The leading figure of the public relations industry, Edward Bernays, explained that “the very essence of the democratic process” is “the freedom to persuade and suggest,” what he calls “the engineering of consent.”
Propaganda (1928) by Edward L. Bernays
p 47 “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 it?”
p 49 “But men do not need to be actually gathered together in a public meeting or in a street riot, to be subject to the influences of mass psychology. Because man is by nature gregarious he feels himself to be member of a herd, even when he is alone in his room with the curtains drawn. His mind retains the patterns which have been stamped on it by the group influences.”
p 53/4 “The newer salesmanship, understanding the group structure of society and the principles of mass psychology, would first ask: ‘Who is it that influences the eating habits of the public?’ The answer, obviously, is: ‘The physicians.’ The new salesman will then suggest to physicians to say publicly that it is wholesome to eat bacon. He knows as a mathematical certainty, that large numbers of persons will follow the advice of their doctors, because he understands the psychological relation of dependence of men upon their physicians.”
The Fluoride Deception (2004) by Christopher Bryson
p xxii “He [Edward L. Bernays] also promoted water fluoridation, consulting on strategy for the National Institute of Dental Research.”
p 159 “Selling fluoride was child’s play, Bernays explained [in a 1993 interview]. The PR wizard specialized in promoting new ideas and products to the public by stressing a claimed public-health benefit. He understood that citizens had an often unconscious trust in medical authority. ‘You can get practically any idea accepted,’ Bernays told me, chuckling. ‘If doctors are in favor, the public is willing to accept it, because a doctor is an authority to most people, regardless of how much he knows, or doesn’t know.…By the law of averages, you can usually find an individual in any field who will be willing to accept new ideas, and the new ideas then infiltrate the others who haven’t accepted it.”
p 159 “By publicizing the purported health benefits of certain products, Bernays similarly increased sales of bananas for the United Fruit Company, bacon for the Beechnut Packing Company, and Crisco cooking oil for Procter and Gamble.”
Needless to say, the forced-fluoridation sales technique has not changed much over the years.
Here’s a longer list of quotes from Propaganda.
p 37 “The invisible government tends to be concentrated in the hands of the few because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery which controls the opinions and habits of the masses. To advertise on a scale which will reach fifty million persons is expensive. To reach and persuade the group leaders who dictate the public’s thoughts and actions is likewise expensive.
For this reason there is an increasing tendency to concentrate the functions of propaganda in the hands of the propaganda specialist. This specialist is more and more assuming a distinct place and function in our national life.”
p 47 “The systematic study of mass psychology revealed to students the potentialities of invisible government of society by manipulation of the motives which actuate man in the group. Trotter and Le Bon, who approached the subject in a scientific manner, and Graham Wallas, Walter Lippmann and others who continued with searching studies of the group mind, established that the group has mental characteristics distinct from those of the individual, and is motivated by impulses and emotions which cannot be explained on the basis of what we know of individual psychology. So the question naturally arose: 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 it?”
p 49 “If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway. But men do not need to be actually gathered together in a public meeting or in a street riot, to be subject to the influences of mass psychology. Because man is by nature gregarious feels himself to be member of a herd, even when he is alone in his room with the curtains drawn. His mind retains the patterns which have been stamped on it by the group influences.”
p 50 “Trotter and Le Bon concluded that the group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emotions. In making up its mind its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. This is one of the most firmly established principles of mass psychology.…
But when the example of the leader is not at hand and the herd must think for itself, it does so by means of cliches, pat words or images which stand for a whole group of ideas and experiences.”
p 51 “Men are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions. A man may believe that he buys a motor car because, after careful study of the technical features of all makes on the market, he has concluded that this is the best. He is almost certainly fooling himself. He bought it, perhaps, because a friend whose financial acumen he respects bought one last week; or because his neighbours believed he was not able to afford a car of that class; or because its colors are those of his college fraternity.”
p 52/3 “Human desires are the steam which makes the social machine work. Only by understanding them can the propagandist control that vast, loose-jointed mechanism which is modern society.”
p 53/4 ‘It was one of the doctrines of the reaction psychology that a certain stimulus often repeated would create a habit, or that the mere reiteration of an idea would create a conviction. Suppose the old type of salesmanship, acting for a meat packer, was seeking to increase the sale of bacon. It would reiterate innumerable times in full-page advertisements: “Eat more bacon. Eat bacon because it is cheap, because it is good, because it gives you reserve energy.”
