axj said:Laura said:Yes, I've got those and a couple other things marked in my copy, but believe me, despite a few assumptions he makes that were common belief at the time which are rather silly, the REST of the book is a slam dunk. Don't get put off early, and don't make assumptions until you have finished the book. Then compare what you have read with what you have observed in real life.
His main research on crowds does indeed seem quite profound. And I also wouldn't be surprised if his ideas were directly used by the nazi party - seeing how they employed mass gatherings of all sorts.
Yes Hitler used these subjugation techniques as did all the other great leaders. Le Bon mentions Napoleon, Alexander, Mahomet, etc. Unfortunately, most of the times those leaders were not using the crowd suggestibility for its benefit but for their own personal objective (fame, self-aggrandizement, etc.). Caesar was an exception and Le Bon shows how the collective fascination for Caesar paved they way for the reign of Augustus that was going to last almost half a Century.
Le Bon also shared an excellent analysis of the role played by schizoids in the hysterization process. Without naming them, he describes how these mesmerizing individuals deeply believe the nonsense they are relaying and, in turn contaminate the crowd.
Le Bon has a 'romantic' vision of the French Revolution where the crowd led the event though several sources (including Douglas Reed) show that it was a manufactured event. However Le Bon might be partly right in the sense that the crowd was ripe to join a revolution because of the images and symbols that were infused in the 'collective mind' during the preceding decades.
Le Bon's class prejudices made him also believe that at his time (beginning of the XXth Century) the crowd had the power and the elites were only following the desires and impulses of the crowd (socialism). The rest of the XXth Century has shown that beyond the veneer of democracy, freedom and socialism, the crowd remained instrumentalized and enslaved to lies, suggestions and manipulation used by its leaders.
By the way, for the French readers, the original version is highly enjoyable, Le Bon has a very sharp and clear writing style.