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Years ago, Americans grabbed toast and coffee for breakfast. Public-relations pioneer Edward Bernays changed that.
Bernays used his Uncle Sigmund Freud's ideas to help convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast.
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The people of the US have been subjected to the most costly, unparallelled, 3/4 century propaganda effort by corporations in order to expand corporate rights, limit democracy and destroy the unions. This is the history From WWI to Reagan.
Alex Carey: Corporations and Propaganda
When Noam Chomsky dedicated his book "Manufacturing Consent" to the memory of Alex Carey, he said that the Australian sociologist would have written the definitive history of propaganda in the US, had he lived to complete his work.
The 20th century, Carey says, is marked by three historic developments: the growth of democracy via the expansion of the franchise, the growth of corporations, and the growth of propaganda to protect corporations from democracy. Carey's unique view of US history goes back to World War I and ends with the Reagan era
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Alex Carey: Corporations and Propaganda
The Attack on Democracy
Alex Carey said that the people of the US have been subjected to an unparalleled, expensive, 3/4 century long propaganda effort designed to expand corporate rights by undermining democracy and destroying the unions. The 20th century, he wrote, is marked by three historic developments: the growth of democracy via the expansion of the franchise, the growth of corporations, and the growth of propaganda to protect corporations from democracy. Carey’s unique view of US history goes back to World War I and ends with the Reagan era.
Noam Chomsky dedicated his book “Manufacturing Consent” to the memory of Alex Carey. Chomsky says that the Australian sociologist would have written the definitive history of propaganda in the US, had he lived to complete his work. This is a fairly complex production with many voices, historic sound clips, and source material. The program has been used by writers and students of history and propaganda. Alex Carey: Taking the Risk out of Democracy, Corporate Propaganda VS Freedom and Liberty with a foreword by Noam Chomsky was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1995.
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"To make the World safe for Democracy": Bernays Karriere begann während des Ersten Weltkrieges. Er arbeitete für die Propagandabteilung der amerikanischen Regierung und versuchte, die kriegsmüden US-Bürger für den Kriegseintritt zu begeistern.
"Father of spin"
"Father of Spin": 1995 starb der Übervater der PR-Branche im Alter von 103 Jahren in Cambridge im US-Staat Massachusetts. Hier wird er zu seinem 95. Geburtstag reich beschenkt.
The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & The Birth of PR
by Larry Tye
book review by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton
Today, few people outside the public relations profession recognize the name of Edward L. Bernays. As the year 2000 approaches, however, his name deserves to figure on historians' lists of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
It is impossible to fundamentally grasp the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the past 100 years without some understanding of Bernays and his professional heirs in the public relations industry. PR is a 20th century phenomenon, and Bernays--widely eulogized as the "father of public relations" at the time of his death in 1995--played a major role in defining the industry's philosophy and methods.
Eddie Bernays himself desperately craved fame and a place in history. During his lifetime he worked and schemed to be remembered as the founder of his profession and sometimes drew ridicule from his industry colleagues for his incessant self-promotions. These schemes notwithstanding, Bernays richly deserves the title that Boston Globe reporter Larry Tye has given him in his engagingly written new book, The Father of Spin.
In keeping with his obsessive desire for recognition, Bernays was the author of a massive memoir, titled Biography of an Idea, and he fretted about who would author his biography. He would probably be happy with Tye's book, the first written since his passing.
The Father of Spin is a bit too fawning and uncritical of Bernays and his profession. We recommend it, however, for its new insights into Bernays, many of which are based on a first-time-ever examination of the 80 boxes of papers and documents that Bernays left to the Library of Congress. The portrait that emerges is of a brilliant, contradictory man.
Tye writes that "Bernays' papers . . . provide illuminating and sometimes disturbing background on some of the most interesting episodes of twentieth-century history, from the way American tobacco tycoons made it socially acceptable for
women to smoke to the way other titans of industry persuaded us to pave over our landscape and switch to beer as the 'beverage of moderation.' The companies involved aren't likely to release their records of those campaigns, assuming they still exist. But Bernays saved every scrap of paper he sent out or took in. . . . In so doing, he let us see just how policies were made and how, in many cases, they were founded on deception."
