Judging this book by its disturbing cover, with its promise that “people can be easily influenced to believe, obey, want, respect, love, trade”, you might expect to find it describing techniques such as sleep deprivation and how they may be used to bend the wills of your prospective slaves; but any would-be Charles Manson picking it up in the hope of tips on building a flock would be disappointed. What James Maratta means by “brainwashing” is, mildly enough:
... the process whereby ideas are transferred from one mind to another without provoking or offending the recipient.
Accordingly, he starts by passing on some well-tried rules of salesmanship, such as that in order to persuade one should avoid using negative terms, but although he claims to be an experienced teacher of the techniques of influence he does not have much original or inspiring to say on the subject. He is altogether more sure of himself when it comes to spouting his personal philosophy of life, the inclusion of which he justifies on the basis that by doing so he is helping the reader to resist “brainwashing” by government or the social consensus. Ironically perhaps, he makes no attempt here to avoid “provoking or offending” his reader:
On matters of race in America:
Negroes by pure instinct respect, admire and follow the white man, and in their hearts they wish him well, even though at times they rebel against him. For whites are not perfect and never will be; but as far as standards of living are concerned, they provide the best. And you will also note that blacks always want to move near whites, not away from them.
On women's rights:
All this talk about the equality of the sexes is pure nonsense. Women cannot equal men. [...] All that women can do is what men teach them.
[...] All that Grandmother had to do to be blessed with love, and later with marriage, home and children, was to look like herself, remain a virgin, dress modestly, avoid overexposure at the beach, wear long hair, and refrain from drinking hard liquor, smoking cigarettes, using vile language or being seen out alone after dark.
His essential philosophy, though, is typical of the self-made man in that he believes that because he overcame difficulties in his life anyone else can do the same. As he puts it:
Despite my poverty-stricken beginning, foreign ancestry, lack of education and a somewhat irritating personality, I couldn't help but achieve my deserved measure of success and financial rewards.
“Irritating personality”? Well, I'm persuaded. But, as to his “deserved measure of success”, I can't help thinking of that line in Leiber and Stoller's immortal Shoppin' for Clothes, as performed by the Coasters:
“I got a good job sweeping up, every day”.
Scribbled by Alfred Armstrong 12 years 12 months ago