Talk:Edward Bernays

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Bernays, Lippmann, Caesar, Gregory XV[edit]

Given the importance of this man, his influence and his relevance to power establishment activities and to the quality of life, survival or demise of the species, this bio can be expanded substantially. In this regard, Wikipedia's propaganda page simply needs to be cited (sorry to be lazy).

Re the 20th Century comment and propaganda history: Caesar famously engaged in propaganda: the Gallic Wars is cited as example. Re Loyola: The origin of the word "propaganda" in its prior, proselitizing, nuanced application, was the "Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith" (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide) established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV to foster the spread of Catholicism, which was encountering competition from English/Dutch colonial administrations. Bottom line, however, is that the psychoscience of Freudian "public relations," is very much a 20th Century phenomenon -- as claimed. Lippmann, Bernays, Lee, modern Madison Avenuists and Rovian politicos did and do their homework.

Walter Lippmann, Bernays' (unacknowledged) precursor, bears additional mention in this bio and on his own page. Lippmann famously (but this bizarrely missing from his bio page; the Editors of this and that page should monitor changes to ensure that interested parties are thwarted from deleting pertinent factual content unfavorable to the industry) co-orchestrated Woodrow Wilson's miraculous conversion in under one year from the sloganeer who "kept us out of war" to the foaming monger who (along with the British) used "public relations" to whip the American (and British) public into a frenzy against the savage Hun (for contemporary example: Einstein, Ernst, Planck and Schweitzer; Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" and Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" would not, like Scott-Heron's' revolution, "be televised"). On the subject of the origins of PR: Craig Nelson in his eponymous biography of Thomas Paine, states that after the American Revolution, Britain engaged in a coordinated disinformation (synonym for a genre of PR) campaign (an appropriately military word) to ensure that British subjects didn't get any ideas about deposing their unelected monarch. Undoubtedly, could they have, they would've hired... Bernays.

Grammatical note: Bernays' is correct possessive; let's jettison the extra s.

Re what he really thought: Lippmann and Bernays were avowed elitists who did indeed think that "we" are stupid and need to be manipulated by self-appointed superior beings. (talk) 06:30, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

someone just posted this question under the life and influences section[edit]

IT IS TRUE, ANNA is FREUDs daughter. "[I think that is not true ... Anna was Freud's daughter ... will somebody in the know please sort that out]"

it was not me Slarson 19:07, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

  • Well, at first I linked to Anna Freud but that says she was born after Bernays. So I took out that part. Canuckle 19:16, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

1891-1995-1998. Tye, Larry. The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations. New York: Crown Publishers, 1998. 306 pages. This is the first full-scale biography of Edward Bernays (1891-1995), who was Sigmund Freud's nephew, and who considered himself "the father of public relations." It is based on 800 boxes of documents that Bernays left to the Library of Congress, more than 100 interviews with his friends and associates, his 849-page autobiography published in 1965, and his numerous articles and speeches. With so much material, one might have hoped that Larry Tye, a journalist with the Boston Globe, could get behind Bernays' shameless self-promotion and find something insightful. But it never quite happens, because Bernays was a shallow and uninspiring person.

For American Tobacco, Bernays got women to start smoking, even while suspecting that smoking was dangerous. For United Fruit, he whipped U.S. newspapers into a frenzy so that the CIA could engineer its 1954 coup in Guatemala. A 1923 book written by Bernays was used by Goebbels, but Bernays shrugged it off. He did propaganda for South Vietnam in 1961, and then by 1970, after public opinion had changed, he wanted to help the peace movement. Bernays was the mass-media's version of situation ethics, and an excellent symbol of what's wrong with contemporary American culture. With Bernays there is no consistency, no character, no integrity, no conscience, no bravery, no truth -- nothing but spinning your way to fame and fortune. ISBN 0-517-70435-8 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:39, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

older comments[edit]

But the mass population is malleable- there is no one in the world that has not been affected by advertising and propaganda! And look at how people become sheep due to a mass opinion or order! William Golding illustrated this brilliantly in 'Lord Of The Flies' and there are many other examples of this- the Holocaust (6 million Jews?!), a number I can't even comprehend, sucide bombers, Waco, supermodels (size 0 mentality) , etc. the list is endless! I'm not sure Bernays thinks we are stupid- just that our sub conscious is very malleable as we can't control it. But he did change the world and not for better. Rows98 11:25, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Given that Bernays was quite obviously an unprincipled scumbag, I find the article quite biased towards being favourable to him. His lack of any conscience about whether Arbenz was a legitimate democratically elected leader of Guatemala speaks volumes about his obvious amorality. Before you reply with attacks, you may wish to consider that Bernays stated - in the very words of his own daughter - that all mankind was basically stupid. He thought that you, you reading this, for all your college education or otherwise, were basically a malleable piece of rubbish, and he didn't give a damn whether you were happy with that or not. May he and his kind rot in hell.

