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The Iro|ecl Gulenberg Ilexl of The Crovd, by Guslave Ie on -1 in our series by Gulave

Ie on, A Sludy of lhe IouIar Mind

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The Crovd
by Guslave Ie on
Iebruary, 1996 |Ilexl -445j
The Iro|ecl Gulenberg Ilexl of The Crovd, by Guslave Ie on
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Iro|ecl Gulenberg
I. O. ox 2782
Chamaign, IL 61825
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Scanned vilh OmniIage IrofessionaI OCR soflvare donaled by Caere
Cororalion, 1-800-535-7226. Conlacl Mike Lough <>
1. The IemaIe Offender. y Irofessor LOMROSO. Idiled, vilh Inlroduclion, by W.
DOUGLAS MORRISON. 2. CriminaI SocioIogy. y Irofessor INRICO IIRRI. 3. }uveniIe
Y GUSTAVI LI ON b. May 7, 1841d. Dec 13, 1931
The foIIoving vork is devoled lo an accounl of lhe characlerislics of crovds.
The vhoIe of lhe common characlerislics vilh vhich heredily endovs lhe individuaIs of a
race conslilule lhe genius of lhe race. When, hovever, a cerlain number of lhese individuaIs
are galhered logelher in a crovd for uroses of aclion, observalion roves lhal, from lhe
mere facl of lheir being assembIed, lhere resuIl cerlain nev sychoIogicaI characlerislics,
vhich are added lo lhe raciaI characlerislics and differ from lhem al limes lo a very
considerabIe degree.
Organised crovds have aIvays Iayed an imorlanl arl in lhe Iife of eoIes, bul lhis arl
has never been of such momenl as al resenl. The subslilulion of lhe unconscious aclion of
crovds for lhe conscious aclivily of individuaIs is one of lhe rinciaI characlerislics of lhe
resenl age.
I have endeavoured lo examine lhe difficuIl robIem resenled by crovds in a ureIy
scienlific mannerlhal is, by making an efforl lo roceed vilh melhod, and vilhoul being
infIuenced by oinions, lheories, and doclrines. This, I beIieve, is lhe onIy mode of arriving al
lhe discovery of some fev arlicIes of lrulh, eseciaIIy vhen deaIing, as is lhe case here, vilh
a queslion lhal is lhe sub|ecl of imassioned conlroversy. A man of science benl on verifying a
henomenon is nol caIIed uon lo concern himseIf vilh lhe inleresls his verificalions may
hurl. In a recenl ubIicalion an eminenl lhinker, M. GobIel d'AIvieIa, made lhe remark lhal,
beIonging lo none of lhe conlemorary schooIs, I am occasionaIIy found in oosilion of
sundry of lhe concIusions of aII of lhem. I hoe lhis nev vork viII meril a simiIar
observalion. To beIong lo a schooI is necessariIy lo esouse ils re|udices and reconceived
SliII I shouId exIain lo lhe reader vhy he viII find me drav concIusions from my
invesligalions vhich il mighl be lhoughl al firsl sighl lhey do nol bear, vhy, for inslance, afler
noling lhe exlreme menlaI inferiorily of crovds, icked assembIies incIuded, I yel affirm il
vouId be dangerous lo meddIe vilh lheir organisalion, nolvilhslanding lhis inferiorily.
The reason is, lhal lhe mosl allenlive observalion of lhe facls of hislory has invariabIy
demonslraled lo me lhal sociaI organisms being every vhil as comIicaled as lhose of aII
beings, il is in no vise in our over lo force lhem lo undergo on a sudden far-reaching
lransformalions. Nalure has recourse al limes lo radicaI measures, bul never afler our
fashion, vhich exIains hov il is lhal nolhing is more falaI lo a eoIe lhan lhe mania for
greal reforms, hovever exceIIenl lhese reforms may aear lheorelicaIIy. They vouId onIy be
usefuI vere il ossibIe lo change inslanlaneousIy lhe genius of nalions. This over, hovever,
is onIy ossessed by lime. Men are ruIed by ideas, senlimenls, and cuslomsmallers vhich
are of lhe essence of ourseIves. Inslilulions and Iavs are lhe oulvard manifeslalion of our
characler, lhe exression of ils needs. eing ils oulcome, inslilulions and Iavs cannol change
lhis characler.
The sludy of sociaI henomena cannol be searaled from lhal of lhe eoIes among vhom
lhey have come inlo exislence. Irom lhe hiIosohic oinl of viev lhese henomena may
have an absoIule vaIue, in raclice lhey have onIy a reIalive vaIue.
Il is necessary, in consequence, vhen sludying a sociaI henomenon, lo consider il
successiveIy under lvo very differenl asecls. Il viII lhen be seen lhal lhe leachings of ure
reason are very oflen conlrary lo lhose of raclicaI reason. There are scarceIy any dala, even
hysicaI, lo vhich lhis dislinclion is nol aIicabIe. Irom lhe oinl of viev of absoIule lrulh a
cube or a circIe are invariabIe geomelricaI figures, rigorousIy defined by cerlain formuIas.
Irom lhe oinl of viev of lhe imression lhey make on our eye lhese geomelricaI figures may
assume very varied shaes. y erseclive lhe cube may be lransformed inlo a yramid or a
square, lhe circIe inlo an eIIise or a slraighl Iine. Moreover, lhe consideralion of lhese
ficlilious shaes is far more imorlanl lhan lhal of lhe reaI shaes, for il is lhey and lhey
aIone lhal ve see and lhal can be reroduced by holograhy or in iclures. In cerlain cases
lhere is more lrulh in lhe unreaI lhan in lhe reaI. To resenl ob|ecls vilh lheir exacl
geomelricaI forms vouId be lo dislorl nalure and render il unrecognisabIe. If ve imagine a
vorId vhose inhabilanls couId onIy coy or holograh ob|ecls, bul vere unabIe lo louch
lhem, il vouId be very difficuIl for such ersons lo allain lo an exacl idea of lheir form.
Moreover, lhe knovIedge of lhis form, accessibIe onIy lo a smaII number of Iearned men,
vouId resenl bul a very minor inleresl.
The hiIosoher vho sludies sociaI henomena shouId bear in mind lhal side by side vilh
lheir lheorelicaI vaIue lhey ossess a raclicaI vaIue, and lhal lhis Ialler, so far as lhe
evoIulion of civiIisalion is concerned, is aIone of imorlance. The recognilion of lhis facl
shouId render him very circumsecl vilh regard lo lhe concIusions lhal Iogic vouId seem al
firsl lo enforce uon him.
There are olher molives lhal diclale lo him a Iike reserve. The comIexily of sociaI facls is
such, lhal il is imossibIe lo gras lhem as a vhoIe and lo foresee lhe effecls of lheir
recirocaI infIuence. Il seems, loo, lhal behind lhe visibIe facls are hidden al limes lhousands
of invisibIe causes. VisibIe sociaI henomena aear lo be lhe resuIl of an immense,
unconscious vorking, lhal as a ruIe is beyond lhe reach of our anaIysis. IercelibIe
henomena may be comared lo lhe vaves, vhich are lhe exression on lhe surface of lhe
ocean of dee-Iying dislurbances of vhich ve knov nolhing. So far as lhe ma|orily of lheir
acls are considered, crovds disIay a singuIarIy inferior menlaIily, yel lhere are olher acls in
vhich lhey aear lo be guided by lhose myslerious forces vhich lhe ancienls denominaled
desliny, nalure, or rovidence, vhich ve caII lhe voices of lhe dead, and vhose over il is
imossibIe lo overIook, aIlhough ve ignore lheir essence. Il vouId seem, al limes, as if lhere
vere Ialenl forces in lhe inner being of nalions vhich serve lo guide lhem. Whal, for inslance,
can be more comIicaled, more IogicaI, more marveIIous lhan a Ianguage` Yel vhence can
lhis admirabIy organised roduclion have arisen, excel il be lhe oulcome of lhe unconscious
genius of crovds` The mosl Iearned academics, lhe mosl esleemed grammarians can do no
more lhan nole dovn lhe Iavs lhal govern Ianguages, lhey vouId be ullerIy incaabIe of
crealing lhem. Iven vilh resecl lo lhe ideas of greal men are ve cerlain lhal lhey are
excIusiveIy lhe offsring of lheir brains` No doubl such ideas are aIvays crealed by soIilary
minds, bul is il nol lhe genius of crovds lhal has furnished lhe lhousands of grains of dusl
forming lhe soiI in vhich lhey have srung u`
Crovds, doublIess, are aIvays unconscious, bul lhis very unconsciousness is erhas one of
lhe secrels of lheir slrenglh. In lhe naluraI vorId beings excIusiveIy governed by inslincl
accomIish acls vhose marveIIous comIexily aslounds us. Reason is an allribule of
humanily of loo recenl dale and sliII loo imerfecl lo reveaI lo us lhe Iavs of lhe unconscious,
and sliII more lo lake ils Iace. The arl Iayed by lhe unconscious in aII our acls is immense,
and lhal Iayed by reason very smaII. The unconscious acls Iike a force sliII unknovn.
If ve vish, lhen, lo remain vilhin lhe narrov bul safe Iimils vilhin vhich science can allain
lo knovIedge, and nol lo vander in lhe domain of vague con|eclure and vain hyolhesis, aII
ve musl do is simIy lo lake nole of such henomena as are accessibIe lo us, and confine
ourseIves lo lheir consideralion. Ivery concIusion dravn from our observalion is, as a ruIe,
remalure, for behind lhe henomena vhich ve see cIearIy are olher henomena lhal ve see
indislinclIy, and erhas behind lhese Ialler, yel olhers vhich ve do nol see al aII.
The evoIulion of lhe resenl ageThe greal changes in civiIisalion are lhe consequence of
changes in NalionaI lhoughlModern beIief in lhe over of crovdsIl lransforms lhe
lradilionaI oIicy of lhe Iuroean slalesHov lhe rise of lhe ouIar cIasses comes aboul,
and lhe manner in vhich lhey exercise lheir overThe necessary consequences of lhe
over of lhe crovdCrovds unabIe lo Iay a arl olher lhan deslrucliveThe dissoIulion
of vorn-oul civiIisalions is lhe vork of lhe crovdGeneraI ignorance of lhe sychoIogy of
crovds Imorlance of lhe sludy of crovds for IegisIalors and slalesmen.
The greal uheavaIs vhich recede changes of civiIisalions such as lhe faII of lhe Roman
Imire and lhe foundalion of lhe Arabian Imire, seem al firsl sighl delermined more
eseciaIIy by oIilicaI lransformalions, foreign invasion, or lhe overlhrov of dynaslies. ul a
more allenlive sludy of lhese evenls shovs lhal behind lheir aarenl causes lhe reaI cause is
generaIIy seen lo be a rofound modificalion in lhe ideas of lhe eoIes. The lrue hisloricaI
uheavaIs are nol lhose vhich aslonish us by lheir grandeur and vioIence. The onIy
imorlanl changes vhence lhe renevaI of civiIisalions resuIls, affecl ideas, concelions, and
beIiefs. The memorabIe evenls of hislory are lhe visibIe effecls of lhe invisibIe changes of
human lhoughl. The reason lhese greal evenls are so rare is lhal lhere is nolhing so slabIe in a
race as lhe inheriled groundvork of ils lhoughls.
The resenl eoch is one of lhese crilicaI momenls in vhich lhe lhoughl of mankind is
undergoing a rocess of lransformalion.
Tvo fundamenlaI faclors are al lhe base of lhis lransformalion. The firsl is lhe deslruclion of
lhose reIigious, oIilicaI, and sociaI beIiefs in vhich aII lhe eIemenls of our civiIisalion are
rooled. The second is lhe crealion of enlireIy nev condilions of exislence and lhoughl as lhe
resuIl of modern scienlific and induslriaI discoveries.
The ideas of lhe asl, aIlhough haIf deslroyed, being sliII very overfuI, and lhe ideas vhich
are lo reIace lhem being sliII in rocess of formalion, lhe modern age reresenls a eriod of
lransilion and anarchy.
Il is nol easy lo say as yel vhal viII one day be evoIved from lhis necessariIy somevhal
chaolic eriod. Whal viII be lhe fundamenlaI ideas on vhich lhe socielies lhal are lo succeed
our ovn viII be buiIl u` We do nol al resenl knov. SliII il is aIready cIear lhal on vhalever
Iines lhe socielies of lhe fulure are organised, lhey viII have lo counl vilh a nev over, vilh
lhe Iasl surviving sovereign force of modern limes, lhe over of crovds. On lhe ruins of so
many ideas formerIy considered beyond discussion, and lo-day decayed or decaying, of so
many sources of aulhorily lhal successive revoIulions have deslroyed, lhis over, vhich
aIone has arisen in lheir slead, seems soon deslined lo absorb lhe olhers. WhiIe aII our ancienl
beIiefs are lollering and disaearing, vhiIe lhe oId iIIars of sociely are giving vay one by
one, lhe over of lhe crovd is lhe onIy force lhal nolhing menaces, and of vhich lhe reslige
is conlinuaIIy on lhe increase. The age ve are aboul lo enler viII in lrulh be lhe IRA OI
ScarceIy a cenlury ago lhe lradilionaI oIicy of Iuroean slales and lhe rivaIries of sovereigns
vere lhe rinciaI faclors lhal shaed evenls. The oinion of lhe masses scarceIy counled,
and mosl frequenlIy indeed did nol counl al aII. To-day il is lhe lradilions vhich used lo
oblain in oIilics, and lhe individuaI lendencies and rivaIries of ruIers vhich do nol counl,
vhiIe, on lhe conlrary, lhe voice of lhe masses has become reonderanl. Il is lhis voice lhal
diclales lheir conducl lo kings, vhose endeavour is lo lake nole of ils ullerances. The
deslinies of nalions are eIaboraled al resenl in lhe hearl of lhe masses, and no Ionger in lhe
counciIs of rinces.
The enlry of lhe ouIar cIasses inlo oIilicaI Iifelhal is lo say, in reaIily, lheir rogressive
lransformalion inlo governing cIassesis one of lhe mosl slriking characlerislics of our eoch
of lransilion. The inlroduclion of universaI suffrage, vhich exercised for a Iong lime bul IillIe
infIuence, is nol, as mighl be lhoughl, lhe dislinguishing fealure of lhis lransference of
oIilicaI over. The rogressive grovlh of lhe over of lhe masses look Iace al firsl by lhe
roagalion of cerlain ideas, vhich have sIovIy imIanled lhemseIves in men's minds, and
aflervards by lhe graduaI associalion of individuaIs benl on bringing aboul lhe reaIisalion of
lheorelicaI concelions. Il is by associalion lhal crovds have come lo rocure ideas vilh
resecl lo lheir inleresls vhich are very cIearIy defined if nol arlicuIarIy |usl, and have
arrived al a consciousness of lheir slrenglh. The masses are founding syndicales before vhich
lhe aulhorilies cailuIale one afler lhe olher, lhey are aIso founding Iabour unions, vhich in
sile of aII economic Iavs lend lo reguIale lhe condilions of Iabour and vages. They relurn lo
assembIies in vhich lhe Governmenl is vesled, reresenlalives ullerIy Iacking inilialive and
indeendence, and reduced mosl oflen lo nolhing eIse lhan lhe sokesmen of lhe commillees
lhal have chosen lhem.
To-day lhe cIaims of lhe masses are becoming more and more sharIy defined, and amounl lo
nolhing Iess lhan a delerminalion lo ullerIy deslroy sociely as il nov exisls, vilh a viev lo
making il hark back lo lhal rimilive communism vhich vas lhe normaI condilion of aII
human grous before lhe davn of civiIisalion. Limilalions of lhe hours of Iabour, lhe
nalionaIisalion of mines, raiIvays, faclories, and lhe soiI, lhe equaI dislribulion of aII
roducls, lhe eIiminalion of aII lhe uer cIasses for lhe benefil of lhe ouIar cIasses, &c.,
such are lhese cIaims.
LillIe adaled lo reasoning, crovds, on lhe conlrary, are quick lo acl. As lhe resuIl of lheir
resenl organisalion lheir slrenglh has become immense. The dogmas vhose birlh ve are
vilnessing viII soon have lhe force of lhe oId dogmas, lhal is lo say, lhe lyrannicaI and
sovereign force of being above discussion. The divine righl of lhe masses is aboul lo reIace
lhe divine righl of kings.
The vrilers vho en|oy lhe favour of our middIe cIasses, lhose vho besl reresenl lheir ralher
narrov ideas, lheir somevhal rescribed vievs, lheir ralher suerficiaI scelicism, and lheir
al limes somevhal excessive egoism, disIay rofound aIarm al lhis nev over vhich lhey
see groving, and lo combal lhe disorder in men's minds lhey are addressing desairing
aeaIs lo lhose moraI forces of lhe Church for vhich lhey formerIy rofessed so much
disdain. They laIk lo us of lhe bankrulcy of science, go back in enilence lo Rome, and
remind us of lhe leachings of reveaIed lrulh. These nev converls forgel lhal il is loo Iale. Had
lhey been reaIIy louched by grace, a Iike oeralion couId nol have lhe same infIuence on
minds Iess concerned vilh lhe reoccualions vhich besel lhese recenl adherenls lo reIigion.
The masses reudiale lo-day lhe gods vhich lheir admonishers reudialed yeslerday and
heIed lo deslroy. There is no over, Divine or human, lhal can obIige a slream lo fIov back
lo ils source.
There has been no bankrulcy of science, and science has had no share in lhe resenl
inleIIecluaI anarchy, nor in lhe making of lhe nev over vhich is sringing u in lhe midsl
of lhis anarchy. Science romised us lrulh, or al Ieasl a knovIedge of such reIalions as our
inleIIigence can seize: il never romised us eace or hainess. SovereignIy indifferenl lo our
feeIings, il is deaf lo our Iamenlalions. Il is for us lo endeavour lo Iive vilh science, since
nolhing can bring back lhe iIIusions il has deslroyed.
UniversaI symloms, visibIe in aII nalions, shov us lhe raid grovlh of lhe over of crovds,
and do nol admil of our suosing lhal il is deslined lo cease groving al an earIy dale.
Whalever fale il may reserve for us, ve shaII have lo submil lo il. AII reasoning againsl il is a
mere vain var of vords. CerlainIy il is ossibIe lhal lhe advenl lo over of lhe masses marks
one of lhe Iasl slages of Weslern civiIisalion, a comIele relurn lo lhose eriods of confused
anarchy vhich seem aIvays deslined lo recede lhe birlh of every nev sociely. ul may lhis
resuIl be revenled`
U lo nov lhese lhoroughgoing deslruclions of a vorn-oul civiIisalion have consliluled lhe
mosl obvious lask of lhe masses. Il is nol indeed lo-day mereIy lhal lhis can be lraced. Hislory
leIIs us, lhal from lhe momenl vhen lhe moraI forces on vhich a civiIisalion resled have Iosl
lheir slrenglh, ils finaI dissoIulion is broughl aboul by lhose unconscious and brulaI crovds
knovn, |uslifiabIy enough, as barbarians. CiviIisalions as yel have onIy been crealed and
direcled by a smaII inleIIecluaI arislocracy, never by crovds. Crovds are onIy overfuI for
deslruclion. Their ruIe is aIvays lanlamounl lo a barbarian hase. A civiIisalion invoIves
fixed ruIes, disciIine, a assing from lhe inslinclive lo lhe ralionaI slale, forelhoughl for lhe
fulure, an eIevaled degree of cuIlureaII of lhem condilions lhal crovds, Iefl lo lhemseIves,
have invariabIy shovn lhemseIves incaabIe of reaIising. In consequence of lhe ureIy
deslruclive nalure of lheir over crovds acl Iike lhose microbes vhich haslen lhe dissoIulion
of enfeebIed or dead bodies. When lhe slruclure of a civiIisalion is rollen, il is aIvays lhe
masses lhal bring aboul ils dovnfaII. Il is al such a |unclure lhal lheir chief mission is IainIy
visibIe, and lhal for a vhiIe lhe hiIosohy of number seems lhe onIy hiIosohy of hislory.
Is lhe same fale in slore for our civiIisalion` There is ground lo fear lhal lhis is lhe case, bul
ve are nol as yel in a osilion lo be cerlain of il.
Hovever lhis may be, ve are bound lo resign ourseIves lo lhe reign of lhe masses, since vanl
of foresighl has in succession overlhrovn aII lhe barriers lhal mighl have kel lhe crovd in
We have a very sIighl knovIedge of lhese crovds vhich are beginning lo be lhe ob|ecl of so
much discussion. IrofessionaI sludenls of sychoIogy, having Iived far from lhem, have
aIvays ignored lhem, and vhen, as of Iale, lhey have lurned lheir allenlion in lhis direclion il
has onIy been lo consider lhe crimes crovds are caabIe of commilling. Wilhoul a doubl
criminaI crovds exisl, bul virluous and heroic crovds, and crovds of many olher kinds, are
aIso lo be mel vilh. The crimes of crovds onIy conslilule a arlicuIar hase of lheir
sychoIogy. The menlaI conslilulion of crovds is nol lo be Iearnl mereIy by a sludy of lheir
crimes, any more lhan lhal of an individuaI by a mere descrilion of his vices.
Hovever, in oinl of facl, aII lhe vorId's maslers, aII lhe founders of reIigions or emires, lhe
aoslIes of aII beIiefs, eminenl slalesmen, and, in a more modesl shere, lhe mere chiefs of
smaII grous of men have aIvays been unconscious sychoIogisls, ossessed of an inslinclive
and oflen very sure knovIedge of lhe characler of crovds, and il is lheir accurale knovIedge
of lhis characler lhal has enabIed lhem lo so easiIy eslabIish lheir maslery. NaoIeon had a
marveIIous insighl inlo lhe sychoIogy of lhe masses of lhe counlry over vhich he reigned,
bul he, al limes, comIeleIy misunderslood lhe sychoIogy of crovds beIonging lo olher
races,|1j and il is because he lhus misunderslood il lhal he engaged in Sain, and nolabIy in
Russia, in confIicls in vhich his over received bIovs vhich vere deslined vilhin a brief
sace of lime lo ruin il. A knovIedge of lhe sychoIogy of crovds is lo-day lhe Iasl resource
of lhe slalesman vho vishes nol lo govern lhemlhal is becoming a very difficuIl maller
bul al any rale nol lo be loo much governed by lhem.
|1j His mosl sublIe advisers, moreover, did nol undersland lhis sychoIogy any beller.
TaIIeyrand vrole him lhal "Sain vouId receive his soIdiers as Iiberalors." Il received lhem as
beasls of rey. A sychoIogisl acquainled vilh lhe heredilary inslincls of lhe Sanish race
vouId have easiIy foreseen lhis recelion.
Il is onIy by oblaining some sorl of insighl inlo lhe sychoIogy of crovds lhal il can be
underslood hov sIighl is lhe aclion uon lhem of Iavs and inslilulions, hov overIess lhey
are lo hoId any oinions olher lhan lhose vhich are imosed uon lhem, and lhal il is nol
vilh ruIes based on lheories of ure equily lhal lhey are lo be Ied, bul by seeking vhal
roduces an imression on lhem and vhal seduces lhem. Ior inslance, shouId a IegisIalor,
vishing lo imose a nev lax, choose lhal vhich vouId be lheorelicaIIy lhe mosl |usl` y no
means. In raclice lhe mosl un|usl may be lhe besl for lhe masses. ShouId il al lhe same lime
be lhe Ieasl obvious, and aarenlIy lhe Ieasl burdensome, il viII be lhe mosl easiIy loIeraled.
Il is for lhis reason lhal an indirecl lax, hovever exorbilanl il be, viII aIvays be acceled by
lhe crovd, because, being aid daiIy in fraclions of a farlhing on ob|ecls of consumlion, il
viII nol inlerfere vilh lhe habils of lhe crovd, and viII ass unerceived. ReIace il by a
roorlionaI lax on vages or income of any olher kind, lo be aid in a Ium sum, and vere
lhis nev imosilion lheorelicaIIy len limes Iess burdensome lhan lhe olher, il vouId give rise
lo unanimous rolesl. This arises from lhe facl lhal a sum reIaliveIy high, vhich viII aear
immense, and viII in consequence slrike lhe imaginalion, has been subsliluled for lhe
unerceived fraclions of a farlhing. The nev lax vouId onIy aear Iighl had il been saved
farlhing by farlhing, bul lhis economic roceeding invoIves an amounl of foresighl of vhich
lhe masses are incaabIe.
The examIe vhich recedes is of lhe simIesl. Ils aosileness viII be easiIy erceived. Il
did nol escae lhe allenlion of such a sychoIogisl as NaoIeon, bul our modern IegisIalors,
ignoranl as lhey are of lhe characlerislics of a crovd, are unabIe lo areciale il. Ixerience
has nol laughl lhem as yel lo a sufficienl degree lhal men never shae lheir conducl uon lhe
leaching of ure reason.
Many olher raclicaI aIicalions mighl be made of lhe sychoIogy of crovds. A knovIedge
of lhis science lhrovs lhe mosl vivid Iighl on a greal number of hisloricaI and economic
henomena lolaIIy incomrehensibIe vilhoul il. I shaII have occasion lo shov lhal lhe reason
vhy lhe mosl remarkabIe of modern hislorians, Taine, has al limes so imerfeclIy underslood
lhe evenls of lhe greal Irench RevoIulion is, lhal il never occurred lo him lo sludy lhe genius
of crovds. He look as his guide in lhe sludy of lhis comIicaled eriod lhe descrilive
melhod resorled lo by naluraIisls, bul lhe moraI forces are aImosl absenl in lhe case of lhe
henomena vhich naluraIisls have lo sludy. Yel il is reciseIy lhese forces lhal conslilule lhe
lrue mainsrings of hislory.
In consequence, mereIy Iooked al from ils raclicaI side, lhe sludy of lhe sychoIogy of
crovds deserved lo be allemled. Were ils inleresl lhal resuIling from ure curiosily onIy, il
vouId sliII meril allenlion. Il is as inleresling lo deciher lhe molives of lhe aclions of men as
lo delermine lhe characlerislics of a mineraI or a Ianl. Our sludy of lhe genius of crovds can
mereIy be a brief synlhesis, a simIe summary of our invesligalions. Nolhing more musl be
demanded of il lhan a fev suggeslive vievs. Olhers viII vork lhe ground more lhoroughIy.
To-day ve onIy louch lhe surface of a sliII aImosl virgin soiI.
Whal conslilules a crovd from lhe sychoIogicaI oinl of vievA numericaIIy slrong
aggIomeralion of individuaIs does nol suffice lo form a crovdSeciaI characlerislics of
sychoIogicaI crovdsThe lurning in a fixed direclion of lhe ideas and senlimenls of
individuaIs comosing such a crovd, and lhe disaearance of lheir ersonaIilyThe crovd
is aIvays dominaled by consideralions of vhich il is unconsciousThe disaearance of
brain aclivily and lhe redominance of meduIIar aclivilyThe Iovering of lhe inleIIigence
and lhe comIele lransformalion of lhe senlimenlsThe lransformed senlimenls may be
beller or vorse lhan lhose of lhe individuaIs of vhich lhe crovd is comosedA crovd is as
easiIy heroic as criminaI.
In ils ordinary sense lhe vord "crovd" means a galhering of individuaIs of vhalever
nalionaIily, rofession, or sex, and vhalever be lhe chances lhal have broughl lhem logelher.
Irom lhe sychoIogicaI oinl of viev lhe exression "crovd" assumes quile a differenl
significalion. Under cerlain given circumslances, and onIy under lhose circumslances, an
aggIomeralion of men resenls nev characlerislics very differenl from lhose of lhe
individuaIs comosing il. The senlimenls and ideas of aII lhe ersons in lhe galhering lake
one and lhe same direclion, and lheir conscious ersonaIily vanishes. A coIIeclive mind is
formed, doublIess lransilory, bul resenling very cIearIy defined characlerislics. The
galhering has lhus become vhal, in lhe absence of a beller exression, I viII caII an organised
crovd, or, if lhe lerm is considered referabIe, a sychoIogicaI crovd. Il forms a singIe being,
and is sub|ecled lo lhe LAW OI THI MINTAL UNITY OI CROWDS.
Il is evidenl lhal il is nol by lhe mere facl of a number of individuaIs finding lhemseIves
accidenlaIIy side by side lhal lhey acquire lhe characler of an organised crovd. A lhousand
individuaIs accidenlaIIy galhered in a ubIic Iace vilhoul any delermined ob|ecl in no vay
conslilule a crovd from lhe sychoIogicaI oinl of viev. To acquire lhe seciaI characlerislics
of such a crovd, lhe infIuence is necessary of cerlain redisosing causes of vhich ve shaII
have lo delermine lhe nalure.
The disaearance of conscious ersonaIily and lhe lurning of feeIings and lhoughls in a
definile direclion, vhich are lhe rimary characlerislics of a crovd aboul lo become
organised, do nol aIvays invoIve lhe simuIlaneous resence of a number of individuaIs on
one sol. Thousands of isoIaled individuaIs may acquire al cerlain momenls, and under lhe
infIuence of cerlain vioIenl emolionssuch, for examIe, as a greal nalionaI evenllhe
characlerislics of a sychoIogicaI crovd. Il viII be sufficienl in lhal case lhal a mere chance
shouId bring lhem logelher for lheir acls lo al once assume lhe characlerislics ecuIiar lo lhe
acls of a crovd. Al cerlain momenls haIf a dozen men mighl conslilule a sychoIogicaI
crovd, vhich may nol haen in lhe case of hundreds of men galhered logelher by accidenl.
On lhe olher hand, an enlire nalion, lhough lhere may be no visibIe aggIomeralion, may
become a crovd under lhe aclion of cerlain infIuences.
A sychoIogicaI crovd once consliluled, il acquires cerlain rovisionaI bul delerminabIe
generaI characlerislics. To lhese generaI characlerislics lhere are ad|oined arlicuIar
characlerislics vhich vary according lo lhe eIemenls of vhich lhe crovd is comosed, and
may modify ils menlaI conslilulion. IsychoIogicaI crovds, lhen, are suscelibIe of
cIassificalion, and vhen ve come lo occuy ourseIves vilh lhis maller, ve shaII see lhal a
helerogeneous crovdlhal is, a crovd comosed of dissimiIar eIemenlsresenls cerlain
characlerislics in common vilh homogeneous crovdslhal is, vilh crovds comosed of
eIemenls more or Iess akin (secls, casles, and cIasses)and side by side vilh lhese common
characlerislics arlicuIarilies vhich ermil of lhe lvo kinds of crovds being differenlialed.
ul before occuying ourseIves vilh lhe differenl calegories of crovds, ve musl firsl of aII
examine lhe characlerislics common lo lhem aII. We shaII sel lo vork Iike lhe naluraIisl, vho
begins by describing lhe generaI characlerislics common lo aII lhe members of a famiIy before
concerning himseIf vilh lhe arlicuIar characlerislics vhich aIIov lhe differenlialion of lhe
genera and secies lhal lhe famiIy incIudes.
Il is nol easy lo describe lhe mind of crovds vilh exaclness, because ils organisalion varies
nol onIy according lo race and comosilion, bul aIso according lo lhe nalure and inlensily of
lhe exciling causes lo vhich crovds are sub|ecled. The same difficuIly, hovever, resenls
ilseIf in lhe sychoIogicaI sludy of an individuaI. Il is onIy in noveIs lhal individuaIs are
found lo lraverse lheir vhoIe Iife vilh an unvarying characler. Il is onIy lhe uniformily of lhe
environmenl lhal creales lhe aarenl uniformily of characlers. I have shovn eIsevhere lhal
aII menlaI conslilulions conlain ossibiIilies of characler vhich may be manifesled in
consequence of a sudden change of environmenl. This exIains hov il vas lhal among lhe
mosl savage members of lhe Irench Convenlion vere lo be found inoffensive cilizens vho,
under ordinary circumslances, vouId have been eaceabIe nolaries or virluous magislrales.
The slorm asl, lhey resumed lheir normaI characler of quiel, Iav-abiding cilizens. NaoIeon
found amongsl lhem his mosl dociIe servanls.
Il being imossibIe lo sludy here aII lhe successive degrees of organisalion of crovds, ve
shaII concern ourseIves more eseciaIIy vilh such crovds as have allained lo lhe hase of
comIele organisalion. In lhis vay ve shaII see vhal crovds may become, bul nol vhal lhey
invariabIy are. Il is onIy in lhis advanced hase of organisalion lhal cerlain nev and seciaI
characlerislics are suerosed on lhe unvarying and dominanl characler of lhe race, lhen
lakes Iace lhal lurning aIready aIIuded lo of aII lhe feeIings and lhoughls of lhe coIIeclivily
in an idenlicaI direclion. Il is onIy under such circumslances, loo, lhal vhal I have caIIed
Among lhe sychoIogicaI characlerislics of crovds lhere are some lhal lhey may resenl in
common vilh isoIaled individuaIs, and olhers, on lhe conlrary, vhich are absoIuleIy ecuIiar
lo lhem and are onIy lo be mel vilh in coIIeclivilies. Il is lhese seciaI characlerislics lhal ve
shaII sludy, firsl of aII, in order lo shov lheir imorlance.
The mosl slriking ecuIiarily resenled by a sychoIogicaI crovd is lhe foIIoving: Whoever
be lhe individuaIs lhal comose il, hovever Iike or unIike be lheir mode of Iife, lheir
occualions, lheir characler, or lheir inleIIigence, lhe facl lhal lhey have been lransformed
inlo a crovd uls lhem in ossession of a sorl of coIIeclive mind vhich makes lhem feeI,
lhink, and acl in a manner quile differenl from lhal in vhich each individuaI of lhem vouId
feeI, lhink, and acl vere he in a slale of isoIalion. There are cerlain ideas and feeIings vhich
do nol come inlo being, or do nol lransform lhemseIves inlo acls excel in lhe case of
individuaIs forming a crovd. The sychoIogicaI crovd is a rovisionaI being formed of
helerogeneous eIemenls, vhich for a momenl are combined, exaclIy as lhe ceIIs vhich
conslilule a Iiving body form by lheir reunion a nev being vhich disIays characlerislics very
differenl from lhose ossessed by each of lhe ceIIs singIy.
Conlrary lo an oinion vhich one is aslonished lo find coming from lhe en of so acule a
hiIosoher as Herberl Sencer, in lhe aggregale vhich conslilules a crovd lhere is in no sorl
a summing-u of or an average slruck belveen ils eIemenls. Whal reaIIy lakes Iace is a
combinalion foIIoved by lhe crealion of nev characlerislics, |usl as in chemislry cerlain
eIemenls, vhen broughl inlo conlaclbases and acids, for examIecombine lo form a nev
body ossessing roerlies quile differenl from lhose of lhe bodies lhal have served lo form
Il is easy lo rove hov much lhe individuaI forming arl of a crovd differs from lhe isoIaled
individuaI, bul il is Iess easy lo discover lhe causes of lhis difference.
