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The Crowd_ a Study of the Popular Mind

The Crowd_ a Study of the Popular Mind

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Published by: Dominique A.M. Juntado on Jun 26, 2012
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Preparatory factors of the beliefs of crowds -- The origin of the beliefs of crowds is the consequence of a
preliminary process of elaboration -- Study of the different factors of these beliefs. § 1. Race. The
predominating influence it exercises -- It represents the suggestions of ancestors. § 2. Traditions. They are the
synthesis of the soul of the race -- Social importance of traditions -- How, after having been necessary they
become harmful -- Crowds are the most obstinate maintainers of traditional ideas. § 3. Time. It prepares in
succession the establishment of beliefs and then their destruction. It is by the aid of this factor that order may
proceed from chaos. § 4. Political and Social Institutions. Erroneous idea of their part -- Their influence
extremely weak -- They are effects, not causes -- Nations are incapable of choosing what appear to them the
best institutions -- Institutions are labels which shelter the most dissimilar things under the same title -- How
institutions may come to be created -- Certain institutions theoretically bad, such as centralisation obligatory
for certain nations. § 5. Institutions and


education. Falsity of prevalent ideas as to the influence of instruction on crowds -- Statistical indications --
Demoralising effect of Latin system of education -- Part instruction might play -- Examples furnished by
various peoples.

HAVING studied the mental constitution of crowds and become acquainted with their modes of feeling,
thinking, and reasoning, we shall now proceed to examine how their opinions and beliefs arise and become

The factors which determine these opinions and beliefs are of two kinds: remote factors and immediate


The remote factors are those which render crowds capable of adopting certain convictions and absolutely
refractory to the acceptance of others. These factors prepare the ground in which are suddenly seen to
germinate certain new ideas whose force and consequences are a cause of astonishment, though they are only
spontaneous in appearance. The outburst and putting in practice of certain ideas among crowds present at
times a startling suddenness. This is only a superficial effect, behind which must be sought a preliminary and

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preparatory action of long duration.

The immediate factors are those which, coming on the top of this long, preparatory working, in whose
absence they would remain without effect, serve as the source of active persuasion on crowds; that is, they
are the factors which cause the idea to take


shape and set it loose with all its consequences. The resolutions by which collectivities are suddenly carried
away arise out of these immediate factors; it is due to them that a riot breaks out or a strike is decided upon,
and to them that enormous majorities invest one man with power to overthrow a government.

The successive action of these two kinds of factors is to be traced in all great historical events. The French
Revolution -- to cite but one of the most striking of such events -- had among its remote factors the writings
of the philosophers, the exactions of the nobility, and the progress of scientific thought. The mind of the
masses, thus prepared, was then easily roused by such immediate factors as the speeches of orators, and the
resistance of the court party to insignificant reforms.

Among the remote factors there are some of a general nature, which are found to underlie all the beliefs and
opinions of crowds. They are race, traditions, time, institutions, and education.

We now proceed to study the influence of these different factors.

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