100 years of "constantly moving happiness machines"

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Taken from a partial transcript of a documentary series.

https://moresketchynotes.blogspot.com/2009/08/transcript-century-of-self-transcript.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnPmg0R1M04

Quote:
This episode is about Freud's American nephew Edward Bernays.
Bernays is almost completely unknown today but his influence on
the 20th century was nearly as great as his uncle's. Because Bernays
was the first person to take Freud's ideas about human beings and
use them to manipulate the masses
. He showed American
corporations for the first time how to they could make people want
things they didn't need by linking mass produced goods to their
unconscious desires
...
President Woodrow Wilson had announced that the United States
would fight not to restore the old empires but to bring democracy to
all of Europe. Bernays proved extremely skillful at promoting this
idea both at home and abroad and at the end of the war was asked to
accompany the President to the Paris Peace Conference.
...
Wilson's reception in Paris astounded Bernays and the other
American propagandists. They had portrayed Wilson as a liberator
of the people. The man who would create a new world in which the
individual would be free. They had made him a hero of the masses.
...
And as he watched the crowd surge around Wilson, Bernays began
to wonder if it would be possible to do the same type of mass
persuasion but in peace time.
...
Paul Mazer of Lehman Brothers was clear about what was
necessary. "We must shift America", he wrote, "from a needs to a
desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things
even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a
new mentality in America. Man's desires must overshadow his
needs."
...
Peter Solomon - Investment Banker - Lehman Brothers: "Prior to
that time there was no American consumer; there was the American
worker and there was the American owner. And they manufactured,
and they saved and they ate what they had to and the people shopped
for what they needed."
...
Beginning in the early 20's the New York banks funded the creation
of chains of department stores across America. They were to be the
outlets for the mass produced goods. And Bernays' job was to
produce the new type of customer. Bernays began to create many of
the techniques of mass consumer persuasion that we now live with.
...
In 1927 an American journalist wrote: A change has come over our
democracy, it is called consumptionism. The American citizen's first
importance to his country is now no longer that of citizen, but that
of consumer.
...
And then in 1928 a President came to power who agreed with
Bernays. President Hoover was the first politician to articulate the
idea that consumerism would become the central motor of
American life. After his election he told a group of advertisers and
public relations men "You Have taken over the job of creating
desire and have transformed people into constantly moving
happiness machines. Machines which have become the key to
economic progress."


We're coming up to about 100 years of this phenomenon.
Metacell Chocolate Brahma
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Yeah...fiddlesticks that guy.
Metacell posted:
Yeah...fiddlesticks that guy.


Which one?
President Wilson, Freud, Bernays, the bankers or President Hoover?
Metacell Chocolate Brahma
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I was thinking Bernays, but I'll throw in Hoover, and always the bankers.
Pariah Know Your Enemy
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If the millennials that I have seen are any indication we may be past peak consumerism.
TOS
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Pariah posted:
If the millennials that I have seen are any indication we may be past peak consumerism.


i agree

if only due to brokeness
Pariah posted:
If the millennials that I have seen are any indication we may be past peak consumerism.


I see fashion and consumption and "influencers" going full tilt.

Bernays and the newly minted Public Relations professionals had big contracts with banks. Among their tasks was to get the average person to think about investing in the stock market. The stock market was to be turned into another mass consumption phenomenon. That was just before 1929. Hysteria is a product like any other to a PR man. Public Relations and its clients became victims of their own excess. But after a pause and another war and some lessons learned it all got ramped back up again.

Bernays and other PR men were also involved in getting people to believe Guatemala's Árbenz was a full on communist.

I see PR acting with easily as much force now as ever.
TOS
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Quote:
Bernays set out to experiment with the minds of the popular classes. His most dramatic experiment was to persuade women to smoke. At that time there was a taboo against women smoking and one of his early clients George Hill, the President of the American Tobacco corporation asked Bernays to find a way to break it.