In an industry that is notable for its mastery of evasions and euphemisms, Bernays stood out for his remarkable frankness. He was a propagandist and proud of it. (In an interview with Bill Moyers, Bernays said that what he did was propaganda, and that he just "hoped it was 'proper-ganda' and not 'improper-ganda.'")
Bernays' life was amazing in many ways. He had a role in many of the seminal intellectual and commercial events of this century. "The techniques he developed fast became staples of political campaigns and of image-making in general," Tye notes. "That is why it is essential to understand Edward L. Bernays if we are to understand what Hill and Knowlton did in Iraq--not to mention how Richard Nixon was able to dig his way out of his post-Watergate depths and remake himself into an elder statesman worthy of a lavish state funeral, how Richard Morris repositioned President Bill Clinton as an ideological centrist in order to get him reelected, and how most other modern-day miracles of public relations are conceived and carried out."
Many of the new insights that Tye offers have to do with Bernays's relationship with his family and his uncle Sigmund Freud, whose reputation as "the father of psychoanalysis" owes something to Bernays' publicity efforts. Bernays regarded Uncle Sigmund as a mentor, and used Freud's insights into the human psyche and motivation to design his PR campaigns, while also trading on his famous uncle's name to inflate his own stature.
Drink beer for freedom!
There is, however, a striking paradox in the relationship between the two. Uncle Sigmund's "talking cure" was designed to unearth his patients' unconscious drives and hidden motives, in the belief that bringing them into conscious discourse would help people lead healthier lives. Bernays, by contrast, used psychological techniques to mask the motives of his clients, as part of a deliberate strategy aimed at keeping the public unconscious of the forces that were working to mold their minds.
Characteristically (and again paradoxically), Bernays was remarkably candid about his manipulative intent. "If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it," he argued in Propaganda, one of his first books. In a later book, he coined the term "engineering of consent" to describe his technique for controlling the masses.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society," Bernays argued. "Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. . . . In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, 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."
Americans beverage of moderation!
This definition of "democratic society" is itself a contradiction in terms--a theoretical attempt to reconcile rule by the few with the democratic system which threatened (and still threatens) the privileges and powers of the governing elite. On occasion, Bernays himself recoiled from the anti-democratic implications of his theory.
During Bernays' lifetime and since, propaganda has usually had dirty connotations, loaded and identified with the evils of Nazi PR genius Joseph Goebbels, or the oafish efforts of the Soviet Communists. In his memoirs, Bernays wrote that he was "shocked" to discover that Goebbels kept copies of Bernays' writings in his own personal library, and that his theories were therefore helping to "engineer" the rise of the Third Reich.
Bernays liked to cultivate an image as a supporter of feminism and other liberating ideas, but his work on behalf of the United Fruit Company had consequences just as evil and terrifying as if he'd worked directly for the Nazis. The Father of Spin sheds new and important light on the extent to which the Bernays' propaganda campaign for the United Fruit Company (today's United Brands) led directly to the CIA's overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala.
The term "banana republic" actually originated in reference to United Fruit's domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries. The company brutally exploited virtual slave labor in order to produce cheap bananas for the lucrative U.S. market. When a mildly reformist Guatemala government attempted to reign in the company's power, Bernays whipped up media and political sentiment against it in the commie-crazed 1950s.
Der Onkel: Bernays war der Neffe des berühmten Siegmund Freud. Auf dem Bild ist Siegmund Freud mit seiner Frau Martha zu sehen, die Schwester von Bernays Vater. Ein doppeltes Verwandtschaftsverhältnis - Bernays Mutter Anna war eine Schwester Freuds.
"Articles began appearing in the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Atlantic Monthly, Time, Newsweek, the New Leader, and other publications all discussing the growing influence of Guatemala's Communists," Tye writes. "The fact that liberal journals like the Nation were also coming around was especially satisfying to Bernays, who believed that winning the liberals over was essential. . . . At the same time, plans were under way to mail to American Legion posts and auxiliaries 300,000 copies of a brochure entitled 'Communism in Guatemala--22 Facts.'"
His efforts led directly to a brutal military coup. Tye writes that Bernays "remained a key source of information for the press, especially the liberal press, right through the takeover. In fact, as the invasion was commencing on June 18, his personal papers indicate he was giving the 'first news anyone received on the situation' to the Associate Press, United Press, the International News Service, and the New York Times, with contacts intensifying over the next several days."
