October 22, 2006
From Episode Two of the film series "The Century of the Self" by Adam Curtis. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays started his business life as a publicist. While still in his twenties, he was part of the propaganda effort that drove the United States into in World War I (WW I.)
He personally advised several US presidents starting with Woodrow Wilson and counseled numerous corporations and business associations. Hitler's propaganda chief and Nazi henchman Joseph Goebbels was a reader and fan of Bernay's writing in particular Bernay's book "Crystalizing Public Opinion."
In this short excerpt from Curtis's film we see one example of Bernays at work.
Bernays was one of the engineers of the Cold War. He perfected the technique of manufacturing a distant but ever-threatening enemy and then creating a constant state of fear by generating false news reports that endlessly re-stated and exagerated the threat.
The stated purpose of Bernay's methods was to give those in power greater control over what he called "the mass mind." It worked well in the 1950s and sadly, it appears to be working quite well today... but maybe not forever.
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