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From the Author
Edward Bernays (1891-1995), neveu de Sigmund Freud émigré aux États-Unis, fut l'un des pères fondateurs des " relations publiques ". Conseiller pour de grandes compagnies américaines, Bernays a mis au point les techniques publicitaires modernes. Au début des années 1950, il orchestra des campagnes de déstabilisation politique en Amérique latine, qui accompagnèrent notamment le renversement du gouvernement du Guatemala, main dans la main avec la CIA.
''Released in 1928, this was the first book that explored the use of propaganda as a government and business means of manipulating the masses. Bernays, the first public relations guru, was in charge of the US Committee on Public Information, which had the task of designing an ad campaign to make World War I look like a good idea. Somehow it worked. He discusses that and much more here.'' --Library Journal
- ASIN : B0097D76MG
- Publisher : Ig Publishing (September 1, 2004)
- Publication date : September 1, 2004
- Language : English
- File size : 252 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 128 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #114,494 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Here’s what I think about propaganda. There’s information and persuasion. Disseminating false information is disinformation. Hiding true information is a cover-up. A monopoly on information is required for both disinformation and cover-up. Using disinformation, cover-up, logical fallacies or unspecified axioms to persuade people is what is commonly known as propaganda. All else is journalism, scholarship, advocacy, advertising, etc.
Does propaganda work? I’m not aware of a scientific proof, but disinformation is blamed for the popular support for World War I. Does propaganda based on logical fallacies work? The proof of this would require many cases of people behaving counter to their desires, interests and values after being presented with logical fallacies. Propaganda can’t be a threat if there’s no monopoly on information and we stay strong.
You won’t get any of this from Bernays. He was an ad man and public relations counsel, so he’s good on public relations, especially the value of giving away free stuff and developing a high-toned image to soothe muckrakers and investors. He's good at reminding us that the word propaganda didn't always have negative connotations. Otherwise, he’s a lightweight.
To him, propaganda is “propagating a doctrine or system” or “establishing the reciprocal understanding between an individual and a group”. The rest of us call this advocacy, dialogue, gossip, etc. He does say that good propaganda must be correct information. But he modifies this by saying that good propaganda must be in the service of a good cause, a potential justification for a cover-up.
I found five authorities Bernays cites: Gustav Le Bon (probably for his THE CROWD: A STUDY OF THE POPULAR MIND (1895)), Graham Wallas (probably for his HUMAN NATURE IN POLITICS (1908)), Wilfred Trotter (probably for his THE INSTINCTS OF THE HERD IN PEACE AND WAR (1908)), Walter Lippmann (probably for his PUBLIC OPINION (1922)), and his own uncle, Sigmund Freud.
Based on synopses of these writers, they saw average people, especially in crowds, as barely above livestock. They advocated the same “propaganda managed democracy” that Bernays advocates.
But Western civilization advanced dramatically at the end of the middle ages, and it was decentralized middle-class progress. Was that the work of livestock? Sufficiently motivated, the average individual learns critical thinking so that he may profit from his own good decisions. Bernays states, “Men are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions.” When his uncle Sigmund escaped Nazism, was he doing it to save his own life or to seek status by impressing all his friends with his escaping skills? When the stakes get high, frivolous decisions decrease.
Deceptive persuasion will become dangerous when the number of pensioned and alienated people reaches critical mass.
We need a better book on this subject. Maybe it’s time to look into Alinsky’s RULES FOR RADICALS and PROPAGANDA BLITZ by Edwards and Cromwell.
I learned that Kindles have a highlight limit as part of their Digital Rights Management restriction for properties that aren’t in the public domain. Your e-book will retain the highlight, but when you hit the limit, the Kindle will stop writing highlights to your MY CLIPPINGS.TXT file, writing “<You have reached the clipping limit for this item>” instead. The highlight limit for this book was 24,576 characters. Your notes, however, will continue to be written to your MY CLIPPINGS.TXT file.
''From his observations on the Allied propaganda drives’ immense success (and his own stint as a U.S. war propagandist), and from his readings of Gustave LeBon, Graham Wallas and John Dewey, among others, Lippmann had arrived at the bleak view that “the democratic El Dorado” is impossible in modern mass society, whose members—by and large incapable of lucid thought or clear perception, driven by herd instincts and mere prejudice, and frequently disoriented by external stimuli—were not equipped to make decisions or engage in rational discourse.''
(I just read Gustave Le Bon’s “The Crowd: A Study Of the Popular Mind”. Great!)
Wow! Society ''incapable of lucid thought''. Now what?