In eigener Sache: Bernays verstand es auch für sich und seine eigenen Berufsstand zu werben. Erfolgreich schuf er den Mythos des mächtigen Manipulators. Wie wirkungsvoll seine Kampagnen wirklich waren, ist schwer einzuschätzen. Am Ende des zweiten Weltkriegs warb er mit solchen Anzeigen für seine eigene PR-Firma.
The result, tragically, has meant decades of tyranny under a Guatemalan government whose brutality rivaled the Nazis as it condemned hundreds of thousands of people (mostly members of the country's impoverished Maya Indian majority) to dislocation, torture and death.
Bernays relished and apparently never regretted his work for United Fruit, for which he was reportedly paid $100,000 a year, a huge fee in the early 1950s. Tye writes that Bernays' papers "make clear how the United States viewed its Latin neighbors as ripe for economic exploitation and political manipulation--and how the propaganda war Bernays waged in Guatemala set the pattern for future U.S.-led campaigns in Cuba and, much later, Vietnam."
As these examples show, Tye's biography of Bernays is important. It casts a spotlight on the anti-democratic and dangerous corporate worldview of the public relations industry. The significance of these dangers is often overlooked, in large part because of the PR industry's deliberate efforts to operate behind the scenes as it manages and manipulates opinions and public policies. This strategy of invisibility is the reason that PR academic Scott Cutlip refers to public relations as "the unseen power."
Bernays pioneered many of the industry's techniques for achieving invisibility, yet his self-aggrandizing personality drove him to leave behind a record of how and for whom he worked. By compiling this information and presenting it to the public in a readable form, Tye has accomplished something similar to the therapeutic mission that Freud attempted with his patients--a recovery of historical memories that a psychoanalyst might term a "return of the repressed."
Edward Louis Bernays (November 22, 1891 – March 9, 1995) was a US pioneer in the field of public relations along with Ivy Lee. Combining the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion using the subconscious.
He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational and dangerous as a result of the 'herd instinct' that Trotter had described.
Adam Curtis's award-winning 2002 documentary for the BBC, The Century of the Self, pinpoints Bernays as the originator of modern public relations, and Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine.
Born 1891 in Vienna to Jewish parents, Bernays was a nephew of psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud. His father was Ely Bernays, brother of Freud's wife Martha Bernays. His mother was Freud's sister, Anna. In 1892 his family moved to New York City, where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. In 1912 he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in agriculture, but chose journalism as his first career. He married to Doris E. Fleischman in 1922.
Bernays also drew on the ideas of the French writer Gustave LeBon, the originator of Crowd psychology, and of Wilfred Trotter, who promoted similar ideas in the anglophone world in his book Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War. Bernays refers to these two names in his writings. Trotter, who was a head and neck surgeon at University College Hospital, London, read Freud's works, and it was he who introduced Wilfred Bion, whom he lived and worked with, to Freud's ideas. When Freud fled Vienna for London after the Anschluss, Trotter became his personal physician, and Wilfred Bion and Ernest Jones became key members of the Freudian psychoanalysis movement in England, and would develop the field of Group Dynamics, largely associated with the Tavistock Institute where many of Freud's followers worked. Thus ideas of group psychology and psychoanalysis came together in London around World War II
Bernays' public relations efforts helped to popularize Freud's theories in the United States. Bernays also pioneered the PR industry's use of psychology and other social sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns:
"If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits."
He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the 'engineering of consent'.
Bernays began his career as Press Agent in 1913, counseling to theaters, concerts and the ballet. In 1917, US President Woodrow Wilson engaged George Creel and realizing one of his ideas, he founded the Committee on Public Information. Bernays, Carl Byoir and John Price Jones worked together to influence public opinion towards supporting American participation in World War I.
In 1919, he opened an office as Public Relations Counselor in New York. He held the first Public Relations course at the University of New York in 1923, publishing the first groundbreaking book on public relations entitled Crystallizing Public Opinion that same year.
One of Bernays' favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of "third party authorities" to plead his clients' causes. "If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway", he said. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted a survey of physicians and reported their recommendation that people eat heavy breakfasts. He sent the results of the survey to 5,000 physicians, along with publicity touting bacon and eggs as a heavy breakfast.
