In his writing on “Propaganda” Edward Bernays redefines the term propaganda in attempts to get western society to think of it as not only something that is positive but also as a necessity to maintain a functioning democratic society. Bernays argues that propaganda is needed as a base of a functioning society. His argument lies in his belief that when people get together in large groups, they are unruly, undisciplined, and unable to make rational decisions, as they are more prone to acting on emotion rather than reason. As an alternative, to avoid the chaos of having each member of society voice their opinion on social or political issues, Bernays suggests having a set of institutions of practices that serve to regulate these crowds so they can behave within the framework of a democracy. Bernays advises on a system where experts develop systems within a democratic society to communicate the correct responses individuals should have on various issues. Through this system, individuals are not able to form opinions of their own because these opinions are already translated, formed and structured for them. In this essay I will exemplify ways in which Bernays’ suggestion of the necessity of the use of propaganda to maintain an organized democratic society is not only counter to the idea democracy but also is a reductionist idea that disallows room for true expression of self in a democratic society. Broadly, democracy can be defined as a belief that focuses on the people but more importantly on the individual. It gives the individual power to have a voice, be heard, and to be given the power to make contributing choices based on their beliefs. Even though there are many people, subcultures, and beliefs in a single society, in a democracy the individual is able to weigh in and make changes that will contribute towards the greater good of that society. The notion of living in a true democracy becomes washed away in a representative democracy as suggested by Beynays,...
Cited: Bernays, Edward L. "Organizing Chaos." “The New Propaganda.” Propaganda. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Ig Pub., 1928. 9-32. Print.
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