In our materialistic society, the “public opinion” is less innocent than naïve people might think. Mechanisms of mass-hypnotism are dominantly involved in present-day politics and economy.
There is a sort of industry that produces opinion, both individual and public. Citizens who are aware of that can keep away from such industry and preserve their respect for their own conscience and for the conscience of others.
From a theosophical and philosophical perspective, liberty of thought is more than being able to choose between this and that political party, product in the supermarket, or newspaper in the newsstand. It is a deeper choice than between two authors, two lines of thought, or TV channels.
By looking at life with detachment, one can go beyond such a narrow horizon.
Present-day society offers us an artificially fabricated “consensus”, whose foundations are seldom examined because they are false and truth is uncomfortable to the dominant political-economic conglomerates.
Decisive assumptions and views of life are subconsciously transmitted to the masses and remain outside the field of self-consciousness and self-awareness of most people.
One among many such assumptions is the false idea, hypnotically transmitted, that happiness is to be attained through money, fame, or social position. If one consciously or subconsciously accepts this idea, all other choices in life will be distorted, resulting in emotional and spiritual frustration.
Liberty of thought is deeper than the ability to choose between this and that “opinion”, to select a product to buy or a politician to vote for. It includes above all the privilege and the blessing of hearing our own individual conscience in every aspect of life.
Real liberty is freedom from illusion, materialism, short-term views and mass-hypnotism. There is no reason to be consciously (or subconsciously) afraid of questioning organized ignorance, powerful as it may seem to be.
Truth has the habit of prevailing: significant bubbles of illusion are being burst now, and others will follow. Each individual’s consciousness is part of the global battlefield in which the birth of a new level of planetary awareness is taking place.
Gore and an Assault on Reason
Former US vice-president Al Gore received the Peace Nobel Prize in 2007.
In the same year, a book by Gore was published, “The Assault on Reason”, in which he accurately describes the process of mass-scale hypnotic domination of minds through the influence of television. 
The substance and title of Gore’s book are of deep theosophical interest. Human Reason is inseparable from Antahkarana, the natural bridge between one’s mortal soul and spiritual Self.
An attack to independent Reason in human mind is an attack to Antahkarana. It constitutes an attempt to interrupt the contact with the higher self, or with the voice of one’s conscience. It corresponds to what the ancients called “black magic”, or what we could more accurately label as “selfish magic”. Anti-evolutionary actions in human karma are those which tend to create obstacles to the free contact between divine and human perceptions, and cause harm to the “Jacob’s ladder” between celestial and terrestrial realms.
Helena Blavatsky on Mass-Hypnotism
The use of collective hypnotism as a way to dominate minds did not start with the recent mass electronic media.
Religious ritualism often includes aspects of collective hypnotism and subconscious conditioning; this is one of the main reasons why classical theosophy condemns ceremonial magic and rituals among theosophists.
Regarding Christianity, Jesus in the New Testament founded no church. He denounced blind belief and created no rite: these illusions were adopted after Christianity became imperial, and imperialistic. Esoteric groups have a karma and a duty regarding the issue. Theosophy is about self-knowledge, self-responsibility and self-liberation, all of which challenge and defeat collective mechanisms of mind manipulation.
In London in the Spring of 1887, Helena P. Blavatsky made a severe warning against the practice of hypnotism. HPB foresaw that entire nations could be subjected to it. In a conversation with Charles Johnston, Blavatsky said:
“There is the danger of black magic, into which all the world, and especially America, is rushing as fast as it can go. Only a wide knowledge of the real psychic and spiritual nature of man can save humanity from grave dangers.” 
She explained to Charles Johnston:
“The world is full of cruel, greedy, and lustful people, who will be eager to seize a new weapon for their ends, and who will defy detection and pass through the midst of us all unpunished.” 
At some point in the dialogue Johnston said that her warning regarding hypnotism being selfish magic, or paving the way to it, was reminiscent of stories coming from previous centuries. And HPB explained:
“Yes, Sir! Witch-tales in this enlightened age! And mark my words! You will have such witch-tales as the Middle Ages never dreamt of. Whole nations will drift insensibly into black magic, with good intentions, no doubt, but paving the road to hell none the less for that! Hypnotism and suggestion are great and dangerous powers, for the very reason that the victim never knows when he is being subjected to them; his will is stolen from him, and mark my words: these things may be begun with good motives, and for right purposes. But I am an old woman, and have seen much of human life in many countries. And I wish with all my heart I could believe that these powers would be used only for good! Whoever lets himself or herself be hypnotized, by anyone, good or bad, is opening a door which he will be powerless to shut; and he cannot tell who will be the next to enter! If you could foresee what I foresee, you would begin heart and soul to spread the teaching of universal brotherhood. It is the only safeguard!” 
Johnston wanted to know more. He asked HPB:
“How is [universal brotherhood] going to guard people against hypnotism?”
“By purifying the hearts of people who would misuse it. And universal brotherhood rests upon the common soul. It is because there is one soul common to all men, that brotherhood, or even common understanding is possible. Bring men to rest on that, and they will be safe. There is a divine power in every man which is to rule his life, and which no one can influence for evil, not even the greatest magician. Let men bring their lives under its guidance, and they have nothing to fear from man or devil.” 
The words by HPB are clear: she anticipated in 1887 the alternative and the healing for mass hypnotism. Each citizen must become individually self-vigilant and self-responsible. It is also necessary to help unmask the tools and the process involved in the “selfish magic” of mass-mind control.
