Public Opinion

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<p>PUBLIC OPINIONWalter LippmannWith a New Introduction byMichael CurtisTransaction PublishersNewBrunswick (U.S.A.)andLondon (U.K.),',',..i Bl8UOnLKDUISBUHGf __ 8315Second printing1998Newmaterial this editioncopyright 1991byTransactionPublishers, NewBrunswick, NewJersey08903. Originallypublishedin1992byTheMacmillanCompany. 1922 by Walter Lippmenn.All rightsreservedunder International and Pan-American CopyrightConventions.No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,electronicor mechanical, includingphotocopy, recording, or any informationstor-age and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Allinquiries should be addressed to Transaction Publishers, Rutgers-The State Univer-sity, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903.This book is printedon acid-free paper that meets the American National Standardfor Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials.Libraryof Congress Catalog Number: 97-28875ISBN: 1-56000-999-3Printed in the United States of AmericaLibrary of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataLippmann, Walter, 1889-1974.Public opinion/ Walter Lippmann ; with a newintroduction by Michael Curtis.p. em.Originally published:New York: Macmillan, 1922.Includesbibliographical referencesand index.ISBN1-56000-999-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)1. Public opinion. 2. Publicopinion-United States. 3. Social psychology.4. Social psychology-United States. 5. UnitedStates-Politicsandgovern-ment. I. Title.HM261 1997b303.3'8-dc21 97-28875CIPTOFAYE LIPPMANNHBehold! humanbeings livingin asort ofundergroundden, whichhasamouthopentowardsthelight andreachingall across the den;theyhavebeen. here fromtheir childhood, andhave their legs andnecks chained so thattheycannotmove, and canonlysee before them; forthe chainsare arrangedin sucha manner as to prevent them fromturning roundtheir heads. At adistanceabove andbehindthem the light of a fire is blazing, andbetweenthefireandthe prisoners there isa raised way;andyouwill see, if youlook, alowwall built along the way, likethe screen whichmarionetteplayers havebefore them, over which they show the puppets.I set, he said.Anddoyou see, I said, men passing alongthewall carrying vessels,whichappearover the wall;also figures of menandanimals, madeof woodandstone and variousmaterials; andsome of theprisoners, asyouwouldexpect, are talking, and some of them are silent?This is a strange image,he said, and they are strange prisoners.L-':kt ourselves,I replied; and they seeonly their ownshadows, ortheshadowsof oneanother, which thefire throwsontheoppositewall of thecave?True, he said: how couldtheysee anythingbut the shadows if theywerenever allowed to move their heads?And ofthe objects whichare being carried inlikemanner theywouldseeonlythe shadows?Yes, he said.And~ f theywere able totalkwithoneanother, wouldtheynot supposethattheywere naming what was actuallybefore them ?"-The Republic ofPlato, BookSeven. (Jowett Translation.)CONTENTSINTRODUCTION TO THE TRANSACTION EDITION. xiPART I. INTRODUCTIONChapter Page1. The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads. . . . 3PART n. APPROACHESTO THE WORLD OUTSIDEIl, Censorship and Privacy 35ill. Contract and Opportunity 46IV. Time and Attention. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58V. Speed, Words, and Clearness. . . . . . . . . . . . 64PART ill. STEREOTYPESVI. Stereotypes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79VIT. Stereotypes as Defense ........... 95Vlll. Blind Spots and Their Value 104IX. Codes and Their Enemies. . . . . . . . . . . . . 115X. The Detection of Stereotypes ........... 130PART IV. INTERESTSXI. The Enlistingof Interest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159Xll. Self-Interest Reconsidered. . . . . . . . . . . . . 170PARTV. THE MAKING OF A COMMON WILLXlll, The Transfer of Interest. . . .XIV. Yes or No .XV. Leaders and the Rank and File. .PART VI. THE IMAGE OF DEMOCRACY193220234XVI. The Self-Centered Man. . . . . . . . . . . . 253XVll. The Self-Contained Community. . . . . . . . 263XVIll. The Role of Force, Patronage, and Privilege. . . . . 276XIX. The Old Image in a New Form: Guild Socialism. . 293XX. A New Image. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 310 -rCONTENTSPARTVII. NEWSPAPERSChapterXXI.XXII.xxm,XXIV.PageThe Buying Public. . . . . . . 3 !Th C. . . . . . . 17\e onstant Reader. . . . . . . . . . . . . 328 )'.,:The Nature of News 338[ ~ fNews, Truth, and a Conclusion. . . . . . . . 358INTRODUCTION TO THETRANSACTION EDITIONIThe Entering Wedge. . . . . 369Intelligence Work. . . . . . .. : .. .. : .. .. .. 379The Appeal to the Public. . . . . . . . . . . 398The Appeal to Reason. . . . . . . . . . . . 