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Propaganda by Edward Bernays:
A Review

PropagandaPaul Gosselin - 7/3/2023

While in this book Bernays attempts to us the term “propaganda” as a neutral concept, that is “work done to promote an idea”, after reading this book one can see that Bernays himself has contributed to the more negative shift in our understanding of this term which typically views propaganda as a manipulative and dishonest attempt to influence a target audience. Clearly Bernays' book is not just about how businesses have to deal with marketing and public image issues. As one reads, it becomes obvious that in Bernays view, propaganda must be an all-encompassing endeavour, influencing not only business activities, but also government, politics, education, women's activities, culture and science. Since Bernays views propaganda as an all-encompassing endeavour, then logically it follows that he is promoting an ideologico-religious system, a worldview... Anthropologists tell us that only a religion can provide answers to all such fields of human endeavour. Religions attempt to give the over-arching meaning to all of life. But of course, Bernays is careful not to spill the beans about his own take on that account, though he does drop a brief hint at the end of chapter X (“Propaganda is accustoming the public to change and progress[1].” p. 159).

There is a practical issue though to consider: How does one go about to gain wide influence in a society containing groups with widely diverging interests and views? Bernays’ response is the following (1928/2005: 54):

The American government and numerous patriotic agencies developed a technique which, to most persons accustomed to bidding for public acceptance, was new. They not only appealed to the individual by means of every approach—visual, graphic, and auditory—to support the national endeavor, but they also secured the cooperation of the key men in every group —persons whose mere word carried authority to hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers. They thus automatically gained the support of fraternal, religious, commercial, patriotic, social and local groups whose members took their opinions from their accustomed leaders and spokesmen, or from the periodical publications which they were accustomed to read and believe.

While buying off “key men” in each group can gain some influence, perhaps a more effective approach in the long term appears be to insert reliable puppets into the targeted circles of influence and provide them with the markings of prestige. Evangelicals might consider the famous DNA researcher Francis Collins (and his BioLogos Institute, selling the materialistic origins myth to church leaders, who are too ready to bow down to the idol of Science) as a good example of such a strategy. That Collins the hardnosed scientist converted based on reading CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity is excellent marketing to gain street cred with church leaders. Of course it didn't hurt that BioLogos was offering money for grants at Bible Colleges and seminaries... After all how many Bible colleges can afford to ignore good money?

As one reads Propaganda, it soon become clear that Bernays views the general public with the same respect Pavlov reserved for his dog. Ring the bell and it WILL salivate... Convincing his target audience of the Truth of his views (via reasoned argument and debate) is of no concern to Bernays. Thus, deceitful manipulation of one's target audience is NOT ruled out. And, more alarmingly, Bernays applies this strategy to politics as he clearly despises democracy and the concept that leaders should be subject to the will of the people. Early on in the book Bernays exposes his elitist views and not so subtly hints about how he thinks governments should be run (1928/2005: 37):

No doubt about it, Bernays is a Deep State low-life. Here is further evidence Bernays supplies of his contempt for democracy (1928/2005: 60)

Of course such views fit in with hints that Bernays drops here and there that he is a member of the elitist and hypocritical[3] sect, the Freemasons (the title of his first chapter actually echoes the Freemason Latin motto: Ordo ad chaos[4]). For many centuries Freemasons have been obsessed with infiltrating and corrupting circles of power and influence, that is circles of political, economic, intellectual and cultural power, and then bending these institutions to their will. In the United States for example, Freemasons love to boast that over half of US presidents that ever held office were (are?) Freemasons[5]. Freemasonry being a VERY hierarchical organization, only the top initiates are worthy to lead and determine policy. Lower rung Freemasons are viewed as dispensable pawns and non-initiates viewed as beneath contempt...

Here are other pieces of evidence of Bernays' contempt for the masses (and for the democratic process that would take their views into account) (1928/2005: 109):

My guess is that such attitudes fed a “prophecy” appearing in Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel, Brave New World Revisited (1958/2007: 393-394):

Perhaps it is worth considering the possibility that in 2023 Huxley's political prophecy has in fact been fulfilled... In any case, when contempt of the masses such as Bernays' becomes mainstream amongst elites, then this inevitably leads to coercive propaganda, that is to threats to comply rather than reasoned arguments to convince. On such matters CS Lewis observed (1966/1975)

Detestation for any ethic which worships success is one of my chief reasons for disagreeing with most communists. In my experience they tend, when all else fails, to tell me that I ought to forward the revolution because 'it is bound to come'. One dissuaded me from my own position on the shockingly irrelevant ground that if I continued to hold it I should, in good time, be 'mown down'— argued, as a cancer might argue if it could talk, that he must be right because he could kill me. (p. 117-118.)