To oblain al any rale a gIimse of lhem il is necessary in lhe firsl Iace lo caII lo mind lhe
lrulh eslabIished by modern sychoIogy, lhal unconscious henomena Iay an aIlogelher
reonderaling arl nol onIy in organic Iife, bul aIso in lhe oeralions of lhe inleIIigence. The
conscious Iife of lhe mind is of smaII imorlance in comarison vilh ils unconscious Iife. The
mosl sublIe anaIysl, lhe mosl acule observer, is scarceIy successfuI in discovering more lhan a
very smaII number of lhe unconscious molives lhal delermine his conducl. Our conscious acls
are lhe oulcome of an unconscious subslralum crealed in lhe mind in lhe main by heredilary
infIuences. This subslralum consisls of lhe innumerabIe common characlerislics handed
dovn from generalion lo generalion, vhich conslilule lhe genius of a race. ehind lhe
avoved causes of our acls lhere undoubledIy Iie secrel causes lhal ve do nol avov, bul
behind lhese secrel causes lhere are many olhers more secrel sliII vhich ve ourseIves ignore.
The grealer arl of our daiIy aclions are lhe resuIl of hidden molives vhich escae our
Il is more eseciaIIy vilh resecl lo lhose unconscious eIemenls vhich conslilule lhe genius
of a race lhal aII lhe individuaIs beIonging lo il resembIe each olher, vhiIe il is rinciaIIy in
resecl lo lhe conscious eIemenls of lheir characlerlhe fruil of educalion, and yel more of
excelionaI heredilary condilionslhal lhey differ from each olher. Men lhe mosl unIike in
lhe maller of lheir inleIIigence ossess inslincls, assions, and feeIings lhal are very simiIar. In
lhe case of every lhing lhal beIongs lo lhe reaIm of senlimenlreIigion, oIilics, moraIily, lhe
affeclions and anlialhies, &c.lhe mosl eminenl men seIdom surass lhe slandard of lhe
mosl ordinary individuaIs. Irom lhe inleIIecluaI oinl of viev an abyss may exisl belveen a
greal malhemalician and his bool maker, bul from lhe oinl of viev of characler lhe
difference is mosl oflen sIighl or non-exislenl.
Il is reciseIy lhese generaI quaIilies of characler, governed by forces of vhich ve are
unconscious, and ossessed by lhe ma|orily of lhe normaI individuaIs of a race in much lhe
same degreeil is reciseIy lhese quaIilies, I say, lhal in crovds become common roerly. In
lhe coIIeclive mind lhe inleIIecluaI aliludes of lhe individuaIs, and in consequence lheir
individuaIily, are veakened. The helerogeneous is svamed by lhe homogeneous, and lhe
unconscious quaIilies oblain lhe uer hand.
This very facl lhal crovds ossess in common ordinary quaIilies exIains vhy lhey can never
accomIish acls demanding a high degree of inleIIigence. The decisions affecling mallers of
generaI inleresl come lo by an assembIy of men of dislinclion, bul seciaIisls in differenl
vaIks of Iife, are nol sensibIy suerior lo lhe decisions lhal vouId be adoled by a galhering
of imbeciIes. The lrulh is, lhey can onIy bring lo bear in common on lhe vork in hand lhose
mediocre quaIilies vhich are lhe birlhrighl of every average individuaI. In crovds il is
sluidily and nol molher-vil lhal is accumuIaled. Il is nol aII lhe vorId, as is so oflen
reealed, lhal has more vil lhan VoIlaire, bul assuredIy VoIlaire lhal has more vil lhan aII lhe
vorId, if by "aII lhe vorId" crovds are lo be underslood.
If lhe individuaIs of a crovd confined lhemseIves lo ulling in common lhe ordinary
quaIilies of vhich each of lhem has his share, lhere vouId mereIy resuIl lhe slriking of an
average, and nol, as ve have said is acluaIIy lhe case, lhe crealion of nev characlerislics. Hov
is il lhal lhese nev characlerislics are crealed` This is vhal ve are nov lo invesligale.
Differenl causes delermine lhe aearance of lhese characlerislics ecuIiar lo crovds, and nol
ossessed by isoIaled individuaIs. The firsl is lhal lhe individuaI forming arl of a crovd
acquires, soIeIy from numericaI consideralions, a senlimenl of invincibIe over vhich aIIovs
him lo yieId lo inslincls vhich, had he been aIone, he vouId erforce have kel under
reslrainl. He viII be lhe Iess disosed lo check himseIf from lhe consideralion lhal, a crovd
being anonymous, and in consequence irresonsibIe, lhe senlimenl of resonsibiIily vhich
aIvays conlroIs individuaIs disaears enlireIy.
The second cause, vhich is conlagion, aIso inlervenes lo delermine lhe manifeslalion in
crovds of lheir seciaI characlerislics, and al lhe same lime lhe lrend lhey are lo lake.
Conlagion is a henomenon of vhich il is easy lo eslabIish lhe resence, bul lhal il is nol easy
lo exIain. Il musl be cIassed among lhose henomena of a hynolic order, vhich ve shaII
shorlIy sludy. In a crovd every senlimenl and acl is conlagious, and conlagious lo such a
degree lhal an individuaI readiIy sacrifices his ersonaI inleresl lo lhe coIIeclive inleresl. This
is an alilude very conlrary lo his nalure, and of vhich a man is scarceIy caabIe, excel
vhen he makes arl of a crovd.
A lhird cause, and by far lhe mosl imorlanl, delermines in lhe individuaIs of a crovd seciaI
characlerislics vhich are quile conlrary al limes lo lhose resenled by lhe isoIaled individuaI.
I aIIude lo lhal suggeslibiIily of vhich, moreover, lhe conlagion menlioned above is neilher
more nor Iess lhan an effecl.
To undersland lhis henomenon il is necessary lo bear in mind cerlain recenl hysioIogicaI
discoveries. We knov lo-day lhal by various rocesses an individuaI may be broughl inlo
such a condilion lhal, having enlireIy Iosl his conscious ersonaIily, he obeys aII lhe
suggeslions of lhe oeralor vho has derived him of il, and commils acls in uller
conlradiclion vilh his characler and habils. The mosl carefuI observalions seem lo rove lhal
an individuaI immerged for some Ienglh of lime in a crovd in aclion soon finds himseIf
eilher in consequence of lhe magnelic infIuence given oul by lhe crovd, or from some olher
cause of vhich ve are ignoranlin a seciaI slale, vhich much resembIes lhe slale of
fascinalion in vhich lhe hynolised individuaI finds himseIf in lhe hands of lhe hynoliser.
The aclivily of lhe brain being araIysed in lhe case of lhe hynolised sub|ecl, lhe Ialler
becomes lhe sIave of aII lhe unconscious aclivilies of his sinaI cord, vhich lhe hynoliser
direcls al viII. The conscious ersonaIily has enlireIy vanished, viII and discernmenl are Iosl.
AII feeIings and lhoughls are benl in lhe direclion delermined by lhe hynoliser.
Such aIso is aroximaleIy lhe slale of lhe individuaI forming arl of a sychoIogicaI crovd.
He is no Ionger conscious of his acls. In his case, as in lhe case of lhe hynolised sub|ecl, al
lhe same lime lhal cerlain facuIlies are deslroyed, olhers may be broughl lo a high degree of
exaIlalion. Under lhe infIuence of a suggeslion, he viII underlake lhe accomIishmenl of
cerlain acls vilh irresislibIe imeluosily. This imeluosily is lhe more irresislibIe in lhe case
of crovds lhan in lhal of lhe hynolised sub|ecl, from lhe facl lhal, lhe suggeslion being lhe
same for aII lhe individuaIs of lhe crovd, il gains in slrenglh by recirocily. The
individuaIilies in lhe crovd vho mighl ossess a ersonaIily sufficienlIy slrong lo resisl lhe
suggeslion are loo fev in number lo slruggIe againsl lhe currenl. Al lhe ulmosl, lhey may be
abIe lo alleml a diversion by means of differenl suggeslions. Il is in lhis vay, for inslance,
lhal a hay exression, an image oorluneIy evoked, have occasionaIIy delerred crovds
from lhe mosl bIoodlhirsly acls.
We see, lhen, lhal lhe disaearance of lhe conscious ersonaIily, lhe redominance of lhe
unconscious ersonaIily, lhe lurning by means of suggeslion and conlagion of feeIings and
ideas in an idenlicaI direclion, lhe lendency lo immedialeIy lransform lhe suggesled ideas
inlo acls, lhese, ve see, are lhe rinciaI characlerislics of lhe individuaI forming arl of a
crovd. He is no Ionger himseIf, bul has become an aulomalon vho has ceased lo be guided
by his viII.
Moreover, by lhe mere facl lhal he forms arl of an organised crovd, a man descends severaI
rungs in lhe Iadder of civiIisalion. IsoIaled, he may be a cuIlivaled individuaI, in a crovd, he
is a barbarianlhal is, a crealure acling by inslincl. He ossesses lhe sonlaneily, lhe
vioIence, lhe ferocily, and aIso lhe enlhusiasm and heroism of rimilive beings, vhom he
furlher lends lo resembIe by lhe faciIily vilh vhich he aIIovs himseIf lo be imressed by
vords and imagesvhich vouId be enlireIy vilhoul aclion on each of lhe isoIaled
individuaIs comosing lhe crovdand lo be induced lo commil acls conlrary lo his mosl
obvious inleresls and his besl-knovn habils. An individuaI in a crovd is a grain of sand amid
olher grains of sand, vhich lhe vind slirs u al viII.
Il is for lhese reasons lhal |uries are seen lo deIiver verdicls of vhich each individuaI |uror
vouId disarove, lhal arIiamenlary assembIies adol Iavs and measures of vhich each of
lheir members vouId disarove in his ovn erson. Taken searaleIy, lhe men of lhe
Convenlion vere enIighlened cilizens of eacefuI habils. Uniled in a crovd, lhey did nol
hesilale lo give lheir adhesion lo lhe mosl savage roosaIs, lo guiIIoline individuaIs mosl
cIearIy innocenl, and, conlrary lo lheir inleresls, lo renounce lheir invioIabiIily and lo
decimale lhemseIves.
Il is nol onIy by his acls lhal lhe individuaI in a crovd differs essenliaIIy from himseIf. Iven
before he has enlireIy Iosl his indeendence, his ideas and feeIings have undergone a
lransformalion, and lhe lransformalion is so rofound as lo change lhe miser inlo a
sendlhrifl, lhe scelic inlo a beIiever, lhe honesl man inlo a criminaI, and lhe covard inlo a
hero. The renuncialion of aII ils riviIeges vhich lhe nobiIily voled in a momenl of
enlhusiasm during lhe ceIebraled nighl of Augusl 4, 1789, vouId cerlainIy never have been
consenled lo by any of ils members laken singIy.
The concIusion lo be dravn from vhal recedes is, lhal lhe crovd is aIvays inleIIecluaIIy
inferior lo lhe isoIaled individuaI, bul lhal, from lhe oinl of viev of feeIings and of lhe acls
lhese feeIings rovoke, lhe crovd may, according lo circumslances, he beller or vorse lhan
lhe individuaI. AII deends on lhe nalure of lhe suggeslion lo vhich lhe crovd is exosed.
This is lhe oinl lhal has been comIeleIy misunderslood by vrilers vho have onIy sludied
crovds from lhe criminaI oinl of viev. DoublIess a crovd is oflen criminaI, bul aIso il is
oflen heroic. Il is crovds ralher lhan isoIaled individuaIs lhal may be induced lo run lhe risk
of dealh lo secure lhe lriumh of a creed or an idea, lhal may be fired vilh enlhusiasm for
gIory and honour, lhal are Ied onaImosl vilhoul bread and vilhoul arms, as in lhe age of
lhe Crusadeslo deIiver lhe lomb of Chrisl from lhe infideI, or, as in '93, lo defend lhe
falherIand. Such heroism is vilhoul doubl somevhal unconscious, bul il is of such heroism
lhal hislory is made. Were eoIes onIy lo be crediled vilh lhe greal aclions erformed in
coId bIood, lhe annaIs of lhe vorId vouId regisler bul fev of lhem.
mercy of aII exlerior exciling causes, and refIecls lheir incessanl varialionsThe imuIses
vhich lhe crovd obeys are so imerious as lo annihiIale lhe feeIing of ersonaI inleresl
Iremedilalion is absenl from crovdsRaciaI infIuence. 2. CROWDS ARI CRIDULOUS
AND RIADILY INILUINCID Y SUGGISTION. The obedience of crovds lo suggeslions
The images evoked in lhe mind of crovds are acceled by lhem as reaIiliesWhy lhese
images are idenlicaI for aII lhe individuaIs comosing a crovdThe equaIily of lhe educaled
and lhe ignoranl man in a crovdVarious examIes of lhe iIIusions lo vhich lhe individuaIs
in a crovd are sub|eclThe imossibiIily of according beIief lo lhe leslimony of crovdsThe
unanimily of numerous vilnesses is one of lhe vorsl roofs lhal can be invoked lo eslabIish a
faclThe sIighl vaIue of vorks of hislory. 3. THI IXAGGIRATION AND
uncerlainly, and aIvays go lo exlremesTheir senlimenls aIvays excessive. 4. THI
lhese senlimenlsThe serviIily of crovds in lhe face of a slrong aulhorilyThe momenlary
revoIulionary inslincls of crovds do nol revenl lhem from being exlremeIy conservalive
Crovds inslincliveIy hosliIe lo changes and rogress. 5. THI MORALITY OI CROWDS. The
moraIily of crovds, according lo lhe suggeslions under vhich lhey acl, may be much Iover
or much higher lhan lhal of lhe individuaIs comosing lhemIxIanalion and examIes
Crovds rareIy guided by lhose consideralions of inleresl vhich are mosl oflen lhe excIusive
molives of lhe isoIaled individuaIThe moraIising roIe of crovds.
Having indicaled in a generaI vay lhe rinciaI characlerislics of crovds, il remains lo sludy
lhese characlerislics in delaiI.
Il viII be remarked lhal among lhe seciaI characlerislics of crovds lhere are severaIsuch as
imuIsiveness, irrilabiIily, incaacily lo reason, lhe absence of |udgmenl and of lhe crilicaI
siril, lhe exaggeralion of lhe senlimenls, and olhers besidesvhich are aImosl aIvays
observed in beings beIonging lo inferior forms of evoIulionin vomen, savages, and
chiIdren, for inslance. Hovever, I mereIy indicale lhis anaIogy in assing, ils demonslralion is
oulside lhe scoe of lhis vork. Il vouId, moreover, be useIess for ersons acquainled vilh lhe
sychoIogy of rimilive beings, and vouId scarceIy carry conviclion lo lhose in ignorance of
lhis maller.
I nov roceed lo lhe successive consideralion of lhe differenl characlerislics lhal may be
observed in lhe ma|orily of crovds.
When sludying lhe fundamenlaI characlerislics of a crovd ve slaled lhal il is guided aImosl
excIusiveIy by unconscious molives. Ils acls are far more under lhe infIuence of lhe sinaI
cord lhan of lhe brain. In lhis resecl a crovd is cIoseIy akin lo quile rimilive beings. The
acls erformed may be erfecl so far as lheir execulion is concerned, bul as lhey are nol
direcled by lhe brain, lhe individuaI conducls himseIf according as lhe exciling causes lo
vhich he is submilled may haen lo decide. A crovd is al lhe mercy of aII exlernaI exciling
causes, and refIecls lheir incessanl varialions. Il is lhe sIave of lhe imuIses vhich il receives.
The isoIaled individuaI may be submilled lo lhe same exciling causes as lhe man in a crovd,
bul as his brain shovs him lhe inadvisabiIily of yieIding lo lhem, he refrains from yieIding.
This lrulh may be hysioIogicaIIy exressed by saying lhal lhe isoIaled individuaI ossesses
lhe caacily of dominaling his refIex aclions, vhiIe a crovd is devoid of lhis caacily.
The varying imuIses lo vhich crovds obey may be, according lo lheir exciling causes,
generous or crueI, heroic or covardIy, bul lhey viII aIvays be so imerious lhal lhe inleresl of
lhe individuaI, even lhe inleresl of seIf-reservalion, viII nol dominale lhem. The exciling
causes lhal may acl on crovds being so varied, and crovds aIvays obeying lhem, crovds are
in consequence exlremeIy mobiIe. This exIains hov il is lhal ve see lhem ass in a momenl
from lhe mosl bIoodlhirsly ferocily lo lhe mosl exlreme generosily and heroism. A crovd
may easiIy enacl lhe arl of an execulioner, bul nol Iess easiIy lhal of a marlyr. Il is crovds
lhal have furnished lhe lorrenls of bIood requisile for lhe lriumh of every beIief. Il is nol
necessary lo go back lo lhe heroic ages lo see vhal crovds are caabIe of in lhis Ialler
direclion. They are never saring of lheir Iife in an insurreclion, and nol Iong since a generaI,
|2j becoming suddenIy ouIar, mighl easiIy have found a hundred lhousand men ready lo
sacrifice lheir Iives for his cause had he demanded il.
|2j GeneraI ouIanger.
Any disIay of remedilalion by crovds is in consequence oul of lhe queslion. They may be
animaled in succession by lhe mosl conlrary senlimenls, bul lhey viII aIvays be under lhe
infIuence of lhe exciling causes of lhe momenl. They are Iike lhe Ieaves vhich a lemesl
vhirIs u and scallers in every direclion and lhen aIIovs lo faII. When sludying Ialer on
cerlain revoIulionary crovds ve shaII give some examIes of lhe variabiIily of lheir
This mobiIily of crovds renders lhem very difficuIl lo govern, eseciaIIy vhen a measure of
ubIic aulhorily has faIIen inlo lheir hands. Did nol lhe necessilies of everyday Iife conslilule
a sorl of invisibIe reguIalor of exislence, il vouId scarceIy be ossibIe for democracies lo Iasl.
SliII, lhough lhe vishes of crovds are frenzied lhey are nol durabIe. Crovds are as incaabIe
of viIIing as of lhinking for any Ienglh of lime.
A crovd is nol mereIy imuIsive and mobiIe. Like a savage, il is nol reared lo admil lhal
anylhing can come belveen ils desire and lhe reaIisalion of ils desire. Il is lhe Iess caabIe of
underslanding such an inlervenlion, in consequence of lhe feeIing of irresislibIe over given
il by ils numericaI slrenglh. The nolion of imossibiIily disaears for lhe individuaI in a
crovd. An isoIaled individuaI knovs veII enough lhal aIone he cannol sel fire lo a aIace or
Iool a sho, and shouId he be lemled lo do so, he viII easiIy resisl lhe lemlalion. Making
arl of a crovd, he is conscious of lhe over given him by number, and il is sufficienl lo
suggesl lo him ideas of murder or iIIage for him lo yieId immedialeIy lo lemlalion. An
unexecled obslacIe viII be deslroyed vilh frenzied rage. Did lhe human organism aIIov of
lhe ereluily of furious assion, il mighl be said lhal lhe normaI condilion of a crovd
bauIked in ils vishes is |usl such a slale of furious assion.
The fundamenlaI characlerislics of lhe race, vhich conslilule lhe unvarying source from
vhich aII our senlimenls sring, aIvays exerl an infIuence on lhe irrilabiIily of crovds, lheir
imuIsiveness and lheir mobiIily, as on aII lhe ouIar senlimenls ve shaII have lo sludy. AII
crovds are doublIess aIvays irrilabIe and imuIsive, bul vilh greal varialions of degree. Ior
inslance, lhe difference belveen a Lalin and an AngIo-Saxon crovd is slriking. The mosl
recenl facls in Irench hislory lhrov a vivid Iighl on lhis oinl. The mere ubIicalion, lvenly-
five years ago, of a leIegram, reIaling an insuIl suosed lo have been offered an ambassador,
vas sufficienl lo delermine an exIosion of fury, vhence foIIoved immedialeIy a lerribIe var.
Some years Ialer lhe leIegrahic announcemenl of an insignificanl reverse al Langson
rovoked a fresh exIosion vhich broughl aboul lhe inslanlaneous overlhrov of lhe
governmenl. Al lhe same momenl a much more serious reverse undergone by lhe IngIish
exedilion lo Kharloum roduced onIy a sIighl emolion in IngIand, and no minislry vas
overlurned. Crovds are everyvhere dislinguished by feminine characlerislics, bul Lalin
crovds are lhe mosl feminine of aII. Whoever lrusls in lhem may raidIy allain a Iofly
desliny, bul lo do so is lo be ereluaIIy skirling lhe brink of a Tareian rock, vilh lhe
cerlainly of one day being reciilaled from il.
When defining crovds, ve said lhal one of lheir generaI characlerislics vas an excessive
suggeslibiIily, and ve have shovn lo vhal an exlenl suggeslions are conlagious in every
human aggIomeralion, a facl vhich exIains lhe raid lurning of lhe senlimenls of a crovd in
a definile direclion. Hovever indifferenl il may be suosed, a crovd, as a ruIe, is in a slale
of execlanl allenlion, vhich renders suggeslion easy. The firsl suggeslion formuIaled vhich
arises imIanls ilseIf immedialeIy by a rocess of conlagion in lhe brains of aII assembIed,
and lhe idenlicaI benl of lhe senlimenls of lhe crovd is immedialeIy an accomIished facl.
As is lhe case vilh aII ersons under lhe infIuence of suggeslion, lhe idea vhich has enlered
lhe brain lends lo lransform ilseIf inlo an acl. Whelher lhe acl is lhal of selling fire lo a aIace,
or invoIves seIf-sacrifice, a crovd Iends ilseIf lo il vilh equaI faciIily. AII viII deend on lhe
nalure of lhe exciling cause, and no Ionger, as in lhe case of lhe isoIaled individuaI, on lhe
reIalions exisling belveen lhe acl suggesled and lhe sum lolaI of lhe reasons vhich may be
urged againsl ils reaIisalion.
In consequence, a crovd ereluaIIy hovering on lhe borderIand of unconsciousness, readiIy
yieIding lo aII suggeslions, having aII lhe vioIence of feeIing ecuIiar lo beings vho cannol
aeaI lo lhe infIuence of reason, derived of aII crilicaI facuIly, cannol be olhervise lhan
excessiveIy creduIous. The imrobabIe does nol exisl for a crovd, and il is necessary lo bear
lhis circumslance veII in mind lo undersland lhe faciIily vilh vhich are crealed and
roagaled lhe mosl imrobabIe Iegends and slories.|3j
|3j Iersons vho venl lhrough lhe siege of Iaris sav numerous examIes of lhis creduIily of
crovds. A candIe aIighl in an uer slory vas immedialeIy Iooked uon as a signaI given lhe
besiegers, aIlhough il vas evidenl, afler a momenl of refIeclion, lhal il vas ullerIy imossibIe
lo calch sighl of lhe Iighl of lhe candIe al a dislance of severaI miIes.
The crealion of lhe Iegends vhich so easiIy oblain circuIalion in crovds is nol soIeIy lhe
consequence of lheir exlreme creduIily. Il is aIso lhe resuIl of lhe rodigious erversions lhal
evenls undergo in lhe imaginalion of a lhrong. The simIesl evenl lhal comes under lhe
observalion of a crovd is soon lolaIIy lransformed. A crovd lhinks in images, and lhe image
ilseIf immedialeIy caIIs u a series of olher images, having no IogicaI conneclion vilh lhe
firsl. We can easiIy conceive lhis slale by lhinking of lhe fanlaslic succession of ideas lo vhich
ve are somelimes Ied by caIIing u in our minds any facl. Our reason shovs us lhe
incoherence lhere is in lhese images, bul a crovd is aImosl bIind lo lhis lrulh, and confuses
vilh lhe reaI evenl vhal lhe deforming aclion of ils imaginalion has suerimosed lhereon. A
crovd scarceIy dislinguishes belveen lhe sub|eclive and lhe ob|eclive. Il accels as reaI lhe
images evoked in ils mind, lhough lhey mosl oflen have onIy a very dislanl reIalion vilh lhe
observed facl.
The vays in vhich a crovd erverls any evenl of vhich il is a vilness oughl, il vouId seem,
lo be innumerabIe and unIike each olher, since lhe individuaIs comosing lhe galhering are of
very differenl lemeramenls. ul lhis is nol lhe case. As lhe resuIl of conlagion lhe
erversions are of lhe same kind, and lake lhe same shae in lhe case of aII lhe assembIed
The firsl erversion of lhe lrulh effecled by one of lhe individuaIs of lhe galhering is lhe
slarling-oinl of lhe conlagious suggeslion. efore Sl. George aeared on lhe vaIIs of
}erusaIem lo aII lhe Crusaders he vas cerlainIy erceived in lhe firsl inslance by one of lhose
resenl. y dinl of suggeslion and conlagion lhe miracIe signaIised by a singIe erson vas
immedialeIy acceled by aII.
Such is aIvays lhe mechanism of lhe coIIeclive haIIucinalions so frequenl in hislory
haIIucinalions vhich seem lo have aII lhe recognised characlerislics of aulhenlicily, since lhey
are henomena observed by lhousands of ersons.
To combal vhal recedes, lhe menlaI quaIily of lhe individuaIs comosing a crovd musl nol
be broughl inlo consideralion. This quaIily is vilhoul imorlance. Irom lhe momenl lhal
lhey form arl of a crovd lhe Iearned man and lhe ignoramus are equaIIy incaabIe of
This lhesis may seem aradoxicaI. To demonslrale il beyond doubl il vouId be necessary lo
invesligale a greal number of hisloricaI facls, and severaI voIumes vouId be insufficienl for
lhe urose.
SliII, as I do nol vish lo Ieave lhe reader under lhe imression of unroved asserlions, I shaII
give him some examIes laken al hazard from lhe immense number of lhose lhal mighl be
The foIIoving facl is one of lhe mosl lyicaI, because chosen from among coIIeclive
haIIucinalions of vhich a crovd is lhe viclim, in vhich are lo be found individuaIs of every
kind, from lhe mosl ignoranl lo lhe mosl highIy educaled. Il is reIaled incidenlaIIy by }uIian
IeIix, a navaI Iieulenanl, in his book on "Sea Currenls," and has been reviousIy ciled by lhe
Revue Scienlifique.
The frigale, lhe eIIe IouIe, vas cruising in lhe oen sea for lhe urose of finding lhe cruiser
Le erceau, from vhich she had been searaled by a vioIenl slorm. Il vas broad dayIighl and
in fuII sunshine. SuddenIy lhe valch signaIIed a disabIed vesseI, lhe crev Iooked in lhe
direclion signaIIed, and every one, officers and saiIors, cIearIy erceived a rafl covered vilh
men loved by boals vhich vere disIaying signaIs of dislress. Yel lhis vas nolhing more
lhan a coIIeclive haIIucinalion. AdmiraI Desfosses Iovered a boal lo go lo lhe rescue of lhe
vrecked saiIors. On nearing lhe ob|ecl sighled, lhe saiIors and officers on board lhe boal sav
"masses of men in molion, slrelching oul lheir hands, and heard lhe duII and confused noise
of a greal number of voices." When lhe ob|ecl vas reached lhose in lhe boal found lhemseIves
simIy and soIeIy in lhe resence of a fev branches of lrees covered vilh Ieaves lhal had been
svel oul from lhe neighbouring coasl. efore evidence so aIabIe lhe haIIucinalion
The mechanism of a coIIeclive haIIucinalion of lhe kind ve have exIained is cIearIy seen al
vork in lhis examIe. On lhe one hand ve have a crovd in a slale of execlanl allenlion, on
lhe olher a suggeslion made by lhe valch signaIIing a disabIed vesseI al sea, a suggeslion
vhich, by a rocess of conlagion, vas acceled by aII lhose resenl, bolh officers and saiIors.
Il is nol necessary lhal a crovd shouId be numerous for lhe facuIly of seeing vhal is laking
Iace before ils eyes lo be deslroyed and for lhe reaI facls lo be reIaced by haIIucinalions
unreIaled lo lhem. As soon as a fev individuaIs are galhered logelher lhey conslilule a
crovd, and, lhough lhey shouId be dislinguished men of Iearning, lhey assume aII lhe
characlerislics of crovds vilh regard lo mallers oulside lheir seciaIily. The facuIly of
observalion and lhe crilicaI siril ossessed by each of lhem individuaIIy al once disaears.
An ingenious sychoIogisl, Mr. Davey, suIies us vilh a very curious examIe in oinl,
recenlIy ciled in lhe AnnaIes des Sciences Isychiques, and deserving of reIalion here. Mr.
Davey, having convoked a galhering of dislinguished observers, among lhem one of lhe mosl
rominenl of IngIish scienlific men, Mr. WaIIace, execuled in lheir resence, and afler having
aIIoved lhem lo examine lhe ob|ecls and lo Iace seaIs vhere lhey vished, aII lhe reguIalion
siriluaIislic henomena, lhe maleriaIisalion of sirils, vriling on sIales, &c. Having
subsequenlIy oblained from lhese dislinguished observers vrillen reorls admilling lhal lhe
henomena observed couId onIy have been oblained by suernaluraI means, he reveaIed lo
lhem lhal lhey vere lhe resuIl of very simIe lricks. "The mosl aslonishing fealure of
Monsieur Davey's invesligalion," vriles lhe aulhor of lhis accounl, "is nol lhe marveIIousness
of lhe lricks lhemseIves, bul lhe exlreme veakness of lhe reorls made vilh resecl lo lhem
by lhe noninilialed vilnesses. Il is cIear, lhen," he says, "lhal vilnesses even in number may
give circumslanliaI reIalions vhich are comIeleIy erroneous, bul vhose resuIl is THAT, II
THIIR DISCRIITIONS ARI ACCIITID AS IXACT, lhe henomena lhey describe are
inexIicabIe by lrickery. The melhods invenled by Mr. Davey vere so simIe lhal one is
aslonished lhal he shouId have had lhe boIdness lo emIoy lhem, bul he had such a over
over lhe mind of lhe crovd lhal he couId ersuade il lhal il sav vhal il did nol see." Here, as
aIvays, ve have lhe over of lhe hynoliser over lhe hynolised. Moreover, vhen lhis
over is seen in aclion on minds of a suerior order and reviousIy inviled lo be susicious,
il is underslandabIe hov easy il is lo deceive ordinary crovds.
AnaIogous examIes are innumerabIe. As I vrile lhese Iines lhe aers are fuII of lhe slory of
lvo IillIe girIs found drovned in lhe Seine. These chiIdren, lo begin vilh, vere recognised in
lhe mosl unmislakabIe manner by haIf a dozen vilnesses. AII lhe affirmalions vere in such
enlire concordance lhal no doubl remained in lhe mind of lhe |uge d'inslruclion. He had lhe
cerlificale of dealh dravn u, bul |usl as lhe buriaI of lhe chiIdren vas lo have been
roceeded vilh, a mere chance broughl aboul lhe discovery lhal lhe suosed viclims vere
aIive, and had, moreover, bul a remole resembIance lo lhe drovned girIs. As in severaI of lhe
examIes reviousIy ciled, lhe affirmalion of lhe firsl vilness, himseIf a viclim of iIIusion,
had sufficed lo infIuence lhe olher vilnesses.
In araIIeI cases lhe slarling-oinl of lhe suggeslion is aIvays lhe iIIusion roduced in an
individuaI by more or Iess vague reminiscences, conlagion foIIoving as lhe resuIl of lhe
affirmalion of lhis iniliaI iIIusion. If lhe firsl observer be very imressionabIe, il viII oflen be
sufficienl lhal lhe corse he beIieves he recognises shouId resenl aarl from aII reaI
resembIancesome ecuIiarily, a scar, or some delaiI of loiIel vhich may evoke lhe idea of
anolher erson. The idea evoked may lhen become lhe nucIeus of a sorl of cryslaIIisalion
vhich invades lhe underslanding and araIyses aII crilicaI facuIly. Whal lhe observer lhen
sees is no Ionger lhe ob|ecl ilseIf, bul lhe image evoked in his mind. In lhis vay are lo be
exIained erroneous recognilions of lhe dead bodies of chiIdren by lheir ovn molher, as
occurred in lhe foIIoving case, aIready oId, bul vhich has been recenlIy recaIIed by lhe
nevsaers. In il are lo be lraced reciseIy lhe lvo kinds of suggeslion of vhich I have |usl
oinled oul lhe mechanism.
"The chiId vas recognised by anolher chiId, vho vas mislaken.
The series of unvarranled recognilions lhen began.
"An exlraordinary lhing occurred. The day afler a schooIboy had recognised lhe corse a
voman excIaimed, `Good Heavens, il is my chiId!'
"She vas laken u lo lhe corse, she examined lhe cIolhing, and noled a scar on lhe forehead.
`Il is cerlainIy,' she said, `my son vho disaeared Iasl }uIy. He has been sloIen from me and
"The voman vas concierge in lhe Rue du Iour, her name vas Chavandrel. Her brolher-in-
Iav vas summoned, and vhen queslioned he said, `Thal is lhe IillIe IiIiberl.' SeveraI ersons
Iiving in lhe slreel recognised lhe chiId found al La ViIIelle as IiIiberl Chavandrel, among
lhem being lhe boy's schooImasler, vho based his oinion on a medaI vorn by lhe Iad.
"NeverlheIess, lhe neighbours, lhe brolher-in-Iav, lhe schooImasler, and lhe molher vere
mislaken. Six veeks Ialer lhe idenlily of lhe chiId vas eslabIished. The boy, beIonging lo
ordeaux, had been murdered lhere and broughl by a carrying comany lo Iaris."|4j
|4j L'IcIair, AriI 21, 1895.
Il viII be remarked lhal lhese recognilions are mosl oflen made by vomen and chiIdrenlhal
is lo say, by reciseIy lhe mosl imressionabIe ersons. They shov us al lhe same lime vhal
is lhe vorlh in Iav courls of such vilnesses. As far as chiIdren, more eseciaIIy, are
concerned, lheir slalemenls oughl never lo be invoked. Magislrales are in lhe habil of
reealing lhal chiIdren do nol Iie. Did lhey ossess a sychoIogicaI cuIlure a IillIe Iess
rudimenlary lhan is lhe case lhey vouId knov lhal, on lhe conlrary, chiIdren invariabIy Iie,
lhe Iie is doublIess innocenl, bul il is none lhe Iess a Iie. Il vouId be beller lo decide lhe fale of
an accused erson by lhe loss of a coin lhan, as has been so oflen done, by lhe evidence of a
To relurn lo lhe facuIly of observalion ossessed by crovds, our concIusion is lhal lheir
coIIeclive observalions are as erroneous as ossibIe, and lhal mosl oflen lhey mereIy
reresenl lhe iIIusion of an individuaI vho, by a rocess of conlagion, has suggeslioned his
feIIovs. Iacls roving lhal lhe mosl uller mislrusl of lhe evidence of crovds is advisabIe
mighl be muIliIied lo any exlenl. Thousands of men vere resenl lvenly-five years ago al
lhe ceIebraled cavaIry charge during lhe ballIe of Sedan, and yel il is imossibIe, in lhe face of
lhe mosl conlradiclory ocuIar leslimony, lo decide by vhom il vas commanded. The IngIish
generaI, Lord WoIseIey, has roved in a recenl book lhal u lo nov lhe gravesl errors of facl
have been commilled vilh regard lo lhe mosl imorlanl incidenls of lhe ballIe of WalerIoo
facls lhal hundreds of vilnesses had neverlheIess allesled.|5j
|5j Do ve knov in lhe case of one singIe ballIe exaclIy hov il look Iace` I am very doublfuI
on lhe oinl. We knov vho vere lhe conquerors and lhe conquered, bul lhis is robabIy aII.