411PART VllI. ORGANIZED INTELLIGENCEXXVXXVI.XXVII.XXVill.WalterLippmannwasthemost giftedandinfluentialAmerican political journalist of the twentieth century. Overa longlife, 1889-1974, hiswritings flowedin an unend-ing stream, affected by the currents of national and worldeventsas well as by his own intellectual odyssey with itstransmutations in political orientation and conviction.Hisworkstooka varietyof forms-editorialsfor TheNewRepublicandTheWorld, hundreds ofarticles, over20 books, and the syndicated newspaper columns eagerlyread four days a week for 36 years. His enormousoutput,calm, analyticaland dispassionate in character, impresseditself on theconsciousnessnotonlyof the political eliteandinterestedcitizenrybut alsoonpopularculture. Hedidsotosuchanextent that hewasimmortalizedinaNewYorker cartoonin1935 and bya lineinastandardsong by Rodgers and Hart. In magisterial fashion he wrotebothonspecific political anddiplomatic questions andon broader philosophical and ethical issues.Lippmann's remarkableintellect andability was ap-preciated early in his life. As an undergraduate at Harvardhe hadimpressed William James, George Santayana, andtheBritishpolitical scientist GrahamWallas, whodedi-catedhisbook, TheGreatSociety(1914)tohis25 yearoldformer student in acknowledgment of Lippmann'scommentsonhislectures. Hisearlyinfluenceevenex-tended to personal matters in 1917 when he avoided serv-ing in the war after informing the Secretary of War, New-tonD. Baker, that "myfatherisdyingand mymother isabsolutely alone in the world." Inreality, his wealthyfather did not die until 1927, andhe had arestrainedrelationship with his mother.His political influence and impact on policy continuedalmost totheend. Hehelpeddraft theFourteenPointsfor President WoodrowWilsoninJanuary1918, thoughhewas soontocriticizeandexpress hisdisillusionmentover the Treatyof Versailles. Hewrotespeeches for poli-ticiansand delighted in his fameand readycontacts withpresidents fromWilsonon. But though heenjoyed influ-,encing policy,hedidso for the mostpartas the disinter-ested analyst, rather than as an active participant or stalkerof the corridors of power.Not surprisingly, in a career of50 years Lippmannchanged political positions, though without dramatic em-phasis, as well as his modeof intellectual analysis, attrib-utedby hisbiographer Ronald Steel to "intellectual flex-ibility." Like many other intellectuals, early sympathy forFabian socialism and progressivism changed intoundog-maticconservatism, andevenlater toa formof politicalskepticism. Supportof PresidentRoosevelt'sNewDealsoonbecameunenthusiasticandthen ended after threeyears. Early advocacy of the significance of Anglo-Ameri-can power as the foundation for alastingpeace afterWorldWar I changedtoadeepbelief inthe need forsettlement, notconfrontation, and to criticism of what heconsidered to be American adventurism and involvement,especially in Vietnam.Lippmann was intellectually courageous and forthrightinalltheissues withwhichhedealt, except perhapshisown Jewish heritage. In this regard he was a fullyassimi-1ated butself-denying Jew who deliberately wrotealmostnothingonthe subject after a1922article whichhewrotethat "sharptradingandblatant vulgar.Ityaremoreconspicuous intheJewbecause heIS con-spicuous."Herejectedin1921"theZIonIstcall hehadnosenseofbelongingto theChosenPeople an.dwas concerned about dual allegiance. He supported dent A. LawrenceLowell'sproposal in to thenumberofJews admittedtoHarvardUniversitybe-cause it would be "bad for the immigrant Jewsas wellasfor Harvard if there were too great a Mostcontroversial of all, inacolumninthespnng which led to the cooling of his long friendship with FelixFrankfurter, Lippmannexplainedthat inNazi "we have heard oncemore, through thefogandthedin,the hysteriaandthe animal,great tion, the authentic voice of a genuinely pe.ople.Lippmann was more as journalist andaspoliticalphilosopher indealingwitha number latedissues: theresponsibilityofreporterstheir In-abilityto understand the newsto. convey.tt correctly,theroleofthemediainpresenting thena-tureof publicopinion ina democracyandItSImpact onpublicissues, andtheparadoxesofmajorityTheseissues remained with himas he grappled wIth.throughouthislongcareer. Ponderingthe. steel strikeIn1959 he was still wondering how the public was to knowwhichof thefacts about theaffair were relevant, and concluded that "it needsinquirybytrainedminds."HetoldColumbiaUniversityates in1969 that modem reporters, though SOphIS-ticatedand educatedthan in 1922" were still ?ot pre-pared for the complex, chaotic reality on which theyreported. .In a letter to Ellery Sedgwick on Apnl 7, 1919,xiiPUBLIC OPINIONTRANSACTION INTRODUCTION xiiixivPUBLIC OPINION TRANSACTION INTRODUCTION xvI,I that "freedomofthought and speechpresents ItselfInanewlight andraises newproblemsbecauseofthe discoverythat opinioncanbemanufac-tured." He wasawarethat "truth" and the news presentedby the press were not synonymous. He confessed to OliverWendell Holmes on November 18, 1919 that he was"deeply troubled"by hiscurrent work on public opinionand theories of popular government. At that time heviewedinstitutions such as the press, propaganda, andcensorship, as blocking the road to truth.Partly as a result of what hebelieved to be the inaccu-racyof thereporting inthe NewYork Times ontheRus-revolution and its