'' 'Democracy' therefore requires a supra-governmental body of detached professionals to sift the data, think things through, and keep the national enterprise from blowing up or crashing to a halt. Although mankind surely can be taught to think, that educative process will be long and slow. In the meantime, the major issues must be framed, the crucial choices made, by 'the responsible administrator.' ''
Requires a ''supranational governmental body''! Who is that?
“It is on the men inside, working under conditions that are sound, that the daily administration of society must rest.” While Lippmann’s argument is freighted with complexities and tinged with the melancholy of a disillusioned socialist, Bernays’s adaptation of it is both simple and enthusiastic:
“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
''These “invisible governors” are a heroic elite, who coolly keep it all together, thereby “organizing chaos,” as God did in the Beginning.
“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.” While Lippmann is meticulous—indeed, at times near-Proustian—in demonstrating how and why most people have such trouble thinking straight, Bernays takes all that for granted as “a fact.”
‘Pull the wires on the puppets!’ What? As God did? Who is this?
''It is a sort of managerial aristocracy that quietly determines what we buy and how we vote and what we deem as good or bad.
“They govern us,” the author writes, “by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure.”
Man . . . this is . . . bad . . . right? It . . . is . . . so . . . scary!
I - ORGANIZING CHAOS
II - THE NEW PROPAGANDA
III - THE NEW PROPAGANDISTS
IV - THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
V - BUSINESS AND THE PUBLIC
VI - PROPAGANDA AND POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
VII - WOMEN’S ACTIVITIES AND PROPAGANDA
VIII -PROPAGANDA FOR EDUCATION
IX - PROPAGANDA IN SOCIAL SERVICE
X - ART AND SCIENCE
XI - THE MECHANICS OF PROPAGANDA
WW1 changed everything -
''It was not until 1915 that governments first systematically deployed the entire range of modern media to rouse their populations to fanatical assent. Here was an extraordinary state accomplishment: mass enthusiasm at the prospect of a global brawl that otherwise would mystify those very masses, and that shattered most of those who actually took part in it. The Anglo-American drive to demonize “the Hun,” and to cast the war as a transcendent clash between Atlantic “civilization” and Prussian “barbarism,” made so powerful an impression on so many that the worlds of government and business were forever changed.''
Propaganda now rules!
''Today, however, a reaction has set in. The minority has discovered a powerful help in influencing majorities. It has been found possible so to mold the mind of the masses that they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction. In the present structure of society, this practice in inevitable. Whatever of social importance is done today, whether in politics, finance, manufacture, agriculture, charity, education, or other fields, must be done with the help of propaganda.''
‘Minority dominates the majority’! Mold the mind of the ‘masses’!
''Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government. Universal literacy was supposed to educate the common man to control his environment. Once he could read and write he would have a mind fit to rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber stamps, rubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with published scientific data, with the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of history, but quite innocent of original thought.''
‘Education kills original thought’! What deceit! How . . . so . . . demeaning!
''Each man’s rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all received identical imprints. It may seem an exaggeration to say that the American public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine.''
‘Everyone approves . . . wants . . . believes . . . exactly the same thing! Even if destructive!
The balance of this book explains how this new 'propaganda' can/does function.
(Rebecca Goldstein notes in her book on Gödel - ''He came to believe that there was a vast conspiracy, apparently in place for centuries, to suppress the truth “and make men stupid.” Those who had discovered the full power of a priori reason, men such as the seventeenth-century’s Leibniz and the twentieth-century’s Gödel, were, he believed, marked men.'' (Is this so different than Bernays? One sophisticated influence peddler, the other an ivory tower world famous logician! Amazing!)
(See - ''Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes'', by Jacques Ellul. This focuses on the psychological/philosophical basis of propaganda. Outstanding!)
This book shows us how the father of modern day propaganda thought and how he used propaganda campaigns for hundreds of America's best corporations and political leaders. Political leaders all over the world sought this man's council for executing their own agenda.
It became obvious half way through reading this book was in itself propaganda written by the author to attract more wealthy clients; thus, the book lacks a definitive step-by-step guide.
Top reviews from other countries
Once you read this book, you will see who is telling the truth and who is in control of propaganda.
It's a way marker of its time-just as Bill Gates created an idea in the minds of the public about the potential of personal computing-so Bernays lays out the value of propaganda in the 20th century. Several times in the book he warns of the potential 'misuse' of propaganda, but he probably couldn't have imagined just how much the American ideal would be changed by the very propaganda he was promoting.
Go read it and stay informed.