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The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by French social theorist Gustave Le Bon is a short treatise on the principles of large gatherings of people. As the disclaimer on the title page notes, the ideas in Le Bon's book were popular at the time of the late 19th century but are no longer in vogue today. The reasons for this are obvious, as LeBon unpretentiously puts to fault The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by French social theorist Gustave Le Bon is a short treatise on the principles of large gatherings of people. As the disclaimer on the title page notes, the ideas in Le Bon's book were popular at the time of the late 19th century but are no longer in vogue today. The reasons for this are obvious, as LeBon unpretentiously puts to fault all the rhetoric about "democracy," "equality," "fraternity," and "equality" as being mere catchphrases that self-serving demagogues use to control the spirit of the masses. He cites the French Revolution and the demands of Socialism and Communism during his time. Le Bon outlines the way crowds tend to think (in vivid images illogically connected), how they reason (they don't for all practical purposes), how they express exaggerated emotion, how they are very quick to take action without coherent thought and of the general extreme-conservatism and intolerance of crowds. The individual who becomes part of a crowd tends to loose himself, and feels invincible as he is aware of the similarity of mind and purpose of all those surrounding him. Le Bon notes how individuals become unthinking entities of the Herd, and can be unconsciously made to do acts, which can either be of great criminality or heroism. The reasoning of the solitary individual is superior to that of a crowd which has no individuality. All are "equal" in a crowd where, for instance, a mathematician is caught up in the same spirit as a laborer and class and intelligence differences fall to the lowest common denominator. One advantage of crowds is that they can express the spirit of a class, caste, or race of a people better than the individual can, and that crowds are capable of great deeds such as victory in a war or the spread of a religion that would be beyond simply one person's effort. Hitler, Mussolini in addition to Freud were familiar with LeBon's work, and it is readily apparent that their followers acted very similar to the behavior that LeBon describes.


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The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by French social theorist Gustave Le Bon is a short treatise on the principles of large gatherings of people. As the disclaimer on the title page notes, the ideas in Le Bon's book were popular at the time of the late 19th century but are no longer in vogue today. The reasons for this are obvious, as LeBon unpretentiously puts to fault The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by French social theorist Gustave Le Bon is a short treatise on the principles of large gatherings of people. As the disclaimer on the title page notes, the ideas in Le Bon's book were popular at the time of the late 19th century but are no longer in vogue today. The reasons for this are obvious, as LeBon unpretentiously puts to fault all the rhetoric about "democracy," "equality," "fraternity," and "equality" as being mere catchphrases that self-serving demagogues use to control the spirit of the masses. He cites the French Revolution and the demands of Socialism and Communism during his time. Le Bon outlines the way crowds tend to think (in vivid images illogically connected), how they reason (they don't for all practical purposes), how they express exaggerated emotion, how they are very quick to take action without coherent thought and of the general extreme-conservatism and intolerance of crowds. The individual who becomes part of a crowd tends to loose himself, and feels invincible as he is aware of the similarity of mind and purpose of all those surrounding him. Le Bon notes how individuals become unthinking entities of the Herd, and can be unconsciously made to do acts, which can either be of great criminality or heroism. The reasoning of the solitary individual is superior to that of a crowd which has no individuality. All are "equal" in a crowd where, for instance, a mathematician is caught up in the same spirit as a laborer and class and intelligence differences fall to the lowest common denominator. One advantage of crowds is that they can express the spirit of a class, caste, or race of a people better than the individual can, and that crowds are capable of great deeds such as victory in a war or the spread of a religion that would be beyond simply one person's effort. Hitler, Mussolini in addition to Freud were familiar with LeBon's work, and it is readily apparent that their followers acted very similar to the behavior that LeBon describes.

30 review for The Crowd: Study of the Popular Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    ENGLISH Forever highly dangerous instructions for the instrumentalization and manipulation of humans As current as the problem is, so narrow-minded appear some of the author's remarks, which allows his subjective opinion to flow slowly into various passages, which is an unforgivable mistake for serious non-fiction. The mediated concept of history should be treated with caution since aspects such as the dynamics of the rise and fall of high cultures are indeed correctly explained. However, other f ENGLISH Forever highly dangerous instructions for the instrumentalization and manipulation of humans As current as the problem is, so narrow-minded appear some of the author's remarks, which allows his subjective opinion to flow slowly into various passages, which is an unforgivable mistake for serious non-fiction. The mediated concept of history should be treated with caution since aspects such as the dynamics of the rise and fall of high cultures are indeed correctly explained. However, other factors, such as the reduction to the sometimes exaggerated powerful influence of the population on the development of the state, are ignored. This tendency to bring all the factors described into harmony with his concept runs through the book and also reveals a, for the time, very talented self-marketing, which hints at his other works. Among the themes discussed in the book are the history of mass psychology, psychological explanatory experiments, the factors feelings, suggestibility and one-sidedness, the ideas, judgments and imagination of groups of people, religious motives, influence of politics, school and traditions, the power of words and images, the difference between changeable and unchanging opinions and fundamental views, a division of the masses into equal / unlawful as well as criminal. Moreover, the impact on jurisdiction, electoral behavior and parliamentary assemblies resulting from mentioned points. Psychological factors are unbalanced, focusing heavily on the subconscious and others, until now mostly unexplored areas of neurology, so that the resulting conclusions about the underlying thought patterns are guesswork. Sometimes, real points of criticism, such as the fact that the education system only functions as a significant funnel through dull repetition, without providing any applicable knowledge, are disqualified by presenting the schools as breeding grounds for radicals, anarchists and subversive elements. The conservative and elitist worldview also manifests itself in contempt for ordinary people and a demeaning for democracy and socialism, which are in stark contradiction to the other, far-reaching findings of the book. Add to this racism, sexism, statements such as "a rule of the mob would have prevented civilization" and a disturbing state of mind, even for the transition from the 19th to the 20th century. Above all, because numerous examples of other authors of the same era or also of antiquity show how a severe scholarly work without such polemics is entirely possible without infecting the reader with their thoughts, while one perseveres through a crash course in sedition. It is indeed frightening how often in this work, 38 years before the seizure of power by the Nazis, there is the talk of the leaders of the masses and what implications for the scope of the work permits, since some of the described mechanisms are successfully used in practice to this day. Not surprisingly, in the last 100,000 years, humans have hardly developed physiologically. If this work had been characterized with more consideration for objectivity and more of Enlightenment and thought-unconstrained thoughts, its fatal effects would have been substantially reduced, if not made more constructive. The knowledge of the mechanisms of action could also be used for particular concerns, instead of always serving only the instrumentalization of selfish motives. So it remains a frightening multiplication table of manipulation and control on sinister grounds and the sobering realization that individuals, relatively limited in their capabilities, are forming states like insects, guided in their performance by the collective intelligence. In humans the average of all the estimates of a group on a given topic is often more astoundingly and inexplicably close to the right value. However, many other decisions are determined by a much more questionable factor, which increases dramatically with the number of individuals involved. The swarm stupidity. A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this, yuck, ugh, boo, completely overrated real-life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychol... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_m... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychol... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaga... GERMAN Wohl ewig brandgefährliche Anleitung zur Instrumentalisierung und Manipulation von Menschen So aktuell die Problematik ist, so borniert erscheinen einige der Ausführungen des Autors, der seine subjektive Meinung stark in diverse Passagen einfließen lässt, was ein unverzeihlicher Fehler für Sachliteraten ist. Das vermittelte Geschichtsbild ist mit Vorsicht zu genießen, da zwar Aspekte wie die Dynamik hinter Aufstieg und Fall von Hochkulturen durchaus richtig erläutert werden. Dafür werden aber andere Faktoren, wie die die Reduzierung auf den mitunter übertrieben mächtig dargestellten Einfluss der Bevölkerung auf die Entwicklung des Staatswesens, außer Acht lässt. Diese Tendenz, alle beschriebenen Einflussgrößen immer in Harmonie mit dem eigenen Konzept zu bringen, zieht sich durch das Buch und offenbart auch einen für die damalige Zeit überaus talentierten Selbstvermarkter, der Hinweise auf seine anderen Werke einstreut. Zu den erläuterten Themenkreisen des Buches gehören die Geschichte der Massenpsychologie, psychologische Erläuterungsversuche, die Faktoren Gefühle, Beeinflussbarkeit und Einseitigkeit, die Ideen, Urteile und Einbildungskraft von Menschengruppen, religiöse Motive, Einfluss von Politik, Schule und Überlieferungen, die Macht von Worten und Bildern zur Manipulation, den Unterschied zwischen veränderlichen und unveränderlichen Meinungen und Grundanschauungen, eine Einteilung der Massen in gleich/ungleichartige sowie verbrecherische. Und die, aus erwähnten Punkten resultierende Einflusswirkung auf Rechtssprechung, Wahlverhalten und Parlamentsversammlungen. Psychologische Faktoren konzentrieren sich unausgewogen stark auf das Unterbewusste und andere, bis heute weitgehend unerforschte Bereiche der Neurologie, so dass die daraus resultierenden Schlussfolgerungen über die zugrunde legenden Denkmuster Raterei sind. Dafür treffen die beschriebenen Handlungsmuster ins Schwarze. Mitunter werden wahre Kritikpunkte wie die Tatsache, dass das Bildungssystem durch stumpfe Repetition nur als großer Trichter fungiert, ohne anwendbares Wissen zu vermitteln, dadurch disqualifiziert, dass die Schulen als Brutstätten für Radikale, Anarchisten und subversive Elemente dargestellt werden. Das konservative und elitäre Weltbild zeigt sich auch in einer Verachtung für gewöhnliche Menschen und einer Herabwürdigung für Demokratie und Sozialismus, die in krassem Widerspruch zu den anderen, weitreichenden Erkenntnissen des Buches stehen. Dazu kommen Rassismus, Sexismus, Aussagen wie dass "eine Herrschaft des Pöbels die Zivilisation verhindert hätte" und eine, selbst für die Zeit des Übergangs vom 19. ins 20. Jahrhundert, verstörende Geisteshaltung. Vor allem weil mannigfache Beispiele anderer Autoren desselben Zeitalters oder selbst der Antike zeigen, wie eine seriöse und ohne derartig Polemik auskommende wissenschaftliche Arbeit durchaus möglich ist, ohne den Leser mit den eigenen Gedanken zu infizieren, während man einen Schnellkurs in Volksverhetzung durchexerziert. Wahrhaftig erschreckend ist, wie häufig in diesem Werk 38 Jahre vor der Machtergreifung der Nationalsozialisten von den Führern der Massen die Rede ist und welch Implikationen auf die Wirkungsbreite des Werkes dies zulässt, da einige der beschriebenen Mechanismen in der Praxis bis heute erfolgreich angewandt werden. Wen wundert es, hat sich der Mensch in den letzten 100.000 Jahren doch, physiologisch betrachtet, kaum merklich weiter entwickelt. Wäre dies Werk mit mehr Bedacht auf Objektivität und stärker von aufklärerischen und durch Standesdünkel unbeeinflussten Gedanken geprägt worden, hätten sich seine fatalen Auswirkungen bis heute wesentlich mindern, wenn nicht gar für etwas Konstruktiveres nutzen lassen. Ließe sich das Wissen über die Wirkungsmechanismen doch auch für positive Anliegen verwenden, anstatt immer nur der Instrumentalisierung aus selbstsüchtigen Motiven zu dienen. So bleibt es ein erschreckendes Einmaleins der Manipulation und Kontrolle aus sinistren Gründen und die ernüchternde Erkenntnis, dass sich einzelne, relativ in ihren Fähigkeiten eingeschränkte, Staaten bildende Insekten, durch die Schwarmintelligenz in ihrer Leistung und Effizienz gegenseitig potenzieren. Beim Menschen hingegen liegt zwar der Mittelwert aller Schätzungen einer Gruppe zu einem vorgegebenen Thema häufig erstaunlicher- sowie unerklärlicherweise nahe am richtigen Wert. Dafür werden aber etliche andere Entscheidungen von einem wesentlich bedenklicheren Faktor bestimmt, der mit der Anzahl der beteiligten Individuen sprunghaft ansteigt. Der Schwarmblödheit.