The Professor has his own explanation (…) he thinks that I am unconsciously motivated by the fact that I "stand to lose by social change." And indeed it would be hard for me to welcome a change which might well consign me to a concentration camp. I might add that it would likewise be easy for the Professor to welcome a change which might place him in the highest rank of an omnicompetent oligarchy. (p. 127)


- (2021) Big Eva Favorite 'Christian' Scientist Lauds Pride Month, Promises be a Good 'Ally'. (Protestia - 22/9/2021)

- (2022) Leaked Audio! Russell Moore and Francis Collins Talk About Fetal Cell Research in a Demonic Way. (Protestia - 3/8/2022)

Arendt, Hannah (1948/1976) The Origins of Totalitarianism. Harvest Book New York xliii-576 p.

Basham, Megan (2022) How The Federal Government Used Evangelical Leaders To Spread COVID Propaganda to Churches. (DailyWire/Illinois Family Institute - 2/2/2022) -> discusses Collins' role in influencing church leaders

Bernays, Edward (1928/2005) Propaganda. [with Introduction by Mark Crispin Miller]. IG Publishing - New York 168 p.

Coppedge, David F. (2015) When Darwinists Tolerate Faith: Francis Collins gets tolerable coverage in the secular media for his brand of Christian faith. That's not necessarily good. Creation-Evolution Headlines - 22/3/2015

Fava, Ray (2022) Francis Collins and Russell Moore: Evil Revealed In Leaked Audio. (The Evangelical Dark Web - 9/3/2022)

Huxley, Aldous (1958/2007) Brave New World Revisited. Vintage Canada xvi - 407 p. (Ebook)

Lewis, C.S. (1949) Transposition and Other Addresses. Samizdat 56 p.

Lewis, C.S. (1966/1975) “A Reply to Professor Haldane.” published in On Stories and Other Essays on Literature. Harper-Collins

Mahlburg, Kurt (2022) Will Christian Leaders Who Platformed Francis Collins Correct the Record?: "What we now know about the Wuhan lab leak, Collins' emails and the contested science on masks and lockdowns should prompt these leaders to question their willingness to act as the mouthpiece of the government." (Caldron Pool - 5/2/2022)


[1] - Which immediately raises the question WHO gets to define what Progress is ? And which particular worldview will serve as the basis for such a concept? Of course the concept of Progress has deep roots in the Enlightenment worldview. CS Lewis was rather cynical about this concept and wrote (1949/2015 : 18-19):

[2] - Bernays is clearly fixated on this concept and calmly observes (1928/2005: 61)

There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.

[3] - When in positions of power or influence, Freemasons are instructed to deny they are Freemasons, generally laughing off such a claim as “conspiracy theory” crackpottery...

[4] - And the final sentence of Propaganda, (not so subtly) repeats this motto...

[5] - See this Mason site (in particular sections on, U.S. PATRIOTS and U.S. PRESIDENTS) :

Or these lists on Wikipedia

Freemasons A-D

Freemasons E-Z

In her magnum opus, The Origins of Totalitarianism, written just after World War II, Hannah Arendt examined 20th century totalitarian ideologies such as Nazism and Communism and oddly enough observed that these movements had power structures modelled on those of secret societies. To avoid any misunderstanding, Arendt does not explicitly name Freemasons, but the comments below fit quite well with what is known about the operating principles of the Masons (1948/1976: 376-377):

This would then lead to the conclusion that communism under Stalin or Nazism under Hitler were in fact Mason projects... Taking into account data Arendt presents, this would not be an irrational deduction. But, to clear up any misunderstanding, Arendt does not make such an explicit claim. On the other hand, would it be rational to imply that it is only ‘by chance' that both communism under Stalin and Nazism under Hitler modelled their operating principles on Freemasons? A coincidence that repeated itself twice in the same century, back to back?