I’ve come across this message now in several books and other sources of information, some scholarly, some not so scholarly.  The condensed version is this:  Our elites cannot trust the leadership and management of society to the masses.  Said masses would structure society for their, and not the elites’ benefit, therefore public opinion must be carefully manipulated and groomed in order to keep the ‘proper’ order of society intact.  James Garvey weights in with his thoughts on this salient feature of our societies:

    “Democracy as we have it in the West might still respond to the will of the people, but that will itself is managed in part on behalf of those with money.  A case could certainly be made for the view that anything like a meaningful democracy ended for us just as it was getting started, early in the last century, as new forms of persuasion took hold and diminished the freedom of voters to come to their own conclusions.  It is hard write something like that without sounding like a conspiracy theorist , and you might wonder where that smear itself originates, but if it’s too rich for your, join me halfway: democracy is at least compromised by the fact that a great deal of what we think comes not from sound reflection and careful argument, but from our lifelong exposure to images and messages that serve the interests of those who pay for them.”

-James Garvey.  The Persuaders: The Hidden Industry that Wants to Change Your Mind p. 47.

    I’m about a third done Garvey’s book, it is a good read and would highly recommend it as it is a very approachable work that might get read as opposed to tossed over the shoulder like Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’or Lippman’s ‘Public Opinion’ because they are dry as the dessert academic works.