Edward Bernays was born in Vienna in 1891 and was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He has been called the ‘father of public relations” and the “father of propaganda.” During the Woodrow Wilson administration, he helped to promote the concept that the U.S. war efforts were intended to bring democracy to Europe. He is also credited with marketing campaigns that led to a massive impact on spending and behavior, such as women smoking cigarettes. Propaganda techniques are used extensively to influence us in commerce and politics. He believed propaganda was a tool of the powerful elite which allowed them to shape the beliefs, wants, and “needs” of the masses.
Bernays stated in his book PROPAGANDA that “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.” Edward Bernays. Propaganda. (Routledge, 1928),9
This podcast series, by Guy Evans, is an excellent ‘deconstruction’ of Bernays’ work. Knowledge is power – understanding propaganda arms us against its powerful influence. Add this podcast to your list and make the time to listen the whole thing. A major thumbs up!