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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
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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In social as in biological problems time is one of the most energetic factors. It is the sole real creator and the
sole great destroyer. It is time that has made mountains with grains of sand and raised the obscure cell of
geological eras to human dignity. The action of centuries is sufficient to transform any given phenomenon. It
has been justly observed that an ant with enough time at its disposal could level Mount Blanc. A being
possessed of the magical force of varying time at his will would have the power attributed by believers to

In this place, however, we have only to concern ourselves with the influence of time on the genesis of the
opinions of crowds. Its action from this point of view is still immense. Dependent upon it are the great forces
such as race, which cannot form themselves without it. It causes the birth, the growth, and the death of all
beliefs. It is by the aid of time that they acquire their strength and also by its aid that they lose it.

It is time in particular that prepares the opinions and beliefs of crowds, or at least the soil on which they will
germinate. This is why certain ideas are realisable at one epoch and not at another. It is time that accumulates
that immense detritus of beliefs and thoughts on which the ideas of a given period spring up. They do not
grow at hazard


and by chance; the roots of each of them strike down into a long past. When they blossom it is time that has
prepared their blooming; and to arrive at a notion of their genesis it is always back in the past that it is
necessary to search. They are the daughters of the past and the mothers of the future, but throughout the
slaves of time.

Time, in consequence, is our veritable master, and it suffices to leave it free to act to see all things
transformed. At the present day we are very uneasy with regard to the threatening aspirations of the masses
and the destructions and upheavals foreboded thereby. Time, without other aid, will see to the restoration of
equilibrium. "No form of government," M. Lavisse very properly writes, "was founded in a day. Political and
social organisations are works that demand centuries. The feudal system existed for centuries in a shapeless,
chaotic state before it found its laws; absolute monarchy also existed for centuries before arriving at regular
methods of government, and these periods of expectancy were extremely troubled."

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