  2. 4 out of 5

    May 舞

    For some reason, this book seems to be quite popular in the Middle East as the go-to source when one wants to learn about the psychology of crowds; however, I found very little science and plenty of the author's personal opinions and observations -which have not been systematically studied nor confirmed- with a dash of racism, sexism, and elitism on the side (I guess that should be expected, given that The Crowd is quite out-dated). That it is not to say that it is completely worthless; it's not For some reason, this book seems to be quite popular in the Middle East as the go-to source when one wants to learn about the psychology of crowds; however, I found very little science and plenty of the author's personal opinions and observations -which have not been systematically studied nor confirmed- with a dash of racism, sexism, and elitism on the side (I guess that should be expected, given that The Crowd is quite out-dated). That it is not to say that it is completely worthless; it's not. First of all, Le Bon's writing is engaging, and several passages struck me as beautifully written and eloquent. And there are arguments and assertions that I think are likely to be true, such as people being impressed more with prestige and exaggerated, passionate statements rather than with rational arguments. On a funny note, Le Bon maintains that mental illness, or "madness" is catching, so you might want to cross-reference what you read. If I were to sum up my thoughts on this, I would say read it for the insightful observations that it offers, but not as a credible source with regards to the psychology of crowds. Scientifically robust and updated works should be sought instead.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vilena

    Extremely shrewd, ahead of its time, and simply brilliant. One of the strongest and most influential studies I’ve read. Don’t think I’ve ever highlighted a book so much. An unarguable classic in the field of crowd psychology - and for a good reason.

  4. 4 out of 5

    P.E.