The newer salesmanship, understanding the group structure of society and the principles of mass psychology, would first ask: “Who is it that influences the eating habits of the public?” The answer, obviously, is: “The physicians.” The new salesman will then suggest to physicians to say publicly that it is wholesome to eat bacon. He knows as a mathematical certainty, that large numbers of persons will follow the advice of their doctors, because he understands the psychological relation of dependence of men upon their physicians.’
p 59 “A number of familiar psychological motives were set in motion in the carrying out of this campaign [promoting soap sculpture as an art form]. The esthetic, the competitive, the gregarious (much of the sculpturing was done in school groups), the snobbish (the impulse to follow the example of a recognized leader), the exhibitionist, and – last but by no means least – the maternal.
All these motives and group habits were put in concerted motion by the simple machinery of group leadership and authority.”
p 59 “it is one of the functions of the public relations counsel to discover at what points his client’s interests coincide with those of other individuals or groups”
p 61 “I have tried, in these chapters, to explain the place of propaganda in modern American life and something of the methods by which it operates – to tell the why, the what, the who and the how of the invisible government which dictates our thoughts, directs our feelings and controls our actions.”
p 62/3 “Business is conscious of the public’s conscience. This consciousness has led to a healthy cooperation.”
p 63 “Mass production is only profitable if its rhythm can be maintained – that is, if it can continue to sell its product in steady or increasing quantity. The result is that while, under the handicraft or small-unit system of production that was typical a century ago, demand created the supply, to-day supply must actively seek to create its corresponding demand. A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable. This entails a vastly more complex system of distribution than formerly. To make customers is the new problem.”
p 64 “business is seeking to inject itself into the lives and customs of millions of persons”
p 66 “Business does not willingly accept dictation from the public.”
p 70 “Another interesting case of focusing public attention on the virtues of a product was shown in the case of gelatine. Its advantages in increasing the digestibility and nutritional value of milk were proven in the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. The suggestion was made and carried out that to further this knowledge, gelatine be used by certain hospitals and school systems, to be tested out there. The favorable results of such tests were then projected to other leaders in the field with the result that they followed that group leadership and utilized gelatine for the scientific purposes which had been proven to be sound at the research institution. The idea carried momentum.”
p 72/3 “when the luggage industry attempted to solve some of its problems by a public relations policy, it was realized that the attitude of railroads, of steamship companies, and of foreign government-owned railroads was an important factor in the handling of luggage.
If a railroad and a baggage man, for their own interest, can be educated to handle baggage with more facility and promptness, with less damage to the baggage, and less inconvenience to the passenger; if the steamship company lets down, in its own interests, its restrictions on luggage; if the foreign government eases up on its baggage costs and transportation in order to further tourist travel; then the luggage manufacturers will profit.
The problem then, to increase the sale of their luggage, was to have these and other forces come over to their point of view. Hence the public relations campaign was directed not to the public, who were the ultimate consumers, but to these other elements.”
p 75/6 “Public opinion is no longer inclined to be unfavorable to the large business merger. It resents the censorship of business by the Federal Trade Commission. It has broken down the anti-trust laws where it thinks they hinder economic development. It backs great trusts and mergers which it excoriated a decade ago.…
This result has been, to a great extent, obtained by a deliberate use of propaganda in its broadest sense. It was obtained not only by modifying the opinion of the public, as the governments modified and marshaled the opinion of their publics during the war, but often by modifying the business concern itself. A cement company may work with road commissions gratuitously to maintain testing laboratories in order to insure the best-quality roads to the public.”
