Summary of Gustave Le Bon’s book The Crowd: The author analyzes the psychological mechanisms, cognitive processes, and moral forces which condition and guide the behavior of a crowd, and how a crowd turns conscious, free and responsible individuals into reckless, alienated and instinctive beings, who are capable, depending on the excitement of the moment, of either the most heinous of crimes or the noblest of actions.
By Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931), 1895, 130 pages.
Note: This review was written by Ali Nejmi.
Review and Summary of Gustave Le Bon’s book The Crowd
’The Crowd’ is a reference work on “social psychology“ and is an absolute classic of which the theories are still relevant today. The denominations have changed (electorate, public, audience, consumers, etc.), but the motives, mechanisms, and factors of influence and manipulation of crowds remain the same.
Introduction: The Era of Crowds
We are at the end of the 19th century; the author has witnessed a chaotic and uncertain era, a period of transition, marked on the one hand by the collapse of the religious and moral pillars on which European political and social structures were based, and on the other hand by the emergence of new living conditions and thoughts granting crowds (political classes, unions, professional associations, etc.) an almost absolute power reserved, in the past, to kings, princes, and the religious (former initiators of movements and changes).
According to the author, this line of brutal rupture between the old world in ruins and the new world in the making reveals to us that a radical change has taken place in the mind of the people, in the hereditary background of beliefs and thoughts.
This historic upheaval had taken place in the most horrific atrocities and acts of violence committed by raging; vicious crowds displaying, depending on the excitement of the moment; either heinous criminal behavior, or virtuous traits of morality.
It was therefore of great practical interest, from the point of view of Gustave Le Bon, to analyze, by the most rigorous scientific procedures, the psychological and intellectual mechanisms which underlie the dynamics of crowds, and to lay, as a result, the cornerstone of a new discipline of knowledge, capable of shedding light on a large number of historical and economic phenomena, which until then were beyond understanding.
Book 1: The Mind of Crowds
Chapter I: General Characteristics of Crowds
Psychological Law of Their Mental Unity
The body of Le Bon’s theory is based on the principle that the crowd must be analyzed as a psychological entity irreducible to the elements that compose it. This fundamental notion distinguishes the crowd psychologically from the simple aggregate of individuals.
Crowds are governed by a transitory “mental unity” and “a collective mind” which merge and orient all individuals in the same direction. This emotional and intellectual leveling dulls all personal will and cancels out all individual abilities; which naturally distinguish heterogeneous elements: a philosopher in a crowd is no smarter than a mere illiterate.
According to the author, the mind of the race (the set of common characteristics that heredity imposes on all the individuals of a race) is the unconscious substrate on which the special characteristics are superposed, which the crowd can acquire in certain circumstances. However, the formation of a “collective mind” by the pooling of ordinary qualities is not a source of intelligence; but of mediocrity, stupidity, and baseness.
Gustave Le Bon maintains that crowds develop these special characteristics through three psychological states: irresponsibility, contagion, and suggestibility.
The feeling of irresponsibility dominates crowds: belonging to a crowd numbs the inhibitions and gives the individual a feeling of “invincible power”.
Contagion refers to the propensity of individuals in a crowd to follow, unquestionably, the predominant ideas and to be galvanized by a shared emotion: collective interest takes the place of individual interest.
Suggestibility characterizes the tendency to immediately turn suggested ideas into action; with the crowd in a state of “expectant attention” like a hypnotized person. This state derives from an unconscious obsolete mind that is, in addition, of a primitive nature. Consciousness vanishes and the intellectual faculties found there are greatly wiped out.
Chapter II: Sentiments and Morality of Crowds
Impulsiveness, Mobility, and Irritability of Crowds
Like the primitive beings governed by the instinctive impulsive mind, crowd psychology is the subject of various levels of irritation and excitement. By nature, it is mobile and dynamic, capable of going from horrific atrocity to the most absolute heroism. It can successively go through the range of the most contradictory variable feelings; but it is always under the influence of the excitement of the moment. Crowds want things frantically; they don’t want them for long. “They are as incapable of willing as of thinking.”
In its states of frenzy, a crowd suggested by ideas of murder and looting gives in to temptation.
Suggestibility and Credulity of Crowds
Gustave Le Bon asserts that the expectant state of crowds amplifies the effect of suggestions through contagion and facilitates the transformation of ideas into actions.