Bernays also drew upon his uncle Sigmund's psychoanalytic ideas for the benefit of commerce in order to promote, by indirection, commodities as diverse as cigarettes, soap and books.
In addition to his uncle Freud, Bernays also used the theories of Ivan Pavlov.
PR industry historian Scott Cutlip describes Bernays as "perhaps the most fabulous and fascinating individual in public relations, a man who was bright, articulate to excess, and most of all, an innovative thinker and philosopher of this vocation that was in its infancy when he opened his office in New York in June 1919."
Philosophy and public relations
Bernays' papers, just recently opened, contain a wealth of information on the founding of the field in the twenties. In fact, The Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays (1965) contains one of the very best overviews of the decade. Many of the essays selected for the Coolidge-Consumerism collection from the Bernays Papers were written as early drafts for The Biography of an Idea.
Bernays, who pursued his calling in New York City 1919-1963, styled himself a "public relations counsel." He had very pronounced views on the differences between what he did and what people in advertising did. A pivotal figure in the orchestration of elaborate corporate advertising campaigns and multi-media consumer spectacles, he nevertheless is among those listed in the acknowledgments section of the seminal government social science study Recent Social Trends in the United States (1933).
On a par with Bernays as the most sought-after public relations counsel of the decade was Ivy Ledbetter Lee, among whose chief clients were John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Bethlehem Steel, Armour & Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Lee is represented in the Coolidge-Consumerism collection by "Publicity: Some of the Things It Is and Is Not" (1925).
Bernays, however, was a philosopher of promotion, and it was probably that philosophical quality, evident in his writings and speeches, as well as the sheer exuberant creativity and intelligence of his publicity blitzes, which enabled him to impart to his own efforts and to the field more generally a sense of stature, scope and profundity.
The belief that propaganda and news were legitimate tools of his business, and his ability to offer philosophical justifications for these beliefs that ultimately embraced the whole democratic way of life, in Bernays' mind set his work in public relations apart from what ad men did. The Bernays essays A Public Relations Counsel States His Views (1927) and This Business of Propaganda (1928) show that Bernays regarded advertising men as special pleaders, merely paid to persuade people to accept an idea or commodity. The public relations counsel, on the other hand, he saw as an Emersonian-like creator of events that dramatized new concepts and perceptions, and even influenced the actions of leaders and groups in society.
Bernays' vision was of a utopian society in which the dangerous libidinal energies that lurked just below the surface of every individual could be harnessed and channeled by a corporate elite for economic benefit. Through the use of mass production, big business could fulfill constant craving of the inherently irrational and desire driven masses, simultaneously securing the niche of a mass production economy (even in peacetime), as well as sating the dangerous animal urges that threatened to tear society apart if left unquelled.
Bernays' magisterial, philosophical touch is in evidence in Manipulating Public Opinion (1928) when he writes: "This is an age of mass production. In the mass production of materials a broad technique has been developed and applied to their distribution. In this age, too, there must be a technique for the mass distribution of ideas." Yet he recognized the potential danger in so grand a scheme and in This Business of Propaganda (1928), as elsewhere, sounded the great caveat that adds a grace note to his ambitious vision: a public relations counsel "must never accept a retainer or assume a position which puts his duty to the groups he represents above his duty to society."
Main article: Propaganda (book)
Cover of Bernays' 1928 book, Propaganda.
In Propaganda (1928), his most important book, Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, 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.
Notwithstanding such seeming probity, articles in the journals of opinion, such as the one by Marlen Pew, Edward L. Bernays Critiqued as "Young Machiavelli of Our Time", and the debate between Bernays and Everett Dean Martin in Forum, Are We Victims of Propaganda?, depicted Bernays negatively. He and other publicists were often attacked as propagandists and deceptive manipulators, who represented special interests against the public interest and covertly contrived events that secured coverage as news stories, free of charge, for their clients instead of securing attention for them through paid advertisements.
Bernays' brilliance for promotion in this vein emerges clearly when one reads, in the Bernays Typescript on Publicizing the New Dodge Cars, 1927-1928: "Two Sixes", the story of how he managed to secure newspaper coverage for the radio programs he developed to promote the Dodge Brothers' new six-cylinder cars. The Bernays Typescript on Publicizing the Fashion Industry, 1925-27: "Hats and Stockings" and the Bernays Typescript on Art in the Fashion Industry, 1923-1927, reveal a similar flair for consumer manipulation in the arena of fashion.