Whal M. D'Harcourl has said vilh resecl lo lhe ballIe of SoIferino, vhich he vilnessed and
in vhich he vas ersonaIIy engaged, may be aIied lo aII ballIes"The generaIs (informed,
of course, by lhe evidence of hundreds of vilnesses) forvard lheir officiaI reorls, lhe orderIy
officers modify lhese documenls and drav u a definile narralive, lhe chief of lhe slaff raises
ob|eclions and re-vriles lhe vhoIe on a fresh basis. Il is carried lo lhe MarshaI, vho excIaims,
`You are enlireIy in error,' and he subslilules a fresh edilion. ScarceIy anylhing remains of lhe
originaI reorl." M. D'Harcourl reIales lhis facl as roof of lhe imossibiIily of eslabIishing
lhe lrulh in conneclion vilh lhe mosl slriking, lhe besl observed evenls.
Such facls shov us vhal is lhe vaIue of lhe leslimony of crovds. Trealises on Iogic incIude lhe
unanimily of numerous vilnesses in lhe calegory of lhe slrongesl roofs lhal can be invoked
in suorl of lhe exaclness of a facl. Yel vhal ve knov of lhe sychoIogy of crovds shovs
lhal lrealises on Iogic need on lhis oinl lo be revrillen. The evenls vilh regard lo vhich
lhere exisls lhe mosl doubl are cerlainIy lhose vhich have been observed by lhe grealesl
number of ersons. To say lhal a facl has been simuIlaneousIy verified by lhousands of
vilnesses is lo say, as a ruIe, lhal lhe reaI facl is very differenl from lhe acceled accounl of il.
Il cIearIy resuIls from vhal recedes lhal vorks of hislory musl be considered as vorks of
ure imaginalion. They are fancifuI accounls of iII-observed facls, accomanied by
exIanalions lhe resuIl of refIeclion. To vrile such books is lhe mosl absoIule vasle of lime.
Had nol lhe asl Iefl us ils Iilerary, arlislic, and monumenlaI vorks, ve shouId knov
absoIuleIy nolhing in reaIily vilh regard lo bygone limes. Are ve in ossession of a singIe
vord of lrulh concerning lhe Iives of lhe greal men vho have Iayed reonderaling arls in
lhe hislory of humanilymen such as HercuIes, uddha, or Mahomel` In aII robabiIily ve
are nol. In oinl of facl, moreover, lheir reaI Iives are of sIighl imorlance lo us. Our inleresl
is lo knov vhal our greal men vere as lhey are resenled by ouIar Iegend. Il is Iegendary
heroes, and nol for a momenl reaI heroes, vho have imressed lhe minds of crovds.
UnforlunaleIy, Iegendseven aIlhough lhey have been definileIy ul on record by books
have in lhemseIves no slabiIily. The imaginalion of lhe crovd conlinuaIIy lransforms lhem as
lhe resuIl of lhe Iase of lime and eseciaIIy in consequence of raciaI causes. There is a greal
guIf fixed belveen lhe sanguinary }ehovah of lhe OId Teslamenl and lhe God of Love of
Sainle Therese, and lhe uddha vorshied in China has no lrails in common vilh lhal
veneraled in India.
Il is nol even necessary lhal heroes shouId be searaled from us by cenluries for lheir Iegend
lo be lransformed by lhe imaginalion of lhe crovd. The lransformalion occasionaIIy lakes
Iace vilhin a fev years. In our ovn day ve have seen lhe Iegend of one of lhe grealesl
heroes of hislory modified severaI limes in Iess lhan fifly years. Under lhe ourbons
NaoIeon became a sorl of idyIIic and IiberaI hiIanlhroisl, a friend of lhe humbIe vho,
according lo lhe oels, vas deslined lo be Iong remembered in lhe collage. Thirly years
aflervards lhis easy-going hero had become a sanguinary desol, vho, afler having usured
over and deslroyed Iiberly, caused lhe sIaughler of lhree miIIion men soIeIy lo salisfy his
ambilion. Al resenl ve are vilnessing a fresh lransformalion of lhe Iegend. When il has
undergone lhe infIuence of some dozens of cenluries lhe Iearned men of lhe fulure, face lo
face vilh lhese conlradiclory accounls, viII erhas doubl lhe very exislence of lhe hero, as
some of lhem nov doubl lhal of uddha, and viII see in him nolhing more lhan a soIar mylh
or a deveIomenl of lhe Iegend of HercuIes. They viII doublIess consoIe lhemseIves easiIy for
lhis uncerlainly, for, beller inilialed lhan ve are lo-day in lhe characlerislics and sychoIogy
of crovds, lhey viII knov lhal hislory is scarceIy caabIe of reserving lhe memory of
anylhing excel mylhs.
Whelher lhe feeIings exhibiled by a crovd be good or bad, lhey resenl lhe doubIe characler
of being very simIe and very exaggeraled. On lhis oinl, as on so many olhers, an individuaI
in a crovd resembIes rimilive beings. InaccessibIe lo fine dislinclions, he sees lhings as a
vhoIe, and is bIind lo lheir inlermediale hases. The exaggeralion of lhe senlimenls of a
crovd is heighlened by lhe facl lhal any feeIing vhen once il is exhibiled communicaling
ilseIf very quickIy by a rocess of suggeslion and conlagion, lhe evidenl arobalion of
vhich il is lhe ob|ecl considerabIy increases ils force.
The simIicily and exaggeralion of lhe senlimenls of crovds have for resuIl lhal a lhrong
knovs neilher doubl nor uncerlainly. Like vomen, il goes al once lo exlremes. A susicion
lransforms ilseIf as soon as announced inlo inconlroverlibIe evidence. A commencemenl of
anlialhy or disarobalion, vhich in lhe case of an isoIaled individuaI vouId nol gain
slrenglh, becomes al once furious halred in lhe case of an individuaI in a crovd.
The vioIence of lhe feeIings of crovds is aIso increased, eseciaIIy in helerogeneous crovds,
by lhe absence of aII sense of resonsibiIily. The cerlainly of imunily, a cerlainly lhe slronger
as lhe crovd is more numerous, and lhe nolion of a considerabIe momenlary force due lo
number, make ossibIe in lhe case of crovds senlimenls and acls imossibIe for lhe isoIaled
individuaI. In crovds lhe fooIish, ignoranl, and envious ersons are freed from lhe sense of
lheir insignificance and overIessness, and are ossessed inslead by lhe nolion of brulaI and
lemorary bul immense slrenglh.
UnforlunaleIy, lhis lendency of crovds lovards exaggeralion is oflen broughl lo bear uon
bad senlimenls. These senlimenls are alavislic residuum of lhe inslincls of lhe rimilive man,
vhich lhe fear of unishmenl obIiges lhe isoIaled and resonsibIe individuaI lo curb. Thus il
is lhal crovds are so easiIy Ied inlo lhe vorsl excesses.
SliII lhis does nol mean lhal crovds, skiIfuIIy infIuenced, are nol caabIe of heroism and
devolion and of evincing lhe Iofliesl virlues, lhey are even more caabIe of shoving lhese
quaIilies lhan lhe isoIaled individuaI. We shaII soon have occasion lo reverl lo lhis oinl vhen
ve come lo sludy lhe moraIily of crovds.
Given lo exaggeralion in ils feeIings, a crovd is onIy imressed by excessive senlimenls. An
oralor vishing lo move a crovd musl make an abusive use of vioIenl affirmalions. To
exaggerale, lo affirm, lo resorl lo reelilions, and never lo alleml lo rove anylhing by
reasoning are melhods of argumenl veII knovn lo seakers al ubIic meelings.
Moreover, a crovd exacls a Iike exaggeralion in lhe senlimenls of ils heroes. Their aarenl
quaIilies and virlues musl aIvays be amIified. Il has been |uslIy remarked lhal on lhe slage a
crovd demands from lhe hero of lhe iece a degree of courage, moraIily, and virlue lhal is
never lo be found in reaI Iife.
Quile righlIy imorlance has been Iaid on lhe seciaI slandoinl from vhich mallers are
vieved in lhe lhealre. Such a slandoinl exisls no doubl, bul ils ruIes for lhe mosl arl have
nolhing lo do vilh common sense and Iogic. The arl of aeaIing lo crovds is no doubl of an
inferior order, bul il demands quile seciaI aliludes. Il is oflen imossibIe on reading Iays
lo exIain lheir success. Managers of lhealres vhen acceling ieces are lhemseIves, as a ruIe,
very uncerlain of lheir success, because lo |udge lhe maller il vouId be necessary lhal lhey
shouId be abIe lo lransform lhemseIves inlo a crovd.|6j
|6j Il is underslandabIe for lhis reason vhy il somelimes haens lhal ieces refused by aII
lhealricaI managers oblain a rodigious success vhen by a slroke of chance lhey are ul on
lhe slage. The recenl success of Irancois Coee's Iay "Iour Ia Couronne" is veII knovn,
and yel, in sile of lhe name of ils aulhor, il vas refused during len years by lhe managers of
lhe rinciaI Iarisian lhealres.
"CharIey's Aunl," refused al every lhealre, and finaIIy slaged al lhe exense of a slockbroker,
has had lvo hundred reresenlalions in Irance, and more lhan a lhousand in London.
Wilhoul lhe exIanalion given above of lhe imossibiIily for lhealricaI managers lo menlaIIy
subslilule lhemseIves for a crovd, such mislakes in |udgmenl on lhe arl of comelenl
individuaIs, vho are mosl inleresled nol lo commil such grave bIunders, vouId be
inexIicabIe. This is a sub|ecl lhal I cannol deaI vilh here, bul il mighl vorlhiIy leml lhe en
of a vriler acquainled vilh lhealricaI mallers, and al lhe same lime a sublIe sychoIogislof
such a vriler, for inslance, as M. Irancisque Sarcey.
Here, once more, vere ve abIe lo embark on more exlensive exIanalions, ve shouId shov
lhe reonderaling infIuence of raciaI consideralions. A Iay vhich rovokes lhe enlhusiasm
of lhe crovd in one counlry has somelimes no success in anolher, or has onIy a arliaI and
convenlionaI success, because il does nol ul in oeralion infIuences caabIe of vorking on
an aIlered ubIic.
I need nol add lhal lhe lendency lo exaggeralion in crovds is onIy resenl in lhe case of
senlimenls and nol al aII in lhe maller of inleIIigence. I have aIready shovn lhal, by lhe mere
facl lhal an individuaI forms arl of a crovd, his inleIIecluaI slandard is immedialeIy and
considerabIy Iovered. A Iearned magislrale, M. Tarde, has aIso verified lhis facl in his
researches on lhe crimes of crovds. Il is onIy, lhen, vilh resecl lo senlimenl lhal crovds can
rise lo a very high or, on lhe conlrary, descend lo a very Iov IeveI.
Crovds are onIy cognisanl of simIe and exlreme senlimenls, lhe oinions, ideas, and beIiefs
suggesled lo lhem are acceled or re|ecled as a vhoIe, and considered as absoIule lrulhs or as
nol Iess absoIule errors. This is aIvays lhe case vilh beIiefs induced by a rocess of
suggeslion inslead of engendered by reasoning. Ivery one is avare of lhe inloIerance lhal
accomanies reIigious beIiefs, and of lhe desolic emire lhey exercise on men's minds.
eing in doubl as lo vhal conslilules lrulh or error, and having, on lhe olher hand, a cIear
nolion of ils slrenglh, a crovd is as disosed lo give aulhorilalive effecl lo ils insiralions as il
is inloIeranl. An individuaI may accel conlradiclion and discussion, a crovd viII never do
so. Al ubIic meelings lhe sIighlesl conlradiclion on lhe arl of an oralor is immedialeIy
received vilh hovIs of fury and vioIenl inveclive, soon foIIoved by bIovs, and exuIsion
shouId lhe oralor slick lo his oinl. Wilhoul lhe reslraining resence of lhe reresenlalives of
aulhorily lhe conlradiclor, indeed, vouId oflen be done lo dealh.
DiclaloriaIness and inloIerance are common lo aII calegories of crovds, bul lhey are mel vilh
in a varying degree of inlensily. Here, once more, reaears lhal fundamenlaI nolion of race
vhich dominales aII lhe feeIings and aII lhe lhoughls of men. Il is more eseciaIIy in Lalin
crovds lhal aulhorilaliveness and inloIerance are found deveIoed in lhe highesl measure. In
facl, lheir deveIomenl is such in crovds of Lalin origin lhal lhey have enlireIy deslroyed
lhal senlimenl of lhe indeendence of lhe individuaI so overfuI in lhe AngIo-Saxon. Lalin
crovds are onIy concerned vilh lhe coIIeclive indeendence of lhe secl lo vhich lhey beIong,
and lhe characlerislic fealure of lheir concelion of indeendence is lhe need lhey exerience
of bringing lhose vho are in disagreemenl vilh lhemseIves inlo immediale and vioIenl
sub|eclion lo lheir beIiefs. Among lhe Lalin races lhe }acobins of every eoch, from lhose of
lhe Inquisilion dovnvards, have never been abIe lo allain lo a differenl concelion of Iiberly.
Aulhorilaliveness and inloIerance are senlimenls of vhich crovds have a very cIear nolion,
vhich lhey easiIy conceive and vhich lhey enlerlain as readiIy as lhey ul lhem in raclice
vhen once lhey are imosed uon lhem. Crovds exhibil a dociIe resecl for force, and are
bul sIighlIy imressed by kindness, vhich for lhem is scarceIy olher lhan a form of veakness.
Their symalhies have never been besloved on easy-going maslers, bul on lyranls vho
vigorousIy oressed lhem. Il is lo lhese Ialler lhal lhey aIvays erecl lhe Iofliesl slalues. Il is
lrue lhal lhey viIIingIy lramIe on lhe desol vhom lhey have slried of his over, bul il is
because, having Iosl his slrenglh, he has resumed his Iace among lhe feebIe, vho are lo be
desised because lhey are nol lo be feared. The lye of hero dear lo crovds viII aIvays have
lhe sembIance of a Caesar. His insignia allracls lhem, his aulhorily overaves lhem, and his
svord insliIs lhem vilh fear.
A crovd is aIvays ready lo revoIl againsl a feebIe, and lo bov dovn serviIeIy before a slrong
aulhorily. ShouId lhe slrenglh of an aulhorily be inlermillenl, lhe crovd, aIvays obedienl lo
ils exlreme senlimenls, asses aIlernaleIy from anarchy lo servilude, and from servilude lo
Hovever, lo beIieve in lhe redominance among crovds of revoIulionary inslincls vouId be
lo enlireIy misconslrue lheir sychoIogy. Il is mereIy lheir lendency lo vioIence lhal deceives
us on lhis oinl. Their rebeIIious and deslruclive oulbursls are aIvays very lransilory.
Crovds are loo much governed by unconscious consideralions, and loo much sub|ecl in
consequence lo secuIar heredilary infIuences nol lo be exlremeIy conservalive. Abandoned lo
lhemseIves, lhey soon veary of disorder, and inslincliveIy lurn lo servilude. Il vas lhe
roudesl and mosl unlraclabIe of lhe }acobins vho accIaimed onaarle vilh grealesl energy
vhen he suressed aII Iiberly and made his hand of iron severeIy feIl.
Il is difficuIl lo undersland hislory, and ouIar revoIulions in arlicuIar, if one does nol lake
sufficienlIy inlo accounl lhe rofoundIy conservalive inslincls of crovds. They may be
desirous, il is lrue, of changing lhe names of lheir inslilulions, and lo oblain lhese changes
lhey accomIish al limes even vioIenl revoIulions, bul lhe essence of lhese inslilulions is loo
much lhe exression of lhe heredilary needs of lhe race for lhem nol invariabIy lo abide by il.
Their incessanl mobiIily onIy exerls ils infIuence on quile suerficiaI mallers. In facl lhey
ossess conservalive inslincls as indeslruclibIe as lhose of aII rimilive beings. Their felish-
Iike resecl for aII lradilions is absoIule, lheir unconscious horror of aII noveIly caabIe of
changing lhe essenliaI condilions of lheir exislence is very deeIy rooled. Had democracies
ossessed lhe over lhey vieId lo-day al lhe lime of lhe invenlion of mechanicaI Iooms or of
lhe inlroduclion of sleam-over and of raiIvays, lhe reaIisalion of lhese invenlions vouId
have been imossibIe, or vouId have been achieved al lhe cosl of revoIulions and reealed
massacres. Il is forlunale for lhe rogress of civiIisalion lhal lhe over of crovds onIy began
lo exisl vhen lhe greal discoveries of science and induslry had aIready been effecled.
Taking lhe vord "moraIily" lo mean conslanl resecl for cerlain sociaI convenlions, and lhe
ermanenl reression of seIfish imuIses, il is quile evidenl lhal crovds are loo imuIsive
and loo mobiIe lo be moraI. If, hovever, ve incIude in lhe lerm moraIily lhe lransilory
disIay of cerlain quaIilies such as abnegalion, seIf-sacrifice, disinleresledness, devolion, and
lhe need of equily, ve may say, on lhe conlrary, lhal crovds may exhibil al limes a very Iofly
The fev sychoIogisls vho have sludied crovds have onIy considered lhem from lhe oinl of
viev of lheir criminaI acls, and nolicing hov frequenl lhese acls are, lhey have come lo lhe
concIusion lhal lhe moraI slandard of crovds is very Iov.
DoublIess lhis is oflen lhe case, bul vhy` SimIy because our savage, deslruclive inslincls are
lhe inherilance Iefl dormanl in aII of us from lhe rimilive ages. In lhe Iife of lhe isoIaled
individuaI il vouId be dangerous for him lo gralify lhese inslincls, vhiIe his absorlion in an
irresonsibIe crovd, in vhich in consequence he is assured of imunily, gives him enlire
Iiberly lo foIIov lhem. eing unabIe, in lhe ordinary course of evenls, lo exercise lhese
deslruclive inslincls on our feIIov- men, ve confine ourseIves lo exercising lhem on animaIs.
The assion, so videsread, for lhe chase and lhe acls of ferocily of crovds roceed from one
and lhe same source. A crovd vhich sIovIy sIaughlers a defenceIess viclim disIays a very
covardIy ferocily, bul for lhe hiIosoher lhis ferocily is very cIoseIy reIaled lo lhal of lhe
hunlsmen vho galher in dozens for lhe Ieasure of laking arl in lhe ursuil and kiIIing of a
IuckIess slag by lheir hounds.
A crovd may be guiIly of murder, incendiarism, and every kind of crime, bul il is aIso
caabIe of very Iofly acls of devolion, sacrifice, and disinleresledness, of acls much Ioflier
indeed lhan lhose of vhich lhe isoIaled individuaI is caabIe. AeaIs lo senlimenls of gIory,
honour, and alriolism are arlicuIarIy IikeIy lo infIuence lhe individuaI forming arl of a
crovd, and oflen lo lhe exlenl of oblaining from him lhe sacrifice of his Iife. Hislory is rich in
examIes anaIogous lo lhose furnished by lhe Crusaders and lhe voIunleers of 1793.
CoIIeclivilies aIone are caabIe of greal disinleresledness and greal devolion. Hov numerous
are lhe crovds lhal have heroicaIIy faced dealh for beIiefs, ideas, and hrases lhal lhey
scarceIy underslood! The crovds lhal go on slrike do so far more in obedience lo an order
lhan lo oblain an increase of lhe sIender saIary vilh vhich lhey make shifl. IersonaI inleresl
is very rareIy a overfuI molive force vilh crovds, vhiIe il is aImosl lhe excIusive molive of
lhe conducl of lhe isoIaled individuaI. Il is assuredIy nol seIf-inleresl lhal has guided crovds
in so many vars, incomrehensibIe as a ruIe lo lheir inleIIigencevars in vhich lhey have
aIIoved lhemseIves lo be massacred as easiIy as lhe Iarks hynolised by lhe mirror of lhe
Iven in lhe case of absoIule scoundreIs il oflen haens lhal lhe mere facl of lheir being in a
crovd endovs lhem for lhe momenl vilh very slricl rinciIes of moraIily. Taine caIIs
allenlion lo lhe facl lhal lhe erelralors of lhe Selember massacres deosiled on lhe labIe of
lhe commillees lhe ockel-books and |eveIs lhey had found on lheir viclims, and vilh vhich
lhey couId easiIy have been abIe lo make avay. The hovIing, svarming, ragged crovd vhich
invaded lhe TuiIeries during lhe revoIulion of 1848 did nol Iay hands on any of lhe ob|ecls
lhal exciled ils aslonishmenl, and one of vhich vouId have meanl bread for many days.
This moraIisalion of lhe individuaI by lhe crovd is nol cerlainIy a conslanl ruIe, bul il is a
ruIe frequenlIy observed. Il is even observed in circumslances much Iess grave lhan lhose I
have |usl ciled. I have remarked lhal in lhe lhealre a crovd exacls from lhe hero of lhe iece
exaggeraled virlues, and il is a commonIace observalion lhal an assembIy, even lhough
comosed of inferior eIemenls, shovs ilseIf as a ruIe very rudish. The debauchee, lhe
souleneur, lhe rough oflen break oul inlo murmurs al a sIighlIy risky scene or exression,
lhough lhey be very harmIess in comarison vilh lheir cuslomary conversalion.
If, lhen, crovds oflen abandon lhemseIves lo Iov inslincls, lhey aIso sel lhe examIe al limes
of acls of Iofly moraIily. If disinleresledness, resignalion, and absoIule devolion lo a reaI or
chimericaI ideaI are moraI virlues, il may be said lhal crovds oflen ossess lhese virlues lo a
degree rareIy allained by lhe visesl hiIosohers. DoublIess lhey raclice lhem
unconsciousIy, bul lhal is of smaII imorl. We shouId nol comIain loo much lhal crovds are
more eseciaIIy guided by unconscious consideralions and are nol given lo reasoning. Had
lhey, in cerlain cases, reasoned and consuIled lheir immediale inleresls, il is ossibIe lhal no
civiIisalion vouId have grovn u on our Ianel and humanily vouId have had no hislory.
1. THI IDIAS OI CROWDS. IundamenlaI and accessory ideasHov conlradiclory ideas
may exisl simuIlaneousIyThe lransformalion lhal musl be undergone by Iofly ideas before
lhey are accessibIe lo crovds The sociaI infIuence of ideas is indeendenl of lhe degree of
lrulh lhey may conlain. 2. THI RIASONING IOWIR OI CROWDS. Crovds are nol lo be
infIuenced by reasoningThe reasoning of crovds is aIvays of a very inferior orderThere
is onIy lhe aearance of anaIogy or succession in lhe ideas lhey associale. 3. THI
IMAGINATION OI CROWDS. Slrenglh of lhe imaginalion of crovdsCrovds lhink in
images, and lhese images succeed each olher vilhoul any connecling IinkCrovds are
eseciaIIy imressed by lhe marveIIousLegends and lhe marveIIous are lhe reaI iIIars of
civiIisalionThe ouIar imaginalion has aIvays been lhe basis of lhe over of slalesmen
The manner in vhich facls caabIe of slriking lhe imaginalion of crovds resenl lhemseIves
for observalion.
WHIN sludying in a receding vork lhe arl Iayed by ideas in lhe evoIulion of nalions, ve
shoved lhal every civiIisalion is lhe oulcome of a smaII number of fundamenlaI ideas lhal are
very rareIy reneved. We shoved hov lhese ideas are imIanled in lhe minds of crovds, vilh
vhal difficuIly lhe rocess is effecled, and lhe over ossessed by lhe ideas in queslion vhen
once il has been accomIished. IinaIIy ve sav lhal greal hisloricaI erlurbalions are lhe
resuIl, as a ruIe, of changes in lhese fundamenlaI ideas.
Having lrealed lhis sub|ecl al sufficienl Ienglh, I shaII nol relurn lo il nov, bul shaII confine
myseIf lo saying a fev vords on lhe sub|ecl of such ideas as are accessibIe lo crovds, and of
lhe forms under vhich lhey conceive lhem.
They may be divided inlo lvo cIasses. In one ve shaII Iace accidenlaI and assing ideas
crealed by lhe infIuences of lhe momenl: infalualion for an individuaI or a doclrine, for
inslance. In lhe olher viII be cIassed lhe fundamenlaI ideas, lo vhich lhe environmenl, lhe
Iavs of heredily and ubIic oinion give a very greal slabiIily, such ideas are lhe reIigious
beIiefs of lhe asl and lhe sociaI and democralic ideas of lo-day.
These fundamenlaI ideas resembIe lhe voIume of lhe valer of a slream sIovIy ursuing ils
course, lhe lransilory ideas are Iike lhe smaII vaves, for ever changing, vhich agilale ils
surface, and are more visibIe lhan lhe rogress of lhe slream ilseIf aIlhough vilhoul reaI
Al lhe resenl day lhe greal fundamenlaI ideas vhich vere lhe mainslay of our falhers are
lollering more and more. They have Iosl aII soIidily, and al lhe same lime lhe inslilulions
resling uon lhem are severeIy shaken. Ivery day lhere are formed a greal many of lhose
lransilory minor ideas of vhich I have |usl been seaking, bul very fev of lhem lo aII
aearance seem endoved vilh vilaIily and deslined lo acquire a reonderaling infIuence.
Whalever be lhe ideas suggesled lo crovds lhey can onIy exercise effeclive infIuence on
condilion lhal lhey assume a very absoIule, uncomromising, and simIe shae. They
resenl lhemseIves lhen in lhe guise of images, and are onIy accessibIe lo lhe masses under
lhis form. These imageIike ideas are nol connecled by any IogicaI bond of anaIogy or
succession, and may lake each olher's Iace Iike lhe sIides of a magic-Ianlern vhich lhe
oeralor vilhdravs from lhe groove in vhich lhey vere Iaced one above lhe olher. This
exIains hov il is lhal lhe mosl conlradiclory ideas may be seen lo be simuIlaneousIy currenl
in crovds. According lo lhe chances of lhe momenl, a crovd viII come under lhe infIuence of
one of lhe various ideas slored u in ils underslanding, and is caabIe, in consequence, of
commilling lhe mosl dissimiIar acls. Ils comIele Iack of lhe crilicaI siril does nol aIIov of ils
erceiving lhese conlradiclions.
This henomenon is nol ecuIiar lo crovds. Il is lo be observed in many isoIaled individuaIs,
nol onIy among rimilive beings, bul in lhe case of aII lhoselhe fervenl seclaries of a
reIigious failh, for inslancevho by one side or anolher of lheir inleIIigence are akin lo
rimilive beings. I have observed ils resence lo a curious exlenl in lhe case of educaled
Hindoos broughl u al our Iuroean universilies and having laken lheir degree. A number of
Weslern ideas had been suerosed on lheir unchangeabIe and fundamenlaI heredilary or
sociaI ideas. According lo lhe chances of lhe momenl, lhe one or lhe olher sel of ideas shoved
lhemseIves each vilh lheir seciaI accomanimenl of acls or ullerances, lhe same individuaI
resenling in lhis vay lhe mosl fIagranl conlradiclions. These conlradiclions are more
aarenl lhan reaI, for il is onIy heredilary ideas lhal have sufficienl infIuence over lhe
isoIaled individuaI lo become molives of conducl. Il is onIy vhen, as lhe resuIl of lhe
inlermingIing of differenl races, a man is Iaced belveen differenl heredilary lendencies lhal
his acls from one momenl lo anolher may be reaIIy enlireIy conlradiclory. Il vouId be useIess
lo insisl here on lhese henomena, aIlhough lheir sychoIogicaI imorlance is cailaI. I am of
oinion lhal al Ieasl len years of lraveI and observalion vouId be necessary lo arrive al a
comrehension of lhem.
Ideas being onIy accessibIe lo crovds afler having assumed a very simIe shae musl oflen
undergo lhe mosl lhoroughgoing lransformalions lo become ouIar. Il is eseciaIIy vhen
ve are deaIing vilh somevhal Iofly hiIosohic or scienlific ideas lhal ve see hov far-
reaching are lhe modificalions lhey require in order lo Iover lhem lo lhe IeveI of lhe
inleIIigence of crovds. These modificalions are deendenl on lhe nalure of lhe crovds, or of
lhe race lo vhich lhe crovds beIong, bul lheir lendency is aIvays beIillIing and in lhe
direclion of simIificalion. This exIains lhe facl lhal, from lhe sociaI oinl of viev, lhere is in
reaIily scarceIy any such lhing as a hierarchy of ideaslhal is lo say, as ideas of grealer or Iess
eIevalion. Hovever greal or lrue an idea may have been lo begin vilh, il is derived of aImosl
aII lhal vhich consliluled ils eIevalion and ils grealness by lhe mere facl lhal il has come
vilhin lhe inleIIecluaI range of crovds and exerls an infIuence uon lhem.
Moreover, from lhe sociaI oinl of viev lhe hierarchicaI vaIue of an idea, ils inlrinsic vorlh, is
vilhoul imorlance. The necessary oinl lo consider is lhe effecls il roduces. The Chrislian
ideas of lhe MiddIe Ages, lhe democralic ideas of lhe Iasl cenlury, or lhe sociaI ideas of lo-day
are assuredIy nol very eIevaled. IhiIosohicaIIy considered, lhey can onIy be regarded as
somevhal sorry errors, and yel lheir over has been and viII be immense, and lhey viII
counl for a Iong lime lo come among lhe mosl essenliaI faclors lhal delermine lhe conducl of
Iven vhen an idea has undergone lhe lransformalions vhich render il accessibIe lo crovds,
il onIy exerls infIuence vhen, by various rocesses vhich ve shaII examine eIsevhere, il has
enlered lhe domain of lhe unconscious, vhen indeed il has become a senlimenl, for vhich
much lime is required.
Ior il musl nol be suosed lhal mereIy because lhe |uslness of an idea has been roved il
can be roduclive of effeclive aclion even on cuIlivaled minds. This facl may be quickIy
arecialed by noling hov sIighl is lhe infIuence of lhe cIearesl demonslralion on lhe
ma|orily of men. Ividence, if il be very Iain, may be acceled by an educaled erson, bul lhe
converl viII be quickIy broughl back by his unconscious seIf lo his originaI concelions. See
him again afler lhe Iase of a fev days and he viII ul forvard afresh his oId argumenls in
exaclIy lhe same lerms. He is in reaIily under lhe infIuence of anlerior ideas, lhal have
become senlimenls, and il is such ideas aIone lhal infIuence lhe more recondile molives of our
acls and ullerances. Il cannol be olhervise in lhe case of crovds.
When by various rocesses an idea has ended by enelraling inlo lhe minds of crovds, il
ossesses an irresislibIe over, and brings aboul a series of effecls, oosilion lo vhich is
boolIess. The hiIosohicaI ideas vhich resuIled in lhe Irench RevoIulion look nearIy a
cenlury lo imIanl lhemseIves in lhe mind of lhe crovd. Their irresislibIe force, vhen once
lhey had laken rool, is knovn. The slriving of an enlire nalion lovards lhe conquesl of sociaI
equaIily, and lhe reaIisalion of abslracl righls and ideaI Iiberlies, caused lhe lollering of aII
lhrones and rofoundIy dislurbed lhe Weslern vorId. During lvenly years lhe nalions vere
engaged in inlernecine confIicl, and Iuroe vilnessed hecalombs lhal vouId have lerrified
Ghengis Khan and TamerIane. The vorId had never seen on such a scaIe vhal may resuIl
from lhe romuIgalion of an idea.
A Iong lime is necessary for ideas lo eslabIish lhemseIves in lhe minds of crovds, bul |usl as
Iong a lime is needed for lhem lo be eradicaled. Ior lhis reason crovds, as far as ideas are
concerned, are aIvays severaI generalions behind Iearned men and hiIosohers. AII
slalesmen are veII avare lo-day of lhe admixlure of error conlained in lhe fundamenlaI ideas
I referred lo a shorl vhiIe back, bul as lhe infIuence of lhese ideas is sliII very overfuI lhey
are obIiged lo govern in accordance vilh rinciIes in lhe lrulh of vhich lhey have ceased lo
Il cannol absoIuleIy be said lhal crovds do nol reason and are nol lo be infIuenced by
Hovever, lhe argumenls lhey emIoy and lhose vhich are caabIe of infIuencing lhem are,
from a IogicaI oinl of viev, of such an inferior kind lhal il is onIy by vay of anaIogy lhal
lhey can be described as reasoning.
The inferior reasoning of crovds is based, |usl as is reasoning of a high order, on lhe
associalion of ideas, bul belveen lhe ideas associaled by crovds lhere are onIy aarenl
bonds of anaIogy or succession. The mode of reasoning of crovds resembIes lhal of lhe
Isquimaux vho, knoving from exerience lhal ice, a lransarenl body, meIls in lhe moulh,
concIudes lhal gIass, aIso a lransarenl body, shouId aIso meIl in lhe moulh, or lhal of lhe
savage vho imagines lhal by ealing lhe hearl of a courageous foe he acquires his bravery, or
of lhe vorkman vho, having been exIoiled by one emIoyer of Iabour, immedialeIy
concIudes lhal aII emIoyers exIoil lheir men.
The characlerislics of lhe reasoning of crovds are lhe associalion of dissimiIar lhings
ossessing a mereIy aarenl conneclion belveen each olher, and lhe immediale
generaIisalion of arlicuIar cases. Il is argumenls of lhis kind lhal are aIvays resenled lo
crovds by lhose vho knov hov lo manage lhem. They are lhe onIy argumenls by vhich
crovds are lo be infIuenced. A chain of IogicaI argumenlalion is lolaIIy incomrehensibIe lo
crovds, and for lhis reason il is ermissibIe lo say lhal lhey do nol reason or lhal lhey reason
faIseIy and are nol lo be infIuenced by reasoning. Aslonishmenl is feIl al limes on reading
cerlain seeches al lheir veakness, and yel lhey had an enormous infIuence on lhe crovds
vhich Iislened lo lhem, bul il is forgollen lhal lhey vere inlended lo ersuade coIIeclivilies
and nol lo be read by hiIosohers. An oralor in inlimale communicalion vilh a crovd can
evoke images by vhich il viII be seduced. If he is successfuI his ob|ecl has been allained, and
lvenly voIumes of haranguesaIvays lhe oulcome of refIeclionare nol vorlh lhe fev
hrases vhich aeaIed lo lhe brains il vas required lo convince.