Devoid of any critical mind, crowds cannot be otherwise than excessively credulous. The perception and observation of events are also altered: nothing is too improbable for a crowd.
This state of mind may explain the large number of collective hallucinations experienced by crowds. Most legends and myths have been created by the distortion of ordinary events.
A crowd hardly separates the subjective from the objective. They believe the images evoked in their mind to be real, which most often have only a distant relationship with the observed fact.
Gustave Le Bon recalls that “what the observer then sees is no longer the object itself, but the image evoked in his mind. It was legendary heroes, and not real heroes at all, who impressed the minds of crowds.”
Exaggeration and Simplicity of Sentiments
Simplicity and exaggeration are the two traits common to all crowds. The latter are inclined to consider things only as a whole, the transitory states being inaccessible to their primitive mind.
Unable to detect nuances, crowds know neither doubt nor uncertainty. The mere suspicion is evidence.
The exaggeration of sentiment inevitably leads to brute force and the worst excesses. In this overwhelming state of extreme sentiments, the crowd is only emotionally receptive to violent speeches evoking images of the collective unconscious.
The crowd is therefore closed off to any form of intelligent argument.
Intolerance, Authoritarianism, and Conservatism of Crowds
Gustave Le Bon considers that crowds possess a binary mind which accepts beliefs entirely as absolute truths or rejects them as errors no less absolute.
Not supporting contradiction and discussion, crowds are authoritarian and intolerant of supposed opponents.
This state of mind specific to psychically and intellectually ‘diminished’ beings pushes crowds to seek security and stability with established beliefs or with a strong and protective authority.
This refers to another typical characteristic of crowds, it is their conservatism with regard to the ideas, beliefs, and habits etched into the imagination of the group.
“Their fetishistic respect for traditions is absolute; their unconscious horror of all the novelty capable of changing the essential conditions of their existence is deeply rooted.”
Morality of Crowds
The instinctive and impulsive nature of crowds does not mean that they are not susceptible to ‘virtuous’ morality. The latter appears in the form of acts of self-sacrifice, sacrifice of personal interest, and absolute devotion. This informal morality is often brought about by invoking feelings of glory, honor, religion, and patriotism.
A crowd can attack a palace and destroy everything there, in the name of an idea it does not understand itself, without any of its members stealing a single object from the palace!
Certainly, these unconscious manifestations of high morality derive from a psychologically precarious mind; however, it is evident that without them the great changes in human history would never have taken place.
Chapter III: Ideas, Reasoning, and Imagination of Crowds
The Ideas of Crowds
Crowds are inherently conservative, changing their fundamental ideas slowly over several generations.
They may show, at times, a one-off infatuation with transitory ideas or popular doctrines, but their influence is only fleeting.
To be accepted by the crowd, an idea must be simple, very ill-defined, absolute and take the form of a clear image that impresses the collective imagination. As a result, the most elaborate philosophical ideas and theories must be presented in a much less subtle form, and stripped of their original grandeur, to gain access to the primitive design mind of crowds, with much delay.
Thus, ideas developed by the philosophers of the Enlightenment could not “descend” into the crowds, only after several decades, but once implanted in people’s minds, they upset the crowds enough to start the Revolution.
The Reasoning of Crowds
The reasoning of crowds follows a very simple sequence and is characterized by an association of idea-images without logical links. The notions of nuance and relativity completely escape the rudimentary intelligence of a crowd.
Reasoning, requiring an effort of reflection, is counterproductive and makes for an obstacle to the immediate desire of the crowd. On the contrary, it takes an exceptional idea, of a powerful emotional intensity, to seduce and persuade the psychology of a crowd.
The Imagination of Crowds
It is believed that lower beings (those who are less developed psychologically and intellectually) develop a very active, highly potent, and keenly impressionable representative imagination.
In a hypnotized person (the crowd), images evoking a painful memory, a revered character, or a past glory possess the vividness of real things.
In a crowd under the influence of strong suggestion, delusion, and hallucination can manifest itself easily through the process of contagion.
This primitive sentimental substrate favors the mysterious and legendary side of the events attended by crowds. These are by nature inclined to be influenced only by the most intense, the most striking; and the most implausible images.
Small minds hate boring details, and instead prefer generalities and the condensation of facts, images, and opinions. Announcing in an excessively emotional way a plane crash that leaves a hundred victims catches minds more than thousands of car accidents per year, which cause tens of thousands of deaths.
