I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks. I do of course prefer to read but if I’m busy with some form of manual labour, or am not in a position whereby holding a book is viable, then having an eloquent, easy-on-the-ear voice read you a book you’ve been gagging to read but haven’t had the time, is a pleasure to say the least.
Guy Evans of Smells Like Human Spirit does just this and more. He adds an in-depth explanation of Sigmund Freud’s nephew, ‘The father of PR’, Edward Bernays’ hugely influential book Propaganda. This is a book which, if you’re even remotely interested in beginning to comprehend how it is we’ve gotten ourselves into our current mess, is essential reading. Yet of course if you’re too busy to read, then Evans provides a well spoken reading with accompanying analysis between paragraphs to allow Bernays’ relevance and complexity to really sink in.
I had been made aware of Bernays via reading Noam Chomsky, who refers to him and his much lauded ideology/methodology of ‘engineering consent’ near on relentlessly. So I did a little study of my own and looked into some of the things that he directly and seemingly, quite proudly engineered. One of the first I came across was the fact that he converted many suffragettes to smoking through his use of clever branding, something the world is still reeling from. When I found the time, I ordered a copy of Propaganda from my local bookstore earlier this year and read it cover to cover in my spare time. To say the least it was revelatory.
Knowing the context of what Bernays is writing and what it is his writings have come to validate would be like reading Mein Kampf during Nazi occupation of Europe. As I type this I realise this is a very heavy comparison, but as Evans notes in his detailed study of the book, it has been used to justify imperialism, and mass societal manipulation in general for close to a hundred years. The book is basically a ‘how-to’ guide to mass mind control.
If you think you’d like to know about Bernays without having to go and order yourself a book and read it cover to cover, or would like to know more about the engineering of consent among other things head to Smells Like Human Spirit and follow the links. Happy reading/listening. Though be warned, once you’ve entered this realm of understanding, it’s unlikely your paradigm will ever be the same.