    Protean Crowds This essay by polygraph Dr. Le Bon deals with the main psychological forces at play when it comes to the behaviour of crowds. Its main themes are: socio-cultural and hereditary determinisms in the history of civilizations, public opinion, faith, emotional contamination and inclination of individuals in crowds for extremes, intolerance, authoritarianism, indoctrination, elections, advertisement, revolutionary politics, revolutions, administrative centralization, statism. Some ideas a Protean Crowds This essay by polygraph Dr. Le Bon deals with the main psychological forces at play when it comes to the behaviour of crowds. Its main themes are: socio-cultural and hereditary determinisms in the history of civilizations, public opinion, faith, emotional contamination and inclination of individuals in crowds for extremes, intolerance, authoritarianism, indoctrination, elections, advertisement, revolutionary politics, revolutions, administrative centralization, statism. Some ideas and their expressions feel (out)dated, for instance I certainly wouldn't say the decline of the Roman Empire was caused by the advent of Christianity, neither would I subscribe to the radical hereditary determinism expounded here. Still, the topics broached in this work give serious cause for reflection. Some major quotes: 'L’affirmation pure et simple, dégagée de tout raisonnement et de toute preuve, est un des plus sûrs moyens de faire pénétrer une idée dans l’esprit des foules. [...] Les livres religieux et les codes de tous les âges ont toujours procédé par simple affirmation. Les hommes d’État appelés à défendre une cause politique quelconque, les industriels propageant leurs produits par l’annonce, savent la valeur de l’affirmation.' ------------ 'Les foules ne connaissant que les sentiments simples et extrêmes ; les opinions, idées et croyances qui leur sont suggérées sont acceptées ou rejetées par elles en bloc, et considérées comme des vérités absolues ou des erreurs non moins absolues. Il en est toujours ainsi des croyances déterminées par voie de suggestion, au lieu d’avoir été engendrées par voie de raisonnement. Chacun sait combien les croyances religieuses sont intolérantes et quel empire despotique elles exercent sur les âmes. N’ayant aucun doute sur ce qui est vérité ou erreur et ayant d’autre part la notion claire de sa force, la foule est aussi autoritaire qu’intolérante. L’individu peut supporter la contradiction et la discussion, la foule ne les supportent jamais.' -------------- 'Si la foule est capable de meurtre, d’incendie et de toutes sortes de crimes, elle est également capable d’actes de dévouement, de sacrifice et de désintéressement très élevés, beaucoup plus élevés même que ceux dont est capable l’individu isolé. C’est surtout sur l’individu en foule qu’on agit, et souvent jusqu’à obtenir le sacrifice de la vie, en invoquant des sentiments de gloire, d’honneur, de religion et de patrie. L’histoire fourmille d’exemples analogues à ceux des croisades et des volontaires de 93. Seules les collectivités sont capables de grands désintéressements et de grands dévouements. Que de foules se sont fait héroïquement massacrer pour des croyances, des idées et des mots qu’elles comprenaient à peine. Les foules qui font des grèves les font bien plus pour obéir à un mot d’ordre que pour obtenir une augmentation du maigre salaire dont elles se contentent. L’intérêt personnel est bien rarement un mobile puissant chez les foules, alors qu’il est le mobile à peu près exclusif de l’individu isolé. [...] Même pour les parfaits gredins, il arrive fort souvent que le fait seul d’être réunis en foule leur donne momentanément des principes de moralité très stricts. Taine fait remarquer que les massacreurs de septembre venaient déposer sur la table des comités les portefeuilles et les bijoux qu’ils trouvaient sur leurs victimes, et qu’ils eussent pu aisément dérober. La foule hurlante, grouillante et misérable qui envahit les Tuileries pendant la Révolution de 1848, ne s’empara d’aucun des objets qui l’éblouirent et dont un seul eût représenté du pain pour bien des jours.' ---------- 'Un peuple est un organisme créé par le passé, et qui, comme tout organisme, ne peut se modifier que par de lentes accumulations héréditaires. Ce qui conduit les hommes, surtout lorsqu’ils sont en foule, ce sont les traditions ; et, comme je l’ai répété bien des fois, ils n’en changent facilement que les noms, les formes extérieures. Il n’est pas à regretter qu’il en soit ainsi. Sans traditions, il n’y a ni âme nationale, ni civilisation possibles. Aussi les deux grandes occupations de l’homme depuis qu’il existe ont-elles été de se créer un réseau de traditions, puis de tâcher de les détruire lorsque leurs effets bienfaisants se sont usés.' --------------- 'Faut-il regretter que ce ne soit jamais la raison qui guide les foules ? Nous n’oserions le dire. La raison humaine n’eût pas réussi sans doute à entraîner l’humanité dans les voies de la civilisation avec l’ardeur et la hardiesse dont l’ont soulevée ses chimères. Filles de l’inconscient qui nous mène, ces chimères étaient sans doute nécessaires. Chaque race porte dans sa constitution mentale les lois de ses destinées, et c’est peut-être à ces lois qu’elle obéit par un inéluctable instinct, même dans ses impulsions en apparence les plus irraisonnées. Il semble parfois que les peuples soient soumis à des forces secrètes analogues à celles qui obligent le gland à se transformer en chêne ou la comète à suivre son orbite. Le peu que nous pouvons pressentir de ces forces doit être cherché dans la marche générale de l’évolution d’un peuple et non dans les faits isolés d’où cette évolution semble parfois surgir. Si l’on ne considérait que ces faits isolés l’histoire semblerait régie par d’invraisemblables hasards. Il était invraisemblable qu’un ignorant charpentier de Galilée pût devenir pendant deux mille ans un Dieu tout-puissant, au nom duquel fussent fondées les plus importantes civilisations ; invraisemblable aussi que quelques bandes d’Arabes sortis de leurs déserts pussent conquérir la plus grande partie du vieux monde gréco-romain, et fonder un empire plus grand que celui d’Alexandre ; invraisemblable encore que, dans une Europe très vieille et très hiérarchisée, un obscur lieutenant d’artillerie pût réussir à régner sur une foule de peuples et de rois. Laissons donc la raison aux philosophes, mais ne lui demandons pas trop d’intervenir dans le gouvernement des hommes. Ce n’est pas avec la raison et c’est le plus souvent malgré elle, que se sont créés des sentiments tels que l’honneur, l’abnégation, la foi religieuse, l’amour de la gloire et de la patrie, qui ont été jusqu’ici les grands ressorts de toutes les civilisations.' ---------------- 'L’idée que les institutions peuvent remédier aux défauts des sociétés ; que le progrès des peuples est la conséquence du perfectionnement des constitutions et des gouvernements et que les changements sociaux peuvent se faire à coups de décrets ; cette idée, dis-je, est très généralement répandue encore. La Révolution française l’eut pour point de départ et les théories sociales actuelles y prennent leur point d’appui. [...] Un peuple ne choisit pas ses institutions à son gré, pas plus qu’il ne choisit la couleur de ses yeux ou de ses cheveux. Les institutions et les gouvernements sont le produit de la race. Ils ne sont pas les créateurs d’une époque, mais en sont les créations. Les peuples ne sont pas gouvernés comme le voudraient leurs caprices d’un moment, mais comme l’exige leur caractère. Il faut des siècles pour former un régime politique, et des siècles pour le changer. Les institutions n’ont aucune vertu intrinsèque ; elles ne sont ni bonnes ni mauvaises en elles-mêmes. Celles qui sont bonnes à un moment donné pour un peuple donné, peuvent être détestables pour un autre. Aussi n’est-il pas du tout dans le pouvoir d’un peuple de changer réellement ses institutions. Il peut assurément, au prix de révolutions violentes, changer le nom de ces institutions, mais le fond ne se modifie pas. [...] C’est ainsi par exemple que le plus démocratique des pays du monde est l’Angleterre, qui vit cependant sous un régime monarchique, alors que les pays où sévit le plus lourd despotisme sont les républiques hispano-américaines, malgré les constitutions républicaines qui les régissent. [...]' ['Les révolutions qui commencent sont en réalité des croyances qui finissent.'] ---------------- 'Il faudrait prendre une à une les lois, les institutions de chaque peuple, pour montrer à quel point elles sont l’expression des besoins de leur race, et ne sauraient pour cette raison être violemment transformées. On peut disserter philosophiquement, par exemple, sur les avantages et les inconvénients de la centralisation ; mais quand nous voyons un peuple, composé de races très diverses, consacrer mille ans d’efforts pour arriver progressivement à cette centralisation ; quand nous constatons qu’une grande révolution ayant pour but de briser toutes les institutions du passé, a été forcée non seulement de respecter cette centralisation, et l’a exagérer encore, disons-nous bien qu’elle est fille de nécessités impérieuses, une condition même d’existence, et plaignons la faible portée mentale des hommes politiques qui parlent de la détruire. S’ils pouvaient par hasard y réussir, l’heure de la réussite serait aussitôt le signal d’une effroyable guerre civile qui ramènerait immédiatement d’ailleurs une nouvelle centralisation beaucoup plus lourde que l’ancienne. Note en bas de page: Si l’on rapproche les profondes dissensions religieuses et politiques qui séparent les diverses parties de la France, et sont surtout une question de races, des tendances séparatistes qui se sont manifestées à l’époque de la Révolution, et qui commençaient à se dessiner de nouveau vers la fin de la guerre franco-allemande, on voit que les races diverses qui subsistent sur notre sol sont bien loin d’être fusionnées encore. La centralisation énergique de la Révolution et la création de départements artificiels destinés à mêler les anciennes provinces fut certainement son œuvre la plus utile. Si la décentralisation, dont parlent tant aujourd’hui les esprits imprévoyants, pouvait être créée, elle aboutirait promptement aux plus sanglantes discordes. Il faut pour le méconnaître oublier entièrement notre histoire.' '« Apprendre des leçons, savoir par cœur une grammaire ou un abrégé, bien répéter, bien imiter, voilà, écrit un ancien ministre de l’instruction publique, M. Jules Simon, une plaisante éducation où tout effort est un acte de foi devant l’infaillibilité du maître, et n’aboutit qu’à nous diminuer et nous rendre impuissants. » ' ---- A quote from the conclusion of the work: 'Cette restriction progressive des libertés se manifeste pour tous les pays sous une forme spéciale, que Herbert Spencer n’a pas indiquée, et qui est celle-ci : La création de ces séries innombrables de mesures législatives, toutes généralement d’ordre restrictif, conduit nécessairement à augmenter le nombre, le pouvoir et l’influence des fonctionnaires chargés de les appliquer. Ils tendent ainsi progressivement à devenir les véritables maîtres des pays civilisés. Leur puissance est d’autant plus grande, que, dans les incessants changements de pouvoir, la caste administrative est la seule qui échappe à ces changements, la seule qui possède l’irresponsabilité, l’impersonnalité et la perpétuité. Or, de tous les despotismes, il n’en est pas de plus lourds que ceux qui se présentent sous cette triple forme. Cette création incessante de lois et de règlements restrictifs entourant des formalités les plus byzantines les moindres actes de la vie, a pour résultat fatal de rétrécir de plus en plus la sphère dans laquelle les citoyens peuvent se mouvoir librement. Victimes de cette illusion qu’en multipliant les lois l’égalité et la liberté se trouvent mieux assurées, les peuples acceptent chaque jour de plus pesantes entraves. Ce n’est pas impunément qu’ils les acceptent. Habitués à supporter tous les jougs, ils finissent bientôt par les rechercher, et arrivent à perdre toute spontanéité et toute énergie. Ils ne sont plus alors que des ombres vaines, des automates passifs, sans volonté, sans résistance et sans force. Mais alors les ressorts que l’homme ne trouve plus en lui-même, il est bien forcé de les chercher hors de lui-même. Avec l’indifférence et l’impuissance croissantes des citoyens, le rôle des gouvernements est obligé de grandir encore. Ce sont eux qui doivent avoir forcément l’esprit d’initiative, d’entreprise et de conduite que les particuliers n’ont plus. Il leur faut tout entreprendre, tout diriger, tout protéger. L’État devient un dieu tout-puissant. Mais l’expérience enseigne que le pouvoir de tels dieux ne fut jamais ni bien durable, ni bien fort. Cette restriction progressive de toutes les libertés chez certains peuples, malgré une licence extérieure qui leur donne l’illusion de les posséder, semble être une conséquence de leur vieillesse tout autant que celle d’un régime quelconque. Elle constitue un des symptômes précurseurs de cette phase de décadence à laquelle aucune civilisation n’a pu échapper jusqu’ici.' ------ A quote somehow akin to the gist of Gustave Le Bon's thesis (to which I don't subscribe, but thought-provoking all the same): 'All these nations were great, because they had great prejudices. They no longer have. Are they nations still? Scattered crowds, at best.' - Emil Cioran In the original: «Les Français furent un grand peuple tant qu'ils eurent de fort préjugés, qu'ils vécurent à l'étroit, et qu'ils amassèrent. L'avarice chez eux fut un signe de grandeur. Ils thésaurisèrent de l'argent, et en même temps des vertus. La paysannerie française est en voie de disparition. C'est un coup fatal porté à la France, qui perd par là même ses réserves, son fonds. Elle ne s'en remettra jamais. L'avarice a été pour elle une sauvegarde. Ai eu une discussion hier avec une Anglaise sur les préjugés. Elle soutient que ceux de l'Angleterre sont bien pires que ceux de France. Je lui réponds que chaque nation en a et même que ce sont eux qui en assurent la cohésion. Politiquement, c'est la même chose. Que fait un nouveau régime ? Il introduit de nouveaux préjugés aux dépens des anciens. Quand une société n'en a plus, elle s'effondre. Tous ces peuples étaient grands, parce qu'ils avaient de grands préjugés. Ils n'en ont plus. Sont-ils encore des nations ? Tout au plus des foules désagrégées. [...]' - Emil Cioran ------ Also read: On Reason not being the Leading Force of History and Civilization: Bonaparte: 1769-1802 La création des identités nationales. Europe, XVIIIe-XXe siècle On the Role of Prejudice in the Construction of Nations: Reflections on the Revolution in France On Conformism: 14-18, penser le patriotisme On Mobs: Also on the reform of the school system: Les Origines De La France Contemporaine, Tome 1 On Faith and Religion: De la Démocratie en Amérique, tome I De la Démocratie en Amérique, tome II Dieu et l'Etat On Liberty: On Liberty

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    Translator not named; with an introduction by Robert A. Nye (my thesis advisor). There are two ways to approach this polemical rant. The first is as an historical product: it's a conservative response to the vagaries of the masses, which in LeBon's day were leading to the dangers of socialism, indifference, and decadence. The primitive crowd mentality was destroying civilization, as LeBon saw it, and this work is meant to address why, and offers insights on how the statesman can control crowds be Translator not named; with an introduction by Robert A. Nye (my thesis advisor). There are two ways to approach this polemical rant. The first is as an historical product: it's a conservative response to the vagaries of the masses, which in LeBon's day were leading to the dangers of socialism, indifference, and decadence. The primitive crowd mentality was destroying civilization, as LeBon saw it, and this work is meant to address why, and offers insights on how the statesman can control crowds better (not through reason but empty platitudes and obvious imagery). The second way to look at the work is as a scholarly argument: in this it fails utterly. Self-contradictory, rambling and perfunctory when it comes to "proving" his notions, LeBon is certainly a shrewd observer of the crowd mentality, but his conclusions are illogical, misplaced, and false. This book is in fact itself a good example of crowd manipulation as LeBon sees it! That is, it is repetitive, avoids rational argument and invokes vague causes like race genius and civilizing sentiment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aliaq8

    Zzzzzzz Its a study, which is a bit dated and repetitive. There are much better and Updated studies than this. a couple paragraphs that i disliked: “It will be remarked that among the special characteristics of crowds there are several…which are almost always observed in beings belonging to inferior forms of evolution—in women, savages, and children, for instance.” Tiberius, Ghengis Khan, and Napoleon were assuredly redoubtable tyrants, but from the depth of their graves Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Ma Zzzzzzz Its a study, which is a bit dated and repetitive. There are much better and Updated studies than this. a couple paragraphs that i disliked: “It will be remarked that among the special characteristics of crowds there are several…which are almost always observed in beings belonging to inferior forms of evolution—in women, savages, and children, for instance.” Tiberius, Ghengis Khan, and Napoleon were assuredly redoubtable tyrants, but from the depth of their graves Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mahomet have exerted on the human soul a far profounder despotism.” Despotism! (the exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way.) i want to rant more, but i've worn myself out trying to finish this book..

