One hundred years ago, Sigmund Freud’s nephew invented Donald Trump.
While selling World War I to America via George Creel’s Barnum-esque Committee on Public Information, Edward Bernays saw America’ future. Tapping into his uncle’s psychological insights, media power, mass gullibility, celebrity magic, and the alchemy of symbols, Bernays realized that “government by propaganda worked.”
He could manipulate people’s desires, engineer consent. He could conjure up politicians and political causes, sway the mob. In peacetime, the “psychological warfare” he had mastered could transform politics—and consumerism.