From a letter in the Bangkok Post:
The techniques of brainwashing, indoctrination, manipulation of people have been studied in great detail since the publication in the year 1895 of La psychologie des foules (''The Crowd: A Study ot the Popular Mind'') by the French scholar Gustave le Bon. These techniques have been used successfully by dictators, politicians of all colours, religious leaders, warmongers, fan clubs and a large variety of interest groups, who either fight for a cause or against something that does not suit their agenda.
Whoever watches the nonstop performance of Thailand's small, Bangkok-based opposition movement PAD on the television channel ASTV with an inquisitive mind, will find all the elements which make the successful manipulation of people possible.
There is a muted audience whose only function is to noisily applaud everything that is said on the stage, whether it makes sense or not, is right or wrong. The same slogans are repeated again and again, so as to make them appear the unquestionable, absolute truth. Questions are not asked, discussions do not take place. Those up there on the stage, the leaders, do not want to be questioned; questions lead to divisions.
The further scenario: once a crowd has been sufficiently ''conditioned'', the individual ceases to exist. He or she has been swallowed up by a dehumanised monster, the mob. And then, those up there, the manipulators, have an obedient tool which they can use for whatever purpose they choose.
The effect of brainwashing is that people who become part of a mob, are not aware that they are being used and will do whatever they are told to do, even things they would never do as single individuals. They have lost control. In fact, individuals don't count, they can even be sacrificed and will then be called martyrs. What counts in a mob are numbers, not people.
MANFRED LIEBIG Mukdahan