  7. 5 out of 5

    JakeR

    This book made me understand a lot about why crowds do the things they do. For example, why are there so many harmful comments on social media? It's because on social media, everybody's pretty invisible. There will be no immediate consequences to perhaps one of their insults among millions of others. Once everyone notices the power of becoming invisible, the only thing visible becomes the crowd. Also in the books Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus, the author also explained that this kind of crowd psych This book made me understand a lot about why crowds do the things they do. For example, why are there so many harmful comments on social media? It's because on social media, everybody's pretty invisible. There will be no immediate consequences to perhaps one of their insults among millions of others. Once everyone notices the power of becoming invisible, the only thing visible becomes the crowd. Also in the books Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus, the author also explained that this kind of crowd psychology was what built civilisations. The blind crowd following a leader, convinced not by logic but perhaps simply how persuasive that leader is. The crowd is quite blind, changing along with the tide, despite all the factors that makes them so stubborn, in the end, things change with the passage of time. Ideas lives and dies with the will of the crowd. What fascinates me the most is how the crowd could've fought. They perfectly had the power to do so. I arrived from a conclusion from this book, which is the power of persuasiveness have great power. The leader manipulates the minds of the crowds into agreeing with them, whether using persuasive speeches, or triggering emotions of the crowds, it all depends on what the leader can make the crowd do. The author constantly talked about the crowd as this less intelligent sort of being, yet it becomes less of the intelligence of the crowd for it is mainly the leader that takes control. It is more of the power of collective abilities. This collective ability can change tides in history, commit horrendous crimes or do amazing goods. The power is in the hand of the crowd, therefore, if the leader can grasp that power, the leader will have the powers to change the world.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dominique Perregaux

    This book is a must read to understand the past, current and future revolutions. Analyzing the psychology of crowds, Le Bon explains in details two fundamental elements that everybody should know and assimilate: 1) A crowd is a crowd. Whatever it is composed of idiots or savants, a crowd is an anonymous mass, a shapeless monster that brings to the surface the most basic, primal and violent instincts of its members. The impunity that being among others attribute is the basis of the danger of a cro This book is a must read to understand the past, current and future revolutions. Analyzing the psychology of crowds, Le Bon explains in details two fundamental elements that everybody should know and assimilate: 1) A crowd is a crowd. Whatever it is composed of idiots or savants, a crowd is an anonymous mass, a shapeless monster that brings to the surface the most basic, primal and violent instincts of its members. The impunity that being among others attribute is the basis of the danger of a crowd. 2) Revolutions (provoked my crowds) happen when a situation is no more in phase with the reality. This disconnection can last years but at some point the difference between the tyrant(s)' s reality and the one from the people they control is not sustainable anymore; becomes too hard to bear. The friction becomes so intense that the system (totalitarian) implodes with the crowd emerging as an unstoppable destructive (of the old order) force. What Le Bon highlights is that this new reality (the new reality brought by the revolution) is a period of chaos. A period of transition between the old system and the new order to come. This gives further perspective to the world events we can currently witness.

  9. 5 out of 5

    James

    I found this book enlightening, but frightening and immensely sad. There were a few times when I found it repetitious and boring, but overall, would recommend it to any thinking man (and of course woman) The first part of the book is about crowds like mobs, and how people behave. I don't agree with everything but his central observation is that crowds are hypnotized by a leader and thus not as responsible for their actions. The other part of the book that really caught my attention was the part a I found this book enlightening, but frightening and immensely sad. There were a few times when I found it repetitious and boring, but overall, would recommend it to any thinking man (and of course woman) The first part of the book is about crowds like mobs, and how people behave. I don't agree with everything but his central observation is that crowds are hypnotized by a leader and thus not as responsible for their actions. The other part of the book that really caught my attention was the part about politics and the rise and fall of civilizations. He talks about how parliamentary systems of government are the best available but inevitably lead to decline. To finish, a quote to make you sad... "To pass in pursuit of an ideal from the barbarous to the civilized state, and then when this ideal has lost its virtue, to decline and die, such is the cycle of the life of a people."

  10. 5 out of 5

    S!

    read this for a class and i very much don't recommend! le bon's analysis is not only extremely antiquated, but also definitely bigoted, racist, misogynistic and, most of all, REEKS of classism. from the first page, all of my bells were ringing. like, overall, it's a very dubious "scientific" analysis on the psychology of the masses (which masses, le bon? which specific masses did you study and then generalize about? 19th century french ones?). it's a pity that crowd psychology, a branch of socia read this for a class and i very much don't recommend! le bon's analysis is not only extremely antiquated, but also definitely bigoted, racist, misogynistic and, most of all, REEKS of classism. from the first page, all of my bells were ringing. like, overall, it's a very dubious "scientific" analysis on the psychology of the masses (which masses, le bon? which specific masses did you study and then generalize about? 19th century french ones?). it's a pity that crowd psychology, a branch of social psychology, seems to have originated from this work. to be Fair and Balanced™, yes, there are some very small moments of interesting commentary that are made more interesting when you apply it to modern internet masses. le bon argues that a person becoming part of a group awards them with anonymity and the unconscious permission to act/think/feel in ways they would not if they were alone. this made me think of, for example, an ugly youtube video comment section or an alt-right troll's twitter. but here's the thing- i can find that analysis from a more modern and better thinker! so, le bon, you have outlived your usefulness. anyway, glad it's over and i handed in my 5pg paper :-)

  11. 4 out of 5

    sara manente

    the book that all the dictators apparently read

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Although it was written 1895, it applies also to our time! It was first published with the title of 'la psychologie des foules' I think this title fits better! People in crowds act like 'foules'. We are influenced by media, opinions, society, rules, etc! To be open and independent and to escape from the standards of society is not an easy task! The examples that refers the author are referred to France history! Although it was written 1895, it applies also to our time! It was first published with the title of 'la psychologie des foules' I think this title fits better! People in crowds act like 'foules'. We are influenced by media, opinions, society, rules, etc! To be open and independent and to escape from the standards of society is not an easy task! The examples that refers the author are referred to France history!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    This is book is mainly a historical artifact. It is useful in understanding the intellectual history of social psychology. There are lots of sweeping generalizations unsubstantiated by data. It predates the use of survey research and is mainly philosophical speculation. There are some interesting tidbits of wisdom for politicians running for office on how to sway crowds.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    Anti-religious, anti-capitalistic drivel. I was hoping for some logic and insight into the psychological motivations of the masses and got instead a heap of redundant and unfounded garbage. Don't waste your time on this book. Anti-religious, anti-capitalistic drivel. I was hoping for some logic and insight into the psychological motivations of the masses and got instead a heap of redundant and unfounded garbage. Don't waste your time on this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heydar Quliyev

    Sexist and racist bullshit which is unfortunately still in demand.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthias

    First published in 1895, this anti-populist sociological rant - ahem, essay - was ahead of its time, and predated many topics that much later became popular in social psychology, political science, and the behavioral sciences at large. Some of Le Bon's brilliant intuitions: - the increasing importance and power of the masses in an increasingly industrialized and democratic world - individuals become less rational once they become part of a large group: increased susceptibility to imitation (anticip First published in 1895, this anti-populist sociological rant - ahem, essay - was ahead of its time, and predated many topics that much later became popular in social psychology, political science, and the behavioral sciences at large. Some of Le Bon's brilliant intuitions: - the increasing importance and power of the masses in an increasingly industrialized and democratic world - individuals become less rational once they become part of a large group: increased susceptibility to imitation (anticipating Girard); emotional statuses spreading in a similar way to a viral contagion (nowadays we see computational social scientists trying to model this); peer pressure and social conformity (many years later demonstrated by Solomon Asch's experiment, which was then replicated by neuroscientist Gregory Berns) - large groups' positive reaction to content communicated with violent conviction and purely emotional reasoning, independently of its being true or false, and lukewarm or negative reaction to complex truths and presentations that care for preciseness - the demand for authoritarianism increases in large groups, just like the demand for illusions - the intertwining of both a top-down and bottom-up process: Le Bon rejects both the views that the decision-making power is completely in the hands of the masses or of the elites; rather, he sees a dynamic in which crowds look for a master to submit to ("A crowd is a servile flock that is incapable of ever doing without a master"), and then a leader (who, in reality, inevitably represents a small minority) appears to meet such demand and give the crowd an identity - the hypnotizing power that prestige (status) has on influencing large groups; the crowd will follow the people with prestige, regardless of how incorrect and manipulative they are (and will ignore the ones without prestige, regardless of how correct and honest they are); "It is terrible at times to think of the power that strong conviction combined with extreme narrowness of mind gives a man possessing prestige" - the vicious cycle caused by influence blindly following prestige: once prestige disappears, influence falls together with it; in fact, the crowd will not just stop following the fallen heroes, but also react violently against them in a form of revenge (this part also reminded me of Girard) - the possibility of mass behavior having evolutionarily selected aspects ("they appear to be guided by those mysterious forces which [...] we call the voices of the dead, and whose power it is impossible to overlook, although we ignore their essence. It would seem, at times, as if there were latent forces in the inner being of nations which serve to guide them") - some basic key tools effective leaders (who "have always been unconscious psychologists") use to communicate to crowds, including an observation of what decades later will be called the framing effect (this part predates what Cialdini popularized 90 years later) - the fallacy of advocating a restriction of voting rights to the supposedly "more educated" (more than one hundred years later, analyses by Dan Kahan and others are showing to which extent this intuition was correct) Le Bon's prose is very readable, clear and fluid. His points are often repetitive, but the work is overall quite short. Some ideas are outdated and now unscientific, but it's normal for a social science book written in those times. The biggest flaw I can find is the pessimistic tone pervading the analysis, but it's quite difficult to dismiss it once one considers how the dynamics individuated by Le Bon played a role in the rise of the destructive totalitarian regimes of the following century - and, in any case, such pessimism is not present in an extremist and oracular/prophetic form like in, say, Spengler. In conclusion, The Crowd still remains an enjoyable, insightful read even after such a long time from its first publication.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Minh Trang

    I don't like this book for a very simple reason: Out-of-date. The examples the author gave largely from Révolution française, which is no longer a great example for his theory. Also, with the outbreak (should I use this word) of advanced technologies, exchanging information, concepts and even trends is everyday occurrence for people around the world. Thus, the psychology of crowds should be investigated with technology-involved interruptions. I do not recommend this book for non-majored readers. I don't like this book for a very simple reason: Out-of-date. The examples the author gave largely from Révolution française, which is no longer a great example for his theory. Also, with the outbreak (should I use this word) of advanced technologies, exchanging information, concepts and even trends is everyday occurrence for people around the world. Thus, the psychology of crowds should be investigated with technology-involved interruptions. I do not recommend this book for non-majored readers. The language contains many technical terms and concepts. I don't know why this book is highly recommended, instead it is rather wordy and oversimplified everything. The art of human manipulation is not that simple.