As is evident from the description of his campaign to publicize the Dodge cars, Bernays had a particular gift for the marketing strategy called the "tie-up" or "tie-in" -- in which one venue or opportunity or occasion for promoting a consumer product, for example, radio advertising, is linked to another, say, newspaper advertising, and even, at times, to a third, say a department store exhibition salesroom featuring the item, and possibly even a fourth, such as an important holiday, for example Thrift Week.
In addition to famous corporate clients, such as Procter & Gamble, the American Tobacco Company, Cartier Inc., Best Foods, CBS, the United Fruit Company, General Electric, Dodge Motors, the fluoridationists of the Public Health Service, Knox-Gelatin, and innumerable other big names, Bernays also worked on behalf of many non-profit institutions and organizations. These included, to name just a few, the Committee on Publicity Methods in Social Work (1926-1927), the Jewish Mental Health Society (1928), the Book Publishers Research Institute (1930-1931), the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (1933), the Committee for Consumer Legislation (1934), the Friends of Danish Freedom and Democracy (1940), the Citywide Citizens' Committee on Harlem (1942), and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (1954-1961). For the U.S. Government, he worked for the President's Emergency Committee on Employment (1930-1932) and President Calvin Coolidge.
In 1950’s some of his ideas and vision, helped in creating INDIA as the Democratic Republic of Southeast Asia by having the People’s Congress of India to adapt the Bill of Rights. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Petition which were added to the constitution of India.
The amusing Bernays Typescript on Public Relations Work and Politics, 1924: "Breakfast with Coolidge" shows that President Coolidge too was among his clients. Bernays was hired to improve Coolidge's image before the 1924 presidential election.
Another selection from his papers, the Typescript on Publicizing the Physical Culture Industry, 1927: "Bernarr Macfadden", reveals Bernays' opinion of the leader of the physical culture movement. Yet another client, department store visionary Edward A. Filene, was the subject of the Typescript on a Boston Department Store Magnate. Bernays' Typescript on the Importance of Samuel Strauss: "1924 - Private Life" shows that the public relations counsel and his wife were fans of consumerism critic Samuel Strauss.
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Some of the campaigns Bernays worked on:
* In the 1920s, working for the American Tobacco Company, he sent a group of young models to march in the New York City parade. He then told the press that a group of women's rights marchers would light "Torches of Freedom". On his signal, the models lit Lucky Strike cigarettes in front of the eager photographers. The New York Times (1 April 1929) printed: "Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of 'Freedom'". This helped to break the taboo against women smoking in public. During this decade he also handled publicity for the NAACP.
* Bernays once engineered a "pancake breakfast" with vaudevillians for Calvin Coolidge in what is widely considered one of the first overt media acts for a president.
* Bernays used his uncle Sigmund Freud's ideas to help convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast.
* In October 1929, Bernays was involved in promoting "Light's Golden Jubilee." The event, which spanned across several major cities in the U.S., was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thomas Edison's invention of the light-bulb (note: the light-bulb was in fact invented by Joseph Swan). The publicity elements of the Jubilee – including the special issuance of a U.S. postage stamp and Edison's "re-creating" the invention of the light bulb for a nationwide radio audience – provided evidence of Bernays' love for big ideas and "ballyhoo."
* Bernays helped the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and other special interest groups to convince the American public that water fluoridation was safe and beneficial to human health. This was achieved by using the American Dental Association in a highly successful media campaign.
* In the 1930s, his Dixie Cup campaign was designed to convince consumers that only disposable cups were sanitary.
Beyond his contributions to these famous and powerful clients, Bernays revolutionized public relations by combining traditional press agentry with the techniques of psychology and sociology to create what one writer has called "the science of ballyhoo."