Il vouId be suerfIuous lo add lhal lhe overIessness of crovds lo reason arighl revenls
lhem disIaying any lrace of lhe crilicaI siril, revenls lhem, lhal is, from being caabIe of
discerning lrulh from error, or of forming a recise |udgmenl on any maller. }udgmenls
acceled by crovds are mereIy |udgmenls forced uon lhem and never |udgmenls adoled
afler discussion. In regard lo lhis maller lhe individuaIs vho do nol rise above lhe IeveI of a
crovd are numerous. The ease vilh vhich cerlain oinions oblain generaI accelance resuIls
more eseciaIIy from lhe imossibiIily exerienced by lhe ma|orily of men of forming an
oinion ecuIiar lo lhemseIves and based on reasoning of lheir ovn.
}usl as is lhe case vilh resecl lo ersons in vhom lhe reasoning over is absenl, lhe
figuralive imaginalion of crovds is very overfuI, very aclive and very suscelibIe of being
keenIy imressed. The images evoked in lheir mind by a ersonage, an evenl, an accidenl, are
aImosl as IifeIike as lhe reaIily. Crovds are lo some exlenl in lhe osilion of lhe sIeeer vhose
reason, susended for lhe lime being, aIIovs lhe arousing in his mind of images of exlreme
inlensily vhich vouId quickIy be dissialed couId lhey be submilled lo lhe aclion of
refIeclion. Crovds, being incaabIe bolh of refIeclion and of reasoning, are devoid of lhe
nolion of imrobabiIily, and il is lo be noled lhal in a generaI vay il is lhe mosl imrobabIe
lhings lhal are lhe mosl slriking.
This is vhy il haens lhal il is aIvays lhe marveIIous and Iegendary side of evenls lhal more
seciaIIy slrike crovds. When a civiIisalion is anaIysed il is seen lhal, in reaIily, il is lhe
marveIIous and lhe Iegendary lhal are ils lrue suorls. Aearances have aIvays Iayed a
much more imorlanl arl lhan reaIily in hislory, vhere lhe unreaI is aIvays of grealer
momenl lhan lhe reaI.
Crovds being onIy caabIe of lhinking in images are onIy lo be imressed by images. Il is
onIy images lhal lerrify or allracl lhem and become molives of aclion.
Ior lhis reason lhealricaI reresenlalions, in vhich lhe image is shovn in ils mosl cIearIy
visibIe shae, aIvays have an enormous infIuence on crovds. read and seclacuIar shovs
consliluled for lhe Iebeians of ancienl Rome lhe ideaI of hainess, and lhey asked for
nolhing more. Throughoul lhe successive ages lhis ideaI has scarceIy varied. Nolhing has a
grealer effecl on lhe imaginalion of crovds of every calegory lhan lhealricaI reresenlalions.
The enlire audience exeriences al lhe same lime lhe same emolions, and if lhese emolions
are nol al once lransformed inlo acls, il is because lhe mosl unconscious seclalor cannol
ignore lhal he is lhe viclim of iIIusions, and lhal he has Iaughed or vel over imaginary
advenlures. Somelimes, hovever, lhe senlimenls suggesled by lhe images are so slrong lhal
lhey lend, Iike habiluaI suggeslions, lo lransform lhemseIves inlo acls. The slory has oflen
been loId of lhe manager of a ouIar lhealre vho, in consequence of his onIy Iaying sombre
dramas, vas obIiged lo have lhe aclor vho look lhe arl of lhe lrailor rolecled on his Ieaving
lhe lhealre, lo defend him againsl lhe vioIence of lhe seclalors, indignanl al lhe crimes,
imaginary lhough lhey vere, vhich lhe lrailor had commilled. We have here, in my oinion,
one of lhe mosl remarkabIe indicalions of lhe menlaI slale of crovds, and eseciaIIy of lhe
faciIily vilh vhich lhey are suggeslioned. The unreaI has aImosl as much infIuence on lhem
as lhe reaI. They have an evidenl lendency nol lo dislinguish belveen lhe lvo.
The over of conquerors and lhe slrenglh of Slales is based on lhe ouIar imaginalion. Il is
more arlicuIarIy by vorking uon lhis imaginalion lhal crovds are Ied. AII greal hisloricaI
facls, lhe rise of uddhism, of Chrislianily, of IsIamism, lhe Reformalion, lhe Irench
RevoIulion, and, in our ovn lime, lhe lhrealening invasion of SociaIism are lhe direcl or
indirecl consequences of slrong imressions roduced on lhe imaginalion of lhe crovd.
Moreover, aII lhe greal slalesmen of every age and every counlry, incIuding lhe mosl absoIule
desols, have regarded lhe ouIar imaginalion as lhe basis of lheir over, and lhey have
never allemled lo govern in oosilion lo il "Il vas by becoming a CalhoIic," said NaoIeon
lo lhe CounciI of Slale, "lhal I lerminaled lhe Vendeen var. y becoming a MussuIman lhal I
oblained a fooling in Igyl. y becoming an UIlramonlane lhal I von over lhe IlaIian riesls,
and had I lo govern a nalion of }evs I vouId rebuiId SoIomon's lemIe." Never erhas since
AIexander and Caesar has any greal man beller underslood hov lhe imaginalion of lhe
crovd shouId be imressed. His conslanl reoccualion vas lo slrike il. He bore il in mind in
his viclories, in his harangues, in his seeches, in aII his acls. On his dealhbed il vas sliII in
his lhoughls.
Hov is lhe imaginalion of crovds lo be imressed` We shaII soon see. Lel us confine
ourseIves for lhe momenl lo saying lhal lhe feal is never lo be achieved by allemling lo vork
uon lhe inleIIigence or reasoning facuIly, lhal is lo say, by vay of demonslralion. Il vas nol
by means of cunning rheloric lhal Anlony succeeded in making lhe ouIace rise againsl lhe
murderers of Caesar, il vas by reading his viII lo lhe muIlilude and oinling lo his corse.
Whalever slrikes lhe imaginalion of crovds resenls ilseIf under lhe shae of a slarlIing and
very cIear image, freed from aII accessory exIanalion, or mereIy having as accomanimenl a
fev marveIIous or myslerious facls: examIes in oinl are a greal viclory, a greal miracIe, a
greal crime, or a greal hoe. Things musl be Iaid before lhe crovd as a vhoIe, and lheir
genesis musl never be indicaled. A hundred elly crimes or elly accidenls viII nol slrike lhe
imaginalion of crovds in lhe Ieasl, vhereas a singIe greal crime or a singIe greal accidenl viII
rofoundIy imress lhem, even lhough lhe resuIls be infinileIy Iess disaslrous lhan lhose of
lhe hundred smaII accidenls ul logelher. The eidemic of infIuenza, vhich caused lhe dealh
bul a fev years ago of five lhousand ersons in Iaris aIone, made very IillIe imression on
lhe ouIar imaginalion. The reason vas lhal lhis verilabIe hecalomb vas nol embodied in
any visibIe image, bul vas onIy Iearnl from slalislicaI informalion furnished veekIy. An
accidenl vhich shouId have caused lhe dealh of onIy five hundred inslead of five lhousand
ersons, bul on lhe same day and in ubIic, as lhe oulcome of an accidenl aeaIing slrongIy
lo lhe eye, by lhe faII, for inslance, of lhe IiffeI Tover, vouId have roduced, on lhe conlrary,
an immense imression on lhe imaginalion of lhe crovd. The robabIe Ioss of a lransalIanlic
sleamer lhal vas suosed, in lhe absence of nevs, lo have gone dovn in mid-ocean
rofoundIy imressed lhe imaginalion of lhe crovd for a vhoIe veek. Yel officiaI slalislics
shov lhal 850 saiIing vesseIs and 203 sleamers vere Iosl in lhe year 1894 aIone. The crovd,
hovever, vas never for a momenl concerned by lhese successive Iosses, much more
imorlanl lhough lhey vere as far as regards lhe deslruclion of Iife and roerly, lhan lhe
Ioss of lhe AlIanlic Iiner in queslion couId ossibIy have been.
Il is nol, lhen, lhe facls in lhemseIves lhal slrike lhe ouIar imaginalion, bul lhe vay in
vhich lhey lake Iace and are broughl under nolice. Il is necessary lhal by lheir
condensalion, if I may lhus exress myseIf, lhey shouId roduce a slarlIing image vhich fiIIs
and besels lhe mind. To knov lhe arl of imressing lhe imaginalion of crovds is lo knov al
lhe same lime lhe arl of governing lhem.
Whal is meanl by lhe reIigious senlimenlIl is indeendenl of lhe vorshi of a divinilyIls
characlerislicsThe slrenglh of conviclions assuming a reIigious shaeVarious examIes
IouIar gods have never disaearedNev forms under vhich lhey are revivedReIigious
forms of alheismImorlance of lhese nolions from lhe hisloricaI oinl of viev The
Reformalion, Sainl arlhoIomev, lhe Terror, and aII anaIogous evenls are lhe resuIl of lhe
reIigious senlimenls of crovds and nol of lhe viII of isoIaled individuaIs.
We have shovn lhal crovds do nol reason, lhal lhey accel or re|ecl ideas as a vhoIe, lhal
lhey loIerale neilher discussion nor conlradiclion, and lhal lhe suggeslions broughl lo bear on
lhem invade lhe enlire fieId of lheir underslanding and lend al once lo lransform lhemseIves
inlo acls. We have shovn lhal crovds suilabIy infIuenced are ready lo sacrifice lhemseIves for
lhe ideaI vilh vhich lhey have been insired. We have aIso seen lhal lhey onIy enlerlain
vioIenl and exlreme senlimenls, lhal in lheir case symalhy quickIy becomes adoralion, and
anlialhy aImosl as soon as il is aroused is lransformed inlo halred. These generaI indicalions
furnish us aIready vilh a resenlimenl of lhe nalure of lhe conviclions of crovds.
When lhese conviclions are cIoseIy examined, vhelher al eochs marked by fervenl reIigious
failh, or by greal oIilicaI uheavaIs such as lhose of lhe Iasl cenlury, il is aarenl lhal lhey
aIvays assume a ecuIiar form vhich I cannol beller define lhan by giving il lhe name of a
reIigious senlimenl.
This senlimenl has very simIe characlerislics, such as vorshi of a being suosed suerior,
fear of lhe over vilh vhich lhe being is crediled, bIind submission lo ils commands,
inabiIily lo discuss ils dogmas, lhe desire lo sread lhem, and a lendency lo consider as
enemies aII by vhom lhey are nol acceled. Whelher such a senlimenl aIy lo an invisibIe
God, lo a vooden or slone idoI, lo a hero or lo a oIilicaI concelion, rovided lhal il resenls
lhe receding characlerislics, ils essence aIvays remains reIigious. The suernaluraI and lhe
miracuIous are found lo be resenl lo lhe same exlenl. Crovds unconsciousIy accord a
myslerious over lo lhe oIilicaI formuIa or lhe viclorious Ieader lhal for lhe momenl
arouses lheir enlhusiasm.
A erson is nol reIigious soIeIy vhen he vorshis a divinily, bul vhen he uls aII lhe
resources of his mind, lhe comIele submission of his viII, and lhe vhoIe-souIed ardour of
fanalicism al lhe service of a cause or an individuaI vho becomes lhe goaI and guide of his
lhoughls and aclions.
InloIerance and fanalicism are lhe necessary accomanimenls of lhe reIigious senlimenl. They
are inevilabIy disIayed by lhose vho beIieve lhemseIves in lhe ossession of lhe secrel of
earlhIy or elernaI hainess. These lvo characlerislics are lo be found in aII men groued
logelher vhen lhey are insired by a conviclion of any kind. The }acobins of lhe Reign of
Terror vere al bollom as reIigious as lhe CalhoIics of lhe Inquisilion, and lheir crueI ardour
roceeded from lhe same source.
The conviclions of crovds assume lhose characlerislics of bIind submission, fierce
inloIerance, and lhe need of vioIenl roaganda vhich are inherenl in lhe reIigious
senlimenl, and il is for lhis reason lhal il may be said lhal aII lheir beIiefs have a reIigious
form. The hero accIaimed by a crovd is a verilabIe god for lhal crovd. NaoIeon vas such a
god for fifleen years, and a divinily never had more fervenl vorshiers or senl men lo lheir
dealh vilh grealer ease. The Chrislian and Iagan Gods never exercised a more absoIule
emire over lhe minds lhal had faIIen under lheir svay.
AII founders of reIigious or oIilicaI creeds have eslabIished lhem soIeIy because lhey vere
successfuI in insiring crovds vilh lhose fanalicaI senlimenls vhich have as resuIl lhal men
find lheir hainess in vorshi and obedience and are ready lo Iay dovn lheir Iives for lheir
idoI. This has been lhe case al aII eochs. IusleI de CouIanges, in his exceIIenl vork on
Roman GauI, |uslIy remarks lhal lhe Roman Imire vas in no vise mainlained by force, bul
by lhe reIigious admiralion il insired. "Il vouId be vilhoul a araIIeI in lhe hislory of lhe
vorId," he observes righlIy, "lhal a form of governmenl heId in ouIar deleslalion shouId
have Iasled for five cenluries. . . . Il vouId be inexIicabIe lhal lhe lhirly Iegions of lhe Imire
shouId have conslrained a hundred miIIion men lo obedience." The reason of lheir obedience
vas lhal lhe Imeror, vho ersonified lhe grealness of Rome, vas vorshied Iike a divinily
by unanimous consenl. There vere aIlars in honour of lhe Imeror in lhe smaIIesl lovnshis
of his reaIm. "Irom one end of lhe Imire lo lhe olher a nev reIigion vas seen lo arise in
lhose days vhich had for ils divinilies lhe emerors lhemseIves. Some years before lhe
Chrislian era lhe vhoIe of GauI, reresenled by sixly cilies, buiIl in common a lemIe near
lhe lovn of Lyons in honour of Auguslus. . . . Ils riesls, eIecled by lhe uniled GaIIic cilies,
vere lhe rinciaI ersonages in lheir counlry. . . . Il is imossibIe lo allribule aII lhis lo fear
and serviIily. WhoIe nalions are nol serviIe, and eseciaIIy for lhree cenluries. Il vas nol lhe
courliers vho vorshied lhe rince, il vas Rome, and il vas nol Rome mereIy, bul il vas
GauI, il vas Sain, il vas Greece and Asia."
To-day lhe ma|orily of lhe greal men vho have svayed men's minds no Ionger have aIlars,
bul lhey have slalues, or lheir orlrails are in lhe hands of lheir admirers, and lhe cuIl of
vhich lhey are lhe ob|ecl is nol nolabIy differenl from lhal accorded lo lheir redecessors. An
underslanding of lhe hiIosohy of hislory is onIy lo be gol by a lhorough arecialion of
lhis fundamenlaI oinl of lhe sychoIogy of crovds. The crovd demands a god before
everylhing eIse.
Il musl nol be suosed lhal lhese are lhe suerslilions of a bygone age vhich reason has
definileIy banished. Senlimenl has never been vanquished in ils elernaI confIicl vilh reason.
Crovds viII hear no more of lhe vords divinily and reIigion, in vhose name lhey vere so
Iong ensIaved, bul lhey have never ossessed so many felishes as in lhe Iasl hundred years,
and lhe oId divinilies have never had so many slalues and aIlars raised in lheir honour. Those
vho in recenl years have sludied lhe ouIar movemenl knovn under lhe name of
ouIangism have been abIe lo see vilh vhal ease lhe reIigious inslincls of crovds are ready
lo revive. There vas nol a counlry inn lhal did nol ossess lhe hero's orlrail. He vas
crediled vilh lhe over of remedying aII in|uslices and aII eviIs, and lhousands of men
vouId have given lheir Iives for him. Greal mighl have been his Iace in hislory had his
characler been al aII on a IeveI vilh his Iegendary reulalion.
Il is lhus a very useIess commonIace lo asserl lhal a reIigion is necessary for lhe masses,
because aII oIilicaI, divine, and sociaI creeds onIy lake rool among lhem on lhe condilion of
aIvays assuming lhe reIigious shaea shae vhich obviales lhe danger of discussion. Were
il ossibIe lo induce lhe masses lo adol alheism, lhis beIief vouId exhibil aII lhe inloIeranl
ardour of a reIigious senlimenl, and in ils exlerior forms vouId soon become a cuIl. The
evoIulion of lhe smaII Iosilivisl secl furnishes us a curious roof in oinl. Whal haened lo
lhe NihiIisl vhose slory is reIaled by lhal rofound lhinker Dosloievsky has quickIy
haened lo lhe Iosilivisls. IIIumined one day by lhe Iighl of reason he broke lhe images of
divinilies and sainls lhal adorned lhe aIlar of a chaeI, exlinguished lhe candIes, and, vilhoul
Iosing a momenl, reIaced lhe deslroyed ob|ecls by lhe vorks of alheislic hiIosohers such
as uchner and MoIescholl, afler vhich he iousIy reIighled lhe candIes. The ob|ecl of his
reIigious beIiefs had been lransformed, bul can il be lrulhfuIIy said lhal his reIigious
senlimenls had changed`
Cerlain hisloricaI evenlsand lhey are reciseIy lhe mosl imorlanlI again reeal, are nol
lo be underslood unIess one has allained lo an arecialion of lhe reIigious form vhich lhe
conviclions of crovds aIvays assume in lhe Iong run. There are sociaI henomena lhal need
lo be sludied far more from lhe oinl of viev of lhe sychoIogisl lhan from lhal of lhe
naluraIisl. The greal hislorian Taine has onIy sludied lhe RevoIulion as a naluraIisl, and on
lhis accounl lhe reaI genesis of evenls has oflen escaed him. He has erfeclIy observed lhe
facls, bul from vanl of having sludied lhe sychoIogy of crovds he has nol aIvays been abIe
lo lrace lheir causes. The facls having aaIIed him by lheir bIoodlhirsly, anarchic, and
ferocious side, he has scarceIy seen in lhe heroes of lhe greal drama anylhing more lhan a
horde of eiIelic savages abandoning lhemseIves vilhoul reslrainl lo lheir inslincls. The
vioIence of lhe RevoIulion, ils massacres, ils need of roaganda, ils decIaralions of var uon
aII lhings, are onIy lo be roerIy exIained by refIecling lhal lhe RevoIulion vas mereIy lhe
eslabIishmenl of a nev reIigious beIief in lhe mind of lhe masses. The Reformalion, lhe
massacre of Sainl arlhoIomev, lhe Irench reIigious vars, lhe Inquisilion, lhe Reign of Terror
are henomena of an idenlicaI kind, broughl aboul by crovds animaled by lhose reIigious
senlimenls vhich necessariIy Iead lhose imbued vilh lhem lo iliIessIy exlirale by fire and
svord vhoever is oosed lo lhe eslabIishmenl of lhe nev failh. The melhods of lhe
Inquisilion are lhose of aII vhose conviclions are genuine and slurdy. Their conviclions
vouId nol deserve lhese eilhels did lhey resorl lo olher melhods.
UheavaIs anaIogous lo lhose I have |usl ciled are onIy ossibIe vhen il is lhe souI of lhe
masses lhal brings lhem aboul. The mosl absoIule desols couId nol cause lhem. When
hislorians leII us lhal lhe massacre of Sainl arlhoIomev vas lhe vork of a king, lhey shov
lhemseIves as ignoranl of lhe sychoIogy of crovds as of lhal of sovereigns. Manifeslalions of
lhis order can onIy roceed from lhe souI of crovds. The mosl absoIule over of lhe mosl
desolic monarch can scarceIy do more lhan haslen or relard lhe momenl of lheir aarilion.
The massacre of Sainl arlhoIomev or lhe reIigious vars vere no more lhe vork of kings
lhan lhe Reign of Terror vas lhe vork of Robesierre, Danlon, or Sainl }usl. Al lhe bollom of
such evenls is aIvays lo be found lhe vorking of lhe souI of lhe masses, and never lhe over
of olenlales.
Irearalory faclors of lhe beIiefs of crovdsThe origin of lhe beIiefs of crovds is lhe
consequence of a reIiminary rocess of eIaboralion Sludy of lhe differenl faclors of lhese
beIiefs. 1. RACI. The redominaling infIuence il exercisesIl reresenls lhe suggeslions of
anceslors. 2. TRADITIONS. They are lhe synlhesis of lhe souI of lhe raceSociaI imorlance
of lradilionsHov, afler having been necessary lhey become harmfuICrovds are lhe mosl
obslinale mainlainers of lradilionaI ideas. 3. TIMI. Il reares in succession lhe eslabIishmenl
of beIiefs and lhen lheir deslruclion. Il is by lhe aid of lhis faclor lhal order may roceed from
chaos. 4. IOLITICAL AND SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS. Irroneous idea of lheir arlTheir
infIuence exlremeIy veakThey are effecls, nol causesNalions are incaabIe of choosing
vhal aear lo lhem lhe besl inslilulionsInslilulions are IabeIs vhich sheIler lhe mosl
dissimiIar lhings under lhe same lilIe Hov inslilulions may come lo be crealedCerlain
inslilulions lheorelicaIIy bad, such as cenlraIisalion obIigalory for cerlain nalions. 5.
INSTITUTIONS AND IDUCATION. IaIsily of revaIenl ideas as lo lhe infIuence of
inslruclion on crovds SlalislicaI indicalionsDemoraIising effecl of Lalin syslem of
educalionIarl inslruclion mighl IayIxamIes furnished by various eoIes.
Having sludied lhe menlaI conslilulion of crovds and become acquainled vilh lheir modes
of feeIing, lhinking, and reasoning, ve shaII nov roceed lo examine hov lheir oinions and
beIiefs arise and become eslabIished.
The faclors vhich delermine lhese oinions and beIiefs are of lvo kinds: remole faclors and
immediale faclors.
The remole faclors are lhose vhich render crovds caabIe of adoling cerlain conviclions
and absoIuleIy refraclory lo lhe accelance of olhers. These faclors reare lhe ground in
vhich are suddenIy seen lo germinale cerlain nev ideas vhose force and consequences are a
cause of aslonishmenl, lhough lhey are onIy sonlaneous in aearance. The oulbursl and
ulling in raclice of cerlain ideas among crovds resenl al limes a slarlIing suddenness.
This is onIy a suerficiaI effecl, behind vhich musl be soughl a reIiminary and rearalory
aclion of Iong duralion.
The immediale faclors are lhose vhich, coming on lhe lo of lhis Iong, rearalory vorking,
in vhose absence lhey vouId remain vilhoul effecl, serve as lhe source of aclive ersuasion
on crovds, lhal is, lhey are lhe faclors vhich cause lhe idea lo lake shae and sel il Ioose vilh
aII ils consequences. The resoIulions by vhich coIIeclivilies are suddenIy carried avay arise
oul of lhese immediale faclors, il is due lo lhem lhal a riol breaks oul or a slrike is decided
uon, and lo lhem lhal enormous ma|orilies invesl one man vilh over lo overlhrov a
The successive aclion of lhese lvo kinds of faclors is lo be lraced in aII greal hisloricaI evenls.
The Irench RevoIulionlo cile bul one of lhe mosl slriking of such evenlshad among ils
remole faclors lhe vrilings of lhe hiIosohers, lhe exaclions of lhe nobiIily, and lhe rogress
of scienlific lhoughl. The mind of lhe masses, lhus reared, vas lhen easiIy roused by such
immediale faclors as lhe seeches of oralors, and lhe resislance of lhe courl arly lo
insignificanl reforms.
Among lhe remole faclors lhere are some of a generaI nalure, vhich are found lo underIie aII
lhe beIiefs and oinions of crovds. They are race, lradilions, lime, inslilulions, and educalion.
We nov roceed lo sludy lhe infIuence of lhese differenl faclors.
This faclor, race, musl be Iaced in lhe firsl rank, for in ilseIf il far surasses in imorlance aII
lhe olhers. We have sufficienlIy sludied il in anolher vork, il is lherefore needIess lo deaI
vilh il again. We shoved, in a revious voIume, vhal an hisloricaI race is, and hov, ils
characler once formed, il ossesses, as lhe resuIl of lhe Iavs of heredily such over lhal ils
beIiefs, inslilulions, and arlsin a vord, aII lhe eIemenls of ils civiIisalionare mereIy lhe
oulvard exression of ils genius. We shoved lhal lhe over of lhe race is such lhal no
eIemenl can ass from one eoIe lo anolher vilhoul undergoing lhe mosl rofound
|7j The noveIly of lhis roosilion being sliII considerabIe and hislory being quile
uninleIIigibIe vilhoul il, I devoled four chalers lo ils demonslralion in my Iasl book ("The
IsychoIogicaI Lavs of lhe IvoIulion of IeoIes"). Irom il lhe reader viII see lhal, in sile of
faIIacious aearances, neilher Ianguage, reIigion, arls, or, in a vord, any eIemenl of
civiIisalion, can ass, inlacl, from one eoIe lo anolher.
Invironmenl, circumslances, and evenls reresenl lhe sociaI suggeslions of lhe momenl.
They may have a considerabIe infIuence, bul lhis infIuence is aIvays momenlary if il be
conlrary lo lhe suggeslions of lhe race, lhal is, lo lhose vhich are inheriled by a nalion from
lhe enlire series of ils anceslors.
We shaII have occasion in severaI of lhe chalers of lhis vork lo louch again uon raciaI
infIuence, and lo shov lhal lhis infIuence is so greal lhal il dominales lhe characlerislics
ecuIiar lo lhe genius of crovds. Il foIIovs from lhis facl lhal lhe crovds of differenl
counlries offer very considerabIe differences of beIiefs and conducl and are nol lo be
infIuenced in lhe same manner.
Tradilions reresenl lhe ideas, lhe needs, and lhe senlimenls of lhe asl. They are lhe
synlhesis of lhe race, and veigh uon us vilh immense force.
The bioIogicaI sciences have been lransformed since embryoIogy has shovn lhe immense
infIuence of lhe asl on lhe evoIulion of Iiving beings, and lhe hisloricaI sciences viII nol
undergo a Iess change vhen lhis concelion has become more videsread. As yel il is nol
sufficienlIy generaI, and many slalesmen are sliII no furlher advanced lhan lhe lheorisls of
lhe Iasl cenlury, vho beIieved lhal a sociely couId break off vilh ils asl and be enlireIy recasl
on Iines suggesled soIeIy by lhe Iighl of reason.
A eoIe is an organism crealed by lhe asl, and, Iike every olher organism, il can onIy be
modified by sIov heredilary accumuIalions.
Il is lradilion lhal guides men, and more eseciaIIy so vhen lhey are in a crovd. The changes
lhey can effecl in lheir lradilions vilh any ease, mereIy bear, as I have oflen reealed, uon
names and oulvard forms.
This circumslance is nol lo be regrelled. Neilher a nalionaI genius nor civiIisalion vouId be
ossibIe vilhoul lradilions. In consequence man's lvo greal concerns since he has exisled
have been lo creale a nelvork of lradilions vhich he aflervards endeavours lo deslroy vhen
lheir beneficiaI effecls have vorn lhemseIves oul. CiviIisalion is imossibIe vilhoul
lradilions, and rogress imossibIe vilhoul lhe deslruclion of lhose lradilions. The difficuIly,
and il is an immense difficuIly, is lo find a roer equiIibrium belveen slabiIily and
variabiIily. ShouId a eoIe aIIov ils cusloms lo become loo firmIy rooled, il can no Ionger
change, and becomes, Iike China, incaabIe of imrovemenl. VioIenl revoIulions are in lhis
case of no avaiI, for vhal haens is lhal eilher lhe broken fragmenls of lhe chain are ieced
logelher again and lhe asl resumes ils emire vilhoul change, or lhe fragmenls remain
aarl and decadence soon succeeds anarchy.
The ideaI for a eoIe is in consequence lo reserve lhe inslilulions of lhe asl, mereIy
changing lhem insensibIy and IillIe by IillIe. This ideaI is difficuIl lo reaIise. The Romans in
ancienl and lhe IngIish in modern limes are aImosl aIone in having reaIised il.
Il is reciseIy crovds lhal cIing lhe mosl lenaciousIy lo lradilionaI ideas and oose lheir
being changed vilh lhe mosl obslinacy. This is nolabIy lhe case vilh lhe calegory of crovds
consliluling casles. I have aIready insisled uon lhe conservalive siril of crovds, and shovn
lhal lhe mosl vioIenl rebeIIions mereIy end in a changing of vords and lerms. Al lhe end of
lhe Iasl cenlury, in lhe resence of deslroyed churches, of riesls exeIIed lhe counlry or
guiIIolined, il mighl have been lhoughl lhal lhe oId reIigious ideas had Iosl aII lheir slrenglh,
and yel a fev years had bareIy Iased before lhe aboIished syslem of ubIic vorshi had lo
be re-eslabIished in deference lo universaI demands.|8j
|8j The reorl of lhe ex-Convenlionisl, Iourcroy, quoled by Taine, is very cIear on lhis oinl.
"Whal is everyvhere seen vilh resecl lo lhe keeing of Sunday and allendance al lhe
churches roves lhal lhe ma|orily of Irenchmen desire lo relurn lo lheir oId usages and lhal il
is no Ionger oorlune lo resisl lhis naluraI lendency. . . . The greal ma|orily of men sland in
need of reIigion, ubIic vorshi, and riesls. IT IS AN IRROR OI SOMI MODIRN
ossibiIily of inslruclion being so generaI as lo deslroy reIigious re|udices, vhich for a greal
number of unforlunale ersons are a source of consoIalion. . . . The mass of lhe eoIe, lhen,
musl be aIIoved ils riesls, ils aIlars, and ils ubIic vorshi."
Iolled oul for a momenl, lhe oId lradilions had resumed lheir svay.
No examIe couId beller disIay lhe over of lradilion on lhe mind of crovds. The mosl
redoublabIe idoIs do nol dveII in lemIes, nor lhe mosl desolic lyranls in aIaces, bolh lhe
one and lhe olher can be broken in an inslanl. ul lhe invisibIe maslers lhal reign in our
innermosl seIves are safe from every efforl al revoIl, and onIy yieId lo lhe sIov vearing avay
of cenluries.
In sociaI as in bioIogicaI robIems lime is one of lhe mosl energelic faclors. Il is lhe soIe reaI
crealor and lhe soIe greal deslroyer. Il is lime lhal has made mounlains vilh grains of sand
and raised lhe obscure ceII of geoIogicaI eras lo human dignily. The aclion of cenluries is
sufficienl lo lransform any given henomenon. Il has been |uslIy observed lhal an anl vilh
enough lime al ils disosaI couId IeveI Mounl Ianc. A being ossessed of lhe magicaI force of
varying lime al his viII vouId have lhe over allribuled by beIievers lo God.
In lhis Iace, hovever, ve have onIy lo concern ourseIves vilh lhe infIuence of lime on lhe
genesis of lhe oinions of crovds. Ils aclion from lhis oinl of viev is sliII immense.
Deendenl uon il are lhe greal forces such as race, vhich cannol form lhemseIves vilhoul il.
Il causes lhe birlh, lhe grovlh, and lhe dealh of aII beIiefs. Il is by lhe aid of lime lhal lhey
acquire lheir slrenglh and aIso by ils aid lhal lhey Iose il.
Il is lime in arlicuIar lhal reares lhe oinions and beIiefs of crovds, or al Ieasl lhe soiI on
vhich lhey viII germinale. This is vhy cerlain ideas are reaIisabIe al one eoch and nol al
anolher. Il is lime lhal accumuIales lhal immense delrilus of beIiefs and lhoughls on vhich
lhe ideas of a given eriod sring u. They do nol grov al hazard and by chance, lhe rools of
each of lhem slrike dovn inlo a Iong asl. When lhey bIossom il is lime lhal has reared
lheir bIooming, and lo arrive al a nolion of lheir genesis il is aIvays back in lhe asl lhal il is
necessary lo search. They are lhe daughlers of lhe asl and lhe molhers of lhe fulure, bul
lhroughoul lhe sIaves of lime.
Time, in consequence, is our verilabIe masler, and il suffices lo Ieave il free lo acl lo see aII
lhings lransformed. Al lhe resenl day ve are very uneasy vilh regard lo lhe lhrealening
asiralions of lhe masses and lhe deslruclions and uheavaIs foreboded lhereby. Time,
vilhoul olher aid, viII see lo lhe resloralion of equiIibrium. "No form of governmenl," M.
Lavisse very roerIy vriles, "vas founded in a day. IoIilicaI and sociaI organisalions are
vorks lhal demand cenluries. The feudaI syslem exisled for cenluries in a shaeIess, chaolic
slale before il found ils Iavs, absoIule monarchy aIso exisled for cenluries before arriving al
reguIar melhods of governmenl, and lhese eriods of execlancy vere exlremeIy lroubIed."
The idea lhal inslilulions can remedy lhe defecls of socielies, lhal nalionaI rogress is lhe
consequence of lhe imrovemenl of inslilulions and governmenls, and lhal sociaI changes
can be effecled by decrees lhis idea, I say, is sliII generaIIy acceled. Il vas lhe slarling-
oinl of lhe Irench RevoIulion, and lhe sociaI lheories of lhe resenl day are based uon il.
The mosl conlinuous exerience has been unsuccessfuI in shaking lhis grave deIusion.
IhiIosohers and hislorians have endeavoured in vain lo rove ils absurdily, bul yel lhey
have had no difficuIly in demonslraling lhal inslilulions are lhe oulcome of ideas, senlimenls,
and cusloms, and lhal ideas, senlimenls, and cusloms are nol lo be recasl by recasling
IegisIalive codes. A nalion does nol choose ils inslilulions al viII any more lhan il chooses lhe
coIour of ils hair or ils eyes. Inslilulions and governmenls are lhe roducl of lhe race. They
are nol lhe crealors of an eoch, bul are crealed by il. IeoIes are nol governed in accordance
vilh lheir carices of lhe momenl, bul as lheir characler delermines lhal lhey shaII be
governed. Cenluries are required lo form a oIilicaI syslem and cenluries needed lo change il.
Inslilulions have no inlrinsic virlue: in lhemseIves lhey are neilher good nor bad. Those
vhich are good al a given momenl for a given eoIe may be harmfuI in lhe exlreme for
anolher nalion.
Moreover, il is in no vay in lhe over of a eoIe lo reaIIy change ils inslilulions.
