Friday, September 27, 2013

Manipulators of crowds

 By F Guzzardi
To understand how some people in recent history have been able to manipulate the crowds, it is interesting to read Gustav Le Bon and his "Psychology of crowds". Hitler, Lenin, Mussolini and even some current political and religious  were inspired by his theories.

GUSTAV LE BON (1841-1931), ethnologist and psychologist (he was one of the founders of "Social Psychology") was born in France in Nogent-Le Retrou, was the first psychologist to scientifically study the behavior of crowds, trying to identify the particular characteristics and proposing appropriate techniques to guide and control them. For this reason his works were read and carefully studied by the totalitarian dictators of the twentieth century, which were based their power on the ability to control and manipulate the masses.
In fact, the writings of Le Bon - particularly Psychology of Crowds, published in 1895 were a veritable gold mine for those who wanted to understand the behavior of the mass, the new entity that overlooked the political scene in the last decades of the 'eight hundred and that would dominate the scene in the twentieth century. The birth of the mass, understood as "indistinct large amount of people who act in a uniform manner" that began to take shape in the late nineteenth century.

Lenin, Stalin, Hitler read carefully the work of Le Bon and the use of certain techniques of persuasion in their dictatorship seems directly inspired by his counsels, but also Mussolini was a fervent admirer of the work of French psychologist. "I read the whole work of Le Bon - Mussolini said-and I do not know how many times I re-read his" Psychology of Crowd "It 'a capital work which still often return."
The lightness of certain speeches made by these dictators who exercised an enormous influence on the crowds , sometimes surprising to read , but they forget that they were made to drag the crowds, and not to be read by philosophers. The speaker puts you in intimate communion with the crowd and knows how to conjure images that seduce . The claims are made so authoritarian , which are accepted because of the tone that accompanies them. And normally these suggestions are not accompanied by logical argument or evidence , they are hunted within such self-evident truths , and are crystallized in epigrams and axioms , which are accepted for real , as a result of apparent wit , without anyone think to analyze them . The political fallacies and explanations usual , belong to this class .

The modern dictator , says Le Bon, must be able to grasp the desires and secret aspirations of the crowd and present itself as the embodiment of these wishes and as one who is capable of meeting these aspirations . Also in this case the illusion is more important than reality , because what matters is not to conduct such improbable dreams as to believe the crowd to be able " in history - adds Le Bon - the appearance has always had a role more important than reality . " The crowds are not influenced by reasoning . The crowds are especially affected by what is there wonderful in things. They think in pictures, and these images follow one another without any bond.The popular imagination has always been the basis of the power of statesmen , the sprocket of crowds, which more often than not , they are not intellectuals, but men of action . These are not clairvoyant , but they could not be, because clairvoyance generally leads to doubt and inaction. They belong especially to those neurotics, those excited , semi- alienated those that border on insanity. For the absurdity of the idea that defend or purpose they want to achieve , all the arguments you cant against their firm belief ( in psychiatry, it takes the name of " Pseudopodia fantastic " - those who believe his own lies ) . The contempt and persecution that do not excite them most. Everything is sacrificed , personal interest and family. Even the self-preservation instinct is destroyed in them , so much so that often the only reward they aspire - identifying with a fervent apostle of the faith - is the cross, the martyrdom , the halo of sanctity , and this they leave with their writings is the new "gospel" , the new " doctrine."

If we read Le Bon, discover the secret causes of some events even improbable . That's why Le Bon does not appear in any encyclopedia . Is dangerous ! Although his work never fails on the shelf of the library of pseudo- dictators. The crowds have a general ignorance of the psychology of crowds , which can be as morality (indeed it is) much lower than that of individuals who compose it .However, if one were to place the assets of the people only large coldly reasoned action , the annals of the world - of egregious actions - it would record very few .

 "The masses are more easily dazzled by a big lie that by a small" Adolf Hitler

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