Sunday, February 12, 2017


Propaganda by Edward Bernays
Brooklyn, NY:  Ig PUblishing, 1928, 2005
ISBN-10:  0-9703125-9-8

Introduction by Mark Crispin Miller
(11)  Napoleon was especially incisive on the subject [propaganda], as well as an inspired practitioner…

(19)  Always thinking far ahead, his [Bernays] aim was not to urge the buyer to demand the product now, but to transform the buyer’s very world, so that the product must appear to be desirable as if without the prod of salesmanship.  What is the prevailing custom, and how might that be changed to make this thing or that appear to recommend itself to people?

(21)  “Convictions in a demagogue are a weakness and may prove a very serious injury,” asserted social psychologist Frederick C Venn in 1928.

(22)  Hitler, Goebbels, Mussolini, Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, Gerald L K Smith, and many others were fanatical and cycnical at once, neither wholly in control nor totally ecstatic.  Such agitators work within a certain mental borderland, where one can never clearly see conviction as distinct from calculation.  Indeed, that inner murkiness appears itself to be the very source or basis of the mass manipulator’s enigmatic power, and so we cannot comprehend it through schematic dualistic formulas.  (Orwell’s elusive concept of “doublethink” is highly pertinent here.”

(27)  In fact, the “[Light’s Golden] Jubilee” was but a stroke of propaganda on behalf of General Electric and its National Electric Light Association (NELA), which was the secret means of GE’s stranglehold on America’s electric power.  From 1919 until 1934, NELA carried out the largest peacetime propaganda drive in US history, intended to discourage public ownership of the utilities.  That private capital should wield complete control over the nation’s power supply was a notion evidently not to be debated.

Similarly, in 1953 Bernays helped put across the myth that Guatemala was at risk of communist subversion - a serviceable legend that the propagandist actually believed, as he makes clear in his memoirs.

(38)  Chapter 1:  Organizing Chaos 

(52)  Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.

(57)  Only through the active energy of the intelligent few can the public at large become aware of and act upon new ideas.

(66)  The first recognition of the distinct functions of the public relations counsel arose, perhaps, in the early years of the present century as a result of the insurance scandals coincident with the muckraking of corporate finance in the popular magazines.  The interests thus attacked suddenly realized that they were completely out of touch with the public they were professing to serve, and required expert advice to show them how they could understand the public and interpret themselves to it.

(73)  Trotter and Le Bon concluded that the group mind does not _think_ in the strict sense of the word.  In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions.  In making up its mind, its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader.  This is one of the most firmly established principles of mass psychology.

(79)  Under the old salesmanship the manufacturer said to the prospective purchaser, “Please buy a piano.”  The new salesmanship has reversed the process and caused the propsective purchaser to say to the manufacturer, “Please sell me a piano.”
NB:  One of the ten rules of the con:  "In the put-up, he picked us out of the crowd with care.”  The con man picks his/her mark with care.

(89)  While the concrete recommendations of the public relations counsel may vary infinitely according to individual circumstances, his general plan of work may be reduced to two types, which I might term _continuous interpretation_ and _dramatization by high-spotting_.  The two may be alternative or may be pursued concurrently.

Continuous interpretation is achieved by trying to control every approach to the public mind in such a manner that the public receives the desired impression, often without being conscious of it.  High-spotting, on the other hand, vividly seizes the attention of the public and fixes it upon some detail or aspect which is typical of the entire enterprise.  When a real estate corporation which is erecting a tall office building makes it ten feet taller than the highest skyscraper in existence, that is dramatization.

(92)  Propaganda, since it goes to basic causes, can very often be most effective through the manner of its introduction.
NB:  Cialdini - influencers:  Sales and motivation consultant Cavett Robert:  "Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer."

(98)  Propaganda is potent in meeting unethical or unfair advertising.
NB:  industry sector associations

(103)  These special types of appeal [originality or some other attraction besides price] can be populatized by the manipulation of the principles familiar to the propagandist - the principles of gregariousness, obedience to authority, emulation, and the like.  A minor element can be made to assume economic importance by being established in the public mind as a matter of style.

(109)  The great political problem of our modern democracy is how to induce our leaders to lead.  The dogma that the voice of the people is the voice of God tends to make elected persons the will-less servants of their constituents.

… 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.

(111)  Politics was the first big business in America.  Therefore there is a good deal of irony in the fact that business has learned everything that politics has to teach, but that politics has failed to learn very much from business methods of mass distribution of ideas and products.

(119)  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.

(127)  Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses.

(139)  Men who, by the commonly accepted standards, are failures or very moderate successes in our American World (the pedagogues) seek to convince the outstanding successes (the businessmen) that they should give their money to ideals which they do not pursue.  Men who, through a sense of inferiority, despise money, seek to win the good will of men who love money.

(153)  In applied and commercial art, propaganda makes greater opportunities for the artist than ever before.  This arises from the fact that mass production reaches an impasse when it competes on a price basis only.  It must, therefore, in a large number of fields create a field of competition based on aesthetic values.

(161)  There is no means of human communication which may not also be a means of deliberate propaganda, because propaganda is simply the establishing of reciprocal understanding between an individaul and a group.


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