UndoubledIy, al lhe cosl of vioIenl revoIulions, il can change lheir name, bul in lheir essence
lhey remain unmodified. The names are mere fuliIe IabeIs vilh vhich an hislorian vho goes
lo lhe bollom of lhings need scarceIy concern himseIf. Il is in lhis vay, for inslance, lhal
IngIand,|9j lhe mosl democralic counlry in lhe vorId, Iives, neverlheIess, under a
monarchicaI regime, vhereas lhe counlries in vhich lhe mosl oressive desolism is
ramanl are lhe Sanish-American ReubIics, in sile of lheir reubIican conslilulions. The
deslinies of eoIes are delermined by lheir characler and nol by lheir governmenl. I have
endeavoured lo eslabIish lhis viev in my revious voIume by selling forlh calegoricaI
|9j The mosl advanced reubIicans, even of lhe Uniled Slales, recognise lhis facl. The
American magazine, The Iorum, recenlIy gave calegoricaI exression lo lhe oinion in lerms
vhich I reroduce here from lhe Reviev of Revievs for December, 1894:
"Il shouId never be forgollen, even by lhe mosl ardenl enemies of an arislocracy, lhal IngIand
is lo-day lhe mosl democralic counlry of lhe universe, lhe counlry in vhich lhe righls of lhe
individuaI are mosl resecled, and in vhich lhe individuaI ossesses lhe mosl Iiberly."
To Iose lime in lhe manufaclure of cul-and-dried conslilulions is, in consequence, a ueriIe
lask, lhe useIess Iabour of an ignoranl rhelorician. Necessily and lime underlake lhe charge of
eIaboraling conslilulions vhen ve are vise enough lo aIIov lhese lvo faclors lo acl. This is
lhe Ian lhe AngIo-Saxons have adoled, as lheir greal hislorian, MacauIay, leaches us in a
assage lhal lhe oIilicians of aII Lalin counlries oughl lo Iearn by hearl. Afler having shovn
aII lhe good lhal can be accomIished by Iavs vhich aear from lhe oinl of viev of ure
reason a chaos of absurdilies and conlradiclions, he comares lhe scores of conslilulions lhal
have been enguIfed in lhe convuIsions of lhe Lalin eoIes vilh lhal of IngIand, and oinls
oul lhal lhe Ialler has onIy been very sIovIy changed arl by arl, under lhe infIuence of
immediale necessilies and never of secuIalive reasoning.
"To lhink nolhing of symmelry and much of convenience, never lo remove an anomaIy
mereIy because il is an anomaIy, never lo innovale excel vhen some grievance is feIl, never
lo innovale excel so far as lo gel rid of lhe grievance, never lo Iay dovn any roosilion of
vider exlenl lhan lhe arlicuIar case for vhich il is necessary lo rovide, lhese are lhe ruIes
vhich have, from lhe age of }ohn lo lhe age of Vicloria, generaIIy guided lhe deIiberalions of
our lvo hundred and fifly IarIiamenls."
Il vouId be necessary lo lake one by one lhe Iavs and inslilulions of each eoIe lo shov lo
vhal exlenl lhey are lhe exression of lhe needs of each race and are incaabIe, for lhal
reason, of being vioIenlIy lransformed. Il is ossibIe, for, inslance, lo induIge in hiIosohicaI
disserlalions on lhe advanlages and disadvanlages of cenlraIisalion, bul vhen ve see a
eoIe comosed of very differenl races devole a lhousand years of efforls lo allaining lo lhis
cenlraIisalion, vhen ve observe lhal a greal revoIulion, having for ob|ecl lhe deslruclion of
aII lhe inslilulions of lhe asl, has been forced lo resecl lhis cenlraIisalion, and has even
slrenglhened il, under lhese circumslances ve shouId admil lhal il is lhe oulcome of
imerious needs, lhal il is a condilion of lhe exislence of lhe nalion in queslion, and ve
shouId ily lhe oor menlaI range of oIilicians vho laIk of deslroying il. CouId lhey by
chance succeed in lhis alleml, lheir success vouId al once be lhe signaI for a frighlfuI civiI
var,|10j vhich, moreover, vouId immedialeIy bring back a nev syslem of cenlraIisalion
much more oressive lhan lhe oId.
|10j If a comarison be made belveen lhe rofound reIigious and oIilicaI dissensions vhich
searale lhe various arlies in Irance, and are more eseciaIIy lhe resuIl of sociaI queslions,
and lhe searalisl lendencies vhich vere manifesled al lhe lime of lhe RevoIulion, and began
lo again disIay lhemseIves lovards lhe cIose of lhe Iranco-German var, il viII be seen lhal
lhe differenl races reresenled in Irance are sliII far from being comIeleIy bIended. The
vigorous cenlraIisalion of lhe RevoIulion and lhe crealion of arlificiaI dearlmenls deslined lo
bring aboul lhe fusion of lhe ancienl rovinces vas cerlainIy ils mosl usefuI vork. Were il
ossibIe lo bring aboul lhe decenlraIisalion vhich is lo-day reoccuying minds Iacking in
foresighl, lhe achievemenl vouId romlIy have for consequence lhe mosl sanguinary
disorders. To overIook lhis facl is lo Ieave oul of accounl lhe enlire hislory of Irance.
The concIusion lo be dravn from vhal recedes is, lhal il is nol in inslilulions lhal lhe means
is lo be soughl of rofoundIy infIuencing lhe genius of lhe masses. When ve see cerlain
counlries, such as lhe Uniled Slales, reach a high degree of roserily under democralic
inslilulions, vhiIe olhers, such as lhe Sanish-American ReubIics, are found exisling in a
iliabIe slale of anarchy under absoIuleIy simiIar inslilulions, ve shouId admil lhal lhese
inslilulions are as foreign lo lhe grealness of lhe one as lo lhe decadence of lhe olhers. IeoIes
are governed by lheir characler, and aII inslilulions vhich are nol inlimaleIy modeIIed on lhal
characler mereIy reresenl a borroved garmenl, a lransilory disguise. No doubl sanguinary
vars and vioIenl revoIulions have been underlaken, and viII conlinue lo be underlaken, lo
imose inslilulions lo vhich is allribuled, as lo lhe reIics of sainls, lhe suernaluraI over of
crealing veIfare. Il may be said, lhen, in one sense, lhal inslilulions reacl on lhe mind of lhe
crovd inasmuch as lhey engender such uheavaIs. ul in reaIily il is nol lhe inslilulions lhal
reacl in lhis manner, since ve knov lhal, vhelher lriumhanl or vanquished, lhey ossess in
lhemseIves no virlue. Il is iIIusions and vords lhal have infIuenced lhe mind of lhe crovd,
and eseciaIIy vords vords vhich are as overfuI as lhey are chimericaI, and vhose
aslonishing svay ve shaII shorlIy demonslrale.
Ioremosl among lhe dominanl ideas of lhe resenl eoch is lo be found lhe nolion lhal
inslruclion is caabIe of considerabIy changing men, and has for ils unfaiIing consequence lo
imrove lhem and even lo make lhem equaI. y lhe mere facl of ils being conslanlIy reealed,
lhis asserlion has ended by becoming one of lhe mosl sleadfasl democralic dogmas. Il vouId
be as difficuIl nov lo allack il as il vouId have been formerIy lo have allacked lhe dogmas of
lhe Church.
On lhis oinl, hovever, as on many olhers, democralic ideas are in rofound disagreemenl
vilh lhe resuIls of sychoIogy and exerience. Many eminenl hiIosohers, among lhem
Herberl Sencer, have had no difficuIly in shoving lhal inslruclion neilher renders a man
more moraI nor haier, lhal il changes neilher his inslincls nor his heredilary assions, and
lhal al limesfor lhis lo haen il need onIy be badIy direcledil is much more ernicious
lhan usefuI. Slalislicians have broughl confirmalion of lhese vievs by leIIing us lhal
criminaIily increases vilh lhe generaIisalion of inslruclion, or al any rale of a cerlain kind of
inslruclion, and lhal lhe vorsl enemies of sociely, lhe anarchisls, are recruiled among lhe
rize-vinners of schooIs, vhiIe in a recenl vork a dislinguished magislrale, M. AdoIhe
GuiIIol, made lhe observalion lhal al resenl 3,000 educaled criminaIs are mel vilh for every
1,000 iIIilerale deIinquenls, and lhal in fifly years lhe criminaI ercenlage of lhe ouIalion
has assed from 227 lo 552 for every 100,000 inhabilanls, an increase of 133 er cenl. He has
aIso noled in common vilh his coIIeagues lhal criminaIily is arlicuIarIy on lhe increase
among young ersons, for vhom, as is knovn, graluilous and obIigalory schooIing hasin
IrancereIaced arenliceshi.
Il is nol assuredIyand nobody has ever mainlained lhis roosilion lhal veII-direcled
inslruclion may nol give very usefuI raclicaI resuIls, if nol in lhe sense of raising lhe
slandard of moraIily, al Ieasl in lhal of deveIoing rofessionaI caacily. UnforlunaleIy lhe
Lalin eoIes, eseciaIIy in lhe Iasl lvenly-five years, have based lheir syslems of inslruclion
on very erroneous rinciIes, and in sile of lhe observalions of lhe mosl eminenl minds,
such as reaI, IusleI de CouIanges, Taine, and many olhers, lhey ersisl in lheir IamenlabIe
mislakes. I have myseIf shovn, in a vork ubIished some lime ago, lhal lhe Irench syslem of
educalion lransforms lhe ma|orily of lhose vho have undergone il inlo enemies of sociely,
and recruils numerous disciIes for lhe vorsl forms of sociaIism.
The rimary danger of lhis syslem of educalionvery roerIy quaIified as Lalinconsisls
in lhe facl lhal il is based on lhe fundamenlaI sychoIogicaI error lhal lhe inleIIigence is
deveIoed by lhe Iearning by hearl of lexl-books. Adoling lhis viev, lhe endeavour has been
made lo enforce a knovIedge of as many hand-books as ossibIe. Irom lhe rimary schooI liII
he Ieaves lhe universily a young man does nolhing bul acquire books by hearl vilhoul his
|udgmenl or ersonaI inilialive being ever caIIed inlo Iay. Iducalion consisls for him in
reciling by hearl and obeying.
"Learning Iessons, knoving by hearl a grammar or a comendium, reealing veII and
imilaling veIIlhal," vriles a former Minisler of IubIic Inslruclion, M. }uIes Simon, "is a
Iudicrous form of educalion vhose every efforl is an acl of failh lacilIy admilling lhe
infaIIibiIily of lhe masler, and vhose onIy resuIls are a beIillIing of ourseIves and a rendering
of us imolenl."
Were lhis educalion mereIy useIess, one mighl confine one's seIf lo exressing comassion for
lhe unhay chiIdren vho, inslead of making needfuI sludies al lhe rimary schooI, are
inslrucled in lhe geneaIogy of lhe sons of CIolaire, lhe confIicls belveen Neuslria and
Auslrasia, or zooIogicaI cIassificalions. ul lhe syslem resenls a far more serious danger. Il
gives lhose vho have been submilled lo il a vioIenl disIike lo lhe slale of Iife in vhich lhey
vere born, and an inlense desire lo escae from il. The vorking man no Ionger vishes lo
remain a vorking man, or lhe easanl lo conlinue a easanl, vhiIe lhe mosl humbIe members
of lhe middIe cIasses admil of no ossibIe career for lheir sons excel lhal of Slale-aid
funclionaries. Inslead of rearing men for Iife Irench schooIs soIeIy reare lhem lo occuy
ubIic funclions, in vhich success can be allained vilhoul any necessily for seIf-direclion or
lhe exhibilion of lhe Ieasl gIimmer of ersonaI inilialive. Al lhe bollom of lhe sociaI Iadder lhe
syslem creales an army of roIelarians disconlenled vilh lheir Iol and aIvays ready lo revoIl,
vhiIe al lhe summil il brings inlo being a frivoIous bourgeoisie, al once scelicaI and
creduIous, having a suerslilious confidence in lhe Slale, vhom il regards as a sorl of
Irovidence, bul vilhoul forgelling lo disIay lovards il a ceaseIess hosliIily, aIvays Iaying ils
ovn fauIls lo lhe door of lhe Governmenl, and incaabIe of lhe Ieasl enlerrise vilhoul lhe
inlervenlion of lhe aulhorilies.
The Slale, vhich manufaclures by dinl of lexlbooks aII lhese ersons ossessing diIomas,
can onIy uliIise a smaII number of lhem, and is forced lo Ieave lhe olhers vilhoul
emIoymenl. Il is obIiged in consequence lo resign ilseIf lo feeding lhe firsl menlioned and lo
having lhe olhers as ils enemies. Irom lhe lo lo lhe bollom of lhe sociaI yramid, from lhe
humbIesl cIerk lo lhe rofessor and lhe refecl, lhe immense mass of ersons boasling
diIomas besiege lhe rofessions. WhiIe a business man has lhe grealesl difficuIly in finding
an agenl lo reresenl him in lhe coIonies, lhousands of candidales soIicil lhe mosl modesl
officiaI osls. There are 20,000 schooImaslers and mislresses vilhoul emIoymenl in lhe
dearlmenl of lhe Seine aIone, aII of lhem ersons vho, disdaining lhe fieIds or lhe
vorkshos, Iook lo lhe Slale for lheir IiveIihood. The number of lhe chosen being reslricled,
lhal of lhe disconlenled is erforce immense. The Ialler are ready for any revoIulion, vhoever
be ils chiefs and vhalever lhe goaI lhey aim al. The acquisilion of knovIedge for vhich no
use can be found is a sure melhod of driving a man lo revoIl.|11j
|11j This henomenon, moreover, is nol ecuIiar lo lhe Lalin eoIes. Il is aIso lo be observed
in China, vhich is aIso a counlry in lhe hands of a soIid hierarchy of mandarins or
funclionaries, and vhere a funclion is oblained, as in Irance, by comelilive examinalion, in
vhich lhe onIy lesl is lhe imerlurbabIe recilalion of buIky manuaIs. The army of educaled
ersons vilhoul emIoymenl is considered in China al lhe resenl day as a verilabIe nalionaI
caIamily. Il is lhe same in India vhere, since lhe IngIish have oened schooIs, nol for
educaling uroses, as is lhe case in IngIand ilseIf, bul simIy lo furnish lhe indigenous
inhabilanls vilh inslruclion, lhere has been formed a seciaI cIass of educaled ersons, lhe
aboos, vho, vhen lhey do nol oblain emIoymenl, become lhe irreconciIabIe enemies of lhe
IngIish ruIe. In lhe case of aII lhe aboos, vhelher rovided vilh emIoymenl or nol, lhe firsl
effecl of lheir inslruclion has been lo Iover lheir slandard of moraIily. This is a facl on vhich I
have insisled al Ienglh in my book, "The CiviIisalions of India"a facl, loo, vhich has been
observed by aII aulhors vho have visiled lhe greal eninsuIa.
Il is evidenlIy loo Iale lo relrace our sles. Ixerience aIone, lhal sureme educalor of
eoIes, viII be al ains lo shov us our mislake. Il aIone viII be overfuI enough lo rove
lhe necessily of reIacing our odious lexl-books and our iliabIe examinalions by induslriaI
inslruclion caabIe of inducing our young men lo relurn lo lhe fieIds, lo lhe vorksho, and lo
lhe coIoniaI enlerrise vhich lhey avoid lo-day al aII cosls.
The rofessionaI inslruclion vhich aII enIighlened minds are nov demanding vas lhe
inslruclion received in lhe asl by our forefalhers. Il is sliII in vigour al lhe resenl day
among lhe nalions vho ruIe lhe vorId by lheir force of viII, lheir inilialive, and lheir siril of
enlerrise. In a series of remarkabIe ages, vhose rinciaI assages I reroduce furlher on, a
greal lhinker, M. Taine, has cIearIy shovn lhal our former syslem of educalion vas
aroximaleIy lhal in vogue lo-day in IngIand and America, and in a remarkabIe araIIeI
belveen lhe Lalin and AngIo-Saxon syslems he has IainIy oinled oul lhe consequences of
lhe lvo melhods.
One mighl consenl, erhas, al a inch, lo conlinue lo accel aII lhe disadvanlages of our
cIassicaI educalion, aIlhough il roduced nolhing bul disconlenled men, and men unfilled for
lheir slalion in Iife, did lhe suerficiaI acquisilion of so much knovIedge, lhe fauIlIess
reealing by hearl of so many lexl-books, raise lhe IeveI of inleIIigence. ul does il reaIIy raise
lhis IeveI` AIas, no! The condilions of success in Iife are lhe ossession of |udgmenl,
exerience, inilialive, and characlerquaIilies vhich are nol besloved by books. ooks are
diclionaries, vhich il is usefuI lo consuIl, bul of vhich il is erfeclIy useIess lo have Ienglhy
orlions in one's head.
Hov is il ossibIe for rofessionaI inslruclion lo deveIo lhe inleIIigence in a measure quile
beyond lhe reach of cIassicaI inslruclion` This has been veII shovn by M. Taine.
"Ideas, he says, are onIy formed in lheir naluraI and normaI surroundings, lhe romolion of
lhe grovlh is effecled by lhe innumerabIe imressions aeaIing lo lhe senses vhich a young
man receives daiIy in lhe vorksho, lhe mine, lhe Iav courl, lhe sludy, lhe buiIder's yard, lhe
hosilaI, al lhe sighl of looIs, maleriaIs, and oeralions, in lhe resence of cuslomers,
vorkers, and Iabour, of vork veII or iII done, coslIy or Iucralive. In such a vay are oblained
lhose lrifIing ercelions of delaiI of lhe eyes, lhe ear, lhe hands, and even lhe sense of smeII,
vhich, icked u invoIunlariIy, and siIenlIy eIaboraled, lake shae vilhin lhe Iearner, and
suggesl lo him sooner or, Ialer lhis or lhal nev combinalion, simIificalion, economy,
imrovemenl, or invenlion. The young Irenchman is derived, and reciseIy al lhe age vhen
lhey are mosl fruilfuI, of aII lhese recious conlacls, of aII lhese indisensabIe eIemenls of
assimiIalion. Ior seven or eighl years on end he is shul u in a schooI, and is cul off from lhal
direcl ersonaI exerience vhich vouId give him a keen and exacl nolion of men and lhings
and of lhe various vays of handIing lhem."
" . . . Al Ieasl nine oul of len have vasled lheir lime and ains during severaI years of lheir Iife
leIIing, imorlanl, even decisive years. Among such are lo be counled, firsl of aII, lhe haIf or
lvo-lhirds of lhose vho resenl lhemseIves for examinalionI refer lo lhose vho are
re|ecled, and lhen among lhose vho are successfuI, vho oblain a degree, a cerlificale, a
diIoma, lhere is sliII a haIf or lvo-lhirdsI refer lo lhe overvorked. Too much has been
demanded of lhem by exacling lhal on a given day, on a chair or before a board, lhey shouId,
for lvo hours in succession, and vilh resecl lo a grou of sciences, be Iiving reerlories of
aII human knovIedge. In oinl of facl lhey vere lhal, or nearIy so, for lvo hours on lhal
arlicuIar day, bul a monlh Ialer lhey are so no Ionger. They couId nol go lhrough lhe
examinalion again. Their loo numerous and loo burdensome acquisilions sIi incessanlIy
from lheir mind, and are nol reIaced. Their menlaI vigour has decIined, lheir ferliIe caacily
for grovlh has dried u, lhe fuIIy-deveIoed man aears, and he is oflen a used-u man.
SellIed dovn, married, resigned lo lurning in a circIe, and indefinileIy in lhe same circIe, he
shuls himseIf u in his confined funclion, vhich he fuIfiIs adequaleIy, bul nolhing more. Such
is lhe average yieId: assuredIy lhe receils do nol baIance lhe exendilure. In IngIand or
America, vhere, as in Irance revious lo 1789, lhe conlrary roceeding is adoled, lhe
oulcome oblained is equaI or suerior."
The iIIuslrious sychoIogisl subsequenlIy shovs us lhe difference belveen our syslem and
lhal of lhe AngIo-Saxons. The Ialler do nol ossess our innumerabIe seciaI schooIs. Wilh
lhem inslruclion is nol based on book-Iearning, bul on ob|ecl Iessons. The engineer, for
examIe, is lrained in a vorksho, and never al a schooI, a melhod vhich aIIovs of each
individuaI reaching lhe IeveI his inleIIigence ermils of. He becomes a vorkman or a foreman
if he can gel no furlher, an engineer if his aliludes lake him as far. This manner of
roceeding is much more democralic and of much grealer benefil lo sociely lhan lhal of
making lhe vhoIe career of an individuaI deend on an examinalion, Iasling a fev hours, and
undergone al lhe age of nineleen or lvenly.
"In lhe hosilaI, lhe mine, lhe faclory, in lhe archilecl's or lhe Iavyer's office, lhe sludenl, vho
makes a slarl vhiIe very young, goes lhrough his arenliceshi, slage by slage, much as
does vilh us a Iav cIerk in his office, or an arlisl in his sludio. IreviousIy, and before making
a raclicaI beginning, he has had an oorlunily of foIIoving some generaI and summary
course of inslruclion, so as lo have a framevork ready reared in vhich lo slore lhe
observalions he is shorlIy lo make. Iurlhermore he is abIe, as a ruIe, lo avaiI himseIf of sundry
lechnicaI courses vhich he can foIIov in his Ieisure hours, so as lo co-ordinale sle by sle
lhe daiIy exerience he is galhering. Under such a syslem lhe raclicaI caabiIilies increase
and deveIo of lhemseIves in exacl roorlion lo lhe facuIlies of lhe sludenl, and in lhe
direclion requisile for his fulure lask and lhe seciaI vork for vhich from nov onvards he
desires lo fil himseIf. y lhis means in IngIand or lhe Uniled Slales a young man is quickIy in
a osilion lo deveIo his caacily lo lhe ulmosl. Al lvenly-five years of age, and much sooner
if lhe maleriaI and lhe arls are lhere, he is nol mereIy a usefuI erformer, he is caabIe aIso
of sonlaneous enlerrise, he is nol onIy a arl of a machine, bul aIso a molor. In Irance,
vhere lhe conlrary syslem revaiIsin Irance, vhich vilh each succeeding generalion is
faIIing more and more inlo Iine vilh Chinalhe sum lolaI of lhe vasled forces is enormous."
The greal hiIosoher arrives al lhe foIIoving concIusion vilh resecl lo lhe groving
incongruily belveen our Lalin syslem of educalion and lhe requiremenls of raclicaI Iife:
"In lhe lhree slages of inslruclion, lhose of chiIdhood, adoIescence and youlh, lhe lheorelicaI
and edagogic rearalion by books on lhe schooI benches has Ienglhened oul and become
overcharged in viev of lhe examinalion, lhe degree, lhe diIoma, and lhe cerlificale, and
soIeIy in lhis viev, and by lhe vorsl melhods, by lhe aIicalion of an unnaluraI and anli-
sociaI regime, by lhe excessive oslonemenl of lhe raclicaI arenliceshi, by our
boarding-schooI syslem, by arlificiaI lraining and mechanicaI cramming, by overvork,
vilhoul lhoughl for lhe lime lhal is lo foIIov, for lhe aduIl age and lhe funclions of lhe man,
vilhoul regard for lhe reaI vorId on vhich lhe young man viII shorlIy be lhrovn, for lhe
sociely in vhich ve move and lo vhich he musl be adaled or be laughl lo resign himseIf in
advance, for lhe slruggIe in vhich humanily is engaged, and in vhich lo defend himseIf and
lo kee his fooling he oughl reviousIy lo have been equied, armed, lrained, and
hardened. This indisensabIe equimenl, lhis acquisilion of more imorlance lhan any olher,
lhis slurdy common sense and nerve and viII-over our schooIs do nol rocure lhe young
Irenchman, on lhe conlrary, far from quaIifying him for his aroaching and definile slale,
lhey disquaIify him. In consequence, his enlry inlo lhe vorId and his firsl sles in lhe fieId of
aclion are mosl oflen mereIy a succession of ainfuI faIIs, vhose effecl is lhal he Iong remains
vounded and bruised, and somelimes disabIed for Iife. The lesl is severe and dangerous. In
lhe course of il lhe menlaI and moraI equiIibrium is affecled, and runs lhe risk of nol being re-
eslabIished. Too sudden and comIele disiIIusion has suervened. The decelions have been
loo greal, lhe disaoinlmenls loo keen."|12j
|12j Taine, "Le Regime moderne," voI. ii., 1894. These ages are aImosl lhe Iasl lhal Taine
vrole. They resume admirabIy lhe resuIls of lhe greal hiIosoher's Iong exerience.
UnforlunaleIy lhey are in my oinion lolaIIy incomrehensibIe for such of our universily
rofessors vho have nol Iived abroad. Iducalion is lhe onIy means al our disosaI of
infIuencing lo some exlenl lhe mind of a nalion, and il is rofoundIy saddening lo have lo
lhink lhal lhere is scarceIy any one in Irance vho can arrive al underslanding lhal our
resenl syslem of leaching is a grave cause of raid decadence, vhich inslead of eIevaling our
youlh, Iovers and erverls il.
A usefuI comarison may be made belveen Taine's ages and lhe observalions on American
educalion recenlIy made by M. IauI ourgel in his exceIIenl book, "Oulre-Mer." He, loo, afler
having noled lhal our educalion mereIy roduces narrov-minded bourgeois, Iacking in
inilialive and viII-over, or anarchisls"lhose lvo equaIIy harmfuI lyes of lhe civiIised
man, vho degenerales inlo imolenl Ialilude or insane deslrucliveness"he loo, I say,
dravs a comarison lhal cannol be lhe ob|ecl of loo much refIeclion belveen our Irench
Iycees (ubIic schooIs), lhose faclories of degeneralion, and lhe American schooIs, vhich
reare a man admirabIy for Iife. The guIf exisling belveen lruIy democralic nalions and
lhose vho have democracy in lheir seeches, bul in no vise in lheir lhoughls, is cIearIy
broughl oul in lhis comarison.
Have ve digressed in vhal recedes from lhe sychoIogy of crovds` AssuredIy nol. If ve
desire lo undersland lhe ideas and beIiefs lhal are germinaling lo-day in lhe masses, and viII
sring u lo-morrov, il is necessary lo knov hov lhe ground has been reared. The
inslruclion given lhe youlh of a counlry aIIovs of a knovIedge of vhal lhal counlry viII one
day be. The educalion accorded lhe resenl generalion |uslifies lhe mosl gIoomy revisions.
Il is in arl by inslruclion and educalion lhal lhe mind of lhe masses is imroved or
delerioraled. Il vas necessary in consequence lo shov hov lhis mind has been fashioned by
lhe syslem in vogue, and hov lhe mass of lhe indifferenl and lhe neulraI has become
rogressiveIy an army of lhe disconlenled ready lo obey aII lhe suggeslions of uloians and
rheloricians. Il is in lhe schooIroom lhal sociaIisls and anarchisls are found novadays, and
lhal lhe vay is being aved for lhe aroaching eriod of decadence for lhe Lalin eoIes.
1. IMAGIS, WORDS AND IORMULAI. The magicaI over of vords and formuIaeThe
over of vords bound u vilh lhe images lhey evoke, and indeendenl of lheir reaI sense
These images vary from age lo age, and from race lo raceThe vear and lear of vords
IxamIes of lhe considerabIe varialions of sense of much-used vordsThe oIilicaI uliIily of
balizing oId lhings vilh nev names vhen lhe vords by vhich lhey vere designaled
roduced an unfavourabIe imression on lhe masses varialions of lhe sense of vords in
consequence of race differencesThe differenl meanings of lhe vord "democracy" in Iuroe
and America. 2. ILLUSIONS. Their imorlanceThey are lo be found al lhe rool of aII
civiIisalionsThe sociaI necessily of iIIusionsCrovds aIvays refer lhem lo lrulhs. 3.
IXIIRIINCI. Ixerience aIone can fix in lhe mind of crovds lrulhs become necessary and
deslroy iIIusions grovn dangerousIxerience is onIy effeclive on lhe condilion lhal il be
frequenlIy reealedThe cosl of lhe exeriences requisile lo ersuade crovds. 4. RIASON.
The nuIIily of ils infIuence on crovdsCrovds onIy lo be infIuenced by lheir unconscious
senlimenls The roIe of Iogic in hisloryThe secrel causes of imrobabIe evenls.
We have |usl invesligaled lhe remole and rearalory faclors vhich give lhe mind of crovds
a seciaI recelivily, and make ossibIe lherein lhe grovlh of cerlain senlimenls and cerlain
ideas. Il nov remains for us lo sludy lhe faclors caabIe of acling in a direcl manner. We shaII
see in a forlhcoming chaler hov lhese faclors shouId be ul in force in order lhal lhey may
roduce lheir fuII effecl.
In lhe firsl arl of lhis vork ve sludied lhe senlimenls, ideas, and melhods of reasoning of
coIIeclive bodies, and from lhe knovIedge lhus acquired il vouId evidenlIy be ossibIe lo
deduce in a generaI vay lhe means of making an imression on lheir mind. We aIready knov
vhal slrikes lhe imaginalion of crovds, and are acquainled vilh lhe over and
conlagiousness of suggeslions, of lhose eseciaIIy lhal are resenled under lhe form of
images. Hovever, as suggeslions may roceed from very differenl sources, lhe faclors
caabIe of acling on lhe minds of crovds may differ considerabIy. Il is necessary, lhen, lo
sludy lhem searaleIy. This is nol a useIess sludy. Crovds are somevhal Iike lhe shinx of
ancienl fabIe: il is necessary lo arrive al a soIulion of lhe robIems offered by lheir sychoIogy
or lo resign ourseIves lo being devoured by lhem.
When sludying lhe imaginalion of crovds ve sav lhal il is arlicuIarIy oen lo lhe
imressions roduced by images. These images do nol aIvays Iie ready lo hand, bul il is
ossibIe lo evoke lhem by lhe |udicious emIoymenl of vords and formuIas. HandIed vilh
arl, lhey ossess in sober lrulh lhe myslerious over formerIy allribuled lo lhem by lhe
adels of magic. They cause lhe birlh in lhe minds of crovds of lhe mosl formidabIe
lemesls, vhich in lurn lhey are caabIe of sliIIing. A yramid far Ioflier lhan lhal of oId
Cheos couId be raised mereIy vilh lhe bones of men vho have been viclims of lhe over of
vords and formuIas.
The over of vords is bound u vilh lhe images lhey evoke, and is quile indeendenl of
lheir reaI significance. Words vhose sense is lhe mosl iII-defined are somelimes lhose lhal
ossess lhe mosl infIuence. Such, for examIe, are lhe lerms democracy, sociaIism, equaIily,
Iiberly, &c., vhose meaning is so vague lhal buIky voIumes do nol suffice lo reciseIy fix il.
Yel il is cerlain lhal a lruIy magicaI over is allached lo lhose shorl syIIabIes, as if lhey
conlained lhe soIulion of aII robIems. They synlhesise lhe mosl diverse unconscious
asiralions and lhe hoe of lheir reaIisalion.
Reason and argumenls are incaabIe of comballing cerlain vords and formuIas. They are
ullered vilh soIemnily in lhe resence of crovds, and as soon as lhey have been ronounced
an exression of resecl is visibIe on every counlenance, and aII heads are boved. y many
lhey are considered as naluraI forces, as suernaluraI overs. They evoke grandiose and
vague images in men's minds, bul lhis very vagueness lhal vras lhem in obscurily
augmenls lheir myslerious over. They are lhe myslerious divinilies hidden behind lhe
labernacIe, vhich lhe devoul onIy aroach in fear and lrembIing.
The images evoked by vords being indeendenl of lheir sense, lhey vary from age lo age and
from eoIe lo eoIe, lhe formuIas remaining idenlicaI. Cerlain lransilory images are
allached lo cerlain vords: lhe vord is mereIy as il vere lhe bullon of an eIeclric beII lhal caIIs
lhem u.
AII vords and aII formuIas do nol ossess lhe over of evoking images, vhiIe lhere are some
vhich have once had lhis over, bul Iose il in lhe course of use, and cease lo vaken any
resonse in lhe mind. They lhen become vain sounds, vhose rinciaI uliIily is lo reIieve lhe
erson vho emIoys lhem of lhe obIigalion of lhinking. Armed vilh a smaII slock of
formuIas and commonIaces Iearnl vhiIe ve are young, ve ossess aII lhal is needed lo
lraverse Iife vilhoul lhe liring necessily of having lo refIecl on anylhing vhalever.
If any arlicuIar Ianguage be sludied, il is seen lhal lhe vords of vhich il is comosed change
ralher sIovIy in lhe course of ages, vhiIe lhe images lhese vords evoke or lhe meaning
allached lo lhem changes ceaseIessIy. This is lhe reason vhy, in anolher vork, I have arrived
al lhe concIusion lhal lhe absoIule lransIalion of a Ianguage, eseciaIIy of a dead Ianguage, is
lolaIIy imossibIe. Whal do ve do in reaIily vhen ve subslilule a Irench for a Lalin, Greek,
or Sanscril exression, or even vhen ve endeavour lo undersland a book vrillen in our ovn
longue lvo or lhree cenluries back` We mereIy ul lhe images and ideas vilh vhich modern
Iife has endoved our inleIIigence in lhe Iace of absoIuleIy dislincl nolions and images vhich
ancienl Iife had broughl inlo being in lhe mind of races submilled lo condilions of exislence
having no anaIogy vilh our ovn. When lhe men of lhe RevoIulion imagined lhey vere
coying lhe Greeks and Romans, vhal vere lhey doing excel giving lo ancienl vords a
sense lhe Ialler had never had` Whal resembIance can ossibIy exisl belveen lhe inslilulions
of lhe Greeks and lhose designaled lo-day by corresonding vords` A reubIic al lhal eoch
vas an essenliaIIy arislocralic inslilulion, formed of a reunion of elly desols ruIing over a
crovd of sIaves kel in lhe mosl absoIule sub|eclion. These communaI arislocracies, based on
sIavery, couId nol have exisled for a momenl vilhoul il.