Bernays was filth of the worst kind. I agree. May he rot in hell, were there such a thing.--Kelt65 (talk) 18:54, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

You're also talking about a man who did extensive pro-bono work for the NAACP back in the 1920s--there's an award named after him thanks to his work. He also campaigned extensivly for anti-smoking forces in the 60s--a stance which he ironically lay the groundwork to discredit back in the 30s when he was employed by Lucky Strikes. He was a mixed bag: in Propaganda, he clearly states that conversation between an advertiser and potential consumer must be honest and direct, yet in his memoir he joyfully recounts flat out lying to the press. More than anything, he had a flair for showmanship and bought his own hype, for good or ill.

Edwards L. Bernys and Ignatius De Loyola ?

Does there exists a link between the work af Bernays, the work of Ignatius De Loyola and to the Nazi propaganda ? If so, it is facinating to know, that public relation can be traced many years back in time to the Reformation and Anti-Reformation in Europe.

Where can the principles of propaganda developed by Ignatius De Loyola be found ?

Please give links to references.

If it can be proven that there is a link, I think this must be included as a separate section.

KFL 18th February 2006

Loyola was way before this time, I believe.

I've found out what the L stands for. Its Louis, but Bernays refused to use it in his name. He was reported to "have not liked to talk about it" Longevitymonger

While Wikipedia editors might not welcome or agree to a section called Bernays was quite obviously an unprincipled scumbag, can they at least reflect on the negative nature of his ideas? For is it not correct that this article is biased and overly-favourable towards someone many consider a Nazi? (talk) 21:48, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I've got a problem with this...[edit]

"And history itself showed the flaw in Bernays's claim that 'manipulation of the masses' is natural and necessary in a democratic society. The fascist rise to power in Germany demonstrated that propaganda could be used to subvert democracy as easily as it could be used to 'resolve conflict.'"

I haven't taken it out yet, but I wanted to get some input.

I'm quite sure de Tocqueville would agree that "manipulation of the masses" is indeed "natural and necessary" in a democracy. But just because another type of manipulation (propaganda, not public relations) facilitated German Nazism doesn't mean that public relations is no less needed or effective in democracies.

It's like saying that democracies shouldn't maintain armies because some other countries have military takeovers.

Also, when the article names the "Toxic Sludge" book as its source, what does that mean? Is it verbatim, or just inspired? It seems like a very POV book to me, if its author's other contributions are any guide.

--Dablaze 01:13, Sep 3, 2004 (UTC)

Concerning "propaganda not public relations." Propaganda is public relations, according to Bernays himself. It's just a cute he came up with after the Germans made 'propaganda' less than popular. (talk) 23:26, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

So far I have only seen thinkers of the past and present state "Public relations is necessary for the functioning of a democratic society". I have yet to see a single sentence provided after these statements to back up the claim. Perhaps, someone could post some material on Bernay's thoughts on why it is a necessary process?

More source material: A search at Npr.Org yields these (the first one is the URL in the article):

I mention this largely bcz while the article does briefly mention the "bacon and eggs" story that the NPR teaser i heard does, none of the article's linking articles sound likely to include it. IMO it almost certainly will turn out to be a facet of the development of American culture (there's at least one place in Rome that advertises "American breakfast" in the window!) worth documenting, with his name, but beyond the context of Bernays per se.
-Jerzy (t) 13:17, 2005 Apr 29 (UTC)

Authenticity check: A search reveals that the phrase "regarded by many" appears in the text. Is the phrase a symptom of a dubious statement? Could a source be quoted instead? Perhaps the "many" could be identified? Might text be edited to more genuinely reflect specific facts?


From the BBC documentary Century of the Self

Freud - Civilization and it's Discontents attacked the idea that civilization was an expression of human progress. He argued it was constructed to control the dangerous animal forces inside human beings. What was implicit in his argument was the ideal of individual freedom which was at the heart of democracy was impossible. Human beings could never be allowed to truly express themselves because it was too dangerous. They must always be controlled and thus always be discontent.

"Both Bernays and (Walter) Lippman's concept of managing the masses takes the idea of democracy and turns it into giving people some kind of feel good medication that will respond to an immediate pain or yearning but will not alter the objective circumstances one iota. The idea of democracy was about changing the relations of power that had governed the worlds for so long. Bernays' idea was one of maintaining the relations of power, even if it meant one needed to stimulate the psychological lives of the public, he felt it was neccessary. If you can keep stimulating the irrational self then leadership can basically keep on doing what it wants to do." -Stewart Euwen PR Historian, Century of the Self

Except for the last sentence abuse of power is not implicit. However, it is my supposition "Those in positions of power inevitably abuse their power because it's inherent in controlling the masses which is what power comes from. It's an abuse because it goes against the ideal of individual freedom." which I think is what anyone with a negtive attitude towards Bernays and the science of controlling the behavior of the masses has a problem with. Pointing back to Freud, social control systems is what enabled humans to evolve. Keep in mind Freud was observing the state of the world (and wars) during the first half of the 20th century (WWI&WWII) and was a member (if I recall correctly) of the national socialist party.

--- 20th Century? This article seems myopic--Public Relations is not a 20th Century invention. During the Roman Empire, it was commonplace for Generals and eventually Emperors to use spectacular Triumphs (marches) to show their might and victory.

