Let me start saying why is this book in my
The main reason is that I
came to see that this book clearly and cynically
articulates an attitude to society, humanity,
morality and science that since then has become dominant in
various forms, such as with postmodernism in
philosophy and literary criticism, and with the
media, corporations and political groups and
parties, and also with the public information
supplied by governments, cities, NGO's and many
nominal "public" institutions.
The keywords here are "clearly" and "cynically": It
is because it is much more outspoken than more
modern users, proponents or professionals "public
relations" is suitable for their purposes that the
book is here.
To contrast Bernays'
definition of the term "propaganda" with my own, as
given in my Philosophical
Dictionary, long before I learned about E.
Bernays' existence and opinions:
propaganda is a consistent, enduring ef-
fort to create or shape events to influence
tions of the public to an enterprise, idea or
or partial presentation of something that is meant
to produce a state of belief that is not
proportional to the evidence.
Note that in either case the
goal may be - according to you, me or anyone - good
or bad: The difference is that for me what is fairly
called "propaganda" ("public relations"), as opposed
to the giving of veridical and unbiased information,
the deliberate presentation of informatiom that is
false or biased, with the intent to evoke a certain
kind of judgement in those exposed to it.
Edward Bernays must have
been quite aware of this kind of alternative
definition, even in 1928, when the term "propaganda"
was considered less negative that it became briefly
after it, namely since Hitler's and Stalin's
governments made so much use of propaganda to gain
their ends and to mobilize their subjects' support,
but he mostly sings ambivalently around it instead
of fairly meeting the difficulty that propaganda,
public relations, advertisements, and governments'
public statements are generally slanted, biased and
partial, rather than straight, unbiased and fair.
As is now, there is just the
text of "Propaganda":
My notes to it will come later. The text I converted
from a pdf-file with all of the text to the present
edition with that text divided over 11 chapters.
Since then, I found a good
edition of the text in html in one file. It is here
is a weapon"
On the moment, my notes are
not done, but the sources are there, at present in
the form of a copy of Bernays' text in my edition,
ready to be annotated by me, I suppose with
considerable sarcasm, because I neither like nor
admire Bernays, and I don't think he was honest,
fair or unbiased: He wrote a propagandist book about
propaganda to advertise his own willingness to make
paid propaganda for others, and made quite a few
claims in it he must have known were either false or
quite doubtful and with little evidence.
Then again, this is what
makes Bernays' text useful to understand the real
purpose of propaganda, also in combination with what
he probably considered to be his hardboiled realism
probably appropriated from his reading of Nietzsche
and Bernays' uncle Sigmund Freud - and indeed a
superficial glance at his uncle's rise to fame and
career may have convinced Bernays that human beings
are on average very easily manipulated and tricked,
when made the subject of clever propaganda,
disguised as "science", "morals", "amusement" or
And indeed, he and I agree that "Mundus
vult decipi," but we disagree on its Machiavellian,
cynical, manipulative, egoistic addition "ergo
As is, the full text of Propaganda in my edition has
been divided over 12 files: The title page+TOC and
the 11 chapters it consists of. The files are linked
at the top with arrow-keys that when clicked do the
- to the previous file in
the series (text or notes)
- to the associated
notes-file or text-file, depending
- to the next file in the series
(text or notes)
The term "Propaganda"
in the title of each file (both in texts and in
notes) links to the TOC.
I have not changed the
text that I found on the internet, except in two
superficial respects (apart from using another
- I have divided it
into 11 chapters plus a titlepage+TOC.
- I have paragraphed
by adding an empty line between two paragraphs
(instead of leaving out the empty line but
indenting the first word of the paragraphs).
Both changes are meant to
make the text easier to read on a computer screen.
My notes in the text are
within square brackets and link to the notes file to
the right note, at the end of which there is an
underlind "Text" that when clicked leads back to the
paragraph in the text where the note occurs.
The end of this set-up is to
make either series of files (text or notes) capable
of being read independently of the other series
(notes or text).
But as I said: On the moment
the notes remain to be done: All there is now is the
1928 text of Mr. Bernays.