  18. 4 out of 5

    YHC

    More than 100 years, this book still describes so perfectly crowd behaviors. despite of the criticism of disrespectful to women and kids, his ideas were still consider a very insightful observation. After all the era he lived in, women had not right for formal education and voting. Looking at the nowadays social events, political incidents, we can see so easily humans are looking for saviors, let's say leader. Once they decide to follow, they will not think! 底下這位寫的筆記很好 我收藏自己可觀看! https://book.doub More than 100 years, this book still describes so perfectly crowd behaviors. despite of the criticism of disrespectful to women and kids, his ideas were still consider a very insightful observation. After all the era he lived in, women had not right for formal education and voting. Looking at the nowadays social events, political incidents, we can see so easily humans are looking for saviors, let's say leader. Once they decide to follow, they will not think! 底下這位寫的筆記很好 我收藏自己可觀看! https://book.douban.com/review/5204395/ 便秘的骆驼 评论 乌合之众 2011-12-08 10:28:19 按:这是写给同事看的,因为当时她需要了解这本书的内容,而又来不及通读全书。故我重读一遍,做了这个简单的札记。 勒庞的《乌合之众》,“是一部以阅读法国大革命时间为基础的群体行为的社会心理学著作”。罗伯特•墨顿的序“勒庞《乌合之众》的得与失”写得很好,他提到一点,“《乌合之众》的当代意义,在于它发现问题的功能而非解决问题的功能。” 勒庞不是一个社会学家,不像迪尔凯姆(这家伙是社会学大师,他的《社会学方法的准则》,应该列为调查记者和特稿记者必读书目,至少可以了解学习一门方法论)一样,用收集和分析社会学数据来研究。但他对社会学有先天的本能。 首先,他先知般写道:“我们就要进入的时代,千真万确将是一个群体的时代。”(导言:群体的时代)在之前的时代里,民众的声音不受重视,到了那个年代,民主、大众传媒等的出现,让民众从各个阶层进入政治生活。 然后第一卷,勒庞开始分析群体的心理。 一、 群体的一般特征。自觉地个性消失,形成一种集体心理:无意识、低智力等。 1、形成集体的个人会感觉到一种势不可挡的力量,使他敢于发泄出自本能的欲望。 2、传染的现象。 3、最重要的原因,同孤立的个人所表现出的特点截然相反。 二、分析群体的感情和道德观。在大多数群体中,可以看到如下特点: 1、冲动、易变和急躁。“群体没有能力做任何长远的打算或思考。” 2、易受暗示和轻信。这是一种集体幻觉的机制。“群体永远漫游者无意识的领地。”“在暗示和相互传染的推动下,一个人编造的奇迹,立刻就会被所有的人接受。” 3、夸张与单纯。“群体表现出来的感情不管是好是坏,其突出的特点就是极为简单而夸张。”“群体情绪的简单和夸张所造成的结果是,它全然不知怀疑和不确定性为何物。”勒庞还表面,“个人一旦成为群体的一员,他的智力立刻会大大下降。” 4、偏执、专横和保守。“群体只知道简单而极端的感情;提供给他们的各种意见、想法和信念,他们或者全盘接受,或者一概拒绝,将其视为绝对真理或绝对谬论。”还有一点,勒庞老师看得很精准:“群体随时会反抗软弱可欺者,对强权低声下气。如果强权时断时续,而群体又总是被极端情绪所左右,它便会表现得反复无常,时而无法无天,时而卑躬屈膝。”保守一说,则是“群体强烈地受着无意识因素的支配,因此很容易屈从于世俗的等级制,难免会十分保守”。 5、群体的道德。“群体的道德水平十分低劣。”人都有野蛮和破坏性的本能,如果加入到不负责任的群体,清楚不会受惩罚后,便会彻底放纵这种本能。群体可能无恶不作,也可能表现出极崇高的献身和牺牲举动,所以“以名誉、光荣和爱国主义作为号召,最有可能影响到组成群体的个人,而且经常可以达到使他慷慨赴死的地步”。 三、群体的观念、推理与想象力。 1、群体的观念。“给群体提供的无论是什么观念,只有当它们具有绝对的、毫不妥协的和简单明了的形式时,才能产生有效的影响。因此它们都会披上形象化的外衣,也只有以这种形式,它们才能为群众所接受。”后面,勒老师提到的一点,可以看成是精英主义者得意的地方,实话说,我也认同这点:“就观念而言,群体总是落后于博学之士和哲学家好几代人。” 2、群体的理性。群体对事情的论证,从逻辑上看十分拙劣。其推理的特点,“是把彼此不同,只做表面上相似的事物搅在一起,并且立刻把具体的事物普遍化。”——这个在微博尤其明显,不管事实本身,只摘取简单的表象的相同点加以放大,后由此得出一个普遍化的结论,比如:官员都是弱智、路人都是冷漠等。 3、群体的想象力。群体的想象力强大而活跃,而且非常敏感。“在历史上,表象总是比真相起着更重要的作用,不现实的因素总是比现实的因素更重要。”“侵略者的权力和国家的威力,便是建立在群体的想象力上。” 四、群体信仰所采取的宗教形式。说到底,就是崇拜一个神,盲目服从、残忍的偏执和要求狂热的宣传等。“一切宗教或政治信条的创立者所以能够立住脚,皆因为他们成功激起了群众想入非非的感情,他们使群众中崇拜和服从中,找到了自己的幸福,随时准备为自己的偶像赴汤蹈火。这种任何时代概无例外。”——这点来解释粉丝群体再合适不过了。 进入第二卷,群体的意见与信念。在这一卷里,勒庞讨论的几个问题,群体的意见和信念形成的间接和直接因素、群体领袖是什么人,他有怎样的动员手段、最后一点是群体的意见和信念中,有哪些是牢固的信念,哪些是多变的信念,以及这两种信念形成的原因。 一、群体的意见和信念中的间接因素。包括五种:种族;传统;时间;政治和社会制度;教育。 1、种族。这一点作者没有详细讨论,他在另外一本书《民族演化的心理规律》里讨论过。 2、传统。从胚胎学可以证明,过去的时间对于生物进化的巨大影响,把这种理论放到历史学,也可以看出传统的重要性。因此勒老师坚持认为群体具有保守主义精神,哪些最狂暴的反叛最终也只会造成一些嘴皮子上的变化。勒庞老师难得地提到了中国,当作反面例子:“如果一个民族使自己在习俗变得过于牢固,它便不会再发生变化,于是就像中国一样,变得没有改进能力。”他的理想是这样的:“对于一个民族来说,理想的状态是保留过去的制度,只用不易察觉的方式一点一滴地加以改进。这种理想不易实现。使它变成现实的几乎只有古罗马人和近代英国人。” 3、时间。这点其实无须详细的论述,人人都懂,勒老师也只是提供一些名人名言式的说法,放到现在的最大作用就是让新周刊之类的官方微博有内容可以发早安晚安。比如,“它是惟一的创造者,也是惟一的伟大毁灭者。”“它们获得力量靠的是时间,失去力量也是因为时间。”“时间是我们最可靠的主人,为了看到一切事物有何变化,应当让它自由地发挥作用。” 4、政治和社会制度。勒老师认为,深刻影响群体禀性的手段,不能到制度中去寻找。他有个观点,“一个民族并没有真正改变其各种制度的能力。毫无疑问,以暴力革命为代价,它可以改变其名称,但是其本质依然如故。”——这说的不就是我党当年的革命和毛的各种手段嘛。。。 5、教育。很多人夸大了教育的作用了,“教育既不会使人变得更道德,也不会使他更幸福;它既不能改变他的本能,也不能改变他天生的热情,而且有时——只要进行不良引导即可——害处远大于好处。”然后,在如何让专业教育提供智力上,勒庞引用了丹纳(在本书里被翻译成泰纳,丹纳最出名的作品是《艺术哲学》,傅雷翻译的,非常好)的说明,可以详细看看。 二、群体意见和信念中的直接因素。包括四种:形象、词语和套话;幻觉;经验;理性。 1、形象、词语和套话。勒老师这段讲得精彩啊:“最不明确的词语,有时反而影响最大。例如像民主、社会主义、平等、自由等等,它们的含义极为模糊,即使一大堆专著也不足以确定它们的所指。然而这区区几个词语的确有着神奇的威力,它们似乎是解决一切问题的灵丹妙药。各种极不相同的潜意识中的抱负及其实现的希望,全被它们集于一身。”然后,他还有一个有意思的结论:“统治者的艺术,就像律师的艺术一样,首先在于驾驭辞藻的学问。这门艺术遇到的最大困难之一,就是在同一个社会,同一个词对于不同的社会阶层往往有不同的含义,表面上看他们用词相同,其实他们说着不同的语言。”——这个放到我党身上,早年创造出的那套官话便是如此,当年洗脑成功,大家都认同,现在就不同了,而且的确同样的词在官方语境和民间语境的意思不同,比如一些大家熟悉的词:一小撮、不明真相等就是此类。再说远一点,《1984》里关于真理部、新词的描述,与这个遥相呼应。 2、幻觉。“自从出现文明以来,群体便一直处在幻觉的影响之下。他们为制造幻觉的人建庙塑像,设计祭坛,超过了所有其他人。”——嗯,不问苍生问鬼神就是此类。所以勒庞在后面又下结论:“推动各民族演化的主要因素,永远不是真理,而是谬误。”还有一点,勒庞说到了社会主义强大的原因:“它的鼓吹者是那些非常无视现实,因而敢于向人类承诺幸福的人。” 3、经验。经验可以让过于危险的幻想破灭,但需要发生在非常大的范围内,这个范围也包括时间,所以经验需要一再出现,而且通常“一代人的经验对下一代人是没多少用处的。” 4、理性。前面已经提到群体心理的非理性,为什么这里还要提到理性,勒庞主要强调的是理性的影响的消极价值。他对理性并没有好感,认为幻觉其实是必要的,而理性在历史上并没怎么指引过人类走上文明之路。“一切文明的主要动力并不是理性,倒不如说,尽管存在着理性,文明的动力仍然是各种感情——譬如尊严、自我牺牲、宗教信仰、爱国主义以及对荣誉的爱。” 三、群体领袖及其说服的手法。 1、为什么只要有生物聚集(无论是人还是动物),就会有头领?领袖更有可能是个实干家而非思想家,意志坚强、有强大的信仰,而“聚集成群的人会完全丧失自己的意志,本能地转向一个具备他们所没有的品质的人。”“大多数人,尤其是群众中的大多数人,除了自己的行业之外,对任何问题都没有清楚而合理的想法。” 2、领袖的动员手段:断言、重复和传染。看到这个标题,首先我想起的是史玉柱的广告,比如脑白金,就符合这三个特点。勒庞说道:“一个断言越是简单明了,证据和证明看上去月贫乏,它就越有威力。一切时代的宗教书和各种法典,总是诉诸简单的断言。号召人们起来捍卫某项政治事业的政客,利用广告手段推销产品的商人,全都深知断言的价值。”进一步的是,“极为重要的修辞发只有一个,那就是重复”。 3、名望。名望是一种难以抗拒的力量,总括起来可以分为两类:先天的名望(称号、财富和名誉)和个人名望(其中提到拿破仑那部分很有意思,或者可以用现在更流行的词来表述:气场)。 四、群体的信念和意见的变化范围。主要分为两类:牢固、重要和持久的信念(如封建主义、基督教和新教)和短暂而易变的意见(如浪漫主义、自然主义或神秘主义)。 1、牢固的信念。“伟大的普遍信仰数量十分有限。它们的兴衰是每一个文明种族的历史上令人瞩目的事件。它们构成了文明的真正基础。”,还有一个特点,“建立普遍信念的道路可谓困难重重,不过一旦它站稳了脚跟,它便会具有不可征服的力量,无论从哲学上看它多么荒谬,它都会进入最清醒的头脑。”基本的信念,大多是宗教信仰的产物。而勒庞认为,共产主义“只能算是等而下之的信仰”。 2、群体意见的多变。“一切与民族的普遍信念和情感相悖的东西,都没有持久力,逆流不久便又回到了主河道。”群众易变的意见多,有三个原因:首先,过去的信仰失去了影响力,普遍信仰衰落;其次,群众的势力在不断增长,这种势力越来越没有制衡的力量。第三个原因是报业的发展(勒庞那个年代才开始的,到20世纪后乃至网络时代,大众媒体的这点影响越来越大),不断地把完全对立的意见带到群众面前。 第三卷也是最后一卷,勒庞分析了不同群体的分类及其特点。 一、群体的分类。具体是这样分类的:两大类,异质化群体和同质化群体。其中,异质化群体包括两类:无名称的群体(如街头群体)和有名称的群体(如陪审团、议会等);同质化群体包括三类:派别(政治派别、宗教派别等)、身份团体(军人、僧侣、劳工等)和阶级(中产阶级、农民阶级等)。在这本书里,勒庞只讨论了各种异质化群体。具体如下: 1、被称为犯罪群体的群体。群体犯罪,这个类似于我们说的多数人的暴政,里面勒庞举了巴士底狱监狱长之死的例子,非常有代表性,可以具体看看。他认为犯罪群体的特征和一般群体的特征并无不同:“易受怂恿、轻信、易变,把良好或恶劣的感情加以夸大、表现出某种道德,等等。”——立刻想起义和团! 2、刑事案件的陪审团。勒庞主要讲的是法国刑事法庭的陪审团,他认为,陪审团“也表现出易受暗示和缺乏推理能力的特点。当它处在群众领袖的影响之下时,也主要受无意识情绪的支配。” 3、选民群体。“在群体特有的特征中,他们表现出极少的推理能力,他们没有批判精神、轻信、易怒并且头脑简单。此外,从他们的决定中也可以找到群众领袖的影响,和我们列举过的那些因素——断言、重复和传染——的作用。”其中,勒庞提到的一点——“候选人写成文字的纲领不可过于绝对,不然他的对手将来会用它来对付自己。但是在口头纲领中,再夸夸其谈也不过分。可以毫无惧色地承诺最重要的改革。做出这些夸张能够产生巨大的效果,但它们对未来并没有约束力”——让我想起来影帝,隔三岔五就提一下政改……勒庞后面还提到,“普选的教条今天就有着过去的宗教所具有的威力”,而这并不是好事,当然也不是坏事。不过,普选的弱点十分突出,“选民群体的心理学就是如此。它和其他群体一样:既不更好也不更差”。勒庞还提到一种假设:如果把选举权限于聪明人中间,情况会好么?他继续强调自己之前的结论:“在群体中,人们总是倾向于变得智力平平,在一般性问题上,40名院士的投票不会比40个卖水人所投的票更高明。”——这一点,其实很适合拿来反驳一个说法:中国人素质太低,不适合民主。 4、议会。“在议会中也可以看到群体的一般特征:头脑简单、多变、易受暗示、夸大感情以及少数领袖人物的主导作用。”所以勒庞认为,虽然议会制度是一切现代文明民族的理想,得到普遍的赞同,但这种观念(在某个问题上,一大群人要比一小撮人更有可能做出明智而独立的决定)从心理学上说是错误的。“在所有情绪激昂的会议上,都可以看到同样的无意识现象。”不过,勒庞也承认一点,“议会的运作虽然面对所有这些困难,它仍然是人类迄今为止已经发现的最佳统治方式,尤其是人类已经找到的摆脱个人专制的最佳方式。”接着,他又认为议会造成两种严重的危险:一是不可避免的财政浪费;二是对个人自由不断增加的限制(这一点上,我想起托克维尔在《论美国的民主》里面提到的,意思与勒庞接近,论述更加精彩)。 最后的最后,勒庞“对我们之前那些文明的伟大和衰败的原因加以评价”,最后那几页的概括很精彩,个人觉得,可以单独摘下来,放到中学语文教科书里。