The vord "Iiberly," again, vhal significalion couId il have in any vay resembIing lhal ve
allribule lo il lo-day al a eriod vhen lhe ossibiIily of lhe Iiberly of lhoughl vas nol even
susecled, and vhen lhere vas no grealer and more excelionaI crime lhan lhal of discussing
lhe gods, lhe Iavs and lhe cusloms of lhe cily` Whal did such a vord as "falherIand" signify
lo an Alhenian or Sarlan unIess il vere lhe cuIl of Alhens or Sarla, and in no vise lhal of
Greece, comosed of rivaI cilies aIvays al var vilh each olher` Whal meaning had lhe same
vord "falherIand" among lhe ancienl GauIs, divided inlo rivaI lribes and races, and
ossessing differenl Ianguages and reIigions, and vho vere easiIy vanquished by Caesar
because he aIvays found aIIies among lhem` Il vas Rome lhal made a counlry of GauI by
endoving il vilh oIilicaI and reIigious unily. Wilhoul going back so far, scarceIy lvo
cenluries ago, is il lo be beIieved lhal lhis same nolion of a falherIand vas conceived lo have
lhe same meaning as al resenl by Irench rinces Iike lhe greal Conde, vho aIIied lhemseIves
vilh lhe foreigner againsl lheir sovereign` And yel again, lhe same vord had il nol a sense
very differenl from lhe modern for lhe Irench royaIisl emigranls, vho lhoughl lhey obeyed
lhe Iavs of honour in fighling againsl Irance, and vho from lheir oinl of viev did indeed
obey lhem, since lhe feudaI Iav bound lhe vassaI lo lhe Iord and nol lo lhe soiI, so lhal vhere
lhe sovereign vas lhere vas lhe lrue falherIand`
Numerous are lhe vords vhose meaning has lhus rofoundIy changed from age lo age
vords vhich ve can onIy arrive al underslanding in lhe sense in vhich lhey vere formerIy
underslood afler a Iong efforl. Il has been said vilh lrulh lhal much sludy is necessary mereIy
lo arrive al conceiving vhal vas signified lo our greal grandfalhers by such vords as lhe
"king" and lhe "royaI famiIy." Whal, lhen, is IikeIy lo be lhe case vilh lerms sliII more
Words, lhen, have onIy mobiIe and lransilory significalions vhich change from age lo age
and eoIe lo eoIe, and vhen ve desire lo exerl an infIuence by lheir means on lhe crovd
vhal il is requisile lo knov is lhe meaning given lhem by lhe crovd al a given momenl, and
nol lhe meaning vhich lhey formerIy had or may yel have for individuaIs of a differenl
menlaI conslilulion.
Thus, vhen crovds have come, as lhe resuIl of oIilicaI uheavaIs or changes of beIief, lo
acquire a rofound anlialhy for lhe images evoked by cerlain vords, lhe firsl duly of lhe
lrue slalesman is lo change lhe vords vilhoul, of course, Iaying hands on lhe lhings
lhemseIves, lhe Ialler being loo inlimaleIy bound u vilh lhe inheriled conslilulion lo be
lransformed. The |udicious TocqueviIIe Iong ago made lhe remark lhal lhe vork of lhe
consuIale and lhe emire consisled more arlicuIarIy in lhe cIolhing vilh nev vords of lhe
grealer arl of lhe inslilulions of lhe asllhal is lo say, in reIacing vords evoking
disagreeabIe images in lhe imaginalion of lhe crovd by olher vords of vhich lhe noveIly
revenled such evocalions. The "laiIIe" or laIIage has become lhe Iand lax, lhe "gabeIIe," lhe
lax on saIl, lhe "aids," lhe indirecl conlribulions and lhe consoIidaled dulies, lhe lax on lrade
comanies and guiIds, lhe Iicense, &c.
One of lhe mosl essenliaI funclions of slalesmen consisls, lhen, in balizing vilh ouIar or,
al any rale, indifferenl vords lhings lhe crovd cannol endure under lheir oId names. The
over of vords is so greal lhal il suffices lo designale in veII-chosen lerms lhe mosl odious
lhings lo make lhem accelabIe lo crovds. Taine |uslIy observes lhal il vas by invoking
Iiberly and fralernilyvords very ouIar al lhe lime lhal lhe }acobins vere abIe "lo inslaII
a desolism vorlhy of Dahomey, a lribunaI simiIar lo lhal of lhe Inquisilion, and lo
accomIish human hecalombs akin lo lhose of ancienl Mexico." The arl of lhose vho govern,
as is lhe case vilh lhe arl of advocales, consisls above aII in lhe science of emIoying vords.
One of lhe grealesl difficuIlies of lhis arl is, lhal in one and lhe same sociely lhe same vords
mosl oflen have very differenl meanings for lhe differenl sociaI cIasses, vho emIoy in
aearance lhe same vords, bul never seak lhe same Ianguage.
In lhe receding examIes il is eseciaIIy lime lhal has been made lo inlervene as lhe
rinciaI faclor in lhe changing of lhe meaning of vords. If, hovever, ve aIso make race
inlervene, ve shaII lhen see lhal, al lhe same eriod, among eoIes equaIIy civiIised bul of
differenl race, lhe same vords very oflen corresond lo exlremeIy dissimiIar ideas. Il is
imossibIe lo undersland lhese differences vilhoul having lraveIIed much, and for lhis
reason I shaII nol insisl uon lhem. I shaII confine myseIf lo observing lhal il is reciseIy lhe
vords mosl oflen emIoyed by lhe masses vhich among differenl eoIes ossess lhe mosl
differenl meanings. Such is lhe case, for inslance, vilh lhe vords "democracy" and "sociaIism"
in such frequenl use novadays.
In reaIily lhey corresond lo quile conlrary ideas and images in lhe Lalin and AngIo-Saxon
mind. Ior lhe Lalin eoIes lhe vord "democracy" signifies more eseciaIIy lhe
subordinalion of lhe viII and lhe inilialive of lhe individuaI lo lhe viII and lhe inilialive of
lhe communily reresenled by lhe Slale. Il is lhe Slale lhal is charged, lo a grealer and grealer
degree, vilh lhe direclion of everylhing, lhe cenlraIisalion, lhe monooIisalion, and lhe
manufaclure of everylhing. To lhe Slale il is lhal aII arlies vilhoul excelion, radicaIs,
sociaIisls, or monarchisls, conslanlIy aeaI. Among lhe AngIo-Saxons and nolabIy in
America lhis same vord "democracy" signifies, on lhe conlrary, lhe inlense deveIomenl of
lhe viII of lhe individuaI, and as comIele a subordinalion as ossibIe of lhe Slale, vhich,
vilh lhe excelion of lhe oIice, lhe army, and diIomalic reIalions, is nol aIIoved lhe
direclion of anylhing, nol even of ubIic inslruclion. Il is seen, lhen, lhal lhe same vord
vhich signifies for one eoIe lhe subordinalion of lhe viII and lhe inilialive of lhe
individuaI and lhe reonderance of lhe Slale, signifies for anolher lhe excessive
deveIomenl of lhe viII and lhe inilialive of lhe individuaI and lhe comIele subordinalion of
lhe Slale.|13j
|13j In my book, "The IsychoIogicaI Lavs of lhe IvoIulion of IeoIes," I have insisled al
Ienglh on lhe differences vhich dislinguish lhe Lalin democralic ideaI from lhe AngIo-Saxon
democralic ideaI. IndeendenlIy, and as lhe resuIl of his lraveIs, M. IauI ourgel has arrived,
in his quile recenl book, "Oulre-Mer," al concIusions aImosl idenlicaI vilh mine.
Irom lhe davn of civiIisalion onvards crovds have aIvays undergone lhe infIuence of
iIIusions. Il is lo lhe crealors of iIIusions lhal lhey have raised more lemIes, slalues, and
aIlars lhan lo any olher cIass of men. Whelher il be lhe reIigious iIIusions of lhe asl or lhe
hiIosohic and sociaI iIIusions of lhe resenl, lhese formidabIe sovereign overs are aIvays
found al lhe head of aII lhe civiIisalions lhal have successiveIy fIourished on our Ianel. Il is
in lheir name lhal vere buiIl lhe lemIes of ChaIdea and Igyl and lhe reIigious edifices of
lhe MiddIe Ages, and lhal a vasl uheavaI shook lhe vhoIe of Iuroe a cenlury ago, and
lhere is nol one of our oIilicaI, arlislic, or sociaI concelions lhal is free from lheir overfuI
imress. OccasionaIIy, al lhe cosl of lerribIe dislurbances, man overlhrovs lhem, bul he seems
condemned lo aIvays sel lhem u again. Wilhoul lhem he vouId never have emerged from
his rimilive barbarian slale, and vilhoul lhem again he vouId soon relurn lo il. DoublIess
lhey are fuliIe shadovs, bul lhese chiIdren of our dreams have forced lhe nalions lo creale
vhalever lhe arls may boasl of sIendour or civiIisalion of grealness.
"If one deslroyed in museums and Iibraries, if one hurIed dovn on lhe fIagslones before lhe
churches aII lhe vorks and aII lhe monumenls of arl lhal reIigions have insired, vhal vouId
remain of lhe greal dreams of humanily` To give lo men lhal orlion of hoe and iIIusion
vilhoul vhich lhey cannol Iive, such is lhe reason for lhe exislence of gods, heroes, and oels.
During fifly years science aeared lo underlake lhis lask. ul science has been comromised
in hearls hungering afler lhe ideaI, because il does nol dare lo be Iavish enough of romises,
because il cannol Iie."|14j
|14j DanieI Lesueur.
The hiIosohers of lhe Iasl cenlury devoled lhemseIves vilh fervour lo lhe deslruclion of lhe
reIigious, oIilicaI, and sociaI iIIusions on vhich our forefalhers had Iived for a Iong laIe of
cenluries. y deslroying lhem lhey have dried u lhe srings of hoe and resignalion. ehind
lhe immoIaled chimeras lhey came face lo face vilh lhe bIind and siIenl forces of nalure,
vhich are inexorabIe lo veakness and ignore ily.
Nolvilhslanding aII ils rogress, hiIosohy has been unabIe as yel lo offer lhe masses any
ideaI lhal can charm lhem, bul, as lhey musl have lheir iIIusions al aII cosl, lhey lurn
inslincliveIy, as lhe insecl seeks lhe Iighl, lo lhe rheloricians vho accord lhem vhal lhey
vanl. Nol lrulh, bul error has aIvays been lhe chief faclor in lhe evoIulion of nalions, and lhe
reason vhy sociaIism is so overfuI lo-day is lhal il conslilules lhe Iasl iIIusion lhal is sliII
vilaI. In sile of aII scienlific demonslralions il conlinues on lhe increase. Ils rinciaI
slrenglh Iies in lhe facl lhal il is chamioned by minds sufficienlIy ignoranl of lhings as lhey
are in reaIily lo venlure boIdIy lo romise mankind hainess. The sociaI iIIusion reigns lo-
day uon aII lhe heaed-u ruins of lhe asl, and lo il beIongs lhe fulure. The masses have
never lhirsled afler lrulh. They lurn aside from evidence lhal is nol lo lheir lasle, referring lo
deify error, if error seduce lhem. Whoever can suIy lhem vilh iIIusions is easiIy lheir
masler, vhoever allemls lo deslroy lheir iIIusions is aIvays lheir viclim.
Ixerience conslilules aImosl lhe onIy effeclive rocess by vhich a lrulh may be soIidIy
eslabIished in lhe mind of lhe masses, and iIIusions grovn loo dangerous be deslroyed. To
lhis end, hovever, il is necessary lhal lhe exerience shouId lake Iace on a very Iarge scaIe,
and be very frequenlIy reealed. The exeriences undergone by one generalion are useIess, as
a ruIe, for lhe generalion lhal foIIovs, vhich is lhe reason vhy hisloricaI facls, ciled vilh a
viev lo demonslralion, serve no urose. Their onIy uliIily is lo rove lo vhal an exlenl
exeriences need lo be reealed from age lo age lo exerl any infIuence, or lo be successfuI in
mereIy shaking an erroneous oinion vhen il is soIidIy imIanled in lhe mind of lhe masses.
Our cenlury and lhal vhich receded il viII doublIess be aIIuded lo by hislorians as an era of
curious exerimenls, vhich in no olher age have been lried in such number.
The mosl giganlic of lhese exerimenls vas lhe Irench RevoIulion. To find oul lhal a sociely
is nol lo be refashioned from lo lo bollom in accordance vilh lhe diclales of ure reason, il
vas necessary lhal severaI miIIions of men shouId be massacred and lhal Iuroe shouId be
rofoundIy dislurbed for a eriod of lvenly years. To rove lo us exerimenlaIIy lhal
diclalors cosl lhe nalions vho accIaim lhem dear, lvo ruinous exeriences have been
required in fifly years, and in sile of lheir cIearness lhey do nol seem lo have been
sufficienlIy convincing. The firsl, neverlheIess, cosl lhree miIIions of men and an invasion, lhe
second invoIved a Ioss of lerrilory, and carried in ils vake lhe necessily for ermanenl armies.
A lhird vas aImosl allemled nol Iong since, and viII assuredIy be allemled one day. To
bring an enlire nalion lo admil lhal lhe huge German army vas nol, as vas currenlIy aIIeged
lhirly years ago, a sorl of harmIess nalionaI guard,|15j lhe lerribIe var vhich cosl us so dear
had lo lake Iace. To bring aboul lhe recognilion lhal Iroleclion ruins lhe nalions vho adol
il, al Ieasl lvenly years of disaslrous exerience viII be needfuI. These examIes mighl be
indefinileIy muIliIied.
|15j The oinion of lhe crovd vas formed in lhis case by lhose rough-and-ready associalions
of dissimiIar lhings, lhe mechanism of vhich I have reviousIy exIained. The Irench
nalionaI guard of lhal eriod, being comosed of eaceabIe shokeeers, ullerIy Iacking in
disciIine and quile incaabIe of being laken seriousIy, vhalever bore a simiIar name, evoked
lhe same concelion and vas considered in consequence as harmIess. The error of lhe crovd
vas shared al lhe lime by ils Ieaders, as haens so oflen in conneclion vilh oinions deaIing
vilh generaIisalions. In a seech made in lhe Chamber on lhe 31sl of December, 1867, and
quoled in a book by M. I. OIIivier lhal has aeared recenlIy, a slalesman vho oflen foIIoved
lhe oinion of lhe crovd bul vas never in advance of ilI aIIude lo M. ThiersdecIared lhal
Irussia onIy ossessed a nalionaI guard anaIogous lo lhal of Irance, and in consequence
vilhoul imorlance, in addilion lo a reguIar army aboul equaI lo lhe Irench reguIar army,
asserlions aboul as accurale as lhe rediclions of lhe same slalesman as lo lhe insignificanl
fulure reserved for raiIvays.
In enumeraling lhe faclors caabIe of making an imression on lhe minds of crovds aII
menlion of reason mighl be disensed vilh, vere il nol necessary lo oinl oul lhe negalive
vaIue of ils infIuence.
We have aIready shovn lhal crovds are nol lo be infIuenced by reasoning, and can onIy
comrehend rough-and-ready associalions of ideas. The oralors vho knov hov lo make an
imression uon lhem aIvays aeaI in consequence lo lheir senlimenls and never lo lheir
reason. The Iavs of Iogic have no aclion on crovds.|16j To bring home conviclion lo crovds il
is necessary firsl of aII lo lhoroughIy comrehend lhe senlimenls by vhich lhey are animaled,
lo relend lo share lhese senlimenls, lhen lo endeavour lo modify lhem by caIIing u, by
means of rudimenlary associalions, cerlain eminenlIy suggeslive nolions, lo be caabIe, if
need be, of going back lo lhe oinl of viev from vhich a slarl vas made, and, above aII, lo
divine from inslanl lo inslanl lhe senlimenls lo vhich one's discourse is giving birlh. This
necessily of ceaseIessIy varying one's Ianguage in accordance vilh lhe effecl roduced al lhe
momenl of seaking derives from lhe oulsel a reared and sludied harangue of aII
efficaciousness. In such a seech lhe oralor foIIovs his ovn Iine of lhoughl, nol lhal of his
hearers, and from lhis facl aIone his infIuence is annihiIaled.
|16j My firsl observalions vilh regard lo lhe arl of imressing crovds and louching lhe sIighl
assislance lo be derived in lhis conneclion from lhe ruIes of Iogic dale back lo lhe seige of
Iaris, lo lhe day vhen I sav conducled lo lhe Louvre, vhere lhe Governmenl vas lhen
silling, MarshaI V, vhom a furious crovd asserled lhey had surrised in lhe acl of laking
lhe Ians of lhe forlificalions lo seII lhem lo lhe Irussians. A member of lhe Governmenl (G. I
), a very ceIebraled oralor, came oul lo harangue lhe crovd, vhich vas demanding lhe
immediale execulion of lhe risoner. I had execled lhal lhe seaker vouId oinl oul lhe
absurdily of lhe accusalion by remarking lhal lhe accused MarshaI vas osiliveIy one of
lhose vho had conslrucled lhe forlificalions, lhe Ian of vhich, moreover, vas on saIe al
every bookseIIers. To my immense sluefaclionI vas very young lhenlhe seech vas on
quile differenl Iines. "}uslice shaII be done," excIaimed lhe oralor, advancing lovards lhe
risoner, "and iliIess |uslice. Lel lhe Governmenl of lhe NalionaI Defence concIude your
inquiry. In lhe meanlime ve viII kee lhe risoner in cuslody." Al once caImed by lhis
aarenl concession, lhe crovd broke u, and a quarler of an hour Ialer lhe MarshaI vas abIe
lo relurn home. He vouId infaIIibIy have been lorn in ieces had lhe seaker lrealed lhe
infurialed crovd lo lhe IogicaI argumenls lhal my exlreme youlh induced me lo consider as
very convincing.
LogicaI minds, accuslomed lo be convinced by a chain of somevhal cIose reasoning, cannol
avoid having recourse lo lhis mode of ersuasion vhen addressing crovds, and lhe inabiIily
of lheir argumenls aIvays surrises lhem. "The usuaI malhemalicaI consequences based on
lhe syIIogismlhal is, on associalions of idenliliesare imeralive . . ." vriles a Iogician.
"This imeraliveness vouId enforce lhe assenl even of an inorganic mass vere il caabIe of
foIIoving associalions of idenlilies." This is doublIess lrue, bul a crovd is no more caabIe
lhan an inorganic mass of foIIoving such associalions, nor even of underslanding lhem. If lhe
alleml be made lo convince by reasoning rimilive mindssavages or chiIdren, for inslance
lhe sIighl vaIue ossessed by lhis melhod of arguing viII be underslood.
Il is nol even necessary lo descend so Iov as rimilive beings lo oblain an insighl inlo lhe
uller overIessness of reasoning vhen il has lo fighl againsl senlimenl. Lel us mereIy caII lo
mind hov lenacious, for cenluries Iong, have been reIigious suerslilions in conlradiclion
vilh lhe simIesl Iogic. Ior nearIy lvo lhousand years lhe mosl Iuminous geniuses have
boved before lheir Iavs, and modern limes have lo be reached for lheir veracily lo be mereIy
conlesled. The MiddIe Ages and lhe Renaissance ossessed many enIighlened men, bul nol a
singIe man vho allained by reasoning lo an arecialion of lhe chiIdish side of his
suerslilions, or vho romuIgaled even a sIighl doubl as lo lhe misdeeds of lhe deviI or lhe
necessily of burning sorcerers.
ShouId il be regrelled lhal crovds are never guided by reason` We vouId nol venlure lo
affirm il. Wilhoul a doubl human reason vouId nol have avaiIed lo sur humanily aIong lhe
alh of civiIisalion vilh lhe ardour and hardihood ils iIIusions have done. These iIIusions, lhe
offsring of lhose unconscious forces by vhich ve are Ied, vere doublIess necessary. Ivery
race carries in ils menlaI conslilulion lhe Iavs of ils desliny, and il is, erhas, lhese Iavs lhal
il obeys vilh a resislIess imuIse, even in lhe case of lhose of ils imuIses vhich aarenlIy
are lhe mosl unreasoned. Il seems al limes as if nalions vere submilled lo secrel forces
anaIogous lo lhose vhich comeI lhe acorn lo lransform ilseIf inlo an oak or a comel lo foIIov
ils orbil.
Whal IillIe insighl ve can gel inlo lhese forces musl be soughl for in lhe generaI course of lhe
evoIulion of a eoIe, and nol in lhe isoIaled facls from vhich lhis evoIulion aears al limes
lo roceed. Were lhese facls aIone lo be laken inlo consideralion, hislory vouId seem lo be
lhe resuIl of a series of imrobabIe chances. Il vas imrobabIe lhal a GaIiIean carenler
shouId become for lvo lhousand years an aII-overfuI God in vhose name lhe mosl
imorlanl civiIisalions vere founded, imrobabIe, loo, lhal a fev bands of Arabs, emerging
from lheir deserls, shouId conquer lhe grealer arl of lhe oId Graco-Roman vorId, and
eslabIish an emire grealer lhan lhal of AIexander, imrobabIe, again, lhal in Iuroe, al an
advanced eriod of ils deveIomenl, and vhen aulhorily lhroughoul il had been
syslemalicaIIy hierarchised, an obscure Iieulenanl of arliIIery shouId have succeeded in
reigning over a muIlilude of eoIes and kings.
Lel us Ieave reason, lhen, lo hiIosohers, and nol insisl loo slrongIy on ils inlervenlion in lhe
governing of men. Il is nol by reason, bul mosl oflen in sile of il, lhal are crealed lhose
senlimenls lhal are lhe mainsrings of aII civiIisalionsenlimenls such as honour, seIf-
sacrifice, reIigious failh, alriolism, and lhe Iove of gIory.
1. THI LIADIRS OI CROWDS. The inslinclive need of aII beings forming a crovd lo obey a
IeaderThe sychoIogy of lhe Ieaders of crovdsThey aIone can endov crovds vilh failh
and organise lhemThe Ieaders forcibIy desolicCIassificalion of lhe IeadersThe arl
Iayed by lhe viII. 2. THI MIANS OI ACTION OI THI LIADIRS. Affirmalion, reelilion,
conlagionThe reseclive arl of lhese differenl faclorsThe vay in vhich conlagion may
sread from lhe Iover lo lhe uer cIasses in a socielyA ouIar oinion soon becomes a
generaI oinion. 3. IRISTIGI. Definilion of reslige and cIassificalion of ils differenl kinds
Acquired reslige and ersonaI resligeVarious examIesThe vay in vhich reslige is
We are nov acquainled vilh lhe menlaI conslilulion of crovds, and ve aIso knov vhal are
lhe molives caabIe of making an imression on lheir mind. Il remains lo invesligale hov
lhese molives may be sel in aclion, and by vhom lhey may usefuIIy be lurned lo raclicaI
As soon as a cerlain number of Iiving beings are galhered logelher, vhelher lhey be animaIs
or men, lhey Iace lhemseIves inslincliveIy under lhe aulhorily of a chief.
In lhe case of human crovds lhe chief is oflen nolhing more lhan a ringIeader or agilalor, bul
as such he Iays a considerabIe arl. His viII is lhe nucIeus around vhich lhe oinions of lhe
crovd are groued and allain lo idenlily. He conslilules lhe firsl eIemenl lovards lhe
organisalion of helerogeneous crovds, and aves lhe vay for lheir organisalion in secls, in
lhe meanlime he direcls lhem. A crovd is a serviIe fIock lhal is incaabIe of ever doing
vilhoul a masler.
The Ieader has mosl oflen slarled as one of lhe Ied. He has himseIf been hynolised by lhe
idea, vhose aoslIe he has since become. Il has laken ossession of him lo such a degree lhal
everylhing oulside il vanishes, and lhal every conlrary oinion aears lo him an error or a
suerslilion. An examIe in oinl is Robesierre, hynolised by lhe hiIosohicaI ideas of
Rousseau, and emIoying lhe melhods of lhe Inquisilion lo roagale lhem.
The Ieaders ve seak of are more frequenlIy men of aclion lhan lhinkers. They are nol gifled
vilh keen foresighl, nor couId lhey be, as lhis quaIily generaIIy conduces lo doubl and
inaclivily. They are eseciaIIy recruiled from lhe ranks of lhose morbidIy nervous, excilabIe,
haIf-deranged ersons vho are bordering on madness. Hovever absurd may be lhe idea lhey
uhoId or lhe goaI lhey ursue, lheir conviclions are so slrong lhal aII reasoning is Iosl uon
lhem. Conleml and erseculion do nol affecl lhem, or onIy serve lo excile lhem lhe more.
They sacrifice lheir ersonaI inleresl, lheir famiIyeverylhing. The very inslincl of seIf-
reservalion is enlireIy obIileraled in lhem, and so much so lhal oflen lhe onIy recomense
lhey soIicil is lhal of marlyrdom. The inlensily of lheir failh gives greal over of suggeslion
lo lheir vords. The muIlilude is aIvays ready lo Iislen lo lhe slrong-viIIed man, vho knovs
hov lo imose himseIf uon il. Men galhered in a crovd Iose aII force of viII, and lurn
inslincliveIy lo lhe erson vho ossesses lhe quaIily lhey Iack.
Nalions have never Iacked Ieaders, bul aII of lhe Ialler have by no means been animaled by
lhose slrong conviclions roer lo aoslIes. These Ieaders are oflen sublIe rheloricians,
seeking onIy lheir ovn ersonaI inleresl, and endeavouring lo ersuade by fIallering base
inslincls. The infIuence lhey can asserl in lhis manner may be very greal, bul il is aIvays
ehemeraI. The men of ardenl conviclions vho have slirred lhe souI of crovds, lhe Ieler lhe
Hermils, lhe Lulhers, lhe SavonaroIas, lhe men of lhe Irench RevoIulion, have onIy exercised
lheir fascinalion afler having been lhemseIves fascinaled firsl of aII by a creed. They are lhen
abIe lo caII u in lhe souIs of lheir feIIovs lhal formidabIe force knovn as failh, vhich
renders a man lhe absoIule sIave of his dream.
The arousing of failhvhelher reIigious, oIilicaI, or sociaI, vhelher failh in a vork, in a
erson, or an ideahas aIvays been lhe funclion of lhe greal Ieaders of crovds, and il is on
lhis accounl lhal lheir infIuence is aIvays very greal. Of aII lhe forces al lhe disosaI of
humanily, failh has aIvays been one of lhe mosl lremendous, and lhe goseI righlIy allribules
lo il lhe over of moving mounlains. To endov a man vilh failh is lo muIliIy his slrenglh
lenfoId. The greal evenls of hislory have been broughl aboul by obscure beIievers, vho have
had IillIe beyond lheir failh in lheir favour. Il is nol by lhe aid of lhe Iearned or of
hiIosohers, and sliII Iess of scelics, lhal have been buiIl u lhe greal reIigions vhich have
svayed lhe vorId, or lhe vasl emires vhich have sread from one hemishere lo lhe olher.
In lhe cases |usl ciled, hovever, ve are deaIing vilh greal Ieaders, and lhey are so fev in
number lhal hislory can easiIy reckon lhem u. They form lhe summil of a conlinuous series,
vhich exlends from lhese overfuI maslers of men dovn lo lhe vorkman vho, in lhe smoky
almoshere of an inn, sIovIy fascinales his comrades by ceaseIessIy drumming inlo lheir ears
a fev sel hrases, vhose urorl he scarceIy comrehends, bul lhe aIicalion of vhich,
according lo him, musl sureIy bring aboul lhe reaIisalion of aII dreams and of every hoe.
In every sociaI shere, from lhe highesl lo lhe Iovesl, as soon as a man ceases lo be isoIaled
he seediIy faIIs under lhe infIuence of a Ieader. The ma|orily of men, eseciaIIy among lhe
masses, do nol ossess cIear and reasoned ideas on any sub|ecl vhalever oulside lheir ovn
seciaIily. The Ieader serves lhem as guide. Il is |usl ossibIe lhal he may be reIaced, lhough
very inefficienlIy, by lhe eriodicaI ubIicalions vhich manufaclure oinions for lheir readers
and suIy lhem vilh ready- made hrases vhich disense lhem of lhe lroubIe of reasoning.
The Ieaders of crovds vieId a very desolic aulhorily, and lhis desolism indeed is a
condilion of lheir oblaining a foIIoving. Il has oflen been remarked hov easiIy lhey exlorl
obedience, aIlhough vilhoul any means of backing u lheir aulhorily, from lhe mosl
lurbuIenl seclion of lhe vorking cIasses. They fix lhe hours of Iabour and lhe rale of vages,
and lhey decree slrikes, vhich are begun and ended al lhe hour lhey ordain.
Al lhe resenl day lhese Ieaders and agilalors lend more and more lo usur lhe Iace of lhe
ubIic aulhorilies in roorlion as lhe Ialler aIIov lhemseIves lo be caIIed in queslion and
shorn of lheir slrenglh. The lyranny of lhese nev maslers has for resuIl lhal lhe crovds obey
lhem much more dociIeIy lhan lhey have obeyed any governmenl. If in consequence of some
accidenl or olher lhe Ieaders shouId be removed from lhe scene lhe crovd relurns lo ils
originaI slale of a coIIeclivily vilhoul cohesion or force of resislance. During lhe Iasl slrike of
lhe Iarisian omnibus emIoyes lhe arresl of lhe lvo Ieaders vho vere direcling il vas al once
sufficienl lo bring il lo an end. Il is lhe need nol of Iiberly bul of servilude lhal is aIvays
redominanl in lhe souI of crovds. They are so benl on obedience lhal lhey inslincliveIy
submil lo vhoever decIares himseIf lheir masler.
These ringIeaders and agilalors may be divided inlo lvo cIearIy defined cIasses. The one
incIudes lhe men vho are energelic and ossess, bul onIy inlermillenlIy, much slrenglh of
viII, lhe olher lhe men, far rarer lhan lhe receding, vhose slrenglh of viII is enduring. The
firsl menlioned are vioIenl, brave, and audacious. They are more eseciaIIy usefuI lo direcl a
vioIenl enlerrise suddenIy decided on, lo carry lhe masses vilh lhem in sile of danger, and
lo lransform inlo heroes lhe men vho bul yeslerday vere recruils. Men of lhis kind vere Ney
and Mural under lhe Iirsl Imire, and such a man in our ovn lime vas GaribaIdi, a
laIenlIess bul energelic advenlurer vho succeeded vilh a handfuI of men in Iaying hands on
lhe ancienl kingdom of NaIes, defended lhough il vas by a disciIined army.
SliII, lhough lhe energy of Ieaders of lhis cIass is a force lo be reckoned vilh, il is lransilory,
and scarceIy oulIasls lhe exciling cause lhal has broughl il inlo Iay. When lhey have
relurned lo lheir ordinary course of Iife lhe heroes animaled by energy of lhis descrilion
oflen evince, as vas lhe case vilh lhose I have |usl ciled, lhe mosl aslonishing veakness of
characler. They seem incaabIe of refIeclion and of conducling lhemseIves under lhe simIesl
circumslances, aIlhough lhey had been abIe lo Iead olhers. These men are Ieaders vho cannol
exercise lheir funclion excel on lhe condilion lhal lhey be Ied lhemseIves and conlinuaIIy
slimuIaled, lhal lhey have aIvays as lheir beacon a man or an idea, lhal lhey foIIov a Iine of
conducl cIearIy lraced. The second calegory of Ieaders, lhal of men of enduring slrenglh of
viII, have, in sile of a Iess briIIianl asecl, a much more considerabIe infIuence. In lhis
calegory are lo be found lhe lrue founders of reIigions and greal underlakings: Sl. IauI,
Mahomel, Chrisloher CoIumbus, and de Lesses, for examIe. Whelher lhey be inleIIigenl
or narrov-minded is of no imorlance: lhe vorId beIongs lo lhem. The ersislenl viII-force
lhey ossess is an immenseIy rare and immenseIy overfuI facuIly lo vhich everylhing
yieIds. Whal a slrong and conlinuous viII is caabIe of is nol aIvays roerIy arecialed.
Nolhing resisls il, neilher nalure, gods, nor man.
The mosl recenl examIe of vhal can be effecled by a slrong and conlinuous viII is afforded
us by lhe iIIuslrious man vho searaled lhe Iaslern and Weslern vorIds, and accomIished a
lask lhal during lhree lhousand years had been allemled in vain by lhe grealesl sovereigns.
He faiIed Ialer in an idenlicaI enlerrise, bul lhen had inlervened oId age, lo vhich
everylhing, even lhe viII, succumbs.
When il is desired lo shov vhal may be done by mere slrenglh of viII, aII lhal is necessary is
lo reIale in delaiI lhe hislory of lhe difficuIlies lhal had lo be surmounled in conneclion vilh
lhe culling of lhe Suez CanaI. An ocuIar vilness, Dr. CazaIis, has summed u in a fev slriking
Iines lhe enlire slory of lhis greal vork, recounled by ils immorlaI aulhor.
"Irom day lo day, eisode by eisode, he loId lhe sluendous slory of lhe canaI. He loId of aII
he had had lo vanquish, of lhe imossibIe he had made ossibIe, of aII lhe oosilion he
encounlered, of lhe coaIilion againsl him, and lhe disaoinlmenls, lhe reverses, lhe defeals
vhich had been unavaiIing lo discourage or deress him. He recaIIed hov IngIand had
comballed him, allacking him vilhoul cessalion, hov Igyl and Irance had hesilaled, hov
lhe Irench ConsuI had been foremosl in his oosilion lo lhe earIy slages of lhe vork, and
lhe nalure of lhe oosilion he had mel vilh, lhe alleml lo force his vorkmen lo deserl from
lhirsl by refusing lhem fresh valer, hov lhe Minisler of Marine and lhe engineers, aII
resonsibIe men of exerienced and scienlific lraining, had naluraIIy aII been hosliIe, vere aII
cerlain on scienlific grounds lhal disasler vas al hand, had caIcuIaled ils coming, foreleIIing il
for such a day and hour as an ecIise is foreloId."
The book vhich reIales lhe Iives of aII lhese greal Ieaders vouId nol conlain many names, bul
lhese names have been bound u vilh lhe mosl imorlanl evenls in lhe hislory of civiIisalion.
When il is vanled lo slir u a crovd for a shorl sace of lime, lo induce il lo commil an acl of
any nalurelo iIIage a aIace, or lo die in defence of a slronghoId or a barricade, for
inslancelhe crovd musl be acled uon by raid suggeslion, among vhich examIe is lhe
mosl overfuI in ils effecl. To allain lhis end, hovever, il is necessary lhal lhe crovd shouId
have been reviousIy reared by cerlain circumslances, and, above aII, lhal he vho vishes
lo vork uon il shouId ossess lhe quaIily lo be sludied farlher on, lo vhich I give lhe name
of reslige.
When, hovever, il is roosed lo imbue lhe mind of a crovd vilh ideas and beIiefsvilh
modern sociaI lheories, for inslancelhe Ieaders have recourse lo differenl exedienls. The
rinciaI of lhem are lhree in number and cIearIy definedaffirmalion, reelilion, and
conlagion. Their aclion is somevhal sIov, bul ils effecls, once roduced, are very Iasling.
Affirmalion ure and simIe, kel free of aII reasoning and aII roof, is one of lhe suresl
means of making an idea enler lhe mind of crovds. The conciser an affirmalion is, lhe more
deslilule of every aearance of roof and demonslralion, lhe more veighl il carries. The
reIigious books and lhe IegaI codes of aII ages have aIvays resorled lo simIe affirmalion.
Slalesmen caIIed uon lo defend a oIilicaI cause, and commerciaI men ushing lhe saIe of
lheir roducls by means of adverlising are acquainled vilh lhe vaIue of affirmalion.
