CRYSTALIZING PUBLIC OPINION by Edward Bernays
Published in 1923; considered a classic. Bernays was considered a “pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda” and was referred to in his obituary as the “father of public relations.” He was an Austrian-American and was the nephew of Sigmund Freud.
About a decade or so ago I had read Bernays other treatise along the same lines, that one entitled, appropriately enough, PROPAGANDA.
Throughout, Bernays uses this to sell the reader on the worthiness of the new high-place figure in society that he and apparently a few privileged others had concocted for the 20th century technological era and its news services: the “public relations counsel.” The public relations counsel, explains Bernays, is a kind of intercessor between the public, which Bernays candidly calls “the herd,” and mega-corporations; as well the public relations counselor is an intercessor between the public/the herd and the news media. Bernays was of course writing this very soon after the formation of the Rockefellers’ Council on Foreign Relations, so the timing and the message are together recognizable. To be sure, many of Bernays arguments to laud the coming of the public relations counsel as an essential figure in society are conventionally convincing. He even likens the public relations counsel with the position of legal counsel that most anyone seeks when they are brought into court, right? So he likened the role of public relations counsels with the intermediary role of attorneys.
Okay, well, that may have been a good thing in his mind, but not to this reader. (And definitely not to the Pilgrims who first came to this continent. But who cares about them anymore, right?)
Bernays explained that the “herd” (the public) needed someone to, kind of, “streamline” the news for them. Ominously, Bernays even BOASTS several times that in effect what this called upon public relations counsels to do was to CREATE news. Yes, he actually writes this glowingly several times. But to Bernays, this was because the public relations counsel would somehow be immaculately guided into knowing what was best for the public to know and not to know. Bernays was obviously an elitist. He wrote like an elitist. He had an incredible gift for assuming that people put into elitist positions like “public relations counsel” would just act for the betterment of the public and not just for themselves and other super-rich people. Yeah, right.
Bernays also claimed that corporations needed someone to help manage their public relations in case of reckless rumors being spread about something that corporation was trying to sell. Yes, I suppose that is more to the point of what Bernays was really interested in: Serving the corporations, where the big money is.
Look, this is not a very scintillating read or anything like that, but it is a valuable timepiece-book to understand the mentality of certain public relations-related elites immediately after the formation of the globalist Council on Foreign Relations, and it is not very lengthy, either. It gives the reader a rather succinct insight into what certain elites with high connections to large corporations and the major media were thinking in the 1920s, with what automatic disdain they considered the provincial priorities, not to mention the practical intelligence, of the aggregate “herd” of the American public, and how patronizing they were about their own elitist abilities to dictate supposedly more pressing knowledge and morality to average American people. Oh, sure, Bernays was all about moral instruction as well, albeit peripherally.
Bottom line: This guy must have been a real elitist jerk, but boy was he ever influential.