Overthrow of government of Guatemala
Bernay's most extreme political propaganda activities were said to be conducted on behalf of the multinational corporation United Fruit Company (today's Chiquita Brands International) and the U.S. government to facilitate the successful overthrow (see Operation PBSUCCESS) of the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Bernays' propaganda (documented in the BBC documentary, The Century of the Self), branding Arbenz as communist, was published in major U.S. media. According to a book review by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of Larry Tye's biography, "The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & The Birth of PR",
"the term 'banana republic' actually originated in reference to United Fruit's domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries. The company brutally exploited virtual slave labor in order to produce cheap bananas for the lucrative U.S. market."
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda would later denounce the dominance of foreign-owned banana producers in the politics of several Latin American countries in a poem titled "La United Fruit Co."
Recognition and criticism
Much of Bernays's reputation today stems from his persistent public relations campaign to build his own reputation as "America's No. 1 Publicist." During his active years, many of his peers in the industry were offended by Bernays's continuous self-promotion. According to Cutlip, "Bernays was a brilliant person who had a spectacular career, but, to use an old-fashioned word, he was a braggart."
"When a person would first meet Bernays", says Cutlip, "it would not be long until Uncle Sigmund would be brought into the conversation. His relationship with Freud was always in the forefront of his thinking and his counseling." According to Irwin Ross, another writer, "Bernays liked to think of himself as a kind of psychoanalyst to troubled corporations." In the early 1920s, Bernays arranged an English-language translation of Freud's General Introduction to Psychoanalysis for the US publication. In addition to publicizing Freud's ideas, Bernays used his association with Freud to establish his own reputation as a thinker and theorist—a reputation that was further enhanced when Bernays authored several landmark texts of his own, most notably Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923, ISBN 0-87140-975-5), Propaganda (1928, ISBN 0-8046-1511-X) and "The Engineering of Consent" in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (March 1947).
Bernays defined the profession of "counsel on public relations" as a "practicing social scientist" whose "competence is like that of the industrial engineer, the management engineer, or the investment counselor in their respective fields." To assist clients, PR counselors used "understanding of the behavioral sciences and applying them—sociology, social psychology, anthropology, history, etc." In Propaganda, his most important book, Bernays argued that the scientific manipulation of public opinion was necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in society.
Bernays' celebration of propaganda helped define public relations, but it did not win the industry many friends. In a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter described Bernays and Ivy Lee as "professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of foolishness, fanaticism and self-interest." And history showed the flaw in Bernays' identification of the "manipulation of the masses" as a natural and necessary feature of 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."
In his 1965 autobiography, Bernays recalls a dinner at his home in 1933 where
Karl von Weigand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Weigand his propaganda library, the best Weigand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Weigand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. ... Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.
It is impossible to fundamentally grasp the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the past 100 years without some understanding of Bernays and his professional heirs in the public relations industry. As a result his legacy remains a highly contested one, as evidenced by the 2002 BBC documentary The Century of the Self, where he is described as "undemocratic". PR is a 20th-century phenomenon, and Bernays—widely eulogized as the "father of public relations" at the time of his death in 1995—played a major role in defining the industry's philosophy and methods.
“ The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.
– (Edward L. Bernays, "The Engineering of Consent", 1947)
* The Broadway Anthology (1917, co-author)
* Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) OCLC 215243834
* A Public Relations Counsel (1927)
* An Outline of Careers; a practical guide to achievement by thirty-eight eminent Americans (1927)
* Verdict of public opinion on propaganda (1927)
* Propaganda (1928), Horace Liveright, ISBN 978-0804615112, fulltext online
* This Business of Propaganda (1928)
* Universities—pathfinders in public opinion (1937)
* Careers for men; a practical guide to opportunity in business, written by thirty-eight successful Americans (1939)
* Speak up for democracy; what you can do—a practical plan of action for every American citizen (1940)
* Future of private enterprise in the post-war world (1942)
* Democratic leadership in total war (1943)
* Psychological blueprint for the peace—Canada, U.S.A. (1944)
* Public relations (1945)
* Take your place at the peace table (1945)
* What the British think of us; a study of British hostility to America and Americans and its motivation, with recommendations for improving Anglo-American relations (1950, co-author with his wife Doris Fleischman)
* Engineering of consent (1955, contributor) OCLC 550584
* Your future in public relations (1961)
* Biography of an idea: memoirs of public relations counsel (1965)
* Case for Reappraisal of U.S. Overseas Information Policies and Programs (Special Study) (1970), by Edward L. Bernays and Burnet Hershey (editors)