aftermath, Lippmann became con-vinced thatnewsstorieswere dominated by the emotionsandhopes ?ft?e men andwomenwho comprisedthenews organizations rather than bythe facts. This criti-cism of the nature of reporting, which was to be continu-ally reiterated, was accompanied by a concept of politicalreality he had adopted from Graham Wallas. The latter inhisbrilliantly original Human Nature in Politicsof 1908argued thatnotenough attention hadbeenpaid by politi tofactors suchas chance, prejudice, emo-tion, instinct andhabit intheir concentration ontheroleof rational deliberation in politics. For Lippmann, Wallas,whohadmade manthecenter of political investigation,has"described what political science must be like." Talk- about politics without reference to human beings was,Lippmann argued, 'just thedeepest error inourpoliticalthinking. "The twoissues, theinadequacyof thereportingpro-cess andof theproviding of information, aswell asthelack ofof true political reality bycitizens,o:erlappedInLippmann's thinking. Inhis 1920book,Liberty and theNews, he criticizedbothreporters fortheir inadequate andunreliable stories, and newspaperowners, most of whom wereself-appointed Defenders oftheFaith interested in thenewsforfinancialor ideologi-cal reasons ratherthanfor objectivepresentationtothepublic. Only through disinterested reporting could Ameri-cans be well-informed and mankindlive successfully.Democratic systems, or government by consent, were im-perilled "when themanufactureof consent isanlatedprivateenterprise," since they dependedondeci-sions being made on the basis of reliable opinion.Lippmanntherefore suggestednot only that journalistsbe better trained but also, in an argument he was frequentlytorepeat, that anindependent researchorganizationbecreated to provide accurate, unbiased information.Elsewhere, Lippmann had pointed outthe distortion inthe processof transmittingnewsbyreporters andtheirpublications. That processought toentail explanation ofthe significance of events as well as simply an account ofthem. But he also spoke of"preconceivednotions" ofreportersandthe public. In he dealt withbothquestions, but it was his views onthe latter thatconstitute his most original contribution to politicalthought, socialpsychologyandthe studyof mass com-munications.In a letter to Frederick J. Hoffman dated November 18,1942, Lippmannacknowledgedhehadbecomefamiliarwith Freud'sInterpretationof Dreamsin1912, andthathis first book, APrefacetoPolitics (1913) showedtheinfluenceof Freud, inits attempt toapplyFreud'spsy-chological insight topolitical scienceandsociology. InPublicOpinionLippmann explains that Freud'sstudyofdreams had helped him formulate hisidea of a ":Qseudo-environment," though he had by 1922 gone beyond Freud-Ian individual psychology.XVllTRANSACTION INTRODUCTIONcome famous, Lippmann talksof "the pictures inside ourheads,"and of theconsequent imagethatdidnotcorre-spondwiththe worldoutside. Thispicture, the-environment, determines a very great deal of politicalbehavior.It is curious thatinfluenced bycon-temporary writers Meadand Charles H. Cooleywhohave been thesource-o-f-varrous schools of symbolicinteractionismandwhotouchedonaconceptthat over-lapped with that of Lippmann. For thisschool, 12eo12leacttowards objects 01)__theof Jhe m-.Yaning ...... ofsocial interaction, areIiidiVIdiial"mf-definitionalsodependsonthis Interac- well-known"looking-glass self' con-cept, thesenseofpersonal identityarises from tionwithothers. One cannot understand oneself WIthoutreference to one's interpretationofhowothersSimilarly, Meadthoughtthat self-conceptionisa reflec-tionof what anindividual believesothersthink of him.All this is not exactly Lippmann's "pseudo-environment,"but it is onparallellines withtheunderlyingviewthat.11.others. l'" Noteveryonecouldunderstand Lippmann'sterminol-ogy or his original ideas. In aletter 1925..!!:. ion. Hesawthephrases "pseudo-environment" and"pIC- itures in our heads" as interchangeable, since bothre- 'I</p> <p>of thetwo. TheIwerecon-Stereotypeswere certain fixed habits of cognition l.......--PUBLIC OPINIONxvi -big;_Thepiiblic fully understandpolitical "thebuzzing, bloomingconfusion" ofthe world, partlybe-causeindividuals couldonly devote ashort amount oftimetopublicaffairsandpartlybecauseeventshavetobecompressed into very short messages. In a letter datedMay18, 1922, Lippmannwrotethat thebulkof public\ questions "deal withmatters that are out of sight, and\ havethereforetobeimagined."Thesequestionsarere-ported inthethinandcolorlesslanguage of thenewspa-pers, andusuallywecancometonotruerealizationofwhat it all means. Againhearguedthat theproblemofenablingmento master an unseenenvironment is notsoluble without "a very great development ofour ma-chineryof accounting, analysis, recordand reporting."Similarly, inhe believed thatrepresenta-tive government could not work successfully unless therewas anfor makingun-seenfacts intelligible to those wlio--l1ave to make thedecisions. Intelligencebureaus coordinatedbyacentralagency could...</p>

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