Edward Bernays – Propaganda

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Propaganda, an influential book written by Edward L. Bernays in 1928, incorporated the literature from social science and psychological manipulation into an examination of the techniques of public communication. Bernays wrote the book in response to the success of some of his earlier works such as Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) and A Public Relations Counsel (1927). Propaganda explored the psychology behind manipulating masses and the ability to use symbolic action and propaganda to influence politics, effect social change, and lobby for gender and racial equality.[1] Walter Lippman was Bernays’ unacknowledged American mentor and his work The Phantom Public greatly influenced the ideas expressed in Propaganda a year later.[2] The work propelled Bernays into media historians’ view of him as the ‘father of public relations.'”


“Bernays’ vision was of a utopian society in which individuals’ dangerous libidinal energies, the psychic and emotional energy associated with instinctual biological drives that Bernays viewed as inherently dangerous, could be harnessed and channeled by a corporate elite for economic benefit. Through the use of mass production, big business could fulfill the cravings of what Bernays saw as the inherently irrational and desire-driven masses, simultaneously securing the niche of a mass-production economy (even in peacetime), as well as sating what he considered to be dangerous animal urges that threatened to tear society apart if left unquelled.

Bernays touted the idea that the “masses” are driven by factors outside their conscious understanding, and therefore that their minds can and should be manipulated by the capable few. ‘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.'”


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