He could make people do whatever he wanted them to. Change their eating habits. Change the clothes they wore. Change whether or not they wanted to go to war. And he could make them think it was their own idea.
“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”
That passage is from one of the most influential books of the twentieth century, and was written by one of those men who you probably have never heard of. That author also wrote that democratic society depends on “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses,” and that “those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
The book was called Propaganda, and it became the basis for almost all media communication we consume today. Its author was Edward Bernays, a man who considered himself, rightly, to be one of the those ruling, invisible elites who was pulling the wires of the masses, a propaganda peddler who could make people do whatever he wanted them to. This is his story.