In this regard, the VAT system is cited by the author as being a most intelligent tax solution. Paying a large amount over time is more acceptable to the public than paying a smaller amount all at once.
Chapter IV: Religious Forms Assumed by All the Convictions of Crowds
Religious sentiment leaves its mark on all categories of beliefs embraced by a crowd.
This sentiment encompasses all the manifestations specific to religious beliefs: fanaticism, absolutism, intolerance of opponents, blind submission, dogmatism, conservatism, extremism.
It suffices to submit body and soul to an idea, a person; or an organization to unconsciously develop the symptoms of religious sentiment. A fanatic atheist, an extremist nationalist, and a fascist racist might exhibit traits of religiosity just like a religious fundamentalist.
Those days are not over. On this point, Le Bon is categorical: “It must not be supposed that these are the superstitions of a bygone age which reason has banished. Sentiment has never been vanquished in its eternal conflict with reason.”
Book II: The Opinions and Beliefs of Crowds
Chapter I: Remote Factors of the Beliefs and Opinions of Crowds
The birth of ideas in the minds of crowds follows a long process of preparation based on several remote factors related to race, traditions, institutions, and education.
On this ground, fertilized by literary, philosophical and scientific works; the birth of new ideas takes place under the pressing effect of other immediate factors: images, words, and formulas.
Race is the powerful factor which conditions, with these hereditary laws, all the social suggestions of the moment. All the residue of history is etched in racial genes. Under the superficial layer of the crowd hides the hallmark of ancestors.
The synthesis of race is found in traditions. The theory of evolution supports the fact that one cannot dissociate a living being from its past which constitutes its identity.
Time alone is responsible for changing traditions once their usefulness has been lost.
Gustave Le Bon advocates finding a balance between stability and variability to accomplish the change of customs seamlessly.
Time is the supreme force responsible for the creation, transformation, and destruction of ideas, beliefs, and civilizations.
It is in time that legendary events take place; and it is in its tomb that the most invincible empires are buried.
Political and Social Institutions
No decree, no institution has the strength to initiate a change in the common defining character of a nation. Only the slow transformation of the laws of race allows it.
For Gustave Le Bon, political regimes and institutions are determined by racial factors and the habits of a people, and not the other way around.
The names of institutions are just labels that have no intrinsic value. It is the use made of it that is important. And this use is obviously associated with the fundamental factors of race.
For example, democracy in Latin countries had a very different connotation from that given by the Anglo-Saxons to the same political concept.
It happens that a people rise against an institution, but after appeasement; the framework of the overthrown institutions is reproduced again under other labels. Le Bon asserts that:
“It is illusions and words that have influenced the mind of the crowd. Especially words, words that are chimerical and powerful, and whose astonishing sway we shall shortly demonstrate.”
Instruction and Education
Instruction, however effective it may be, does not have the strength to automatically change or improve the hereditary instincts or the morality of citizens.
On the premise that the education given to the youth of a country slowly shapes the future mind of the whole nation, Gustave Le Bon devotes a large part to the critique of the French education system of the time. He qualifies it, precisely, to be a factory to produce disqualified graduates sequestered, during their useful and active years, in a school and whose heads are stuffed with a pile of useless theoretical textbooks.
This mismatch between professional reality and the content of studies increases the number of rebellious unemployed (armies of anarchists in the working class) and prepares the ground for social unrest that can explode at any time.
The solution to this discrepancy therefore consists, according to the author, in the establishment of vocational training promoting entrepreneurship and initiative among young people. This system is based on the direct immersion of students, after a few essential prerequisites, into the workforce. It is only on the job that each candidate could progress at their own pace and rise through the ranks according to their skills and performance.
Chapter II: Immediate Factors of the Opinions of Crowds
Crowd-specific receptivity is based on the fundamental factors detailed above. It is on this ground that other immediate factors are superposed (images, words, illusions, etc.) that can manipulate the mind of the crowd and spur it into action in a well-defined direction.
Pictures, Words, and Formulas:
In a crowd, words have no real meaning apart from the vivid images they elicit and evoke in the collective imagination.
The power of a word is linked to the aspirations and hopes that it elicits in the minds of men. It is mainly the most ill-defined terms (democracy, freedom, etc.) which exert a great fascination on the masses, through the illusions of happiness and well-being that they conjure up.
