Who Created Consumerism?
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis … was an unwitting contributor to the rise of Western consumer culture. – American Psychological Association
Sigmund Freud was the uncle of a man named Edward Bernays, who became the father of modern psychology-based marketing. Their collaborations sparked the development of the wildly successful system of tapping into our deepest fears and desires to sell us stuff we didn’t really need or want. They had such incredibly immense skills. It’s too bad they didn’t only use their super powers to do good deeds. Their legacies are now forever tarnished by the creation of psychologically manipulative materialist marketing… turning normal, everyday people into ‘consumers’.
Until that time, all of the advertising was very direct and straightforward. When there was a product or service to sell, the business would inform the customers of the facts; sizes, colours, prices and uses. The old-time radio ads often slowly spelled out the name of the product.
Then along came Bernays. He targeted how the potential customers wanted to feel about themselves. The different tactic was (and still is) radically effective at getting people to do stupid things based on emotion rather than logic.
People act on information. But they act much more strongly if you can connect with them on a very deep and more unconscious level. It was Bernays, based on his uncle’s research into the unconscious, who discovered this. And based on this discovery, Bernays fast became one of America’s first real marketing superstars. Some even say it was Bernays who invented modern consumerism. – John Forde
Eventually, Bernays started to realize that he was not only a keen observer of the public mind, but also a commander of it. He went so far to call it the “engineering of consent,” and thought it was the moral duty of the intellectual elite — himself included — to manipulate the public mind.
In his 1928 book, “Propaganda,” he wrote:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. – Edward Bernays
Winston Churchill once said, “Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must first believe.”
This is the reason why company owners who do their own marketing are often the best salesmen. They’re not only trying to manipulate people to buy something they neither want nor need. Sometime people actually love their product or service, and they happen to also make a living at sharing a good thing. There’s the scenario that seemingly used to exist in the early 1900’s, but Bernays and Freud colluded to create a consumerism contagion.
Minimalism is the cure to consumerism.
March 10, 1995
He lived to 103, and his obituary in the NY Times said he was the “Father of Public Relations”. “After doing United States Government war propaganda work in World War I, Mr. Bernays realized that, as he put it in the 1991 interview, “if this could be used for war, it can be used for peace.”