Edward Bernays - 1991: He says we're losing half of our market. Because men have invoked a taboo against women smoking in public. Can you do anything about that. I said let me think about it. If I may have permission to see psychoanalyst to see what cigarettes mean to women. He said what'll cost? So I called up Dr Brille, AA Brille who was the leading psychoanalyst in New York at the time.

AA Brille was one of the first psychoanalysts in America. And for a large fee he told Bernays that cigarettes were a symbol of the penis and of male sexual power. He told Bernays that if he could find a way to connect cigarettes with the idea of challenging male power then women would smoke because then they would have their own penises.

Every year New York held an Easter day parade to which thousands came. Bernays decided to stage an event there . He persuaded a group of rich debutants to hide cigarettes under their clothes. Then they should join the parade and at a given signal from him they were to light up the cigarettes dramatically. Bernays then informed the press that he had heard that a group of suffragettes were preparing to protest by lighting up what they called torches of freedom.


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Quote:
What Bernays had created was the idea that if a women smoked it made her more powerful and independent. An idea that still persists today. It made him realize that it was possible to persuade people to behave irrationally if you link products to their emotional desires and feelings. The idea that smoking actually made women freer, was completely irrational. But it made them feel more independent. It meant that irrelevant objects could become powerful emotional symbols of how you want to be seen by others

Robert B. Dandy Highwayman
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It's hard to believe that was not even 30 years ago. We've come a long way.
user Stupid cockwomble
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yeah, now we're back to women not smoking
TOS
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maybe the fact that smoking is rapidly dying out suggests that arts of persuasion are not as effective as previously thought ... or at least that their effects are only temporary
Anti smoking campaigns took decades, and they employed PR professionals as well. The fact that smoking still exists is a testament to the power of the irrational mind.
Anti-consumption in the face climate change will take at least the combined effort that went into creating Hoover's "happiness machines". The raw undeniable forces of nature upsetting all the happiness may accelerate the process.
juice Inadvertently correct
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Don’t underestimate the addictive force of nicotine in the equation.
ukimalefu Rebel? resistance? why not both?
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juice posted:
Don’t underestimate the addictive force of nicotine in the equation.


yes, was smoker, can confirm

but

Now you have vaping, with USB and LEDs, and "it's not smoking". Apparently available with none, to lots of nicotine. And all kinds of flavors like fruit and candy and chocolate.

I've never actually seen vaping in real life, only around the interwebs.
juice posted:
Don’t underestimate the addictive force of nicotine in the equation.


That doesn't account for the new customers that came along year after year.
user Stupid cockwomble
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they get smoke blown up their ass
Another Bernays link to smoking:

This is a good example of the divide between Public Relations, advertising and marketing.

Quote:
In 1934, Edward Bernays was asked to deal with women's apparent reluctance to buy Lucky Strikes because their green and red package clashed with standard female fashions. When Bernays suggested changing the package to a neutral color, George Washington Hill, head of the American Tobacco Company, refused, saying that he had already spent millions advertising the package. Bernays then endeavored to make green a fashionable color. The centerpiece of his efforts was the Green Ball, a social event at the Waldorf Astoria, hosted by Narcissa Cox Vanderlip. The pretext for the ball and its unnamed underwriter was that proceeds would go to charity. Famous society women would attend wearing green dresses. Manufacturers and retailers of clothing and accessories were advised of the excitement growing around the color green. Intellectuals were enlisted to give highbrow talks on the theme of green. Before the ball had actually taken place, newspapers and magazines (encouraged in various ways by Bernays's office) had latched on to the idea that green was all the rage.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_Strike

Last edited by Ribtor on Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:35 am.

