Freud’s Nephew Created the Propaganda Model Society Now Runs On
Sigmund Freud’s ideas about psychology are known the world over. He originated the concept of the id, ego, and superego, detailed dangerous instinctual drives and described primitive sexual forces he said linger in the mind of man as evolutionary baggage. His ideas were initially hated when they were printed in Europe, and even today many people criticize Freud’s views on human psychology. But, little do they know the theories he detailed have been used successfully to turn America into a materialistic, consumer-driven culture, and have also successfully been used to manipulate the democracy people live under to favor an elite.
Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays began using his uncle’s ideas about primitive sexual and destructive forces hidden deep in the psyche of man to manipulate the masses in the Roaring 1920s. After studying his uncle’s work, Bernays began working on a way to make people buy things they didn’t need by linking products to unconscious desires in their mind. This practice was the beginning of the materialistic, consumeristic culture that dominates Anglo America today.
Before his work on designing a consumer culture started in the 1920s, Bernays worked for Woodrow Wilson as a propaganda agent (the term public relations had not yet been invented by Bernays). He used crowd psychology theories from Freud to design a slogan to justify U.S. entry into World War I:
Make the world safe for democracy.
The propaganda campaign designed around this slogan was a huge success. The crowds loved Woodrow Wilson in a completely irrational way. Bernays then thought, why not use the techniques he pioneered as a government propaganda agent for corporations. The General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Freud became his guidebook. Bernays set out to make a fortune for corporations and himself by manipulating mass psychology, their irrational emotions, and their unconscious desires.
Bernays’ first big project was designed for tobacco companies who wanted to get women smoking. There had been a long-standing taboo against women smoking in public so Bernays used psychoanalysis to study what cigarettes meant to women subconsciously, at an emotional level.
Psychoanalysis reveled cigarettes were symbols of the penis and male sexual power. To make women buy cigarettes, Bernays thought he needed to connect smoking to challenging male power and symbolically giving women their own penis. Bernays organized a mass lighting up of cigarettes with young, pretty models and later stacked the deck for the ensuing debate: he told the press these were young, strong, independent women (sound familiar?!) who lit up Torches of Freedom! He used his connections to get the message into all the major newspapers of the day. After the propaganda campaign, the rise of women smoking began. The campaign was a huge success.
Bernays continued to refine Freud’s ideas and adapt them for use by corporations who needed to move more and more products as production capacity ramped up. He developed the idea of linking products and brands to the irrational thoughts and desires Freud wrote about. In reality, the products were irrelevant, but to the masses they became powerful symbols of how they going to be seen by other people.
Advertising had changed from intellectual appeal to emotional manipulation. This model of competitive, conspicuous consumption exists to this day.
Large corporations in the 1920s were becoming increasingly worried about evermore efficient production methods producing more things than they could sell. Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers detailed the popular opinion of the CEOs of the day:
We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.
In the past, products were sold based on their practical use. But corporations were out to transform this thinking, turning America into a materialistic society and the economy into one of consumerism.
In response, Bernays organized product placements in movies. He told car companies to sell cars as symbols of male sexuality. He organized fashion shows, and paid celebrities to market the idea of using things you bought as a means of expressing yourself to others. He helped President Calvin Coolidge overcome a boring image by bringing movie stars to the White House and then manipulating newspaper coverage. He even went as far as linking regular drinking cups to subliminal images of vaginas and venereal disease to push Dixie brand disposable cups as the only sanitary choice!
Echoing Oswald Spengler’s thinking about Western society’s increasingly mechanical tendencies, in which he believed Western man’s ultimate goal was to transcend his biology and turn himself into one of his machines, President Herbert Hoover said this about the emerging consumer economy, in large part driven by social engineers like Bernays:
You have taken over the job of creating desire and have transformed people into constantly moving happiness machines, machines which have become the key to economic progress.
The Rise and End of the Machine Culture further details Spengler’s ideas on man transforming himself into a machine. However, not everyone liked the idea of being transformed into a happiness machine. A journalist wrote this criticism of the emerging consumer culture in the 1920s:
A change has come over our democracy. The American citizen’s first importance to his country is no longer that of citizen, but that of consumer.
The manipulation of human emotion would not stop with making people buy things they did not need, it would later be used by governments to make people focus on window dressing issues instead of what is really going on with the power structure.
Politicians loved Bernay’s ideas. Indeed, his ideas have directly led us to the managed democracy we live in today, in which people are still allowed to vote but the candidates they vote for do not change the overall power structure one bit. Bernays wrote about the use of his techniques to manipulate the masses in his book Propaganda, effectively rendering the ideals behind democracy worthless:
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 are 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. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
To Bernays, an elite was needed to managed the bewildered herd that comprises a democracy. Before this time, the concept of democracy was that an informed populace would make a rational decision about their leaders and the future of the nation. However, because Bernays and Freud viewed man as an irrational animal, it was thought man needed to be managed from above without knowing he was being managed. It is important to note, during an interview about her father Bernays’ daughter told journalists her father never through about people as individuals, he only thought of them as masses.
Freud became increasingly pessimistic about human nature in his twilight years, and began to believe the human species had instincts and drives that were far more dangerous than he originally thought. Bernays adapted the techniques gleaned from Freud’s work to manipulate not only the things people bought but the leaders they voted for. Strategies for social control by an elite were devised. Bernays called this idea the engineering of consent. Critics have called it enlightened despotism. The idea that the masses are stupid they have to be controlled without realizing it has given birth to the managed democracy and inverted totalitarianism we now live under.
Freud’s Penis Envy theories have been largely substantiated by the successful smoking campaign of Bernays and later, the rise of feminism. What Freud meant with the Penis Envy theory was women wish they were men. It is easy to see that is the end goal of feminism, to transform women into bad copies of men rather than to encourage them to pursue their natural biological strengths. Feminism has been another tool of the elite to manage the democracy we live in and provide government bureaucrats with 50% more taxpayers, but has cut birth rates to suicidal levels for Caucasians and destroyed the family at the same time while unleashing a Law of the Jungle sexual market on the populace.
Once one sees how successful Freud’s theories and Bernays’ implementation of them have been at manipulating people for a century it is hard to argue that they’re invalid. Psychoanalysis and the resulting propaganda model of pushing consumerism and hollow democracy on the masses by manipulating their emotions have been hugely successful for a big business and government elite. Discredit Freud at your own peril.
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