In this area, the great crowd manipulators make use of adequate words which exert the effect of magic on the minds and sentiments of men.
Gustave Le Bon emphasizes that after the most bloodthirsty revolutions, the new establishment dresses the old structures overthrown with new names to make people forget the unfortunate images of the past, elicited by old words. “Thus, the license has taken the place of the tax of guilds and fraternities, and the land tax has become the property tax...”.
Similarly, nineteenth-century socialism does not unite the working class thanks to the intelligence of Marxist criticism; but because a few simplistic catchwords can serve as a slogan for the mass of enthusiastic sheep.
The art of leading the crowd is to slip the messaging content into the image container. Hitler certainly did not invent that tactic. The most despotic, the most liberticidal systems have been installed by statesmen having the intelligence and the way of words invoking freedom, equality, glory, and fraternity.
It is illusions and chimerical hopes that move crowds, and that make and break great civilizations.
This is not only a disadvantage. Human history would be an empty book without mind or color if it were not for all this legacy bequeathed in the form of monuments, works of art, and libraries, of which the initial inspiration was, precisely, religious, political, and social illusions.
No matter how fervently Science may try to disillusion minds by reducing phenomena to their most obvious reality, the great factor in the evolution of peoples has never been the unpleasant truth, but seductive error.
On this point, Gustave Le Bon clarified that: “Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.”
It is commonly believed that experience is the effective antidote to the most pernicious illusions.
Unfortunately, great disillusionments only come about through the most tragic experiences. It took, for example, two planetary wars to make people demonstrate the price to pay for fascism, colonialism, and the aggression of the sovereignty of other nations.
The rudimentary mental constitution of crowds exempts them from any form of logical reasoning. They are, on the other hand, influenced by suggestive images induced by coarse associations of ideas (primitive form of reasoning). Scientific discourse thus remains powerless in the face of the empire of superstitions and the impenetrable curtain of the sentiments of a group of fanatics.
Nevertheless, these flaws in reasoning specific to crowds are, precisely, the essential ingredients which leads to the inertia of history. Religions and great empires were built, not by the promotion of reason; but with vague words such as love of the country, the word of God, honor, and glory.
Chapter III: The leaders of the Crowds and Their Means of Persuasion
The Leaders of Crowds
The irritability and impulsiveness characterizing crowd dynamics make them incapable of self-discipline, chaotic and anarchic without a unifying ‘leader’ who personifies the ideas and aspirations of the group.
Behind the strength of the group and their numbers hides the weariness, servility, weakness, and psychological insecurity of primitive beings.
Devoid of any personal will, members of a crowd turn to the ‘leader’ who has some. He is often a man of action, rarely of thought, a subtle rhetorician himself, having an unshakeable faith, an iron will and ready to sacrifice everything for the ideals he defends.
The leader of men is always deified by the crowd. His sacred words are indisputable orders, and his person is elevated to the rank of legends. Here too, what matters to the crowd is not the leader’s shared human nature, but the image he conjures up in people’s minds. This image of the guide is rightly associated with the chimerical aspirations of the crowd.
Gustave Le Bon often cites the success of Napoleon I, an outstanding leader of men; as an example of this phenomenon.
The Means of Action of the Leaders: Affirmation, Repetition, Contagion.
The mechanism for converting crowds to a belief or making them followers of an idea relies on affirmation, repetition, and contagion.
Ideas presented in a manner that is determined, affirmative, simple; and free from any reasoning or any evidence penetrate without much difficulty the minds of crowds. Repetition is the process which allows ideas to be permanently embedded in the unconscious as an absolute truth.
Nowadays, these devices are well used in marketing, advertising, politics, psychological warfare, and the creation of schools of thought.
To discredit a politician with public opinion, there is nothing better than a media lynching where the same demonizing remarks are reproduced over and over again.
The natural mechanism for crowds then intervenes: contagion (imitation). This mighty power makes it so that the ideas are transmitted from one mind to another by the intermediary of an invisible force like a magnetic or telepathic wave.
Fashion can be cited as an illustration of the power of contagion on the minds of a specific crowd of consumers. In this area, models that the unconscious mass easily imitates are used. A product, as banal as it is, is associated with the image of a celebrity (actor, athlete, etc.) who promotes it through their prestige that pervades people’s minds.
Prestige is the crippling emotional dominance exerted over minds by the magnetizing force of a belief; a person, or a deity. It does not accept discussion, blocks all judgment and prevents common sense from distinguishing between truth and error.