Yet, one practical question should be addressed. If the duty of theosophists is to fight delusion, how many individuals would be necessary to do that?
No multitude of people is needed to unmask and defeat false ideas established as “collective truth”. HPB wrote that “all efforts of the greatest craft are doomed to failure on the day they are discovered”. 
History shows that a few pioneers make the difference in key moments. The citizens of good will are not known for being billions in our humanity at this moment. Too vast numbers of them are neither attainable nor necessary in the short term.
In the 1950s, Packard Examines Mind-Manipulation
Beginning in the 1920s, Nazism, Fascism and Stalinism were outstanding examples of mass-techniques in mind-control. In 1948, the problem of mass-scale manipulation of thoughts and feelings was denounced by George Orwell in his famous book “1984”.
Since the 1950s, new and “subtler” varieties of collective mind-control have evolved which adapt the tools used in previous decades.
By the middle of last century, Mr. Vance Packard (1914-1996) made a revealing investigation of the ways modern propaganda manipulates entire millions of citizens through their subconscious fears and desires.
Today’s advertising, he demonstrated in a classical book, uses people’s hidden urges and frustrations to sell everything from gasoline to clothes and politicians.
A large proportion of the so-called “economic needs” of our society is therefore artificially fabricated by propaganda gurus who are paid to do that.
Besides economic behaviour, political and cultural opinions of the public are largely produced in subconscious ways by propaganda corporations which get fortunes to determine that the priorities of the citizens should be of one kind or another. Big corporations buy access to the subconscious minds of people.
The days when propaganda existed to inform the public are past: since the 1950s, subconscious mechanisms of mind control for selfish purposes have spread, and now propaganda often manipulates one’s intimate feelings in ways difficult to detect. Thus that which is not needed is sometimes seen as necessary, and harmful ideas can be experienced as nice.
In 1957, Vance Packard wrote in “The Hidden Persuaders”:
“This book is an attempt to explore a strange and rather exotic new area of American life. It is about the large-scale efforts being made, often with impressive success, to channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing decisions, and our thought processes by the use of insights gleaned from psychiatry and the social sciences. Typically these efforts take place beneath our level of awareness; so that the appeals which move us are often, in a sense, ‘hidden’. The result is that many of us are being influenced and manipulated, far more than we realize, in the patterns of our everyday lives.”
“Some of the manipulating being attempted is simply amusing. Some of it is disquieting, particularly when viewed as a portent of what may be ahead on a more intensive and effective scale for us all. Co-operative scientists have come along providentially to furnish some awesome tools. The use of mass psychoanalysis to guide campaigns of persuasion has become the basis of a multimillion-dollar industry. Professional persuaders have seized upon it in their groping for more effective ways to sell us their wares – whether products, ideas, attitudes, candidates, goals, or states of mind.”
Money is often God in money-related operations, and Packard wrote:
“This depth approach to influencing our behavior is being used in many fields and is employing a variety of ingenious techniques. It is being used most extensively to affect our daily acts of consumption. The sale to us of billions of dollars’ worth of United States products is being significantly affected, if not revolutionized, by this approach, which is still only barely out of its infancy. Two thirds of America’s hundred largest advertisers have great campaigns to this depth approach by using strategies inspired by what marketers call ‘motivation analysis’.”
Citizens are treated like beasts and influenced in their animal fears and desires:
“Meanwhile, many of the nation’s leading public-relations experts have been indoctrinating themselves in the lore of psychiatry and the social sciences in order to increase their skill at ‘engineering’ our consent to their propositions. Fund raisers are turning to the depth approach to wring more money from us. A considerable and growing number of our industrial concerns (including some of the largest) are seeking to sift and mold the behavior of their personnel – particularly their own executives – by using psychiatric and psychological techniques. Finally, this depth approach is showing up nationally in the professional politicians’ intensive use of symbol manipulation and reiteration on the voter, who more and more is treated like Pavlov’s conditioned dog.” 
In the 21st century, the problem of mass-scale mind manipulation has increased, as duly announced by Packard. It is the duty of vigilant individuals of good will to address the issue. The theosophical movement has no reasons to postpone facing such a challenge, or to make believe it does not belong to its agenda.
 See for instance Chapter One in Gore’s book. Some key parts of that chapter will be found in the February 2015 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pp. 5-7, under the title “An Assault on Reason: Television as a Hypnotizer”.
 “Collected Writings” of H. P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA, volume VIII, p. 406.
 “Collected Writings” of H. P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA, volume VIII, p. 407.
 “Collected Writings” of H. P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA, volume VIII, same p. 407.
 “Collected Writings” of H. P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA, volume VIII, p. 408.
 “Collected Writings” of H. P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA, volume XIV, p. 267.
 “The Hidden Persuaders”, Vance Packard, Cardinal Edition, Pocket Books Inc., New York, 1961, 242 pp., pp. 1-2.
Readers will find a more recent edition of “The Hidden Persuaders”, by Vance Packard. Published in 2007 with 240 pages, it has an Introduction by Mark Crispin Miller and was printed by Ig Publishing, New York.
Another interesting book is “The Persuaders”, by James Garvey. Its subtitle is “The Hidden Industry that Wants of Change Your Mind”. It was published in the UK by Icon Books Ltd in 2016, and has 288 pages.
See in this blog the article “The World War in Our Minds”.