Groups exhibit a docile respect for force, and are but slightly impressed by kindness, which for them is scarcely other than a form of weakness. Their sympathies have never been bestowed on easy-going masters, but on tyrants who vigorously oppressed them. It is to these latter that they always erect the loftiest statues. They trample on the despot whom they have stripped of his power, but it’s only because having lost his strength, he is now one of the weak who are to be despised and not to be feared.
The type of hero dear to groups will always have the semblance of a Caesar. His insignia attracts them, his authority overawes them, and his sword instills them with fear. A group is always ready to revolt against a feeble, and to bow down servilely before a strong authority. Should the strength of an authority be intermittent, the group, always obedient to its extreme sentiments, passes alternately from anarchy to servitude, and from servitude to anarchy. The strongest leaders will use strongest authority.
Given to exaggeration in its feelings, a group is only impressed by excessive sentiments. A speaker who wishes to move a group must make an abusive use of violent affirmations. To exaggerate, to affirm, to resort to repetitions, and never to attempt to prove anything by reasoning are methods of argument well known to speakers at public meetings. Moreover all the great statesmen have regarded the popular imagination as the basis of their power and have never attempted to govern in opposition to it.
“It was by becoming a Catholic,” said Napoleon to the Council of State, “that I terminated the Vendeen war. By becoming a Mussulman that I obtained a footing in Egypt. By becoming an Ultramontane that I won over the Italian priests, and had I to govern a nation of Jews I would rebuild Solomon’s temple.” Never perhaps since Alexander and Caesar has any great man better understood how the imagination of the group should be impressed. His constant preoccupation was to strike it in his word and deed.
How is the imagination of groups to be impressed? This is never to be achieved by attempting to work upon the intelligence or reasoning faculty, that is to say, by way of demonstration. It was not by means of cunning rhetoric that Anthony succeeded in making the populace rise against the murderers of Caesar; it was by reading his will to the multitude and pointing to his corpse. Whatever strikes the imagination of groups presents itself under the shape of a startling and very clear image without elaboration.
It may contain a few marvelous or mysterious facts such as a great victory, a great miracle, a great crime, or a great hope. Things must be laid before the group as a whole, and their premise must never be indicated. A hundred petty crimes or petty accidents will not strike the imagination of groups in the least, whereas a single great crime or a single great accident will profoundly impress them, even though the results are infinitely less disastrous than those of the hundred small accidents put together.
It is not then, the facts in themselves that strike the popular imagination, but the way in which they take place and are brought under notice. It is necessary that by their condensation, they should produce a startling image which fills and besets the mind.
- To know the art of impressing the imagination of groups is to know at the same time the art of governing them. That’s why showmen and performers keep their acts as simple as possible without complex perception required. The master ruler is a showman.
The convictions of groups assume those characteristics of blind submission, fierce intolerance, and the need of violent propaganda. This is the reason why all their beliefs have a religious form. The hero acclaimed by a group is a veritable god for that group. Napoleon was such a god for fifteen years, and a divinity never had more fervent worshippers or sent men to their death with greater ease.
- The Christian and Pagan Gods never exercised a more absolute empire over the minds that belong to their sway.
Currently the majority of the great men who have swayed men’s minds no longer have altars, but they have statues, or their portraits are in the hands of their admirers, and the cult of which they are the object is not notably different from that accorded to their predecessors. An understanding of the philosophy of history is only to be gotten by a thorough appreciation of this fundamental point of the psychology of groups. The group demands a god before everything else. Those who would lead must appear godly.
It is easy to imbue the mind of groups with a passing opinion, but very difficult to implant therein a lasting belief. However, a lasting belief once established, is also equally difficult to uproot. It is usually only to be changed at the cost of violent revolutions. Even revolutions can only succeed 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.
To influence a group a leader must have arrived at a comprehension, at least in an unconscious manner, of the psychology of groups, and must know how to engage them. He should be aware, in particular, of the fascinating influence of words, phrases, and images. He should possess eloquence, composed of energetic affirmations without the weight of proofs, and impressive images, accompanied by very summary arguments. This is a kind of eloquence that is utilized in all assemblies especially parliament.
The skillful general conducts his army just as though he were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by the hand. Leading many people together is like leading a single entity – a group consciousness. No matter how big or how small the group is, your relationship with it is still one to one.
Owner and Founder At The Goddess Bibles A Memoir By Laura Zukerman
Becoming Your Inner Goddess
Goddess leaders, become Goddess warriors