“Propaganda” by Edward Bernays is a book dedicated to understanding mass communication. In his book “Propaganda”, Edward Bernays explains what propaganda is and how it can be used to influence society.
His book illustrates how the elites rule the world by influencing public opinion with targeted propaganda.
Bernays deals with the psychological aspect behind mass manipulation and shows how this can be used. For example, issues such as gender mainstreaming and racial equality can be promoted, politics can be influenced or social change can be brought about. Bernays describes the term propaganda as a persistent attempt to deliberately create “knowledge” in order to influence public opinion about a company, an idea or a group.
This goal is pursued through public relations and the creation of apparent chaos. As early as 1927, Bernays speaks of the existence of leaders who are financed by companies in order to move the population in a certain direction. The author divides the work into two different sections: The first part refers to the role of propaganda in American society at the time, as well as the tools used. The second part describes the purpose of propaganda in areas such as politics, women, the economy, science and education.
Bernays analyzes how propaganda works and the different means it uses to win people over. Even then, Bernays observed that there is a hidden group that determines the opinions of the masses. Regardless of the intended activity, propaganda must be directed at the masses within the population.
Bernays also studied propaganda from the perspective of psychology, referring to Freud. According to Freud, people are often driven to act by unconscious motives. People are integrated into different social groups. Their judgment is therefore subject to a combination of external influences, which ultimately unconsciously govern their thinking.
For the leadership of any group, it is therefore of the utmost importance to create unconscious “judgments” about certain views or ideas in people. For Bernays, propaganda means creating the right conditions for changing a habit, not trying to change a habit.
Bernays criticizes the fact that the new propaganda methods were first and foremost used in politics. He also speaks of entrepreneurs who invest massively in political campaigns. The politician thus becomes a “salesman” who gets his votes in the same way that the entrepreneur achieves his sales.
The author uses numerous cases to show how easy it is to gain the acceptance of the masses through targeted propaganda. By pretending to have a few objective goals and continuously and intensively studying society, the propagandist will eventually succeed in creating a social opinion that satisfies his demands.