“In our society hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think”
– Peter Hitchens (English journalist and author)
Edward Bernays is regarded as the father of public relations and pioneer of propaganda. In the 1920’s when smoking was taboo for women and the general public opinion was that only low class women smoked, Bernays changed it all. As part of a campaign for an American Tobacco company which sought women as their customers, Bernays branded cigarettes as feminist. He organized the famous ‘Torches of Freedom’ where women flaunted cigarettes to express their freedom from the shackles of male chauvinism. When these women were asked about how smoking would give them more freedom, they said it didn’t matter; it’s an expression of freedom! Canadian podcaster and author Stefan Molyneux exposed this mindset; “If you can convince people that freedom is injustice, they will then believe that slavery is freedom.”
That’s how Bernays successfully penetrated the untapped fifty percent market for cigarettes – female customers. He said, “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.”
He believed people can be manipulated. Ironically, he himself never smoked and persistently tried to make his wife quit smoking. But he failed and by the 1960’s he worked with pro-health groups and supported anti-smoking campaigns.
Manipulating your Mind
The men and women of Bernay’s class have one agenda: to manipulate yours and my mind. The way we think, eat, live and behave is not really ours. We need to go deeper, beyond our minds and connect to our own real selves. Otherwise the world of glamour and propaganda will devour us. The Roman poet Horace said rule your mind or it will rule you.
To be continued…