Torches of Freedom

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

After the Great War, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, applied his uncle’s ideas to wartime propaganda to create what he called public relations — and to create modern consumer society:

After making the world safe for Democracy, he convinced women that cigarettes were torches of freedom.

I recommend working your way through the whole thing.


  1. James James says:

    I tried to get my boyfriend to watch this to cure him of consumerism after it was recommended in How to be happy. He didn’t watch it, but I did. I’m not sure if it would cure consumerism, since I didn’t suffer from it.

    Anyway, I think it’s very clever left-wing propaganda.

    For example, Frankfurt School Marxist academic Herbert Marcuse and doyen of the New Left is described as “influential philosopher and social critic, Herbert Marcuse”.

    Here is how Curtis describes the invention of department stores: “Beginning in the early 20′s the New York banks funded the creation of chains of department stores across America. They were to be the outlets for the mass produced goods.” He insinuates it was a conspiracy, not just of producers, but of banks as well. When in reality, department stores were set up by entrepreneurs in competition with one another other, and banks just provided the money like they do for many things.

    Bernays was a clever man though.

    There’s a transcript here. However, unlike many documentaries, the video-stream in Curtis’s documentaries adds a lot.

  2. James James says:

    Curtis semi-parodied himself in The rise of ‘Oh Dear’-ism.

    Ben Woodhams did a funny parody and critique of Curtis: The Loving Trap.

  3. This is probably more sinister than a documentary on Goebbels. Just think what the Nazis could’ve accomplished if they’d had the Jews on their side.

  4. Lucklucky says:

    What is sinister is someone thinking that “consumer society” was some sort of conspiracy.

  5. Isegoria says:

    I agree that Adam Curtis is more left than right, but his leftism is largely transparent — and, in many ways, comes full-circle to a kind of paleo-conservatism. I find his work thought-provoking, even though I don’t subscribe to his philosophy.

    His work makes more sense through a Moldbuggian lens, where the conspiracy is no conspiracy at all, just an emergent phenomenon.

  6. Alrenous says:

    How much of this ‘overproduction’ nonsense is real? Did they seriously believe it, or was it invented after the fact, at a distance? Did they seriously believe it, or was it an excuse?

    Why were so many people dumb enough to buy ‘we’re too rich’ as somehow a problem?

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