Gustave Le Bon,

The Crowd A Study of the Popular Mind,

Benn, London 1947, 19th ed.,

[1896 first UK translation]

"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 restraint. 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, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgment and of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of the sentiments and others besides - which are almost always observed in beings belonging to inferior forms in evolution - in women, savages and children for instance. "

BOOK ONE The Mind of Crowds

CHAPTER I General Characteristics of Crowds - Psychological Law of their Mental Unity.

CHAPTER II The Sentiments and Morality of Crowds

CHAPTER III The Ideas, Reasoning Power and Imagination of Crowds

CHAPTER IV A Religious Shape assumed by all the Convictions of a Crowd

BOOK TWO The Opinions and Beliefs of Crowds

CHAPTER I Remote Factors of the Opinions and Beliefs of Crowds

CHAPTER II The Immediate Factors of the Opinions of Crowds

CHAPTER III The Leaders of Crowds and their Means of Persuasion

CHAPTER IV Limitations of the Variability of the Beliefs and Opinions of Crowds


BOOK THREE The Classification and Description of the Different Types of Crowd

CHAPTER I The Classification of Crowds

CHAPTER II Crowds termed Criminal Crowds

CHAPTER III Criminal Juries

CHAPTER IV Electoral Crowds

CHAPTER V Parliamentary Assemblies


"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 instinctively 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 foresight... They are especially recruited from the ranks of those morbidly nervous excitable 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." The Crowd.

"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." Le Bon The Psychology of Socialism 1899

" Socialism is in fact nothing but the religion of the Stomach." as above.

"There is nothing more feminine than the Gallic crowd." as above.

"Their tumultuous bursts of violence are like the tumultuous waves which the tempest raises on the surface of the ocean..." Le Bon, The Crowd