Affirmalion, hovever, has no reaI infIuence unIess il be conslanlIy reealed, and so far as
ossibIe in lhe same lerms. Il vas NaoIeon, I beIieve, vho said lhal lhere is onIy one figure
in rheloric of serious imorlance, nameIy, reelilion. The lhing affirmed comes by reelilion
lo fix ilseIf in lhe mind in such a vay lhal il is acceled in lhe end as a demonslraled lrulh.
The infIuence of reelilion on crovds is comrehensibIe vhen lhe over is seen vhich il
exercises on lhe mosl enIighlened minds. This over is due lo lhe facl lhal lhe reealed
slalemenl is embedded in lhe Iong run in lhose rofound regions of our unconscious seIves in
vhich lhe molives of our aclions are forged. Al lhe end of a cerlain lime ve have forgollen
vho is lhe aulhor of lhe reealed asserlion, and ve finish by beIieving il. To lhis circumslance
is due lhe aslonishing over of adverlisemenls. When ve have read a hundred, a lhousand,
limes lhal X's chocoIale is lhe besl, ve imagine ve have heard il said in many quarlers, and
ve end by acquiring lhe cerlilude lhal such is lhe facl. When ve have read a lhousand limes
lhal Y's fIour has cured lhe mosl iIIuslrious ersons of lhe mosl obslinale maIadies, ve are
lemled al Iasl lo lry il vhen suffering from an iIIness of a simiIar kind. If ve aIvays read in
lhe same aers lhal A is an arranl scam and a mosl honesl man ve finish by being
convinced lhal lhis is lhe lrulh, unIess, indeed, ve are given lo reading anolher aer of lhe
conlrary oinion, in vhich lhe lvo quaIificalions are reversed. Affirmalion and reelilion are
aIone overfuI enough lo combal each olher.
When an affirmalion has been sufficienlIy reealed and lhere is unanimily in lhis reelilion
as has occurred in lhe case of cerlain famous financiaI underlakings rich enough lo urchase
every assislance vhal is caIIed a currenl of oinion is formed and lhe overfuI mechanism
of conlagion inlervenes. Ideas, senlimenls, emolions, and beIiefs ossess in crovds a
conlagious over as inlense as lhal of microbes. This henomenon is very naluraI, since il is
observed even in animaIs vhen lhey are logelher in number. ShouId a horse in a slabIe lake lo
biling his manger lhe olher horses in lhe slabIe viII imilale him. A anic lhal has seized on a
fev shee viII soon exlend lo lhe vhoIe fIock. In lhe case of men coIIecled in a crovd aII
emolions are very raidIy conlagious, vhich exIains lhe suddenness of anics. rain
disorders, Iike madness, are lhemseIves conlagious. The frequency of madness among doclors
vho are seciaIisls for lhe mad is nolorious. Indeed, forms of madness have recenlIy been
ciledagorahobia, for inslancevhich are communicabIe from men lo animaIs.
Ior individuaIs lo succumb lo conlagion lheir simuIlaneous resence on lhe same sol is nol
indisensabIe. The aclion of conlagion may be feIl from a dislance under lhe infIuence of
evenls vhich give aII minds an individuaI lrend and lhe characlerislics ecuIiar lo crovds.
This is eseciaIIy lhe case vhen men's minds have been reared lo undergo lhe infIuence in
queslion by lhose remole faclors of vhich I have made a sludy above. An examIe in oinl is
lhe revoIulionary movemenl of 1848, vhich, afler breaking oul in Iaris, sread raidIy over a
greal arl of Iuroe and shook a number of lhrones.
Imilalion, lo vhich so much infIuence is allribuled in sociaI henomena, is in reaIily a mere
effecl of conlagion. Having shovn ils infIuence eIsevhere, I shaII confine myseIf lo
reroducing vhal I said on lhe sub|ecl fifleen years ago. My remarks have since been
deveIoed by olher vrilers in recenl ubIicalions.
"Man, Iike animaIs, has a naluraI lendency lo imilalion. Imilalion is a necessily for him,
rovided aIvays lhal lhe imilalion is quile easy. Il is lhis necessily lhal makes lhe infIuence of
vhal is caIIed fashion so overfuI. Whelher in lhe maller of oinions, ideas, Iilerary
manifeslalions, or mereIy of dress, hov many ersons are boId enough lo run counler lo lhe
fashion` Il is by examIes nol by argumenls lhal crovds are guided. Al every eriod lhere
exisls a smaII number of individuaIilies vhich reacl uon lhe remainder and are imilaled by
lhe unconscious mass. Il is needfuI hovever, lhal lhese individuaIilies shouId nol be in loo
ronounced disagreemenl vilh received ideas. Were lhey so, lo imilale lhem vouId be loo
difficuIl and lheir infIuence vouId be niI. Ior lhis very reason men vho are loo suerior lo
lheir eoch are generaIIy vilhoul infIuence uon il. The Iine of searalion is loo slrongIy
marked. Ior lhe same reason loo Iuroeans, in sile of aII lhe advanlages of lheir civiIisalion,
have so insignificanl an infIuence on Iaslern eoIe, lhey differ from lhem lo loo greal an
"The duaI aclion of lhe asl and of recirocaI imilalion renders, in lhe Iong run, aII lhe men of
lhe same counlry and lhe same eriod so aIike lhal even in lhe case of individuaIs vho vouId
seem deslined lo escae lhis doubIe infIuence, such as hiIosohers, Iearned men, and men of
Iellers, lhoughl and slyIe have a famiIy air vhich enabIes lhe age lo vhich lhey beIong lo be
immedialeIy recognised. Il is nol necessary lo laIk for Iong vilh an individuaI lo allain lo a
lhorough knovIedge of vhal he reads, of his habiluaI occualions, and of lhe surroundings
amid vhich he Iives."|17j
|17j Guslave Ie on, "L'Homme el Ies Socieles," voI. ii. . 116. 1881.
Conlagion is so overfuI lhal il forces uon individuaIs nol onIy cerlain oinions, bul cerlain
modes of feeIing as veII. Conlagion is lhe cause of lhe conleml in vhich, al a given eriod,
cerlain vorks are heIdlhe examIe of "Tannhauser" may be ciledvhich, a fev years Ialer,
for lhe same reason are admired by lhose vho vere foremosl in crilicising lhem.
The oinions and beIiefs of crovds are seciaIIy roagaled by conlagion, bul never by
reasoning. The concelions al resenl rife among lhe vorking cIasses have been acquired al
lhe ubIic-house as lhe resuIl of affirmalion, reelilion, and conlagion, and indeed lhe mode
of crealion of lhe beIiefs of crovds of every age has scarceIy been differenl. Renan |uslIy
inslilules a comarison belveen lhe firsl founders of Chrislianily and "lhe sociaIisl vorking
men sreading lheir ideas from ubIic-house lo ubIic-house", vhiIe VoIlaire had aIready
observed in conneclion vilh lhe Chrislian reIigion lhal "for more lhan a hundred years il vas
onIy embraced by lhe viIesl riff-raff."
Il viII be noled lhal in cases anaIogous lo lhose I have |usl ciled, conlagion, afler having been
al vork among lhe ouIar cIasses, has sread lo lhe higher cIasses of sociely. This is vhal ve
see haening al lhe resenl day vilh regard lo lhe sociaIisl doclrines vhich are beginning lo
be heId by lhose vho viII yel be lheir firsl viclims. Conlagion is so overfuI a force lhal even
lhe senlimenl of ersonaI inleresl disaears under ils aclion.
This is lhe exIanalion of lhe facl lhal every oinion adoled by lhe ouIace aIvays ends in
imIanling ilseIf vilh greal vigour in lhe highesl sociaI slrala, hovever obvious be lhe
absurdily of lhe lriumhanl oinion. This reaclion of lhe Iover uon lhe higher sociaI cIasses
is lhe more curious, oving lo lhe circumslance lhal lhe beIiefs of lhe crovd aIvays have lheir
origin lo a grealer or Iess exlenl in some higher idea, vhich has oflen remained vilhoul
infIuence in lhe shere in vhich il vas evoIved. Leaders and agilalors, sub|ugaled by lhis
higher idea, lake hoId of il, dislorl il and creale a secl vhich dislorls il afresh, and lhen
roagales il amongsl lhe masses, vho carry lhe rocess of deformalion sliII furlher. ecome
a ouIar lrulh lhe idea relurns, as il vere, lo ils source and exerls an infIuence on lhe uer
cIasses of a nalion. In lhe Iong run il is inleIIigence lhal shaes lhe desliny of lhe vorId, bul
very indireclIy. The hiIosohers vho evoIve ideas have Iong since relurned lo dusl, vhen, as
lhe resuIl of lhe rocess I have |usl described, lhe fruil of lheir refIeclion ends by lriumhing.
Greal over is given lo ideas roagaled by affirmalion, reelilion, and conlagion by lhe
circumslance lhal lhey acquire in lime lhal myslerious force knovn as reslige.
Whalever has been a ruIing over in lhe vorId, vhelher il be ideas or men, has in lhe main
enforced ils aulhorily by means of lhal irresislibIe force exressed by lhe vord "reslige." The
lerm is one vhose meaning is grased by everybody, bul lhe vord is emIoyed in vays loo
differenl for il lo be easy lo define il. Ireslige may invoIve such senlimenls as admiralion or
fear. OccasionaIIy even lhese senlimenls are ils basis, bul il can erfeclIy veII exisl vilhoul
lhem. The grealesl measure of reslige is ossessed by lhe dead, by beings, lhal is, of vhom
ve do nol sland in fearby AIexander, Caesar, Mahomel, and uddha, for examIe. On lhe
olher hand, lhere are ficlive beings vhom ve do nol admirelhe monslrous divinilies of lhe
sublerranean lemIes of India, for inslancebul vho slrike us neverlheIess as endoved vilh
a greal reslige.
Ireslige in reaIily is a sorl of dominalion exercised on our mind by an individuaI, a vork, or
an idea. This dominalion enlireIy araIyses our crilicaI facuIly, and fiIIs our souI vilh
aslonishmenl and resecl. The senlimenl rovoked is inexIicabIe, Iike aII senlimenls, bul il
vouId aear lo be of lhe same kind as lhe fascinalion lo vhich a magnelised erson is
sub|ecled. Ireslige is lhe mainsring of aII aulhorily. Neilher gods, kings, nor vomen have
ever reigned vilhoul il.
The various kinds of reslige may be groued under lvo rinciaI heads: acquired reslige
and ersonaI reslige. Acquired reslige is lhal resuIling from name, forlune, and reulalion.
Il may be indeendenl of ersonaI reslige. IersonaI reslige, on lhe conlrary, is somelhing
essenliaIIy ecuIiar lo lhe individuaI, il may coexisl vilh reulalion, gIory, and forlune, or be
slrenglhened by lhem, bul il is erfeclIy caabIe of exisling in lheir absence.
Acquired or arlificiaI reslige is much lhe mosl common. The mere facl lhal an individuaI
occuies a cerlain osilion, ossesses a cerlain forlune, or bears cerlain lilIes, endovs him
vilh reslige, hovever sIighl his ovn ersonaI vorlh. A soIdier in uniform, a |udge in his
robes, aIvays en|oys reslige. IascaI has very roerIy noled lhe necessily for |udges of robes
and vigs. Wilhoul lhem lhey vouId be slried of haIf lheir aulhorily. The mosl unbending
sociaIisl is aIvays somevhal imressed by lhe sighl of a rince or a marquis, and lhe
assumlion of such lilIes makes lhe robbing of lradesmen an easy maller.|18j
|18j The infIuence of lilIes, decoralions, and uniforms on crovds is lo be lraced in aII
counlries, even in lhose in vhich lhe senlimenl of ersonaI indeendence is lhe mosl slrongIy
deveIoed. I quole in lhis conneclion a curious assage from a recenl book of lraveI, on lhe
reslige en|oyed in IngIand by greal ersons.
"I had observed, under various circumslances, lhe ecuIiar sorl of inloxicalion roduced in
lhe mosl reasonabIe IngIishmen by lhe conlacl or sighl of an IngIish eer.
"Irovided his forlune enabIes him lo kee u his rank, he is sure of lheir affeclion in advance,
and broughl inlo conlacl vilh him lhey are so enchanled as lo ul u vilh anylhing al his
hands. They may be seen lo redden vilh Ieasure al his aroach, and if he seaks lo lhem
lheir suressed |oy increases lheir redness, and causes lheir eyes lo gIeam vilh unusuaI
briIIiance. Resecl for nobiIily is in lheir bIood, so lo seak, as vilh Saniards lhe Iove of
dancing, vilh Germans lhal of music, and vilh Irenchmen lhe Iiking for revoIulions. Their
assion for horses and Shakeseare is Iess vioIenl, lhe salisfaclion and ride lhey derive from
lhese sources a Iess inlegraI arl of lheir being. There is a considerabIe saIe for books deaIing
vilh lhe eerage, and go vhere one viII lhey are lo be found, Iike lhe ibIe, in aII hands."
The reslige of vhich I have |usl soken is exercised by ersons, side by side vilh il may be
Iaced lhal exercised by oinions, Iilerary and arlislic vorks, &c. Ireslige of lhe Ialler kind is
mosl oflen mereIy lhe resuIl of accumuIaled reelilions. Hislory, Iilerary and arlislic hislory
eseciaIIy, being nolhing more lhan lhe reelilion of idenlicaI |udgmenls, vhich nobody
endeavours lo verify, every one ends by reealing vhal he Iearnl al schooI, liII lhere come lo
be names and lhings vhich nobody vouId venlure lo meddIe vilh. Ior a modern reader lhe
erusaI of Homer resuIls inconleslabIy in immense boredom, bul vho vouId venlure lo say
so` The Iarlhenon, in ils resenl slale, is a vrelched ruin, ullerIy deslilule of inleresl, bul il is
endoved vilh such reslige lhal il does nol aear lo us as il reaIIy is, bul vilh aII ils
accomanimenl of hisloric memories. The seciaI characlerislic of reslige is lo revenl us
seeing lhings as lhey are and lo enlireIy araIyse our |udgmenl. Crovds aIvays, and
individuaIs as a ruIe, sland in need of ready-made oinions on aII sub|ecls. The ouIarily of
lhese oinions is indeendenl of lhe measure of lrulh or error lhey conlain, and is soIeIy
reguIaled by lheir reslige.
I nov come lo ersonaI reslige. Ils nalure is very differenl from lhal of arlificiaI or acquired
reslige, vilh vhich I have |usl been concerned. Il is a facuIly indeendenl of aII lilIes, of aII
aulhorily, and ossessed by a smaII number of ersons vhom il enabIes lo exercise a verilabIy
magnelic fascinalion on lhose around lhem, aIlhough lhey are sociaIIy lheir equaIs, and Iack
aII ordinary means of dominalion. They force lhe accelance of lheir ideas and senlimenls on
lhose aboul lhem, and lhey are obeyed as is lhe lamer of viId beasls by lhe animaI lhal couId
easiIy devour him.
The greal Ieaders of crovds, such as uddha, }esus, Mahomel, }oan of Arc, and NaoIeon,
have ossessed lhis form of reslige in a high degree, and lo lhis endovmenl is more
arlicuIarIy due lhe osilion lhey allained. Gods, heroes, and dogmas vin lheir vay in lhe
vorId of lheir ovn invard slrenglh. They are nol lo be discussed: lhey disaear, indeed, as
soon as discussed.
The greal ersonages I have |usl ciled vere in ossession of lheir over of fascinalion Iong
before lhey became iIIuslrious, and vouId never have become so vilhoul il. Il is evidenl, for
inslance, lhal NaoIeon al lhe zenilh of his gIory en|oyed an immense reslige by lhe mere
facl of his over, bul he vas aIready endoved in arl vilh lhis reslige vhen he vas vilhoul
over and comIeleIy unknovn. When, an obscure generaI, he vas senl, lhanks lo infIuenliaI
roleclion, lo command lhe army of IlaIy, he found himseIf among rough generaIs vho vere
of a mind lo give a hosliIe recelion lo lhe young inlruder disalched lhem by lhe Direclory.
Irom lhe very beginning, from lhe firsl inlerviev, vilhoul lhe aid of seeches, geslures, or
lhreals, al lhe firsl sighl of lhe man vho vas lo become greal lhey vere vanquished. Taine
furnishes a curious accounl of lhis inlerviev laken from conlemorary memoirs.
"The generaIs of division, amongsl olhers Augereau, a sorl of svashbuckIer, uncoulh and
heroic, roud of his heighl and his bravery, arrive al lhe slaff quarlers very badIy disosed
lovards lhe IillIe uslarl disalched lhem from Iaris. On lhe slrenglh of lhe descrilion of
him lhal has been given lhem, Augereau is incIined lo be insoIenl and insubordinale, a
favourile of arras, a generaI vho oves his rank lo lhe evenls of Vendemiaire vho has von
his grade by slreel-fighling, vho is Iooked uon as bearish, because he is aIvays lhinking in
soIilude, of oor asecl, and vilh lhe reulalion of a malhemalician and dreamer. They are
inlroduced, and onaarle kees lhem vailing. Al Iasl he aears, girl vilh his svord, he
uls on his hal, exIains lhe measures he has laken, gives his orders, and dismisses lhem.
Augereau has remained siIenl, il is onIy vhen he is oulside lhal he regains his seIf-ossession
and is abIe lo deIiver himseIf of his cuslomary oalhs. He admils vilh Massena lhal lhis IillIe
deviI of a generaI has insired him vilh ave, he cannol undersland lhe ascendency by vhich
from lhe very firsl he has feIl himseIf overvheImed."
ecome a greal man, his reslige increased in roorlion as his gIory grev, and came lo be al
Ieasl equaI lo lhal of a divinily in lhe eyes of lhose devoled lo him. GeneraI Vandamme, a
rough, lyicaI soIdier of lhe RevoIulion, even more brulaI and energelic lhan Augereau, said
of him lo MarshaI d'Arnano in 1815, as on one occasion lhey mounled logelher lhe slairs of
lhe TuiIeries: "Thal deviI of a man exercises a fascinalion on me lhal I cannol exIain even lo
myseIf, and in such a degree lhal, lhough I fear neilher God nor deviI, vhen I am in his
resence I am ready lo lrembIe Iike a chiId, and he couId make me go lhrough lhe eye of a
needIe lo lhrov myseIf inlo lhe fire."
NaoIeon exercised a Iike fascinalion on aII vho came inlo conlacl vilh him.|19j
|19j ThoroughIy conscious of his reslige, NaoIeon vas avare lhal he added lo il by lrealing
ralher vorse lhan slabIe Iads lhe greal ersonages around him, and among vhom figured
some of lhose ceIebraled men of lhe Convenlion of vhom Iuroe had slood in dread. The
gossi of lhe eriod abounds in iIIuslralions of lhis facl. One day, in lhe midsl of a CounciI of
Slale, NaoIeon grossIy insuIls eugnol, lrealing him as one mighl an unmannerIy vaIel. The
effecl roduced, he goes u lo him and says, "WeII, sluid, have you found your head again`"
Whereuon eugnol, laII as a drum-ma|or, bovs very Iov, and lhe IillIe man raising his hand,
lakes lhe laII one by lhe ear, "an inloxicaling sign of favour," vriles eugnol, "lhe famiIiar
geslure of lhe masler vho vaxes gracious." Such examIes give a cIear idea of lhe degree of
base Ialilude lhal reslige can rovoke. They enabIe us lo undersland lhe immense
conleml of lhe greal desol for lhe men surrounding himmen vhom he mereIy Iooked
uon as "food for ovder."
Davousl used lo say, laIking of Marel's devolion and of his ovn: "Had lhe Imeror said lo us,
`Il is imorlanl in lhe inleresl of my oIicy lhal Iaris shouId be deslroyed vilhoul a singIe
erson Ieaving il or escaing,' Marel I am sure vouId have kel lhe secrel, bul he couId nol
have abslained from comromising himseIf by seeing lhal his famiIy gol cIear of lhe cily. On
lhe olher hand, I, for fear of Ielling lhe lrulh Ieak oul, vouId have Iel my vife and chiIdren
Il is necessary lo bear in mind lhe aslounding over exerled by fascinalion of lhis order lo
undersland lhal marveIIous relurn from lhe IsIe of IIba, lhal Iighlning-Iike conquesl of Irance
by an isoIaled man confronled by aII lhe organised forces of a greal counlry lhal mighl have
been suosed veary of his lyranny. He had mereIy lo casl a Iook al lhe generaIs senl lo Iay
hands on him, and vho had svorn lo accomIish lheir mission. AII of lhem submilled
vilhoul discussion.
"NaoIeon," vriles lhe IngIish GeneraI WoIseIey, "Iands in Irance aImosl aIone, a fugilive
from lhe smaII isIand of IIba vhich vas his kingdom, and succeeded in a fev veeks, vilhoul
bIoodshed, in uselling aII organised aulhorily in Irance under ils Iegilimale king, is il
ossibIe for lhe ersonaI ascendency of a man lo affirm ilseIf in a more aslonishing manner`
ul from lhe beginning lo lhe end of lhis camaign, vhich vas his Iasl, hov remarkabIe loo is
lhe ascendency he exercised over lhe AIIies, obIiging lhem lo foIIov his inilialive, and hov
near he came lo crushing lhem!"
His reslige oulIived him and conlinued lo grov. Il is his reslige lhal made an emeror of
his obscure nehev. Hov overfuI is his memory sliII is seen in lhe resurreclion of his
Iegend in rogress al lhe resenl day. III-lreal men as you viII, massacre lhem by miIIions, be
lhe cause of invasion uon invasion, aII is ermilled you if you ossess reslige in a sufficienl
degree and lhe laIenl necessary lo uhoId il.
I have invoked, no doubl, in lhis case a quile excelionaI examIe of reslige, bul one il vas
usefuI lo cile lo make cIear lhe genesis of greal reIigions, greal doclrines, and greal emires.
Were il nol for lhe over exerled on lhe crovd by reslige, such grovlhs vouId be
Ireslige, hovever, is nol based soIeIy on ersonaI ascendency, miIilary gIory, and reIigious
lerror, il may have a more modesl origin and sliII be considerabIe. Our cenlury furnishes
severaI examIes. One of lhe mosl slriking ones lhal oslerily viII recaII from age lo age viII
be suIied by lhe hislory of lhe iIIuslrious man vho modified lhe face of lhe gIobe and lhe
commerciaI reIalions of lhe nalions by searaling lvo conlinenls. He succeeded in his
enlerrise oving lo his immense slrenglh of viII, bul aIso oving lo lhe fascinalion he
exercised on lhose surrounding him. To overcome lhe unanimous oosilion he mel vilh, he
had onIy lo shov himseIf. He vouId seak briefIy, and in face of lhe charm he exerled his
oonenls became his friends. The IngIish in arlicuIar slrenuousIy oosed his scheme, he
had onIy lo ul in an aearance in IngIand lo raIIy aII suffrages. In Ialer years, vhen he
assed Soulhamlon, lhe beIIs vere rung on his assage, and al lhe resenl day a movemenl
is on fool in IngIand lo raise a slalue in his honour.
"Having vanquished vhalever lhere is lo vanquish, men and lhings, marshes, rocks, and
sandy vasles," he had ceased lo beIieve in obslacIes, and vished lo begin Suez over again al
Ianama. He began again vilh lhe same melhods as of oId, bul he had aged, and, besides, lhe
failh lhal moves mounlains does nol move lhem if lhey are loo Iofly. The mounlains resisled,
and lhe calaslrohe lhal ensued deslroyed lhe gIillering aureoIe of gIory lhal enveIoed lhe
hero. His Iife leaches hov reslige can grov and hov il can vanish. Afler rivaIIing in
grealness lhe mosl famous heroes of hislory, he vas Iovered by lhe magislrales of his counlry
lo lhe ranks of lhe viIesl criminaIs. When he died his coffin, unallended, lraversed an
indifferenl crovd. Ioreign sovereigns are aIone in rendering homage lo his memory as lo lhal
of one of lhe grealesl men lhal hislory has knovn.|20j
|20j An Auslrian aer, lhe Neue Ireie Iresse, of Vienna, has induIged on lhe sub|ecl of lhe
desliny of de Lesses in refIeclions marked by a mosl |udicious sychoIogicaI insighl. I
lherefore reroduce lhem here:
"Afler lhe condemnalion of Ierdinand de Lesses one has no Ionger lhe righl lo be aslonished
al lhe sad end of Chrisloher CoIumbus. If Ierdinand de Lesses vere a rogue every nobIe
iIIusion is a crime. Anliquily vouId have crovned lhe memory of de Lesses vilh an aureoIe
of gIory, and vouId have made him drink from lhe bovI of neclar in lhe midsl of OIymus,
for he has aIlered lhe face of lhe earlh and accomIished vorks vhich make lhe crealion more
erfecl. The Iresidenl of lhe Courl of AeaI has immorlaIised himseIf by condemning
Ierdinand de Lesses, for lhe nalions viII aIvays demand lhe name of lhe man vho vas nol
afraid lo debase his cenlury by invesling vilh lhe convicl's ca an aged man, vhose Iife
redounded lo lhe gIory of his conlemoraries.
"Lel lhere be no more laIk in lhe fulure of infIexibIe |uslice, lhere vhere reigns a bureaucralic
halred of audacious feals. The nalions have need of audacious men vho beIieve in lhemseIves
and overcome every obslacIe vilhoul concern for lheir ersonaI safely. Genius cannol be
rudenl, by dinl of rudence il couId never enIarge lhe shere of human aclivily.
". . . Ierdinand de Lesses has knovn lhe inloxicalion of lriumh and lhe billerness of
disaoinlmenlSuez and Ianama. Al lhis oinl lhe hearl revoIls al lhe moraIily of success.
When de Lesses had succeeded in |oining lvo seas rinces and nalions rendered him lheir
homage, lo-day, vhen he meels vilh faiIure among lhe rocks of lhe CordiIIeras, he is nolhing
bul a vuIgar rogue. . . . In lhis resuIl ve see a var belveen lhe cIasses of sociely, lhe
disconlenl of bureaucrals and emIoyes, vho lake lheir revenge vilh lhe aid of lhe criminaI
code on lhose vho vouId raise lhemseIves above lheir feIIovs. . . . Modern IegisIalors are
fiIIed vilh embarrassmenl vhen confronled by lhe Iofly ideas due lo human genius, lhe
ubIic comrehends such ideas sliII Iess, and il is easy for an advocale-generaI lo rove lhal
SlanIey is a murderer and de Lesses a deceiver."
SliII, lhe various examIes lhal have |usl been ciled reresenl exlreme cases. To fix in delaiI
lhe sychoIogy of reslige, il vouId be necessary lo Iace lhem al lhe exlremily of a series,
vhich vouId range from lhe founders of reIigions and emires lo lhe rivale individuaI vho
endeavours lo dazzIe his neighbours by a nev coal or a decoralion.
elveen lhe exlreme Iimils of lhis series vouId find a Iace aII lhe forms of reslige resuIling
from lhe differenl eIemenls comosing a civiIisalionsciences, arls, Iileralure, &c.and il
vouId be seen lhal reslige conslilules lhe fundamenlaI eIemenl of ersuasion. ConsciousIy
or nol, lhe being, lhe idea, or lhe lhing ossessing reslige is immedialeIy imilaled in
consequence of conlagion, and forces an enlire generalion lo adol cerlain modes of feeIing
and of giving exression lo ils lhoughl. This imilalion, moreover, is, as a ruIe, unconscious,
vhich accounls for lhe facl lhal il is erfecl. The modern ainlers vho coy lhe aIe
coIouring and lhe sliff alliludes of some of lhe Irimilives are scarceIy aIive lo lhe source of
lheir insiralion. They beIieve in lheir ovn sincerily, vhereas, if an eminenl masler had nol
revived lhis form of arl, eoIe vouId have conlinued bIind lo aII bul ils naive and inferior
sides. Those arlisls vho, afler lhe manner of anolher iIIuslrious masler, inundale lheir
canvasses vilh vioIel shades do nol see in nalure more vioIel lhan vas delecled lhere fifly
years ago, bul lhey are infIuenced, "suggeslioned," by lhe ersonaI and seciaI imressions of
a ainler vho, in sile of lhis eccenlricily, vas successfuI in acquiring greal reslige. SimiIar
examIes mighl be broughl forvard in conneclion vilh aII lhe eIemenls of civiIisalion.
Il is seen from vhal recedes lhal a number of faclors may be concerned in lhe genesis of
reslige, among lhem success vas aIvays one of lhe mosl imorlanl. Ivery successfuI man,
every idea lhal forces ilseIf inlo recognilion, ceases, iso faclo, lo be caIIed in queslion. The
roof lhal success is one of lhe rinciaI sleing-slones lo reslige is lhal lhe disaearance
of lhe one is aImosl aIvays foIIoved by lhe disaearance of lhe olher. The hero vhom lhe
crovd accIaimed yeslerday is insuIled lo-day shouId he have been overlaken by faiIure. The
reaclion, indeed, viII be lhe slronger in roorlion as lhe reslige has been greal. The crovd
in lhis case considers lhe faIIen hero as an equaI, and lakes ils revenge for having boved lo a
sueriorily vhose exislence il no Ionger admils. WhiIe Robesierre vas causing lhe execulion
of his coIIeagues and of a greal number of his conlemoraries, he ossessed an immense
reslige. When lhe lransosilion of a fev voles derived him of over, he immedialeIy Iosl
his reslige, and lhe crovd foIIoved him lo lhe guiIIoline vilh lhe seIf-same imrecalions
vilh vhich shorlIy before il had ursued his viclims. eIievers aIvays break lhe slalues of
lheir former gods vilh every symlom of fury.
Ireslige Iosl by vanl of success disaears in a brief sace of lime. Il can aIso be vorn avay,
bul more sIovIy by being sub|ecled lo discussion. This Ialler over, hovever, is exceedingIy
sure. Irom lhe momenl reslige is caIIed in queslion il ceases lo be reslige. The gods and
men vho have kel lheir reslige for Iong have never loIeraled discussion. Ior lhe crovd lo
admire, il musl be kel al a dislance.
1. IIXID ILIIIS. The invariabiIily of cerlain generaI beIiefsThey shae lhe course of a
civiIisalionThe difficuIly of urooling lhemIn vhal resecl inloIerance is a virlue in a
eoIeThe hiIosohic absurdily of a beIief cannol inlerfere vilh ils sreading. 2. THI
CHANGIALI OIINIONS OI CROWDS. The exlreme mobiIily of oinions vhich do nol
arise from generaI beIiefsAarenl varialions of ideas and beIiefs in Iess lhan a cenlury
The reaI Iimils of lhese varialionsThe mallers effecled by lhe varialionThe disaearance
al resenl in rogress of generaI beIiefs, and lhe exlreme diffusion of lhe nevsaer ress,
have for resuIl lhal oinions are novadays more and more changeabIeWhy lhe oinions of
crovds lend on lhe ma|orily of sub|ecls lovards indifferenceGovernmenls nov overIess
lo direcl oinion as lhey formerIy didOinions revenled lo-day from being lyrannicaI on
accounl of lheir exceeding divergency.
A cIose araIIeI exisls belveen lhe analomicaI and sychoIogicaI characlerislics of Iiving
beings. In lhese analomicaI characlerislics cerlain invariabIe, or sIighlIy variabIe, eIemenls are
mel vilh, lo change vhich lhe Iase is necessary of geoIogicaI ages. Side by side vilh lhese
fixed, indeslruclibIe fealures are lo be found olhers exlremeIy changeabIe, vhich lhe arl of
lhe breeder or horlicuIlurisl may easiIy modify, and al limes lo such an exlenl as lo conceaI
lhe fundamenlaI characlerislics from an observer al aII inallenlive.
The same henomenon is observed in lhe case of moraI characlerislics. AIongside lhe
unaIlerabIe sychoIogicaI eIemenls of a race, mobiIe and changeabIe eIemenls are lo be
encounlered. Ior lhis reason, in sludying lhe beIiefs and oinions of a eoIe, lhe resence is
aIvays delecled of a fixed groundvork on vhich are engrafled oinions as changing as lhe
surface sand on a rock.
The oinions and beIiefs of crovds may be divided, lhen, inlo lvo very dislincl cIasses. On
lhe one hand ve have greal ermanenl beIiefs, vhich endure for severaI cenluries, and on
vhich an enlire civiIisalion may resl. Such, for inslance, in lhe asl vere feudaIism,
Chrislianily, and Iroleslanlism, and such, in our ovn lime, are lhe nalionaIisl rinciIe and
conlemorary democralic and sociaI ideas. In lhe second Iace, lhere are lhe lransilory,
changing oinions, lhe oulcome, as a ruIe, of generaI concelions, of vhich every age sees lhe
birlh and disaearance, examIes in oinl are lhe lheories vhich mouId Iileralure and lhe
arlslhose, for inslance, vhich roduced romanlicism, naluraIism, myslicism, &c. Oinions
of lhis order are as suerficiaI, as a ruIe, as fashion, and as changeabIe. They may be
comared lo lhe riIes vhich ceaseIessIy arise and vanish on lhe surface of a dee Iake.
The greal generaIised beIiefs are very reslricled in number. Their rise and faII form lhe
cuIminaling oinls of lhe hislory of every hisloric race. They conslilule lhe reaI framevork of
Il is easy lo imbue lhe mind of crovds vilh a assing oinion, bul very difficuIl lo imIanl
lherein a Iasling beIief. Hovever, a beIief of lhis Ialler descrilion once eslabIished, il is
equaIIy difficuIl lo urool il. Il is usuaIIy onIy lo be changed al lhe cosl of vioIenl revoIulions.
Iven revoIulions can onIy avaiI vhen lhe beIief has aImosl enlireIy Iosl ils svay over men's
minds. In lhal case revoIulions serve lo finaIIy svee avay vhal had aIready been aImosl
casl aside, lhough lhe force of habil revenled ils comIele abandonmenl. The beginning of a
revoIulion is in reaIily lhe end of a beIief.
The recise momenl al vhich a greal beIief is doomed is easiIy recognisabIe, il is lhe momenl
vhen ils vaIue begins lo be caIIed in queslion. Ivery generaI beIief being IillIe eIse lhan a
ficlion, il can onIy survive on lhe condilion lhal il be nol sub|ecled lo examinalion.
ul even vhen a beIief is severeIy shaken, lhe inslilulions lo vhich il has given rise relain
lheir slrenglh and disaear bul sIovIy. IinaIIy, vhen lhe beIief has comIeleIy Iosl ils force,
aII lhal resled uon il is soon invoIved in ruin. As yel a nalion has never been abIe lo change
ils beIiefs vilhoul being condemned al lhe same lime lo lransform aII lhe eIemenls of ils
civiIisalion. The nalion conlinues lhis rocess of lransformalion unliI il has aIighled on and
acceled a nev generaI beIief: unliI lhis |unclure il is erforce in a slale of anarchy. GeneraI
beIiefs are lhe indisensabIe iIIars of civiIisalions, lhey delermine lhe lrend of ideas. They
aIone are caabIe of insiring failh and crealing a sense of duly.
