Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: The Unconscious Crowd Mind: The Only Truly Aware State of Mind

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Unconscious Crowd Mind: The Only Truly Aware State of Mind

In Stuart Ewen's book, PR! : A Social History of Spin, Ewen notes the belief of Gustave Le Bon, author of The Crowd: A Study of The Popular Mind; that the unconscious life of the mind is that which controls most of the behavioral outcomes and actions in an individual's life, (pg. 133). Furthermore, it could be assumed that persuasion in the unconscious form, certainly has the significant ability to appeal to the minds of the "crowd" or masses, especially when in comparison with the use of reason. According to Le Bon, " (the part) played by reason is very small," whereas "(that) played by the unconscious in all our acts is immense.

In PR!, Ewen highlights Le Bon's expression of the "rise of the crowd mind" or "the return of the repressed," (pg. 134) points out that the crowd was being awakened and driven, in a monopolistic way, towards the "favor of unconscious activites." Because of this awakening, Le Bon goes on to state what the consequences are and shall be (pg. 134):

"Civilisation is now without stability, and at the mercy of every chance. The populace is sovereign, and the tide of barbarism mounts. The civilisation may still seem brilliant because it possesses an outward front, the work of a long past, but is in reality an edifice crumbling to ruin, which nothing supports, and destined to fall in at the first storm."

In terms of persuasion, and the all-knowing and all-guiding unconscious mind, Le Bon does come to very valid conclusion about the powers of it, particularly in numbers; a civilization will become "hegemonic" and "universal," (pg. 134) which is truly a dangerous possibility. True "Public opinion" will disappear in the midst of massive media outlets feeding the crowd multiple messages, which are usually subliminal and unknowingly invading their subconscious mind. Thereafter, that message will be taken in on an unconscious level is reiterated and finally, those same ideas that the crowd had already consumed, believed and conceived as "facts," were never even thought of as being part of a propaganda-process...It is only the verbally-silent subconcious mind that ever saw a symbol, "catchword" or pitfall, that led the conscious mind to believe.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good discussion of Le Bon.

One point, I don't know that "subliminal" messages are really necessary part of this model. The terms implies a concious attempt by the sender to insert hidden messages into media content that will pass unobserved by the rational, conscious mind of the receiver but still affect the subconsciousness of the audience member. Symbols, catchwords, and slogans are overt means persuasion that may appeal to our emotions and/or to our rational mind with the need to use hidden codes or covert content.

3/18/2009 11:58 AM  

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