Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays.

"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 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… "
Edward Bernays, Propaganda (1928)

PR historian Scott Cutlip describes Bernays as "perhaps public relations' most fabulous and fascinating individual, a man who was bright, articulate to excess, and most of all, an innovative thinker and philosopher of this vocation that was in its infancy when he opened his office in New York in June 1919."

Bernays said that truth is the product of the "public relations counsel" forging existing "public opinion." And he readily recognized the ethical implications of his work, as witnessed in his later anti-smoking advocacy, after the dangers of cigarettes became known in the late-1950s.
For Bernays, however, the necessity of controlling the public mind was a crucially important matter confronting the better element, a group in which he clearly included himself. In his work, "Crystallizing Public Opinion", Bernays noted that the establishment of public education and the gradual extension of the right to vote caused consternation among western elites. The use of public relations techniques, then, was a way for the minority to " mold the mind of the masses that they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction."


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post.

Bernays believes that public relations is an important part of the democratic process, an extension of our right of free speech. If public relations becomes a part of the democratic political process will it really lead to "good government" as Bernays promises?

3/11/2009 8:31 PM  

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