TOS
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Ribtor posted:
Anti smoking campaigns took decades, and they employed PR professionals as well. The fact that smoking still exists is a testament to the power of the irrational mind.
Anti-consumption in the face climate change will take at least the combined effort that went into creating Hoover's "happiness machines". The raw undeniable forces of nature upsetting all the happiness may accelerate the process.


but if the power of persuasion was so powerful, surely there wouldn't ever be a decline in smokers
Metacell Chocolate Brahma
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The survival instinct is also strong.
dv
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TOS posted:
Ribtor posted:
Anti smoking campaigns took decades, and they employed PR professionals as well. The fact that smoking still exists is a testament to the power of the irrational mind.
Anti-consumption in the face climate change will take at least the combined effort that went into creating Hoover's "happiness machines". The raw undeniable forces of nature upsetting all the happiness may accelerate the process.


but if the power of persuasion was so powerful, surely there wouldn't ever be a decline in smokers


Equal or greater anti-smoking persuasion.
The PR that Bernays mostly invented isn't all-powerful magic. The crash of '29 kicked it in the nuts. The unconscious and irrational desires described by Freud and manipulated by Bernays is just one set of elements in a changeable world.
A famous example of psychology in the service of consumerism is when the General Mills corporation employed psychoanalysts to figure out why their new instant Betty Crocker cake mix was such a flop in the market.
The analysts found out that housewives felt guilty over the ease which they could produce a cake for their family. They advised General Mills to make adding an egg to the mix which already contained powdered egg. They made new ads touting "add an egg".
They had removed feelings of guilt and they claimed, symbolically, the wife was adding her egg; a symbol of new life.

General Mills opted to make the product less convenient and a bit more expensive and sales soared.
ukimalefu Rebel? resistance? why not both?
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Ribtor posted:
A famous example of psychology in the service of consumerism is when the General Mills corporation employed psychoanalysts to figure out why their new instant Betty Crocker cake mix was such a flop in the market.
The analysts found out that housewives felt guilty over the ease which they could produce a cake for their family. They advised General Mills to make adding an egg to the mix which already contained powdered egg. They made new ads touting "add an egg".
They had removed feelings of guilt and they claimed, symbolically, the wife was adding her egg; a symbol of new life.

General Mills opted to make the product less convenient and a bit more expensive and sales soared.


I heard a different version of the story. Adding the egg felt to them like they were actually cooking, and it also felt more like "real food".
Bernays wrote in 1947, in his treatise, "The Engineering of Consent";

Quote:
The tremendous expansion of communications in the United States has given this Nation the world's most penetrating and effective apparatus for the transmission of ideas. Every resident is constantly exposed to the impact of our vast network of communications which reach every corner of the country, no matter how remote or isolated. Words hammer continually at the eyes and ears of America. The United States has become a small room in which a single whisper is magnified thousands of times. Knowledge of how to use this enormous amplifying system becomes a matter of primary concern to those who are interested in socially constructive action
.
iDaemon infinitely loopy
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I met his daughter, Anne Bernays. She visited a writing class I was in at UMass/Amh. She liked my work.
iDaemon posted:
I met his daughter, Anne Bernays. She visited a writing class I was in at UMass/Amh. She liked my work.


She is interviewed in 'The Century Of The Self', mostly to tell how her father wasn't a warm man.

Another fascinating aspect to that documentary, though not explicitly stated, is how influential Austrian men were to the creation and formation of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.

Freud "invented" the modern Idea of 'the self', and his nephew industrialised* 'the self'. There are other famous and infamous Austrians responsible for why our centuries are as they are; from economics, theories about freedom, and of course, the application of brutality in the service of the ideals of those countrymen.

*some might say he weaponised the self.

Last edited by Ribtor on Sun May 19, 2019 2:36 pm.

Metacell Chocolate Brahma
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Ribtor posted:
iDaemon posted:
I met his daughter, Anne Bernays. She visited a writing class I was in at UMass/Amh. She liked my work.


She is interviewed in 'The Century Of The Self', mostly to tell how her father wasn't a warm man.

Wow. You're kidding me!

Last edited by Metacell on Sun May 19, 2019 6:27 pm.

dv
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I still blame the Prussians.
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100 years of "constantly moving happiness machines"