It is upon prestige, exercised on the masses, that the great religions, the glories of the emperors; and the abuses of the most fearsome despots were built.
Gustave Le Bon underlines “Ill-treat men as you will, slaughter them by the millions, bring invasions upon invasions, all is permitted if you possess prestige in a sufficient degree and the talent necessary to uphold it.”
On the other hand, failure, weakness, and discussion cause prestige to lose its influence over minds. Prestige is not earned by persuasion and kindness, but by admiration.
Chapter IV: Limitations of the Variability of the Beliefs and Opinions of Crowds
There are philosophical questions which remain eternally unanswered: by what invisible force does a dead man exert; from the depths of his grave, emotional tyranny over the minds of crowds?
All civilization is built on an invariable rigid structure formed by enduring beliefs and the characteristics of the race. These pillars only undergo change at the exorbitant cost of a painful rupture (great upheavals) when belief has almost entirely lost its command over minds.
People therefore fiercely defend their convictions, whatever their philosophical absurdity, because they constitute the basis of their psychological equilibrium.
Gustave Le Bon concludes that the earthquake of change comes from the deep fracturing of beliefs. We then witness, simultaneously, the convulsions of dying beliefs and the uncertain emergence of new convictions.
A nation without strong beliefs is a corpse without a soul. Psychologically speaking, the unconscious loses its balance and its stability when the dogmas that are embedded therein shake under the light of reason or lose their affective power.
The Changeable Opinions of Crowds
On these solid foundations succeed new ideas of the moment that are fleeting; which arise and disappear depending on their usefulness at a given time; but which are imprinted by the qualities and ideals of the race.
The most philosophically sound theories cannot last long if they are opposed to the orientations of very deep beliefs.
Nowadays, this observation is very evident in the impact of mass media, the Internet; and new information technologies on minds and psychologies. Opinion regulators are very numerous, and the sources of knowledge and information are many; which makes it difficult to orient crowds by a single center of influence or power.
The author observes that “the writers, formerly directors of opinion, have lost all influence; and the newspapers, formerly spokespersons for the regimes in power, only reflect the opinion of the crowds. As for statesmen, far from directing opinion, they only endeavor to follow it.”
This complete lack of direction of opinion, and at the same time the dissolution of general beliefs; results in a complete crumbling of all beliefs; and the growing indifference of crowds to things which do not clearly affect their immediate interests. Modern man is more and more invaded by indifference.
Book III: Classification and Description of the Different Kinds of Crowds
Chapter I: Classification of Crowds
This name designates all the groups made up of individuals of different social classes and the most varied intellectual horizons, forming under the influence of particular circumstances a psychological crowd where conscious individualities fade away under the yoke of collective unconsciousness.
If there are as many forms of democracy, socialism and liberalization as there are nations, it is because of the differences encountered at the level of the characteristics of the race of peoples. The hereditary mental constitution impacts the way of thinking, behaving, and feeling of crowds, and consequently, political theories and social organizations.
The author puts forward a fundamental law: “the inferior characteristics of crowds are the less accentuated in proportion as the spirit of the race is strong.”
Homogeneous crowds include: sects; castes; classes.
- The sectis a group of people connected by a common religious belief or political opinion.
- The case represents individuals of the same profession and therefore of roughly similar education and backgrounds.
- The class brings together individuals linked by certain interests, certain habits of life and education that are very similar.
Chapter II: Crowds Termed Criminal Crowds
An excited crowd, suggestive of committing a cruel act, legally qualified as a crime under ordinary circumstances, is convinced that it is fulfilling a sacred and legitimate duty, a patriotic and meritorious act. The author cites the example of the governor of the Bastille slaughtered by a cook enraged by the powerful suggestion of the attackers.
The impulsive, instinctive, and variable nature of the sentiments of the criminal crowd in action gives rise to strongly contradictory acts, a sudden indulgence could substitute itself, briefly, for atrocious ferocity; a powerful suggestive image is likely to change the course of events from top to bottom.
How many innocent people (children, old people) were massacred for the simple reason of belonging to a group of enemies. The criminal crowd is inclined, by its simplistic mind, to generalize everything that is particular; no shade of nuance is allowed.
Chapter III: Criminal Juries
The verdicts of a Court of Assize jury, whatever the composition; is an example of decision-making by crowd psychology that fails to meet any fair judgment of justice.
