SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF THE CROWD
GUSTAVE LE BON
1831 - 1931
ALBERT SPEER, Spandau The Secret Diaries,
Collins, London 1976, p.309.
"Le Bon's study has not been surpassed to this day  , I believe. He did not need to observe the great demagogues from Lloyd George to Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler in order to fathom the mechanics of the mass psyche"
B.I.Lewis, George Grosz, University of Wisconsin Press 1971, of the period 1913 - 1914,
Grosz reading included Hauptman, " Wedekind, Strindberg, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Zola, Nietzsche and Gustave Le Bon..." For possible influence see Grosz, Street from Kleine Grosz Mappe plate 2 of the (artist) individual set among the crowd.
|see also S.Freud, Group Psychology and the Ego, (Le Bon, Macdougall and Trotter)|
LE BON'S WRITINGS
The Crowd, a study of the Popular Mind, 1896.
"it has been the task of the masses before to bring about the destruction of a worn-out civilisation... its final dissolution is brought about by those unconscious and brutal crowds known justifiably enough as barbarians. Crowds destroy and do not create. In consequence of the destructive nature of their power, crowds act like the microbes which hasten the dissolution of enfeebled or dead bodies. In the collective mind the intellectual aptitudes of the individuals , and in consequence their individuality, are weakened." The characteristics of the crowd, "The first is that the individual forming part of the crowd acquires solely from numerical considerations, a sentiment of invincible power which allows him to yield to instincts which had he been alone he would perforce have kept under retraint. In any crowd every sentiment and act is contagious to such a degree that an individual readily sacrifices his personal interest to the collective interest. The most careful observations seem to prove that an individual immersed for some length of time in a crowd in action soon finds himself - either as a consequence of of the magnetic influence given out by the crowd or from some other cause of which we are ignorant - in a special state which much resembles the state of fascination in which the hypnotised individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotiser. The activity of the brain being paralysed in the case of the hypnotised subject, the latter becomes the slave of all the activities of the spinal cord, which the hypnotiser directs at will. [the detailed characteristics of the crowd are ] impulsiveness, irritiabiltiy, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgement and of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of the sentiments and others besodes - which are almost always observed in beings belonging to inferior forms in evolution - in women, savages and children for instance. "
"An orator in intimate communication with the crowd can evoke images by which it will be seduced....As soon as a certain number of living beings are gathered together whether they be animals or men they place themselves instictively under the authority of a chief.... The leaders we speak of are usually men of action rather than of words. They are not gifted with keen forsight... They are especially recruited from the ranks of those morbidly nervous exciteable half-deranged persons who are bordering on madness. [two classes of leader, the energetic whose will is intermittent, and the rarer group whose will is enduring] the world belongs to the crowd leader who possesses a persistent will-force."
"Their tumultous bursts of violence are like the tumultuous waves which the tempest raises on the surface of the ocean..."
"It is often impossible on reading plays to explain their success. Managers of theatres when accepting plays are themselves often unsure of success, because to judge the matter it would be necessary to transform themselves into a crowd."
The Psychology of Socialism 1899
"The revolutionary ideal was to shatter the classes and corporations and reduce every individual to a common type...Nothing could be more strongly opposed to the Anglo-Saxon individualism which forms the banding together of individuals, obtains everything by it and confines the action of the state within narrow limits."
"It is only in our days and above all since the revolution that Individualism, at least under certain forms has at all developed among the Latin races. .. It is a far cry from the Individualism practiced by the Anglo-Saxons for example, among other nations... Young and vigorous races such as the Anglo-Saxons in which the mental inequalities between individuals are not so great, accommodate themselves very well to such a state of things."
"The Parisian workman approaches the Savage in his impulsive nature, his lack of foresight, his want of self control. and his habit of having no guide but the instinct of the moment."
That most of French Socialists are among the middle
classes... a tearful and sentimental Socialism. "Public opinion
no longer knows anything but extreme sentiment or profound indifference.
It is terribly feminine, and like a woman, has no control over its
"History can only be clearly understood if we bear in mind that that the morale and the conduct of the isolated manare very different to those of the same man when he has become part of a collectivity."
The Crowd as Sea "Their bursts of violence are like the tumultuous waves that the tempest rains on the surface of the ocean, but without troubling the serenity of its profounder waters... The Socialists imagine that they will easily carry the masses with them. They are wrong. They will very quickly discover that they will find among the masses, not their allies but their most implacable enemies. The crowd may doubtless in its anger
" Socialism is in fact nothing but the religion of the Stomach."
"There is nothing more feminine than the Gallic crowd."
The Psychology of Peoples 1899
Le Bon on the Soul of the Race, theories of national character.
works about Gustave Le Bon
see E.Picard, GLB et son oeuvre, Paris 1909
I. Motono, L'Oeuvre... and a portrait Paris 1914.
works by Gustave Le Bon in no particular order
Les Civilisations de l'Inde, 1887
La Civilisation des Arabes, 1884
Le Déséquilibre du Monde 1923 London 1924
Enseignements psychologiques de la Guerre européenne Paris 1916 (London 1916 the Psychology of the Great War)
L'Evolution de la Matiére, paris 1905 (London 1908 as The Evolution of Matter)
Hier et demain, pensé breves, Paris 1918
Les Hommes et Les Societes leur origines et leur histoires, Paris 1881
Les Loirs Pscychologiques de l'Evolution des peuples, Paris 1894
Les Monuments de l'Inde Paris 1893
Les Opinions et les Croyeuses Genese, evolution Paris 1911
Psychologie de la generation de l'Homme et des principaux etres vivants, Paris 1868
Principaux consequences de la Guerre, Transformation mentale des Peuples, Paris 1916
Les premiers civilisations, Paris 1889
Psychologie de l'Education Paris 1902
Psychologie des Foules, Paris 1895 (London 1896)
Psychologie des temps Nouveau Paris 1920 (The World in revolt, a psychological study of our Times London 1921)
Psychologie du Socialisme Paris 1899 (The Psychology of Socialism London 1899)
La Psychologie Politique, Paris 1917
La Revolution Francaise et la Psycholgie des revolutions, Paris 1912 (The Psychology of Revolution London 1913)
Traité Pratique des maladies des organes genitourinaires Parios 1869
La Vie - Physiologie humaine appliqué a l'Hygenie et a la medecine, Paris 1874
La Vie des Verités, Paris 1914