His best-known campaigns include a effort to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist " Torches of Freedom " and his work for the United Fruit Company connected with the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan government in Of his many books, Crystallizing Public Opinion and Propaganda gained special attention as early efforts to define and theorize the field of public relations. Citing works of writers such as Gustave Le Bon , Wilfred Trotter , Walter Lippmann , and Sigmund Freud his own double uncle , he described the masses as irrational and subject to herd instinct —and outlined how skilled practitioners could use crowd psychology and psychoanalysis to control them in desirable ways. His great grandfather was Isaac Bernays , chief rabbi of Hamburg. Bernays was a "double nephew" of Viennese psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud —by virtue of his mother, Freud's sister , and of his father's sister, Martha Bernays Freud , who married Sigmund. The Bernays family moved from Vienna to the United States in the s.
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They had a problem at that time. The country was becoming formally more democratic. A lot more people were able to vote and that sort of thing. The country was becoming wealthier and more people could participate and a lot of new immigrants were coming in, and so on. So what do you do? It's going to be harder to run things as a private club. Therefore, obviously, you have to control what people think.
There had been public relation specialists but there was never a public relations industry. There was a guy hired to make Rockefeller's image look prettier and that sort of thing. But this huge public relations industry, which is a U.
The leading figures were people in the Creel Commission. In fact, the main one, Edward Bernays, comes right out of the Creel Commission.
He has a book that came out right afterwards called Propaganda. The term "propaganda," incidentally, did not have negative connotations in those days. It was during the second World War that the term became taboo because it was connected with Germany, and all those bad things.
But in this period, the term propaganda just meant information or something like that. So he wrote a book called Propaganda around , and it starts off by saying he is applying the lessons of the first World War. The propaganda system of the first World War and this commission that he was part of showed, he says, it is possible to "regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies.
We can do it now because we have these new techniques. This is the main manual of the public relations industry. Bernays is kind of the guru. He also engineered the public relations effort behind the U.
His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn't smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield. You know all the techniques—models and movie stars with cigarettes coming out of their mouths and that kind of thing. He got enormous praise for that. So he became a leading figure of the industry, and his book was the real manual.
The New Propaganda: The Dictatorship of Palaver in Contemporary Politics