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Propaganda by Edward Bernays

Propaganda (1928)

by Edward Bernays

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After reading about this book's sizeable reputation, I expected a brutally leftist cultural revolution instruction manual along the lines of Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals. I feel it's actually a rather ho-hum pamphlet (yes, it's short) about subtle marketing techniques. But perhaps THAT is the greatest and most subversive achievement of this book: To put forth rather creepy tactics in an apparently bland way. And imagine my surprise to see a leftist introduction, by someone named Mark Crispin Miller, trashing Bernays as a right-wing ideologue (in other words, the kind of person who is mislabeled as a "fascist" by most modern-day liberals)! See the United Fruit Company's partnership with the CIA to overthrow Guatemala's government. To observe true leftist propaganda, check out many of the original programs, particularly Orange Is The New Black, aired on the company called Netflix, which was co-founded by one of Bernays' savvy descendants.
  YESterNOw | Oct 16, 2018 |
An amazingly prescient and relevant book for the world in 2016. Conscious effort to manipulate habits and opinions of the masses. We are governed by men we have never heard of. Our invisible governors are even unaware of one another. They manipulate news and inflate personalities by use of ballyhoo by all of which is brought to the consciousness of the herd.There is a need for an invisible government because of the complexity of our civilization. When millions are subject to the same stimuli they all receive identical imprints.

Large scale messages - propaganda - are used to desseminate information and ideas to the masses. A group of citizens talks in favor of a certain course of action thinking they are doing what is best - is not propaganda, but if someone asserts the opposite viewpoint he is engaged in propaganda. Even well informed people are surprised by the extent to which progaganda shapes the progress of affairs. Progaganda is an enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, or idea, or to certain people. Only through the active energy of the intelligent few can the public at large can become aware of and act upon new ideas

The names of presidential candidates are decided upon by only a few men sitting around a table in a hotel room. There are invisible rulers who control the destiny of millions. We do not realize the extent to which the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons sitting behind the scenes. Enter the public relations man.

The systematic study of mass psychology revealed the potential to the invisible government of the motives which actuate man in the group. Groups have mental characteristics distinct from those of the individual and are motivated by impulses and emotions which differ from those of the individual Mass psychology. The group mind. Public psychology. The group mind does not think. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions.To make up its mind the herd often turns to a "trusted leader". Men are largely actuated by motives they keep hidden from themselves and so do the masses.

The invisible government dictates our thoughts, directs are feelings, and controls our actions. No one believes that the people have any divine or wise and lofty ideas. The mind of the group is made up by a group of leaders who understand the manipulation of public opinion. The secret leaders know that personality rules A charming candidate is the alchemist's secret that can transmute a prosaic platform into the gold of votes. Today's politician needs to know not how to please the public but how to sway the public.The public actions of our President are stage managed by the hidden power.

Women have legal equality but their interests remain separate and different from men as do their pursuits and vocational interests.The public is not cognizant of the real value of education and does not realize that education as a social force is not receiving the kind of attention it has a right to expect in a democracy. Education does not attract the active interest of the herd.

The media by which the special pleaders transmit their messages to the public through progaganda include all means by which people today [1927] transmit their ideas to one another. There is no means of human communication which may not also be a means of deliberate propaganda because propaganda ismerely establishing reciprocal understanding between an individual and a group.

  BayanX | Jun 5, 2016 |
Eighty four years after its initial publication, Bernay's 'Propaganda' continues to illuminate some of the most important aspects of the modern societies we live in. His examples are certainly out-of-date, yet, the principles he keeps of referring to are more relevant than ever. It can be considered in the category of 'The Prince' by Machiavelli; you are going to admire the crystallization of the expression, and you are going to abhor the results at the same time, the results that are brought upon us by the people who understand the principles of 'Propaganda' and apply them to our daily lives ruthlessly.

The new introduction by Mark Crispin Miller does not fail to add value and more insight, too. His criticism of Bernays, properly put in historical context, sheds light on some obscure points of the book. Combined with the book, this gives you an astonishing overview of 'manufacturing consent' and the 'illusion of democracy'. ( )
1 vote EmreSevinc | Apr 14, 2012 |
After seeing Adam Curtis' Century of the Self, in which Edward Bernays plays a central role, my expectation was higher. In essence it's a propaganda book on propaganda, sometimes too obvious, and not divulging too many interesting techniques. ( )
  mschaefer | Jul 31, 2008 |
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Prior to World War One, the word propaganda was little-used in English, except by certain social activists, and close observers of the Vatican; and, back then, propaganda tended not to be the damning term we throw around today.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0970312598, Paperback)

“Bernays’ honest and practical manual provides much insight into some of the most powerful and influential institutions of contemporary industrial state capitalist democracies.”—Noam Chomsky

“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.”—Edward Bernays, Propaganda

A seminal and controversial figure in the history of political thought and public relations, Edward Bernays (1891–1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he famously dubbed “engineering of consent.” During World War I, he was an integral part of the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI), a powerful propaganda apparatus that was mobilized to package, advertise and sell the war to the American people as one that would “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” The CPI would become the blueprint in which marketing strategies for future wars would be based upon.

Bernays applied the techniques he had learned in the CPI and, incorporating some of the ideas of Walter Lipmann, became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic and corporate manipulation of the population. His 1928 bombshell Propaganda lays out his eerily prescient vision for using propaganda to regiment the collective mind in a variety of areas, including government, politics, art, science and education. To read this book today is to frightfully comprehend what our contemporary institutions of government and business have become in regards to organized manipulation of the masses.

This is the first reprint of Propaganda in over 30 years and features an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:03 -0400)

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"A look at how government and corporations control how we think and act, Propaganda outlines Edward Bernays's vision for regimenting the collective mind. Originally published in 1928, this manual of mass manipulation provides a detailed examination of how public discourse and opinion are shaped and controlled in politics, business, art, education and science. In a world dominated by political spin and media manipulation, Propaganda is an essential read for all who wish to understand how power is used by the ruling elite of our society."--Jacket.… (more)

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