The Jew Edward L. Bernays (1891 – 1995) was born to Jewish parents, and a nephew of depraved Jewish psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud. His father was a brother of Freud’s wife Martha Bernays and his mother was Freud’s sister Anna.
Bernays is celebrated as the father of public relations, and in more recent times “the Father of Spin”. Bernays chief competitor in his day was Ivy Lee — “Lee” is a rendition of the name Li in China, notorious in Asian countries for its Jew related crime connections. Lee was retained by the Rockefellers to serve family and corporate interests, notably Standard Oil and the Rockefeller Center.
In a review of Larry Tye’s book, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & the Birth of PR, John Strauber and Sheldo Rampton write:
Today, few people outside the public relations profession recognize the name of Edward L. Bernays. As the year 2000 approaches, however, his name deserves to figure on historians’ lists of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
It is impossible to fundamentally grasp the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the past 100 years without some understanding of Bernays and his professional heirs in the public relations industry. PR is a 20th century phenomenon, and Bernays–widely eulogized as the “father of public relations” at the time of his death in 1995–played a major role in defining the industry’s philosophy and methods.
Eddie Bernays himself desperately craved fame and a place in history. During his lifetime he worked and schemed to be remembered as the founder of his profession and sometimes drew ridicule from his industry colleagues for his incessant self-promotions.
In keeping with his obsessive desire for recognition, Bernays was the author of a massive memoir, titled Biography of an Idea, and he fretted about who would author his biography. He would probably be happy with Tye’s book, the first written since his passing.
Tye writes that “Bernays’ papers . . . provide illuminating and sometimes disturbing background on some of the most interesting episodes of twentieth-century history, from the way American tobacco tycoons made it socially acceptable for women to smoke to the way other titans of industry persuaded us to pave over our landscape and switch to beer as the ‘beverage of moderation.’ The companies involved aren’t likely to release their records of those campaigns, assuming they still exist. But Bernays saved every scrap of paper he sent out or took in. . . . In so doing, he let us see just how policies were made and how, in many cases, they were founded on deception.”
Bernays’ life was amazing in many ways. He had a role in many of the seminal intellectual and commercial events of this century. “The techniques he developed fast became staples of political campaigns and of image-making in general,” Tye notes. “That is why it is essential to understand Edward L. Bernays if we are to understand what Hill and Knowlton did in Iraq–not to mention how Richard Nixon was able to dig his way out of his post-Watergate depths and remake himself into an elder statesman worthy of a lavish state funeral, how Richard Morris repositioned President Bill Clinton as an ideological centrist in order to get him reelected, and how most other modern-day miracles of public relations are conceived and carried out.”
Many of the new insights that Tye offers have to do with Bernays’s relationship with his family and his uncle Sigmund Freud, whose reputation as “the father of psychoanalysis” owes something to Bernays’ publicity efforts. Bernays regarded Uncle Sigmund as a mentor, and used Freud’s insights into the human psyche and motivation to design his PR campaigns, while also trading on his famous uncle’s name to inflate his own stature.
Characteristically (and again paradoxically), Bernays was remarkably candid about his manipulative intent. “If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it,” he argued in Propaganda, one of his first books. In a later book, he coined the term “engineering of consent” to describe his technique for controlling the masses.
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,” Bernays argued. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. . . . 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.”
Bernays liked to cultivate an image as a supporter of feminism and other liberating ideas, but his work on behalf of the United Fruit Company had consequences just as evil and terrifying as if he’d worked directly for the Nazis. The Father of Spin sheds new and important light on the extent to which the Bernays’ propaganda campaign for the United Fruit Company (today’s United Brands) led directly to the CIA’s overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala.
The term “banana republic” actually originated in reference to United Fruit’s domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries. The company brutally exploited virtual slave labor in order to produce cheap bananas for the lucrative U.S. market. When a mildly reformist Guatemala government attempted to reign in the company’s power, Bernays whipped up media and political sentiment against it in the commie-crazed 1950s.
“Articles began appearing in the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Atlantic Monthly, Time, Newsweek, the New Leader, and other publications all discussing the growing influence of Guatemala’s Communists,” Tye writes. “The fact that liberal journals like theNation were also coming around was especially satisfying to Bernays, who believed that winning the liberals over was essential. . . . At the same time, plans were under way to mail to American Legion posts and auxiliaries 300,000 copies of a brochure entitled ‘Communism in Guatemala–22 Facts.’”His efforts led directly to a brutal military coup. Tye writes that Bernays “remained a key source of information for the press, especially the liberal press, right through the takeover. In fact, as the invasion was commencing on June 18, his personal papers indicate he was giving the ‘first news anyone received on the situation’ to the Associate Press, United Press, the International News Service, and the New York Times, with contacts intensifying over the next several days.”
The result, tragically, has meant decades of tyranny under a Guatemalan government whose brutality rivaled the Nazis as it condemned hundreds of thousands of people (mostly members of the country’s impoverished Maya Indian majority) to dislocation, torture and death.
Bernays relished and apparently never regretted his work for United Fruit, for which he was reportedly paid $100,000 a year, a huge fee in the early 1950s. Tye writes that Bernays’ papers “make clear how the United States viewed its Latin neighbors as ripe for economic exploitation and political manipulation–and how the propaganda war Bernays waged in Guatemala set the pattern for future U.S.-led campaigns in Cuba and, much later, Vietnam.”
As these examples show, Tye’s biography of Bernays is important. It casts a spotlight on the anti-democratic and dangerous corporate worldview of the public relations industry. The significance of these dangers is often overlooked, in large part because of the PR industry’s deliberate efforts to operate behind the scenes as it manages and manipulates opinions and public policies. This strategy of invisibility is the reason that PR academic Scott Cutlip refers to public relations as “the unseen power.”