p 76 “Only recently, Prof. W. Z. Ripley of Harvard University, one of the foremost national authorities on business organization and practice, exposed certain aspects of big business which tended to undermine public confidence in large corporations. He pointed out that the stockholders’ supposed voting power is often illusory; that annual financial statements are sometimes so brief and summary that to the man in the street they are downright misleading; that the extension of the system of non-voting shares often places the effective control of corporations and their finances in the hands of a small clique of stockholders; and that some corporations refuse to give out sufficient information to permit the public to know the true condition of the concern.”
p 76/7 “Furthermore, no matter how favourably disposed the public may be toward big business in general, the utilities are always fair game for public discontent and need to maintain good will with the greatest care and watchfulness.”
p 92 ‘The great political problem in our modern democracy is how to induce our leaders to lead. The dogma that the voice of the people is the voice of God tends to make elected persons the will-less servants of their constituents. This is undoubtedly part cause of the political sterility of which certain Amer-ican critics constantly complain. No serious sociologist any longer believes that the voice of the people expresses any divine or specially wise and lofty idea. The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion. It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and cliches and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders. Fortunately, the sincere and gifted politician is able, by the instrument of propaganda, to mold and form the will of the people. Disraeli cynically expressed the dilemma, when he said: “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” He might have added: “I must lead the people. Am I not their servant?”’
p 94 “The successful business man to-day apes the politician. He has adopted the glitter and the ballyhoo of the campaign. He has set up all the side shows. He has annual dinners that are a compendium of speeches, flags, bombast, stateliness, pseudo-democracy slightly tinged with paternalism. On occasion he doles out honors to employees, much as the re-public of classic times rewarded its worthy citizens.”
p 94/5 “Political campaigns to-day are all side shows, all honors, all bombast, glitter, and speeches. These are for the most part unrelated to the main business of studying the public scientifically, of supplying the public with party, candidate, platform, and performance, and selling the public these ideas and products. Politics was the first big business in America. Therefore there is a good deal of irony in the fact that business has learned everything that politics has had to teach, but that politics has failed to learn very much from business methods of mass distribution of ideas and products.”
p 102 “People to-day are largely uninterested in politics”
p 104 “It is not necessary for the politician to be the slave of the public’s group prejudices, if he can learn how to mold the mind of the voters in conformity with his own ideas of public welfare and public service. The important thing for the statesman of our age is not so much to know how to please the public, but to know how to sway the public.”
p 105 “Good government can be sold to a community just as any other commodity can be sold.”
p 105/6 “And by his power of giving or withholding information the politician can often effectively censor political news. But being dependent, every day of the year and for year after year, upon certain politicians for news, the newspaper reporters are obliged to work in harmony with their news sources.”
p 109 “The American people rightly senses the enormous importance of the executive’s [President’s] office. If the public tends to make of the President a heroic symbol of that power, that is not the fault of propaganda but lies in the very nature of the office and its relation to the people.”
p 112 “If a politician is a real leader he will be able, by the skillful use of propaganda, to lead the people, instead of following the people by means of the clumsy instrument of trial and error.”
p 114 “Ours [America’s] must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses.”
p 122 “The normal school should provide for the training of the educator to make him realize that his is a twofold job: education as a teacher and education as a propagandist.”
p 141 “In applied and commercial art, propaganda makes greater opportunities for the artist than ever before. This arises from the fact that mass production reaches an impasse when it competes on a price basis only. It must, therefore, in a large number of fields create a field of competition based on esthetic values.”
p 158 “No matter how sophisticated, how cynical the public may become about publicity methods, it must respond to the basic appeals, because it will always need food, crave amusement, long for beauty, respond to leadership.”
Discussing forced-fluoridation is all well and good, but the main point of the exercise is to get rid of it. Click below for some ideas on how to end the fluoride-spiking insanity.