Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Edward Louis Bernays Quotes: Propaganda

Edward Louis Bernays (November 22, 1891 – March 9, 1995) is considered one of the fathers of the field of public relations along with Ivy Lee.

Combining the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion using the psychology of the subconscious.

For more info check out the excellent documentary Century of the Self by Adam Curtis for the BBC.

"If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind."

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."

"We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized."

"The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions."

"Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos."

"It is not necessary for the politician to be the slave of the public's group prejudices, if he can learn how to mold the mind of the voters in conformity with his own ideas of public welfare and public service. The important thing for the statesman of our age is not so much to know how to please the public, but to know how to sway the public."

"In the ethical sense, propaganda bears the same relation to education as to business or politics. It may be abused. It may be used to over-advertise an institution and to create in the public mind artificial values. There can be no absolute guarantee against its misuse."

"Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet. They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons - a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million [USA 1920s] - who understand the mental processes and mental patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world."

"Social progress is simply the progressive education and enlightenment of the public mind in regard to its immediate and distant social problems." (lol)

"Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses. Is this government by propaganda? Call it, if you prefer, government by education. But education, in the academic sense of the word, is not sufficient. It must be enlightened expert propaganda through the creation of circumstances, through the high-spotting of significant events, and the dramatization of important issues. The statesman of the future will thus be enabled to focus the public mind on crucial points of policy and regiment a vast, heterogeneous mass of voters to clear understanding and intelligent action."

"Because (motion) pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. The motion picture avails itself only of ideas and facts that are in vogue."

"Propaganda becomes vicious and reprehensive only when its authors consciously and deliberately disseminate what they know to be lies, or when they aim at effects which they know to be prejudicial to the common good."

"In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions."

"The great political problem in our modern democracy is how to induce our leaders to lead.... No serious sociologist any longer believes that the voice of the people expresses any divine or specially wise and lofty idea. The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion. It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and clichés and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders."

3 comments:

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Very interesting. Thanks! I've watched "The Century of Self" many times and it's fascinating and provides Earth-shattering revelations. I began thinking about this because I was in a trendy nightclub once and a lot of the clientele were smoking (this was before the ban); they were smoking cigarettes because they were almost all young people. Then I spotted one young man smoking a pipe! The other youths in the clubs were poking fun at him because pipe-smoking is ascociated with old men. But I remembered "The Century of Self" and thought that it would only take a few Hollywood stars or Reality TV show celebs to start smokng pipes and all the young trendies in that club would be smoking a pipe too and feeling completely comfortable about it. It might even make them feel sophsticaed and cool!

dedroidify said...

Not the first I heard about pipe-smoking being "cool"... ;p Tsss, eh.

Antidote1984 said...

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