Edward Bernays Quotes and Inspirations


Edward Bernays, is known as the Father of  Modern Advertisement. Bernays essentially created the consumer culture that has dominated the US and much of the world for the last 80 years or so. He did so by changing the basis by which consumers judge products. Before Bernays, products were presented in a factual manner, emphasizing their virtues, dimensions, capacities and whatever, allowing the consumer to make a relatively rational and dispassionate choices between the products of different manufacturers.EdwardBernays

Bernays, in constant contact with his uncle Sigmund Freud, saw an opportunity to apply Freud’s ideas of the subconscious origins of behavior and the primacy of sexual desires, to essentially change the customer from the rational decision maker of classical economic theory to a malleable zombie, whose decisions are based on the presentation of products as being sexy or assuring popularity and the like–separating the desirability of products from their actual function. This proved to be so highly effective that it has been adopted by virtually all retail sales, turning customers into consumers. In the process, Bernays used Freud’s ideas to hand irrational consumers over to wealthy corporations, whose products were no longer judged on their efficacy but on extraneous irrational presentations.

This has become most obvious in television, were what is actually happening is that the viewers are the ‘product’ being sold by various commercial TV outlets, for a great deal of money paid to the TV outlets by advertising agencies, who are in turn paid highly by manufacturers for the attention given to the persuasive ‘messages’, which are essentially uninformative propaganda having nothing much to do with the virtues of the products or services being shilled.

As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the work of advertising is to destroy markets, which are defined in classical economics as the meeting place of rational sellers and buyers of products at a price that is mutually agreeable. Bernay’s application of his uncles theories to manipulate buyers’ decisions, puts the buyers at a considerable disadvantage relative to the sellers, as consumers can no longer compare products on their merits on the one hand, as the products have been imbued with many irrational properties, and the considerable costs of all these deceptions is simply added to the price that the consumer must pay.

As products cannot be compared on their actual merits, the competition that occurs in real markets is removed; this not only only retards product improvement by sellers, who no longer compete on the actual efficacy of their products, but it cuts loose the pricing of products from the cost of making them, again because real competition is eliminated, and consumer’s decision are, by definition, irrational.

Edward Bernays Quotes:

“The great enemy of any attempt to change men’s habits is inertia. Civilization is limited by inertia.” ― Edward L. Bernays

“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.”  ― Edward L. Bernays

“Each man’s rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all receive identical imprints. It may seem an exaggeration to say that the American public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine.”  ― Edward L. Bernays

“In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions.” ― Edward L. Bernays