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    This was a solid read, Le Bon makes some great observations on the mind of the crowd, and it resonates just as strong today. A very important observation is that he uses the word {race} a lot, he is talking about culture not skin tone, and he discusses the French race and the Revolution extensively. I would love to read his observations of the crowd and the Internet, but after you read this I think you can extrapolate what he would have said. This is worth the time, check it out.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sylvester

    It's refreshing to read a social science book without having to endure the mindless claptrap the author tried to shove down our throats. The Crowd is a study of how groups behave, although mainly based on rationalization of the French Republic, it was quite a good (somewhat outdated) read. It's refreshing to read a social science book without having to endure the mindless claptrap the author tried to shove down our throats. The Crowd is a study of how groups behave, although mainly based on rationalization of the French Republic, it was quite a good (somewhat outdated) read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Costin Nitsoc

    Firstly, it's incredible that this book was written some 120 years ago as it still makes perfect sense today and in a very ironic way, it describes perfectly what happened during the 20th century. Without being an academic paper as it contains only Gustave Le Bon's suppositions, the book describes pretty accurately the crowd mentality and behavior. In short, the crowds are just like one's unconscious, it is irrational, rather emotional, and with a primeval attitude. This was damn well demonstrated Firstly, it's incredible that this book was written some 120 years ago as it still makes perfect sense today and in a very ironic way, it describes perfectly what happened during the 20th century. Without being an academic paper as it contains only Gustave Le Bon's suppositions, the book describes pretty accurately the crowd mentality and behavior. In short, the crowds are just like one's unconscious, it is irrational, rather emotional, and with a primeval attitude. This was damn well demonstrated throughout the last 100 years and it's perfectly pictured on today's social media. What I didn't get is why the overall arrogant tone on which Le Bon writes and who are those who he calls "manipulators of the crowds", after all, we are all subject to the same patterns of behavior, no matter if we're talking about a parliamentary crowd, protesters on the streets or an academia meet. The same monkey behavior that rends us vulnerable and creates perfect social storms.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scott Moore

    Should be called "sheep and how they graze" or "don't be a sheep". Good read. Should be called "sheep and how they graze" or "don't be a sheep". Good read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Brilliant pioneering work of sociology. I have seen very few works that have carried on the torch of the field of crowd psychology. Worth a read for people interested in the classics of sociology