What is new is the media, that's all.

moral dilemma[edit]

And where is the moral dilemma? what more of a utopian world could be asked for that a system geared at an elite, rather that stealing loaves of bread from its people, actually aiming to fulfill their every whim and urge? this strategy takes the irrational animal aspect of human nature (which, lets face it, informs far more choices then the intellect for the average person) and turns it into an economic engine. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikimike2020 (talkcontribs) 17:09, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Something new to be mentioned here?[edit]

Austerlitz -- 12:18, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

from German wikipedia: Joseph Goebbels benutzte Bernays Buch „Crystallizing Public Opinion“, um die antijüdische Propaganda im faschistischen Deutschland aufzubauen. Bernays, selbst – wie auch sein Onkel Sigmund Freud – Jude, wurde dieser Fakt von Karl von Wiegand, einem Reporter der US-amerikanischen Hearst-Zeitung in Deutschland mitgeteilt, welcher Goebbels besucht hatte und mit ihm einen Rundgang in dessen Bibliothek unternommen hatte. Bernays selbst verschwieg diesen Fakt in den 1930er und 1940er Jahren, äußerte sich aber in seiner 1965 erschienenen Autobiographie wie folgt: „… I knew that any human activity can be used for social purposes or misused for antisocial ones. Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign. – Ich wusste, dass jede menschliche Aktivität für soziale Zwecke benutzt oder antisoziale missbraucht werden kann. Offenbar war die Attacke gegen die Juden Deutschlands kein emotionaler Ausbruch der Nazis, sondern eine wohlüberlegte, geplante Kampagne.“ (zitiert von Tye, S. 111)

Austerlitz -- 12:24, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

What kind of politics has he done during WW II? Has he been counsel of some president? Did he meet Jan Karski?

Austerlitz -- 09:54, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

(John Price Jones: [4], [5]; maybe that is the guy working at CPI.)

Austerlitz -- 15:48, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Bernays is probably the best, but well adopted, misunderstanding in USA, since Freud himself and Washington[edit]

But Bernays is, on the surface, more influential than Freud and Washington too, plus Columbus.

More detailed on his manipulation[edit]

I want to add more details on his manipulation on the American audience during the Cold war. Sources can be found here.

[6], [7], [8], [9], [10], History is a weapon, [11], [12], [13], [14], 1913 Juli 13 - Aug. 11 F. ist mit seiner Frau Martha, seiner Schwägerin Minna und seiner Tochter Anna in Marienbad (Villa "Taube" "Turba") zur Kur. Seine Tochter Sophie besucht gemeinsam mit ihrem Mann ihre Eltern. Auch Max Eitingon kommt für einen Tag. -F. lernt Ferenczis Mutter Rosa kennen. - Anna Freud verliebt sich in Edward Bernays, der aus Amerika gekommen war, und trägt sich mit Heiratsgedanken., [15] The mother of Edward Bernays was Freud's sister Anna.

Austerlitz -- (talk) 12:30, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Is the full text not to be found?[edit]

The full text of Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) Would be really beautiful.

Austerlitz -- (talk) 18:24, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

The full text can be found here: Hccu 2012 (talk) 16:55, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Link to be inserted where?[edit]

Austerlitz -- (talk) 09:04, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
I've added it as a footnote for "Campaigns". --George100 (talk) 11:12, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

What is a 'double nephew'?[edit]

Most of the hits on Google point to text either on or copied from this page! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:10, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, that sounds weird. "Second-degree" nephew? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:58, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

If the text here doesn't explain the connections made by his parentage, the analogy with Double_cousin#Double_cousins ought clarify it. Jim.henderson (talk) 03:01, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
His mother was S Freud's sister Anna, his father was the brother of S Freud's wife Martha Bernays. So he shared 25% of Freud's genes, like a "single nephew" Postpostmod (talk) 23:41, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Good article?[edit]

This article exhibits some unusually good writing. If anyone cares to, it should be put up for good article status.--Jarhed (talk) 07:29, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

no it should not, a significant amount of text remains uncited, this needs to improve substantially before a GF review could go ahead. -- (talk) 13:55, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

It should, indeed. I read it with pleasure. Whoever used phrases such as:

It was through Bernays that women's smoking habits started to become socially acceptable. Bernays created this event as news, which it was not. Bernays convinced industries that the news, not advertising, was the best medium to carry their message to an unsuspecting public.

is a talented writer. Don't change these bits, please :). Zezen (talk) 13:34, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Where are the citations?[edit]

This is the most amount of missing citations I have seen of any article. Please, can someone cite these claims? It's really difficult to understand Bernays when it is impossible to fully authenticate the reality of what is written. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:01, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

This is typical of biographical articles on public relations people. At least Bernays is indisputably notable. That makes him an exception to the rule. Jay Tepper (talk) 16:27, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
I can't help noticing that virtually every sentence in this article is followed by "citation needed". Did someone with an anti-PR POV have a field day on this article, or what? (talk) 21:51, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Noam Chomsky on Edward Bernays[edit]

Noam Chomsky has much to say about Edward Bernays, but little of it is mention here. Could we have a Section? (talk) 21:25, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I am all in for it.

Zezen (talk) 13:35, 23 August 2014 (UTC)