This reading carries on from here.
The tenth chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘Art And Science.’ Here Bernays discusses how one can use propaganda in the service of culture.
As in other chapters, Bernays emphasises that the success of almost any enterprise today depends on public acceptance. Therefore, if a gallery is to successfully run an exhibition featuring a particular artist, they will need to first ensure that their works have public acceptance.
Bernays gives us the maxim “In art as in politics the minority rules,” by which he means that those who understand “the anatomy of public opinion” can shape it. He claims that propaganda gives the artist the opportunity to collaborate with industry to improve society.
As in previous chapters, Bernays mentions that the interest of the public can be captured by associations and by dramatic incidents. He gives the example of an American silk manufacturer who forms industry links with Parisian fashion houses for the sake of forming an association.
The effect of aesthetics is laboured in this chapter. Bernays writes that, because mass production has driven the costs of producing propaganda to the floor, propagandists must look for other ways to stand out. One way is by applying aesthetics to their product. There is an economic incentive to meet the public demand for more beauty.
Part of propaganda is to give people something to talk about when they meet up at tea parties. To that end, it’s important to bring people the best of art and aesthetics as they relate to one’s industry. Museums have an interest in making their message intelligible to the public, and to that end they must employ propaganda.
Even in the late 1920s, Bernays was able to write about the phenomenon where scientific research is sponsored by large corporations. This phenomenon was already powerful enough that Bernays could write about it changing the whole world over decade previous to Propaganda being written. Science needs propaganda in order to condition the public to accept the advances it makes.
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