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    It is precisely crowds that cling the most tenaciously to traditional ideas and oppose their being changed with the most obstinacy. This is notably the case with the category of crowds constituting castes. I have already insisted upon the conservative spirit of crowds, and shown that the most violent rebellions merely end in a changing of words and terms. At the end of the last century, in the presence of destroyed churches, of priests expelled the country or guillotined, it might have been thou It is precisely crowds that cling the most tenaciously to traditional ideas and oppose their being changed with the most obstinacy. This is notably the case with the category of crowds constituting castes. I have already insisted upon the conservative spirit of crowds, and shown that the most violent rebellions merely end in a changing of words and terms. At the end of the last century, in the presence of destroyed churches, of priests expelled the country or guillotined, it might have been thought that the old religious ideas had lost all their strength, and yet a few years had barely lapsed before the abolished system of public worship had to be re-established in deference to universal demands. Democratic ideas are in profound disagreement with the results of psychology and experience. Many eminent philosophers, among them Herbert Spencer, have had no difficulty in showing that instruction neither renders a man more moral nor happier, that it changes neither his instincts nor his hereditary passions, and that at times - for this to happen it need only be badly directed - it is much more pernicious than useful. Statisticians have brought confirmation of these views by telling us that criminality increases with the generalisation of instruction, or at any rate of a certain kind of instruction, and that the worst enemies of society, the anarchists, are recruited among the prize-winners of schools; while in a recent work a distinguished magistrate, M. Adolphe Guillot, made the observation that at present 3,000 educated criminals are met with for every 1,000 illiterate delinquents, and that in fifty years the criminal percentage of the population has passed from 227 to 552 for every 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 133 per cent. He has also noted in common with his colleagues that criminality is particularly on the increase among young persons, for whom, as is known, gratuitous and obligatory schooling has - in France - replaced apprenticeship. The primary danger of this system of education - very properly qualified as Latin - consists in the fact that it is based on the fundamental psychological error that the intelligence is developed by the learning by heart of text-books. Adopting this view, the endeavour has been made to enforce a knowledge of as many hand-books as possible. From the primary school till he leaves the university a young man does nothing but acquire books by heart without his judgment or personal initiative being ever called into play. Education consists for him in reciting by heart and obeying. The young Frenchman is deprived, and precisely at the age when they are most fruitful, of all these precious contacts, of all these indispensable elements of assimilation. For seven or eight years on end he is shut up in a school, and is cut off from that direct personal experience which would give him a keen and exact notion of men and things and of the various ways of handling them. At least nine out of ten have wasted their time and pains during several years of their life - telling, important, even decisive years. Among such are to be counted, first of all, the half or two-thirds of those who present themselves for examination - I refer to those who are rejected; and then among those who are successful, who obtain a degree, a certificate, a diploma, there is still a half or two-thirds - I refer to the overworked. Too much has been demanded of them by exacting that on a given day, on a chair or before a board, they should, for two hours in succession, and with respect to a group of sciences, be living repertories of all human knowledge. In point of fact they were that, or nearly so, for two hours on that particular day, but a month later they are so no longer. They could not go through the examination again. Their too numerous and too burdensome acquisitions slip incessantly from their mind, and are not replaced. Their mental vigour has declined, their fertile capacity for growth has dried up, the fully-developed man appears, and he is often a used-up man. Settled down, married, resigned to turning in a circle, and indefinitely in the same circle, he shuts himself up in his confined function, which he fulfils adequately, but nothing more. Such is the average yield: assuredly the receipts do not balance the expenditure. In England or America, where, as in France previous to 1789, the contrary proceeding is adopted, the outcome obtained is equal or superior. One of the most essential functions of statesmen consists, then, in baptizing with popular or, at any rate, indifferent words things the crowd cannot endure under their old names. The power of words is so great that it suffices to designate in well-chosen terms the most odious things to make them acceptable to crowds. Taine justly observes that it was by invoking liberty and fraternity - words very popular at the time - that the Jacobins were able "to install a despotism worthy of Dahomey, a tribunal similar to that of the Inquisition, and to accomplish human hecatombs akin to those of ancient Mexico." The art of those who govern, as is the case with the art of advocates, consists above all in the science of employing words. One of the greatest difficulties of this art is, that in one and the same society the same words most often have very different meanings for the different social classes, who employ in appearance the same words, but never speak the same language. Crowds demand a god. We have already shown that crowds are not to be influenced by reasoning, and can only comprehend rough-and-ready associations of ideas. The orators who know how to make an impression upon them always appeal in consequence to their sentiments and never to their reason. The laws of logic have no action on crowds. As soon as a certain number of living beings are gathered together, whether they be animals or men, they place themselves instinctively under the authority of a chief. In the case of human crowds the chief is often nothing more than a ringleader or agitator, but as such he plays a considerable part. His will is the nucleus around which the opinions of the crowd are grouped and attain to identity. He constitutes the first element towards the organisation of heterogeneous crowds, and paves the way for their organisation in sects; in the meantime he directs them. A crowd is a servile flock that is incapable of ever doing without a master. Men gathered in a crowd lose all force of will, and turn instinctively to the person who possesses the quality they lack. The arousing of faith - whether religious, political, or social, whether faith in a work, in a person, or an idea - has always been the function of the great leaders of crowds, and it is on this account that their influence is always very great. Of all the forces at the disposal of humanity, faith has always been one of the most tremendous, and the gospel rightly attributes to it the power of moving mountains. To endow a man with faith is to multiply his strength tenfold. The great events of history have been brought about by obscure believers, who have had little beyond their faith in their favour. It is not by the aid of the learned or of philosophers, and still less of sceptics, that have been built up the great religions which have swayed the world, or the vast empires which have spread from one hemisphere to the other. In every social sphere, from the highest to the lowest, as soon as a man ceases to be isolated he speedily falls under the influence of a leader. The majority of men, especially among the masses, do not possess clear and reasoned ideas on any subject whatever outside their own speciality. The leader serves them as guide. It is just possible that he may be replaced, though very inefficiently, by the periodical publications which manufacture opinions for their readers and supply them with ready- made phrases which dispense them of the trouble of reasoning. Affirmation pure and simple, kept free of all reasoning and all proof, is one of the surest means of making an idea enter the mind of crowds. The conciser an affirmation is, the more destitute of every appearance of proof and demonstration, the more weight it carries. The religious books and the legal codes of all ages have always resorted to simple affirmation. Statesmen called upon to defend a political cause, and commercial men pushing the sale of their products by means of advertising are acquainted with the value of affirmation. Affirmation, however, has no real influence unless it be constantly repeated, and so far as possible in the same terms. It was Napoleon, I believe, who said that there is only one figure in rhetoric of serious importance, namely, repetition. The thing affirmed comes by repetition to fix itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth. When an affirmation has been sufficiently repeated and there is unanimity in this repetition - as has occurred in the case of certain famous financial undertakings rich enough to purchase every assistance - what is called a current of opinion is formed and the powerful mechanism of contagion intervenes. Ideas, sentiments, emotions, and beliefs possess in crowds a contagious power as intense as that of microbes. This phenomenon is very natural, since it is observed even in animals when they are together in number. Should a horse in a stable take to biting his manger the other horses in the stable will imitate him. A panic that has seized on a few sheep will soon extend to the whole flock. In the case of men collected in a crowd all emotions are very rapidly contagious, which explains the suddenness of panics. Brain disorders, like madness, are themselves contagious. The frequency of madness among doctors who are specialists for the mad is notorious. Indeed, forms of madness have recently been cited - agoraphobia, for instance - which are communicable from men to animals. Contagion is so powerful that it forces upon individuals not only certain opinions, but certain modes of feeling as well. Contagion is the cause of the contempt in which, at a given period, certain works are held - the example of "Tannhauser" may be cited - which, a few years later, for the same reason are admired by those who were foremost in criticising them. The opinions and beliefs of crowds are specially propagated by contagion, but never by reasoning. The conceptions at present rife among the working classes have been acquired at the public-house as the result of affirmation, repetition, and contagion, and indeed the mode of creation of the beliefs of crowds of every age has scarcely been different. Renan justly institutes a comparison between the first founders of Christianity and "the socialist working men spreading their ideas from public-house to public-house"; while Voltaire had already observed in connection with the Christian religion that "for more than a hundred years it was only embraced by the vilest riff-raff." It will be noted that in cases analogous to those I have just cited, contagion, after having been at work among the popular classes, has spread to the higher classes of society. This is what we see happening at the present day with regard to the socialist doctrines which are beginning to be held by those who will yet be their first victims. Contagion is so powerful a force that even the sentiment of personal interest disappears under its action. The special characteristic of prestige is to prevent us seeing things as they are and to entirely paralyse our judgment. Crowds always, and individuals as a rule, stand in need of ready-made opinions on all subjects. The popularity of these opinions is independent of the measure of truth or error they contain, and is solely regulated by their prestige. It is easy to imbue the mind of crowds with a passing opinion, but very difficult to implant therein a lasting belief. However, a belief of this latter description once established, it is equally difficult to uproot it. It is usually only to be changed at the cost of violent revolutions. Even revolutions can only avail when the belief has almost entirely lost its sway over men's minds. In that case revolutions serve to finally sweep away what had already been almost cast aside, though the force of habit prevented its complete abandonment. The beginning of a revolution is in reality the end of a belief. The precise moment at which a great belief is doomed is easily recognisable; it is the moment when its value begins to be called in question. Every general belief being little else than a fiction, it can only survive on the condition that it be not subjected to examination. The philosophic absurdity that often marks general beliefs has never been an obstacle to their triumph. Indeed the triumph of such beliefs would seem impossible unless on the condition that they offer some mysterious absurdity. In consequence, the evident weakness of the socialist beliefs of to-day will not prevent them triumphing among the masses. Their real inferiority to all religious beliefs is solely the result of this consideration, that the ideal of happiness offered by the latter being realisable only in a future life, it was beyond the power of anybody to contest it. The socialist ideal of happiness being intended to be realised on earth, the vanity of its promises will at once appear as soon as the first efforts towards their realisation are made, and simultaneously the new belief will entirely lose its prestige. Its strength, in consequence, will only increase until the day when, having triumphed, its practical realisation shall commence. For this reason, while the new religion exerts to begin with, like all those that have preceded it, a destructive influence, it will be unable, in the future, to play a creative part.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gintarė Macenytė

    Ideas in the book are certainly ahead of the author’s epoch. Such an interesting read in the context of a worldwide lockdown

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fındıkodunu

    This was my father's book. He died in 1996 so this book like as a gift from paradise to me. Thanks father. See u soon. This was my father's book. He died in 1996 so this book like as a gift from paradise to me. Thanks father. See u soon.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Janda

