been known to employ various tactics to win over the hearts and minds of the masses. But in recent decades, a new weapon has emerged in the political arsenal – techniques borrowed from the business world, specifically the realm of marketing and public relations. The likes of New Labour with Tony Blair and the Democrats led by Bill Clinton, influenced by figures like Matthew Freud and his relation Edward Bernays, have embraced these tactics with gusto, using them to shape policies and manipulate the innermost desires of the public. However, what may have been touted as a new form of democracy that responds to individual feelings and needs, may actually be a sophisticated strategy to exert control over the unsuspecting masses.

focus groups

One of the key techniques adopted by politicians is the use of focus groups, originally invented by psychoanalysts. These groups are carefully curated to represent a cross-section of the population, and are subjected to controlled discussions where their opinions and emotions are probed and analyzed. Politicians then use the insights gleaned from these focus groups to tailor their policies and messages in a way that resonates with the desires and fears of the public, just as businesses do with their products. It’s like a sinister version of market research, where politicians act as puppet masters, pulling the strings of public opinion to suit their agenda.

But is this really democracy in action, or is it a cleverly disguised form of manipulation? The truth is that politicians have become adept at exploiting the vulnerabilities of human psychology to sway public opinion. They tap into people’s emotions, fears, and aspirations, manipulating them to their advantage. It’s a dangerous game, where the public becomes mere pawns in the pursuit of power.

Public Relations aka Ministry Of Propaganda

Matthew Freud, a prominent figure in the British public relations and marketing world, has been one of the stars of this new culture of political manipulation. Following in the footsteps of his relation, Edward Bernays, who is credited with inventing public relations in the 1920s, Freud has used his skills to shape public perception and influence political outcomes. Just like a magician waving his wand, Freud weaves a web of words and imagery to create a carefully crafted narrative that captivates the public’s imagination and sways their opinions. But beneath the glitz and glamour of these PR campaigns lies a darker truth – the manipulation of people’s innermost desires and feelings to serve the interests of those in power.

The politicians who employ these techniques may believe that they are creating a new and improved form of democracy that caters to the needs of the individual. They may argue that by understanding the innermost desires of the public, they are better equipped to serve their interests. But what they fail to realize is that the original intent of these techniques was not to liberate people, but to control them. The architects of these methods saw them as tools to influence and manipulate the masses for their own gain.

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Just like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, these political tactics may appear harmless on the surface, but underneath lies a dangerous truth – the erosion of true democracy. The public is reduced to mere consumers of political products, carefully packaged and marketed to suit the agenda of those in power. The lines between politics, business, and journalism blur as public relations and marketing techniques become the norm in shaping public discourse.

As we reflect on the rise of focus groups, public relations, and marketing in politics, let us not forget the dark origins of these techniques. They were not born out of a genuine desire to empower individuals, but rather as tools of control and manipulation. It’s time to question the ethics of employing such tactics in the realm of politics, where the stakes are high and the consequences far-reaching.

In the end, the true essence of democracy lies in the collective voice of the people, not in the calculated machinations of marketing and public relations experts. We must strive for a democracy that is based on genuine engagement, open discourse, and the unbiased representation of diverse perspectives. It’s time to shed the cloak of political manipulation and reclaim the true spirit of democracy – one that serves the people, not those who seek to control them.


In a world where politicians have turned to the same techniques used by businesses to manipulate the inner desires of the masses, it’s our responsibility as citizens and journalists to shine a light on the dark art of political manipulation. Let us be vigilant in questioning the motives behind the strategies employed by politicians, and let us demand a democracy that is truly for the people, by the people, and of the people.

So, the next time you hear of a political focus group or witness a carefully crafted PR campaign, remember the true origins of these techniques and the potential for manipulation. Let us strive for a democracy that transcends the influence of marketing and public relations, and instead fosters genuine engagement, transparency, and accountability. It’s time to break free from the shackles of political manipulation and uphold the true ideals of democracy for the betterment of society as a whole.


What do you think?

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments