This may seem off-topic given our current focus on Las Vegas, but I think plays right in.
Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and “father of modern advertising” wrote a book in 1928 called “Propaganda,” an easy read and accessible for anyone with basic reading skills. But the content of that book surely was not meant for the everyman, so I have to suspect that the reading habits of the American public then were like now, only a few engaged. He was talking over the crowd to the people in the balcony who could rattle their jewelry in appreciation.
He hits us right in the opening pages with words as follows:
‘The systematic study of mass psychology revealed to students the potentialities of invisible manipulation of motives which actuate man in the group. Trotter and Le Bon, who approached the subject in a scientific manner, and Graham Wallas, Walter Lippmann, and others who continued with searching study of the group mind, established that the group has mental characteristics distinct from those of the individual, and is motivated by impulses and emotions which cannot be explained on the basis of what we know of individual psychology. So the question naturally arose: If we understood the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it?” [My emphasis]
These words have resonated with me over the years, so I long ago looked up Gustov Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter.
Wilfred Trotter (1872-1939): An English surgeon who veered off into crowd psychology, and authored Instinct of the Herd in Peace and War. Given no ancestry in Wikipedia, he also yields no hits on Geni.com. The name Trotter is prominent in The Peerage, with 209 entries. Nonetheless, this guy appears juiced.
Use of the word “herd” is a tell. Trotter found our essential grouping trait to be gregariousness. Because we need constant contact with others in the herd, we operate on a subconscious communication system, almost as if we are in a complex web of signals. The herd moves as one. “Groupthink” is a studied phenomenon, but not with the idea of understanding it so much as using it to the leaders’ advantage.
Gustav Le Bon* (1841-1931): A French jack-of-all-trades, he was of Breton ancestry, and authored the book The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. That entity, the crowd, was seen on display in Las Vegas. It has no mind, and yet operates as a single organism. It moves in unison, and without forethought acts to preserve itself against all threats, real and imagined. The crowd can be controlled. This comment, from “Pau” below another post gives us an idea of how it was done:
“Supposedly all these people were running toward the airport a mile away. According to Fox News, some 300+ of them ran there for safety. The airport was closed due to security reasons. Or was it closed so that these people could secretly be loaded back onto the planes that flew them in to participate in this hoax”
It appears they brought in a few hundred agents to manage the crowd, who then quietly exited on military aircraft.
Though “Le Bon” draws no hits in The Peerage, this line from Wikipedia set us on the right course: “Le Bon was a direct descendant of Jean-Odet Carnot, whose grandfather, Jean Carnot, had a brother, Denys, from whom the fifth president of the French Third Republic, Marie François Sadi Carnot, was directly descended.” The guy appears juiced.
I have not read either book. I invite any reader who has done so to chime in. If you want to do it in book review format, I’d be glad to publish it as a guest post.
My larger point here is that even in 1928 our leaders were studying us with an eye on herd management. Writes Bernays, “…is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it?” Bernays knew Lippman, whose famous assertion that the manufacture of consent was a necessary element in constructing a cohesive society. That is also the title of a book by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman.
In trying to come up with a reason for such charades as Las Vegas and all of the other fake events of our era, I am reminded of an interview I listened to on late night radio more than twenty years ago. I have forgotten who, but it was an Intelligence agent and he spoke with detachment. He said that the United States was an unusual country because we are so cohesive. There is no (serious) talk of breakaway states. We can be taken to war and made to use our immense power anywhere needed. We easily fall in line behind our leaders when needed, usually preceded by a fake event. Other countries have had shifting borders and internal diversity, different languages and discontented minorities who want to break out. (Think of the Basques in Spain or the artificial division of two identical countries, Nepal and Tibet.) None of that here.
That is the point of Las Vegas. Standing alone it makes no sense to fake-kill and maim all those people, but seen as a larger strategy, it keeps us unified against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It is the Strategy of Tension, or a focus on a common enemy, that keeps the herd in the paddock.
*Way off topic, but I did not find “Le Bon” in the peerage. However, in looking for it I stumbled on “LeBlanc”, and immediately thought of the only modestly talented but hugely successful actor, Matt. This reminded me of a series I enjoy called Longmire, on Netflix, and one of its actors who plays the role of Branch Connally, named Bailey Chase. He was written out of the series early even as he was one of the more compelling characters, making me think he got better offers. That name, “Bailey Chase,” pops up at Geni going way back into the colonial period, and makes me think of Chase Manhattan and Chevy Chase, the only modestly talented but hugely successful actor/comedian.