    I was interested in the book The Crowd; Study of the Popular Mind by Gustave Le Bon to gain an understanding of the psychology of crowds (doing a little research). What causes people to become acquiescent, and in many cases participate in the oppression of others? Here are a couple of responses to that question Le Bon provided in his book: “The crowd is always dominated by considerations of which it is unconscious—the disappearance of brain activity and the predominance of medullar activity—the lo I was interested in the book The Crowd; Study of the Popular Mind by Gustave Le Bon to gain an understanding of the psychology of crowds (doing a little research). What causes people to become acquiescent, and in many cases participate in the oppression of others? Here are a couple of responses to that question Le Bon provided in his book: “The crowd is always dominated by considerations of which it is unconscious—the disappearance of brain activity and the predominance of medullar activity—the lowering of intelligence and the complete transformation of the sentiments. The transformed sentiments may be better or worse than those of the individuals of which the crowd is composed. A crowd is as easily heroic as criminal.” “The individual forming part of a crowd acquires, solely from numerical considerations, a sentiment of invincible power which allows him to yield to instincts which, had he been alone, he would perforce have kept under restraint. He will be the less disposed to check himself from the consideration that, a crowd being anonymous, and in consequence irresponsible, the sentiment of responsibility which always controls individuals disappears entirely.” I chose this book expecting to read an objective study into crowd psychology, and while the book contains some interesting, even frightful, insights that are worth studying, I wasn’t prepared for the elitist, racist, and misogynistic statements made by the author. Regarding the classification of crowds: “It’s most inferior form is met with when the multitude is composed of individuals of different races…On a higher level than these multitudes composed of different races are those which under certain influences have acquired common characteristics, and have ended by forming a single race.” “It will be remarked that among the special characteristics of crowds there are several…which are almost always observed in beings belonging to inferior forms of evolution—in women, savages, and children, for instance.” According to him the notions of the aforementioned groups do not have merit. Sounds a little like oppression, doesn’t it? He also had this to say about religion: “Tiberius, Ghengis Khan, and Napoleon were assuredly redoubtable tyrants, but from the depth of their graves Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mahomet have exerted on the human soul a far profounder despotism.” W-what? It’s true that horrible atrocities have been committed in the name of religion (The Thirty Years War, the Crusades, etc.), but does the following sound like the words of a despot? “A new commandment I give to you: love one another. As I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” ~John 13:34 Le Bon’s “study” of the psychology of crowds is so littered with personal prejudices, presented as scientific research on the psychology of others, that it’s difficult to look beyond his narrow-minded and pessimistic view of the world. If anything, it seems to be a manual on how to rise to power as a dictator through psychological manipulation. It’s not surprising that Hitler was known to have studied the book and apparently deployed its ideas with great success. Hitler was quoted as saying, “by the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.” Le Bon also believed “it is the need, not of liberty, but of servitude, that is always predominant in the soul of crowds. They are so bent on obedience that they instinctively submit to whoever declares himself their master.” I believe self-preservation —one of the strongest basic human instincts—is what predominates, followed closely by freedom. Evil can rise to power when the masses are in a depressed economic state. People can blindly turn to the voice of a gifted orator that plays on the self-preservation instinct with promises of prosperity. They are so caught up in the story they fail to see the truth of what is happening until it can no longer be denied. At that point, they are controlled by fear of death as the self-preservation instinct becomes firmly rooted. The temper of a crowd is fickle. As Le Bon said, just “as easily heroic as criminal.” But if one person has the intestinal fortitude to speak out against injustice, the fear among the crowd can give way to courage and spark a revolution. The world is fortunate to have known the likes of those who do not follow the crowd when it is silent about injustice. I wonder what Le Bon would have had to say about Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Nelson Mandela?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    This is a tiny book packed with a lot of information. I'll be honest, I'd need it to read it again and pay much more attention to really absorb all the wisdom it contains. But I did gain a deeper understanding of crowds and why they do what they do. Gustave looked at different types of crowds: heterogeneous crowds, juries, and my favourite - electoral crowds. I understood politics much better as a result of this book. My favourite takeaways were: In the collective mind the intellectual aptitudes This is a tiny book packed with a lot of information. I'll be honest, I'd need it to read it again and pay much more attention to really absorb all the wisdom it contains. But I did gain a deeper understanding of crowds and why they do what they do. Gustave looked at different types of crowds: heterogeneous crowds, juries, and my favourite - electoral crowds. I understood politics much better as a result of this book. My favourite takeaways were: In the collective mind the intellectual aptitudes of the individuals, and in consequence their individuality, are weakened. On occasion, the leader may be intelligent and highly educated, but the possession of these qualities does him more harm than good. Intelligence always renders its owner indulgent and blunts that intensity and violence of conviction needful for apostles. The precise moment at which a great belief is doomed is easily recognisable; it is the moment when its value begins to be called in question. Every general belief being little else than a fiction, it can only survive on the condition that it be not subjected to examination. Experience constitutes almost the only effective process by which a truth may be solidly established in the mind of the masses and illusions be destroyed. To this end, however, it is necessary that the experience should take place on a very large scale, and be very frequently repeated. Civilisation is impossible without traditions, and progress impossible without the destruction of those traditions. A hundred petty crimes or petty accidents will not strike the imagination of crowds in the least, whereas a single great crime or a single great accident will profoundly impress them, even though the results be infinitely less disastrous than those of the hundred small accidents put together. In crowds the foolish, ignorant, and envious persons are freed from the sense of their insignificance and powerlessness, and are possessed instead by the notion of brutal and temporary but immense strength. It is for this reason that an indirect tax, however exorbitant it be, will always be accepted by the crowd, because, being paid daily in fractions it will not interfere with the habits of the crowd, and will pass unperceived. Replace it by a proportional tax on wages or income of any other kind, to be paid in a lump sum, and were this new imposition theoretically ten times less burdensome than the other, it would give rise to unanimous protest. In a crowd every sentiment and act is contagious, and contagious to such a degree that an individual readily sacrifices his personal interest to the collective interest.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rosie

    Quality of the writing: 5 Quality of the content/organisation/research: 4 Impact on my perspective: 2 Resonance: 2 Rereading potential: 5 Overall score: 3.5 The reason I read it: Researching mass movements for work. I came across this book by chance on Goodreads.  Review: Published in the late nineteenth century, The Crowd is a work that helped give rise to the field of mass psychology. It is reported to have served as an inspiration for such figures as Freud, Mussolini, Roosevelt, and Hitler. In it, G Quality of the writing: 5 Quality of the content/organisation/research: 4 Impact on my perspective: 2 Resonance: 2 Rereading potential: 5 Overall score: 3.5 The reason I read it: Researching mass movements for work. I came across this book by chance on Goodreads.  Review: Published in the late nineteenth century, The Crowd is a work that helped give rise to the field of mass psychology. It is reported to have served as an inspiration for such figures as Freud, Mussolini, Roosevelt, and Hitler. In it, Gustave Le Bon examines the question of why groups of people with a shared purpose become something more than the sum of their parts. Le Bon believed that we cannot comprehend either history or economics if we do not understand the psychology of crowds. According to Le Bon, crowds possess attributes that the individuals within them do not. When we join with other people, we are more influenced by our basic instincts than our usual personalities. We become more similar to those around us. As a result, crowds are incapable of organizational feats requiring their regular intelligence and are more adept at destruction. A feeling of invincibility makes people risk-tolerant, emotional, and pliable. They sacrifice themselves with glee for the whole.  I bought a cheap print-on-demand version with messy typesetting and typos which didn't improve my comprehension of it. Irrelevant. This is a good book in terms of the poetic quality of the writing, the incisive nature of Le Bon's insights, and the seeming accuracy of some of his observations on crowd behaviour.  Le Bon's views are conservative and elitist. I, personally, still see a lot of value in the book. It's valuable if you want to understand how you might be manipulated when you're part of a group. And it's valuable if you're able to sift out the sociological and psychological observations that still hold true.  Interesting tidbits: - 'An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will.' - 'Institutions and laws are the outward manifestation of our character, the expression of its needs.' - 'Crowds, doubtless, are always unconscious, but this very unconsciousness is perhaps one of the secrets of their strength.' - 'The ideas of the past, although half destroyed, being still very powerful, and the ideas which are to replace them being still in the process of formation, the modern age represents a period of transition and anarchy.'

  30. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Gustave LeBon's legendary La psychologie des foules is a stunning book. It is well documented that Benito Mussolini greatly admired this work and it has been speculated that Adolf Hilter was also influenced by it. In La psychologie des foules makes a compelling analysis of crowd behaviour that rings true on every page. He tells us what we already know from personal experience or have heard second-hand about crowds. The book is not scientific group psychology as LeBon mistakenly believes it to be Gustave LeBon's legendary La psychologie des foules is a stunning book. It is well documented that Benito Mussolini greatly admired this work and it has been speculated that Adolf Hilter was also influenced by it. In La psychologie des foules makes a compelling analysis of crowd behaviour that rings true on every page. He tells us what we already know from personal experience or have heard second-hand about crowds. The book is not scientific group psychology as LeBon mistakenly believes it to be. Rather it is brilliant political philosophy similar in length and force to Machiavelli's brilliant analysis of politics in the age of the courtier,The Prince. La psychologie des foules deserves to be on introductory undergraduate courses on political theory because it is so clear and so provocative. LeBon argues that crowds are highly irrational. Ideas are inculcated in the crowd through affirmation, repitition and contagion. Reason is total ineffective in a crowd. The highly educated are as susceptible as the most uneducated to the psychological dynamics of the crowd. In what LeBon refers to as the "psychological crowd", the individual loses sight of his own self interest and will rush to danger. The leader of the crowd is a charismatic individual profoundly under the spell of the delusion he imparts to his listeners. LeBon states that crowds are neither good nor bad in themselves. They can commit acts of heroic virtue or barbaric savagery. They key point is that the crowd is powerful. Europe was in a crisis because the philosophy of the enlightenment had profoundly undermined the Christian beliefs that had dominated Europe in the middle ages. The French Revolution inaugurated the era of the crowd in which successive charismatic leaders would incite large populations into destructive revolutionary acts. The key to political success in the twentieth century would be to learn how to control the "psychological crowd." In LeBon's view political leaders would either thrive or perish by the crowd. In his own words: "Les foulds sont comme le sphinx de la fable antique. Il faut savoir resoudre les problèmes que leur psychologienous pose ou se résigner à être dévorés par elles." Despite the occasional lapses of illogic, racism and misogyny, La psychologie des foules is a brilliant and efficient work that deserves to be read by anyone interested in world history.

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