Jury deliberations, like all crowds, are susceptible to being manipulated by prestige, image; or staging that stir up either emotions of benevolence and indulgence, or feelings of loathing and hatred.
Like other kinds of crowds, a jury is often under the influence of a few prestigious members. Also, a skillful lawyer seeks above all, in his pleadings; to acquire in his defense the influential members of the jury who have the power to inform the general decision.
Chapter IV: Electoral Crowds
Photo Credit: William Hall Raine
“Truth and numerical superiority go hand in hand.” It is the dogma of popular vote which today possesses the power that religious dogmas had in the past.
The mechanism adopted for appealing to an electoral crowd is based on the same procedures: affirmation, repetition, prestige, and contagion.
The candidate for an election must possess the imposing factor of prestige (fortune, position, title). In addition to this capital element, voters are won over by the ingenious candidate who knows how to flatter their ego and lull them with the most fanciful of general promises. The words and formulas used should be chosen in such a way as to have a strong impact on the sentiments and imagination of the crowds.
An electoral crowd, under the effect of mental leveling, is not intellectually predisposed to follow an argument supported by figures and evidence; electoral townhalls are often nothing but assertions, abuse, intimidation, cheering and yelling.
Should we therefore criticize this ‘universal’ principle of democracy? Gustave Le Bon maintains that this would be going against the course of nature. The mental inferiority of all communities, whatever their composition, is an obvious fact of which we have demonstrated proof.
Chapter V: Parliamentary Assemblies
The parliamentary system represents the ideal of all modern civilized people. It reflects this psychologically flawed but commonly held theory that many men together are far more capable than a few of making an intelligent and free decision on a given issue.
However, the simplicity of opinions is one of the most important characteristics of these assemblies. There is an invariable tendency to solve the most complicated social problems by the simplest abstract principles, and by general laws applicable to all cases.
Moreover, the leaders of political parties are men of very average intelligence, but men of action and who are skillful orators. Real men of genius are but thin figures in parliamentary assemblies, inclined to present the complex side of things.
The characteristic of automatism could strike the excited and hypnotized assemblies; in exceptional circumstances, and lead them to approve and decree the most homicidal laws and conventions.
However, the dysfunction of the parliamentary system in no way diminishes its practical usefulness because it protects against the excesses of a dictatorship, and the tyrannies which result from it.
Conclusion on “The Crowd”:
The Crowd is one of my favorite social psychology books. It was a complete game changer for me in this area of knowledge of the most subjective and the most complicated.
The theories of the book The Crowd are still relevant today and enlighten us on all the phenomena linked to the manipulation of the masses. The exploitation of crowd psychology has, perhaps, taken other more delicate forms; but behind them are the same mechanisms as those explained in the book.
According to Gustave Le Bon, whatever the field of manipulation (politics, advertising, wars, etc.); it is always easy to get the target crowd to accept general assertions presented in startling terms; even though they have never been verified and may not be subject to verification.
Gustave Le Bon emphasizes that the art of leading the crowd is to slip the messaging content into the image container.
The power of this mechanism (the potential impact of communication through images) includes media hype, which creates a contagion effect on consumers, and consequently, imposes not only certain ways of thinking but also some ways of feeling!
Completely dissimilar associations of ideas such as “I smoke cigarettes; therefore, I am a cowboy” or “I drive a sports car; therefore, I am a hero” are edifying.
The Crowd also provides us with an excellent analytical tool that could help us diagnose, more rationally; the new phenomena relating to the uptick in mass crime, the return of religious terrorism; and the social unrest amidst crises (social, financial and identity).
In addition, being aware of the real risks of manipulation, we could protect ourselves from it through the adoption of conscious behaviors, the use of critical thinking, and the development of emotional intelligence.
- An enjoyable read, very subtle writing with a polished style.
- Relevant analysis with regard to the understanding of the psychological mechanisms of social beings.
- Up-to-date manipulation mechanisms (advertising, politics, religion): affirmation, repetition, contagion, image, communication.
- The theses on the religious sentiment of ideas and its consequences (terrorism, intolerance, extremism) are edifying.
- The theses put forward are corroborated by the historical facts of a short period of history (French revolution).
- The scientific rigor of the analysis is questionable.
- There is a generalization of particular cases.
- A rather individualistic and elitist vision regarding society.
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