26 February 2012

Intelligent Few

Propaganda by Edward Bernays, 1928, Excerpts

It was the astounding success of propaganda during the war [WWI] that opened the eyes of the intelligent few in all departments of life to the possibilities of regimenting the public mind. [See Creel Commission] The manipulators of patriotic opinions made use of the mental clich├ęs and the emotional habits of the public to produce mass reactions against the alleged atrocities, the terror, and the tyranny of the enemy. It was only natural, after the war ended, that intelligent persons should ask themselves whether it was possible to apply a similar technique to the problem of peace.

Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos. Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses. Only through the active energy of the intelligent few can the public at large become aware of and act upon new ideas. Only through the wise use of propaganda will our government be able to maintain that intimate relationship with the public which is necessary in a democracy.

In almost every act of our daily lives 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, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world. It has been found possible to mold the mind of the masses so that they will throw their strength in the desired direction.

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