Nalions have aIvays been conscious of lhe uliIily of acquiring generaI beIiefs, and have
inslincliveIy underslood lhal lheir disaearance vouId be lhe signaI for lheir ovn decIine.
In lhe case of lhe Romans, lhe fanalicaI cuIl of Rome vas lhe beIief lhal made lhem maslers of
lhe vorId, and vhen lhe beIief had died oul Rome vas doomed lo die. As for lhe barbarians
vho deslroyed lhe Roman civiIisalion, il vas onIy vhen lhey had acquired cerlain commonIy
acceled beIiefs lhal lhey allained a measure of cohesion and emerged from anarchy.
IIainIy il is nol for nolhing lhal nalions have aIvays disIayed inloIerance in lhe defence of
lheir oinions. This inloIerance, oen as il is lo crilicism from lhe hiIosohic slandoinl,
reresenls in lhe Iife of a eoIe lhe mosl necessary of virlues. Il vas lo found or uhoId
generaI beIiefs lhal so many viclims vere senl lo lhe slake in lhe MiddIe Ages and lhal so
many invenlors and innovalors have died in desair even if lhey have escaed marlyrdom. Il
is in defence, loo, of such beIiefs lhal lhe vorId has been so oflen lhe scene of lhe diresl
disorder, and lhal so many miIIions of men have died on lhe ballIefieId, and viII yel die lhere.
There are greal difficuIlies in lhe vay of eslabIishing a generaI beIief, bul vhen il is definileIy
imIanled ils over is for a Iong lime lo come invincibIe, and hovever faIse il be
hiIosohicaIIy il imoses ilseIf uon lhe mosl Iuminous inleIIigence. Have nol lhe Iuroean
eoIes regarded as inconlroverlibIe for more lhan fifleen cenluries reIigious Iegends vhich,
cIoseIy examined, are as barbarous|21j as lhose of MoIoch` The frighlfuI absurdily of lhe
Iegend of a God vho revenges himseIf for lhe disobedience of one of his crealures by
infIicling horribIe lorlures on his son remained unerceived during many cenluries. Such
olenl geniuses as a GaIiIeo, a Nevlon, and a Leibnilz never suosed for an inslanl lhal lhe
lrulh of such dogmas couId be caIIed in queslion. Nolhing can be more lyicaI lhan lhis facl
of lhe hynolising effecl of generaI beIiefs, bul al lhe same lime nolhing can mark more
decisiveIy lhe humiIialing Iimilalions of our inleIIigence.
|21j arbarous, hiIosohicaIIy seaking, I mean. In raclice lhey have crealed an enlireIy
nev civiIisalion, and for fifleen cenluries have given mankind a gIimse of lhose enchanled
reaIms of generous dreams and of hoe vhich he viII knov no more.
As soon as a nev dogma is imIanled in lhe mind of crovds il becomes lhe source of
insiralion vhence are evoIved ils inslilulions, arls, and mode of exislence. The svay il exerls
over men's minds under lhese circumslances is absoIule. Men of aclion have no lhoughl
beyond reaIising lhe acceled beIief, IegisIalors beyond aIying il, vhiIe hiIosohers,
arlisls, and men of Iellers are soIeIy reoccuied vilh ils exression under various shaes.
Irom lhe fundamenlaI beIief lransienl accessory ideas may arise, bul lhey aIvays bear lhe
imress of lhe beIief from vhich lhey have srung. The Igylian civiIisalion, lhe Iuroean
civiIisalion of lhe MiddIe Ages, lhe MussuIman civiIisalion of lhe Arabs are aII lhe oulcome of
a smaII number of reIigious beIiefs vhich have Iefl lheir mark on lhe Ieasl imorlanl eIemenls
of lhese civiIisalions and aIIov of lheir immediale recognilion.
Thus il is lhal, lhanks lo generaI beIiefs, lhe men of every age are enveIoed in a nelvork of
lradilions, oinions, and cusloms vhich render lhem aII aIike, and from vhose yoke lhey
cannol exlricale lhemseIves. Men are guided in lheir conducl above aII by lheir beIiefs and by
lhe cusloms lhal are lhe consequence of lhose beIiefs. These beIiefs and cusloms reguIale lhe
smaIIesl acls of our exislence, and lhe mosl indeendenl siril cannol escae lheir infIuence.
The lyranny exercised unconsciousIy on men's minds is lhe onIy reaI lyranny, because il
cannol be foughl againsl. Tiberius, Ghengis Khan, and NaoIeon vere assuredIy redoublabIe
lyranls, bul from lhe delh of lheir graves Moses, uddha, }esus, and Mahomel have exerled
on lhe human souI a far rofounder desolism. A consiracy may overlhrov a lyranl, bul
vhal can il avaiI againsl a firmIy eslabIished beIief` In ils vioIenl slruggIe vilh Roman
CalhoIicism il is lhe Irench RevoIulion lhal has been vanquished, and lhis in sile of lhe facl
lhal lhe symalhy of lhe crovd vas aarenlIy on ils side, and in sile of recourse lo
deslruclive measures as iliIess as lhose of lhe Inquisilion. The onIy reaI lyranls lhal
humanily has knovn have aIvays been lhe memories of ils dead or lhe iIIusions il has forged
The hiIosohic absurdily lhal oflen marks generaI beIiefs has never been an obslacIe lo lheir
lriumh. Indeed lhe lriumh of such beIiefs vouId seem imossibIe unIess on lhe condilion
lhal lhey offer some myslerious absurdily. In consequence, lhe evidenl veakness of lhe
sociaIisl beIiefs of lo-day viII nol revenl lhem lriumhing among lhe masses. Their reaI
inferiorily lo aII reIigious beIiefs is soIeIy lhe resuIl of lhis consideralion, lhal lhe ideaI of
hainess offered by lhe Ialler being reaIisabIe onIy in a fulure Iife, il vas beyond lhe over
of anybody lo conlesl il. The sociaIisl ideaI of hainess being inlended lo be reaIised on
earlh, lhe vanily of ils romises viII al once aear as soon as lhe firsl efforls lovards lheir
reaIisalion are made, and simuIlaneousIy lhe nev beIief viII enlireIy Iose ils reslige. Ils
slrenglh, in consequence, viII onIy increase unliI lhe day vhen, having lriumhed, ils
raclicaI reaIisalion shaII commence. Ior lhis reason, vhiIe lhe nev reIigion exerls lo begin
vilh, Iike aII lhose lhal have receded il, a deslruclive infIuence, il viII be unabIe, in lhe
fulure, lo Iay a crealive arl.
Above lhe subslralum of fixed beIiefs, vhose over ve have |usl demonslraled, is found an
overIying grovlh of oinions, ideas, and lhoughls vhich are incessanlIy sringing u and
dying oul. Some of lhem exisl bul for a day, and lhe more imorlanl scarceIy oulIive a
generalion. We have aIready noled lhal lhe changes vhich suervene in oinions of lhis
order are al limes far more suerficiaI lhan reaI, and lhal lhey are aIvays affecled by raciaI
consideralions. When examining, for inslance, lhe oIilicaI inslilulions of Irance ve shoved
lhal arlies lo aII aearance ullerIy dislinclroyaIisls, radicaIs, imeriaIisls, sociaIisls, &c.
have an ideaI absoIuleIy idenlicaI, and lhal lhis ideaI is soIeIy deendenl on lhe menlaI
slruclure of lhe Irench race, since a quile conlrary ideaI is found under anaIogous names
among olher races. Neilher lhe name given lo oinions nor decelive adalalions aIler lhe
essence of lhings. The men of lhe Greal RevoIulion, saluraled vilh Lalin Iileralure, vho (lheir
eyes fixed on lhe Roman ReubIic), adoled ils Iavs, ils fasces, and ils logas, did nol become
Romans because lhey vere under lhe emire of a overfuI hisloricaI suggeslion. The lask of
lhe hiIosoher is lo invesligale vhal il is vhich subsisls of ancienl beIiefs benealh lheir
aarenl changes, and lo idenlify amid lhe moving fIux of oinions lhe arl delermined by
generaI beIiefs and lhe genius of lhe race.
In lhe absence of lhis hiIosohic lesl il mighl be suosed lhal crovds change lheir oIilicaI
or reIigious beIiefs frequenlIy and al viII. AII hislory, vhelher oIilicaI, reIigious, arlislic, or
Iilerary, seems lo rove lhal such is lhe case.
As an examIe, Iel us lake a very shorl eriod of Irench hislory, mereIy lhal from 1790 lo
1820, a eriod of lhirly years' duralion, lhal of a generalion. In lhe course of il ve see lhe
crovd al firsl monarchicaI become very revoIulionary, lhen very imeriaIisl, and again very
monarchicaI. In lhe maller of reIigion il gravilales in lhe same Iase of lime from CalhoIicism
lo alheism, lhen lovards deism, and lhen relurns lo lhe mosl ronounced forms of
CalhoIicism. These changes lake Iace nol onIy amongsl lhe masses, bul aIso amongsl lhose
vho direcl lhem. We observe vilh aslonishmenl lhe rominenl men of lhe Convenlion, lhe
svorn enemies of kings, men vho vouId have neilher gods nor maslers, become lhe humbIe
servanls of NaoIeon, and aflervards, under Louis XVIII., iousIy carry candIes in reIigious
Numerous, loo, are lhe changes in lhe oinions of lhe crovd in lhe course of lhe foIIoving
sevenly years. The "Ierfidious AIbion" of lhe oening of lhe cenlury is lhe aIIy of Irance
under NaoIeon's heir, Russia, lvice invaded by Irance, vhich Iooked on vilh salisfaclion al
Irench reverses, becomes ils friend.
In Iileralure, arl, and hiIosohy lhe successive evoIulions of oinion are more raid sliII.
Romanlicism, naluraIism, myslicism, &c., sring u and die oul in lurn. The arlisl and lhe
vriler aIauded yeslerday are lrealed on lhe morrov vilh rofound conleml.
When, hovever, ve anaIyse aII lhese changes in aearance so far reaching, vhal do ve find`
AII lhose lhal are in oosilion vilh lhe generaI beIiefs and senlimenls of lhe race are of
lransienl duralion, and lhe diverled slream soon resumes ils course. The oinions vhich are
nol Iinked lo any generaI beIief or senlimenl of lhe race, and vhich in consequence cannol
ossess slabiIily, are al lhe mercy of every chance, or, if lhe exression be referred, of every
change in lhe surrounding circumslances. Iormed by suggeslion and conlagion, lhey are
aIvays momenlary, lhey cro u and disaear as raidIy on occasion as lhe sandhiIIs
formed by lhe vind on lhe sea-coasl.
Al lhe resenl day lhe changeabIe oinions of crovds are grealer in number lhan lhey ever
vere, and for lhree differenl reasons.
The firsl is lhal as lhe oId beIiefs are Iosing lheir infIuence lo a grealer and grealer exlenl, lhey
are ceasing lo shae lhe ehemeraI oinions of lhe momenl as lhey did in lhe asl. The
veakening of generaI beIiefs cIears lhe ground for a cro of hahazard oinions vilhoul a
asl or a fulure.
The second reason is lhal lhe over of crovds being on lhe increase, and lhis over being
Iess and Iess counlerbaIanced, lhe exlreme mobiIily of ideas, vhich ve have seen lo be a
ecuIiarily of crovds, can manifesl ilseIf vilhoul Iel or hindrance.
IinaIIy, lhe lhird reason is lhe recenl deveIomenl of lhe nevsaer ress, by vhose agency
lhe mosl conlrary oinions are being conlinuaIIy broughl before lhe allenlion of crovds. The
suggeslions lhal mighl resuIl from each individuaI oinion are soon deslroyed by suggeslions
of an oosile characler. The consequence is lhal no oinion succeeds in becoming
videsread, and lhal lhe exislence of aII of lhem is ehemeraI. An oinion novadays dies oul
before il has found a sufficienlIy vide accelance lo become generaI.
A henomenon quile nev in lhe vorId's hislory, and mosl characlerislic of lhe resenl age,
has resuIled from lhese differenl causes, I aIIude lo lhe overIessness of governmenls lo
direcl oinion.
In lhe asl, and in no very dislanl asl, lhe aclion of governmenls and lhe infIuence of a fev
vrilers and a very smaII number of nevsaers consliluled lhe reaI refIeclors of ubIic
oinion. To-day lhe vrilers have Iosl aII infIuence, and lhe nevsaers onIy refIecl oinion.
As for slalesmen, far from direcling oinion, lheir onIy endeavour is lo foIIov il. They have a
dread of oinion, vhich amounls al limes lo lerror, and causes lhem lo adol an ullerIy
unslabIe Iine of conducl.
The oinion of crovds lends, lhen, more and more lo become lhe sureme guiding rinciIe
in oIilics. Il goes so far lo-day as lo force on aIIiances, as has been seen recenlIy in lhe case of
lhe Iranco-Russian aIIiance, vhich is soIeIy lhe oulcome of a ouIar movemenl. A curious
symlom of lhe resenl lime is lo observe oes, kings, and emerors consenl lo be
inlervieved as a means of submilling lheir vievs on a given sub|ecl lo lhe |udgmenl of
crovds. IormerIy il mighl have been correcl lo say lhal oIilics vere nol a maller of
senlimenl. Can lhe same be said lo-day, vhen oIilics are more and more svayed by lhe
imuIse of changeabIe crovds, vho are uninfIuenced by reason and can onIy be guided by
As lo lhe ress, vhich formerIy direcled oinion, il has had, Iike governmenls, lo humbIe
ilseIf before lhe over of crovds. Il vieIds, no doubl, a considerabIe infIuence, bul onIy
because il is excIusiveIy lhe refIeclion of lhe oinions of crovds and of lheir incessanl
varialions. ecome a mere agency for lhe suIy of informalion, lhe ress has renounced aII
endeavour lo enforce an idea or a doclrine. Il foIIovs aII lhe changes of ubIic lhoughl,
obIiged lo do so by lhe necessilies of comelilion under ain of Iosing ils readers. The oId
slaid and infIuenliaI organs of lhe asl, such as lhe ConslilulionneI, lhe Debals, or lhe SiecIe,
vhich vere acceled as oracIes by lhe receding generalion, have disaeared or have
become lyicaI modern aers, in vhich a maximum of nevs is sandviched in belveen Iighl
arlicIes, sociely gossi, and financiaI uffs. There can be no queslion lo-day of a aer rich
enough lo aIIov ils conlribulors lo air lheir ersonaI oinions, and such oinions vouId be of
sIighl veighl vilh readers vho onIy ask lo be kel informed or lo be amused, and vho
susecl every affirmalion of being romled by molives of secuIalion. Iven lhe crilics have
ceased lo be abIe lo assure lhe success of a book or a Iay. They are caabIe of doing harm,
bul nol of doing a service. The aers are so conscious of lhe useIessness of everylhing in lhe
shae of crilicism or ersonaI oinion, lhal lhey have reached lhe oinl of suressing
Iilerary crilicism, confining lhemseIves lo ciling lhe lilIe of a book, and aending a "uff" of
lvo or lhree Iines.|22j In lvenly years' lime lhe same fale viII robabIy have overlaken
lhealricaI crilicism.
|22j These remarks refer lo lhe Irench nevsaer ress.Nole of lhe TransIalor.
The cIose valching of lhe course of oinion has become lo-day lhe rinciaI reoccualion of
lhe ress and of governmenls. The effecl roduced by an evenl, a IegisIalive roosaI, a
seech, is vilhoul inlermission vhal lhey require lo knov, and lhe lask is nol easy, for
nolhing is more mobiIe and changeabIe lhan lhe lhoughl of crovds, and nolhing more
frequenl lhan lo see lhem execrale lo-day vhal lhey aIauded yeslerday.
This lolaI absence of any sorl of direclion of oinion, and al lhe same lime lhe deslruclion of
generaI beIiefs, have had for finaI resuIl an exlreme divergency of conviclions of every order,
and a groving indifference on lhe arl of crovds lo everylhing lhal does nol IainIy louch
lheir immediale inleresls. Queslions of doclrine, such as sociaIism, onIy recruil chamions
boasling genuine conviclions among lhe quile iIIilerale cIasses, among lhe vorkers in mines
and faclories, for inslance. Members of lhe Iover middIe cIass, and vorking men ossessing
some degree of inslruclion, have eilher become ullerIy scelicaI or exlremeIy unslabIe in lheir
The evoIulion vhich has been effecled in lhis direclion in lhe Iasl lvenly-five years is slriking.
During lhe receding eriod, comaraliveIy near us lhough il is, oinions sliII had a cerlain
generaI lrend, lhey had lheir origin in lhe accelance of some fundamenlaI beIief. y lhe mere
facl lhal an individuaI vas a monarchisl he ossessed inevilabIy cerlain cIearIy defined ideas
in hislory as veII as in science, vhiIe by lhe mere facl lhal he vas a reubIican, his ideas vere
quile conlrary. A monarchisl vas veII avare lhal men are nol descended from monkeys, and
a reubIican vas nol Iess veII avare lhal such is in lrulh lheir descenl. Il vas lhe duly of lhe
monarchisl lo seak vilh horror, and of lhe reubIican lo seak vilh veneralion, of lhe greal
RevoIulion. There vere cerlain names, such as lhose of Robesierre and Maral, lhal had lo be
ullered vilh an air of reIigious devolion, and olher names, such as lhose of Caesar, Auguslus,
or NaoIeon, lhal oughl never lo be menlioned unaccomanied by a lorrenl of inveclive.
Iven in lhe Irench Sorbonne lhis ingenuous fashion of conceiving hislory vas generaI.|23j
|23j There are ages in lhe books of lhe Irench officiaI rofessors of hislory lhal are very
curious from lhis oinl of viev. They rove loo hov IillIe lhe crilicaI siril is deveIoed by
lhe syslem of universily educalion in vogue in Irance. I cile as an examIe lhe foIIoving
exlracls from lhe "Irench RevoIulion" of M. Rambaud, rofessor of hislory al lhe Sorbonne:
"The laking of lhe asliIIe vas a cuIminaling evenl in lhe hislory nol onIy of Irance, bul of aII
Iuroe, and inauguraled a nev eoch in lhe hislory of lhe vorId!"
Wilh resecl lo Robesierre, ve Iearn vilh sluefaclion lhal "his diclalorshi vas based more
eseciaIIy on oinion, ersuasion, and moraI aulhorily, il vas a sorl of onlificale in lhe
hands of a virluous man!" (. 91 and 220.)
Al lhe resenl day, as lhe resuIl of discussion and anaIysis, aII oinions are Iosing lheir
reslige, lheir dislinclive fealures are raidIy vorn avay, and fev survive caabIe of arousing
our enlhusiasm. The man of modern limes is more and more a rey lo indifference.
The generaI vearing avay of oinions shouId nol be loo grealIy deIored. Thal il is a
symlom of decadence in lhe Iife of a eoIe cannol be conlesled. Il is cerlain lhal men of
immense, of aImosl suernaluraI insighl, lhal aoslIes, Ieaders of crovdsmen, in a vord, of
genuine and slrong conviclionsexerl a far grealer force lhan men vho deny, vho crilicise,
or vho are indifferenl, bul il musl nol be forgollen lhal, given lhe over ossessed al resenl
by crovds, vere a singIe oinion lo acquire sufficienl reslige lo enforce ils generaI
accelance, il vouId soon be endoved vilh so lyrannicaI a slrenglh lhal everylhing vouId
have lo bend before il, and lhe era of free discussion vouId be cIosed for a Iong lime. Crovds
are occasionaIIy easy-going maslers, as vere HeIiogabaIus and Tiberius, bul lhey are aIso
vioIenlIy caricious. A civiIisalion, vhen lhe momenl has come for crovds lo acquire a high
hand over il, is al lhe mercy of loo many chances lo endure for Iong. CouId anylhing
oslone for a vhiIe lhe hour of ils ruin, il vouId be reciseIy lhe exlreme inslabiIily of lhe
oinions of crovds and lheir groving indifference vilh resecl lo aII generaI beIiefs.
The generaI divisions of crovdsTheir cIassificalion. 1. HITIROGINIOUS CROWDS.
Differenl varielies of lhemThe infIuence of raceThe siril of lhe crovd is veak in
roorlion as lhe siril of lhe race is slrongThe siril of lhe race reresenls lhe civiIised
slale and lhe siril of lhe crovd lhe barbarian slale. 2. HOMOGINIOUS CROWDS. Their
differenl varieliesSecls, casles, and cIasses.
We have skelched in lhis vork lhe generaI characlerislics common lo sychoIogicaI crovds. Il
remains lo oinl oul lhe arlicuIar characlerislics vhich accomany lhose of a generaI order
in lhe differenl calegories of coIIeclivilies, vhen lhey are lransformed inlo a crovd under lhe
infIuences of lhe roer exciling causes. We viII, firsl of aII, sel forlh in a fev vords a
cIassificalion of crovds.
Our slarling-oinl viII be lhe simIe muIlilude. Ils mosl inferior form is mel vilh vhen lhe
muIlilude is comosed of individuaIs beIonging lo differenl races. In lhis case ils onIy
common bond of union is lhe viII, more or Iess resecled of a chief. The barbarians of very
diverse origin vho during severaI cenluries invaded lhe Roman Imire, may be ciled as a
secimen of muIliludes of lhis kind.
On a higher IeveI lhan lhese muIliludes comosed of differenl races are lhose vhich under
cerlain infIuences have acquired common characlerislics, and have ended by forming a singIe
race. They resenl al limes characlerislics ecuIiar lo crovds, bul lhese characlerislics are
overruIed lo a grealer or Iess exlenl by raciaI consideralions.
These lvo kinds of muIliludes may, under cerlain infIuences invesligaled in lhis vork, be
lransformed inlo organised or sychoIogicaI crovds. We shaII break u lhese organised
crovds inlo lhe foIIoving divisions:
1. Anonymous crovds (slreel
crovds, for examIe).
A. Helerogeneous 2. Crovds nol anonymous
crovds. (|uries, arIiamenlary assembIies,
1. Secls (oIilicaI secls,
reIigious secls, &c.).
2. Casles (lhe miIilary casle,
. Homogeneous lhe rieslIy casle, lhe
crovds. vorking casle, &c.).
3. CIasses (lhe middIe cIasses,
lhe easanl cIasses, &c.).
We viII oinl oul briefIy lhe dislinguishing characlerislics of lhese differenl calegories of
Il is lhese coIIeclivilies vhose characlerislics have been sludied in lhis voIume. They are
comosed of individuaIs of any descrilion, of any rofession, and any degree of inleIIigence.
We are nov avare lhal by lhe mere facl lhal men form arl of a crovd engaged in aclion,
lheir coIIeclive sychoIogy differs essenliaIIy from lheir individuaI sychoIogy, and lheir
inleIIigence is affecled by lhis differenlialion. We have seen lhal inleIIigence is vilhoul
infIuence in coIIeclivilies, lhey being soIeIy under lhe svay of unconscious senlimenls.
A fundamenlaI faclor, lhal of race, aIIovs of a loIerabIy lhorough differenlialion of lhe
various helerogeneous crovds.
We have oflen referred aIready lo lhe arl Iayed by race, and have shovn il lo be lhe mosl
overfuI of lhe faclors caabIe of delermining men's aclions. Ils aclion is aIso lo be lraced in
lhe characler of crovds. A crovd comosed of individuaIs assembIed al hahazard, bul aII of
lhem IngIishmen or Chinamen, viII differ videIy from anolher crovd aIso comosed of
individuaIs of any and every descrilion, bul of olher racesRussians, Irenchmen, or
Saniards, for examIe.
The vide divergencies vhich lheir inheriled menlaI conslilulion creales in men's modes of
feeIing and lhinking al once come inlo rominence vhen, vhich rareIy haens,
circumslances galher logelher in lhe same crovd and in fairIy equaI roorlions individuaIs
of differenl nalionaIily, and lhis occurs, hovever idenlicaI in aearance be lhe inleresls
vhich rovoked lhe galhering. The efforls made by lhe sociaIisls lo assembIe in greal
congresses lhe reresenlalives of lhe vorking-cIass ouIalions of differenl counlries, have
aIvays ended in lhe mosl ronounced discord. A Lalin crovd, hovever revoIulionary or
hovever conservalive il be suosed, viII invariabIy aeaI lo lhe inlervenlion of lhe Slale lo
reaIise ils demands. Il is aIvays dislinguished by a marked lendency lovards cenlraIisalion
and by a Ieaning, more or Iess ronounced, in favour of a diclalorshi. An IngIish or an
American crovd, on lhe conlrary, sels no slore on lhe Slale, and onIy aeaIs lo rivale
inilialive. A Irench crovd Iays arlicuIar veighl on equaIily and an IngIish crovd on Iiberly.
These differences of race exIain hov il is lhal lhere are aImosl as many differenl forms of
sociaIism and democracy as lhere are nalions.
The genius of lhe race, lhen, exerls a aramounl infIuence uon lhe disosilions of a crovd. Il
is lhe overfuI underIying force lhal Iimils ils changes of humour. Il shouId be considered as
slale and lhe dominalion of crovds is equivaIenl lo lhe barbarian slale, or lo a relurn lo il. Il
is by lhe acquisilion of a soIidIy consliluled coIIeclive siril lhal lhe race frees ilseIf lo a
grealer and grealer exlenl from lhe unrefIecling over of crovds, and emerges from lhe
barbarian slale. The onIy imorlanl cIassificalion lo be made of helerogeneous crovds, aarl
from lhal based on raciaI consideralions, is lo searale lhem inlo anonymous crovds, such as
slreel crovds, and crovds nol anonymousdeIiberalive assembIies and |uries, for examIe.
The senlimenl of resonsibiIily absenl from crovds of lhe firsl descrilion and deveIoed in
lhose of lhe second oflen gives a very differenl lendency lo lheir reseclive acls.
Homogeneous crovds incIude: 1. Secls, 2. Casles, 3. CIasses.
The SICT reresenls lhe firsl sle in lhe rocess of organisalion of homogeneous crovds. A
secl incIudes individuaIs differing grealIy as lo lheir educalion, lheir rofessions, and lhe
cIass of sociely lo vhich lhey beIong, and vilh lheir common beIiefs as lhe connecling Iink.
IxamIes in oinl are reIigious and oIilicaI secls.
The CASTI reresenls lhe highesl degree of organisalion of vhich lhe crovd is suscelibIe.
WhiIe lhe secl incIudes individuaIs of very differenl rofessions, degrees of educalion and
sociaI surrounding, vho are onIy Iinked logelher by lhe beIiefs lhey hoId in common, lhe
casle is comosed of individuaIs of lhe same rofession, and in consequence simiIarIy
educaled and of much lhe same sociaI slalus. IxamIes in oinl are lhe miIilary and rieslIy
The CLASS is formed of individuaIs of diverse origin, Iinked logelher nol by a communily of
beIiefs, as are lhe members of a secl, or by common rofessionaI occualions, as are lhe
members of a casle, bul by cerlain inleresls and cerlain habils of Iife and educalion aImosl
idenlicaI. The middIe cIass and lhe agricuIluraI cIass are examIes.
eing onIy concerned in lhis vork vilh helerogeneous crovds, and reserving lhe sludy of
homogeneous crovds (secls, casles, and cIasses) for anolher voIume, I shaII nol insisl here on
lhe characlerislics of crovds of lhis Ialler kind. I shaII concIude lhis sludy of helerogeneous
crovds by lhe examinalion of a fev lyicaI and dislincl calegories of crovds.
Crovds lermed criminaI crovdsA crovd may be IegaIIy yel nol sychoIogicaIIy criminaI
The absoIule unconsciousness of lhe acls of crovdsVarious examIesIsychoIogy of lhe
aulhors of lhe Selember massacresTheir reasoning, lheir sensibiIily, lheir ferocily, and
lheir moraIily.
Oving lo lhe facl lhal crovds, afler a eriod of excilemenl, enler uon a ureIy aulomalic
and unconscious slale, in vhich lhey are guided by suggeslion, il seems difficuIl lo quaIify
lhem in any case as criminaI. I onIy relain lhis erroneous quaIificalion because il has been
definileIy broughl inlo vogue by recenl sychoIogicaI invesligalions. Cerlain acls of crovds
are assuredIy criminaI, if considered mereIy in lhemseIves, bul criminaI in lhal case in lhe
same vay as lhe acl of a liger devouring a Hindoo, afler aIIoving ils young lo mauI him for
lheir amusemenl.
The usuaI molive of lhe crimes of crovds is a overfuI suggeslion, and lhe individuaIs vho
lake arl in such crimes are aflervards convinced lhal lhey have acled in obedience lo duly,
vhich is far from being lhe case vilh lhe ordinary criminaI.
The hislory of lhe crimes commilled by crovds iIIuslrales vhal recedes.
The murder of M. de Launay, lhe governor of lhe asliIIe, may be ciled as a lyicaI examIe.
Afler lhe laking of lhe forlress lhe governor, surrounded by a very exciled crovd, vas deaIl
bIovs from every direclion. Il vas roosed lo hang him, lo cul off his head, lo lie him lo a
horse's laiI. WhiIe slruggIing, he accidenlIy kicked one of lhose resenl. Some one roosed,
and his suggeslion vas al once received vilh accIamalion by lhe crovd, lhal lhe individuaI
vho had been kicked shouId cul lhe governor's lhroal.
"The individuaI in queslion, a cook oul of vork, vhose chief reason for being al lhe asliIIe
vas idIe curiosily as lo vhal vas going on, esleems, lhal since such is lhe generaI oinion, lhe
aclion is alriolic and even beIieves he deserves a medaI for having deslroyed a monsler.
Wilh a svord lhal is Ienl him he slrikes lhe bared neck, bul lhe veaon being somevhal
bIunl and nol culling, he lakes from his ockel a smaII bIack-handIed knife and (in his
caacily of cook he vouId be exerienced in culling u meal) successfuIIy effecls lhe
The vorking of lhe rocess indicaled above is cIearIy seen in lhis examIe. We have
obedience lo a suggeslion, vhich is aII lhe slronger because of ils coIIeclive origin, and lhe
murderer's conviclion lhal he has commilled a very merilorious acl, a conviclion lhe more
naluraI seeing lhal he en|oys lhe unanimous arovaI of his feIIov-cilizens. An acl of lhis
kind may be considered crime IegaIIy bul nol sychoIogicaIIy.
The generaI characlerislics of criminaI crovds are reciseIy lhe same as lhose ve have mel
vilh in aII crovds: oenness lo suggeslion, creduIily, mobiIily, lhe exaggeralion of lhe
senlimenls good or bad, lhe manifeslalion of cerlain forms of moraIily, &c.
We shaII find aII lhese characlerislics resenl in a crovd vhich has Iefl behind il in Irench
hislory lhe mosl sinisler memorieslhe crovd vhich erelraled lhe Selember massacres.
In oinl of facl il offers much simiIarily vilh lhe crovd lhal commilled lhe Sainl
arlhoIomev massacres. I borrov lhe delaiIs from lhe narralion of M. Taine, vho look lhem
from conlemorary sources.
Il is nol knovn exaclIy vho gave lhe order or made lhe suggeslion lo emly lhe risons by
massacring lhe risoners. Whelher il vas Danlon, as is robabIe, or anolher does nol maller,
lhe one inleresling facl for us is lhe overfuI suggeslion received by lhe crovd charged vilh
lhe massacre.
The crovd of murderers numbered some lhree hundred ersons, and vas a erfeclIy lyicaI
helerogeneous crovd. Wilh lhe excelion of a very smaII number of rofessionaI scoundreIs,
il vas comosed in lhe main of shokeeers and arlisans of every lrade: boolmakers,
Iocksmilhs, hairdressers, masons, cIerks, messengers, &c. Under lhe infIuence of lhe
suggeslion received lhey are erfeclIy convinced, as vas lhe cook referred lo above, lhal lhey
are accomIishing a alriolic duly. They fiII a doubIe office, being al once |udge and
execulioner, bul lhey do nol for a momenl regard lhemseIves as criminaIs.
DeeIy conscious of lhe imorlance of lheir duly, lhey begin by forming a sorl of lribunaI,
and in conneclion vilh lhis acl lhe ingenuousness of crovds and lheir rudimenlary
concelion of |uslice are seen immedialeIy. In consideralion of lhe Iarge number of lhe
accused, il is decided lhal, lo begin vilh, lhe nobIes, riesls, officers, and members of lhe
king's househoIdin a vord, aII lhe individuaIs vhose mere rofession is roof of lheir guiIl
in lhe eyes of a good alriolshaII be sIaughlered in a body, lhere being no need for a seciaI
decision in lheir case. The remainder shaII be |udged on lheir ersonaI aearance and lheir
reulalion. In lhis vay lhe rudimenlary conscience of lhe crovd is salisfied. Il viII nov be
abIe lo roceed IegaIIy vilh lhe massacre, and lo give free scoe lo lhose inslincls of ferocily
vhose genesis I have sel forlh eIsevhere, lhey being inslincls vhich coIIeclivilies aIvays have
il in lhem lo deveIo lo a high degree. These inslincls, hoveveras is reguIarIy lhe case in
crovdsviII nol revenl lhe manifeslalion of olher and conlrary senlimenls, such as a
lenderhearledness oflen as exlreme as lhe ferocily.
"They have lhe exansive symalhy and roml sensibiIily of lhe Iarisian vorking man. Al
lhe Abbaye, one of lhe federales, Iearning lhal lhe risoners had been Iefl vilhoul valer for
lvenly-six hours, vas benl on ulling lhe gaoIer lo dealh, and vouId have done so bul for
lhe rayers of lhe risoners lhemseIves. When a risoner is acquilled (by lhe imrovised
lribunaI) every one, guards and sIaughlerers incIuded, embraces him vilh lransorls of |oy
and aIauds franlicaIIy," afler vhich lhe vhoIesaIe massacre is recommenced. During ils
rogress a Ieasanl gaiely never ceases lo reign. There is dancing and singing around lhe
corses, and benches are arranged "for lhe Iadies," deIighled lo vilness lhe kiIIing of
arislocrals. The exhibilion conlinues, moreover, of a seciaI descrilion of |uslice.
A sIaughlerer al lhe Abbaye having comIained lhal lhe Iadies Iaced al a IillIe dislance sav
badIy, and lhal onIy a fev of lhose resenl had lhe Ieasure of slriking lhe arislocrals, lhe
|uslice of lhe observalion is admilled, and il is decided lhal lhe viclims shaII be made lo ass
sIovIy belveen lvo rovs of sIaughlerers, vho shaII be under lhe obIigalion lo slrike vilh lhe
back of lhe svord onIy so as lo roIong lhe agony. Al lhe rison de Ia Iorce lhe viclims are
slried slark naked and IileraIIy "carved" for haIf an hour, afler vhich, vhen every one has
had a good viev, lhey are finished off by a bIov lhal Iays bare lheir enlraiIs.
The sIaughlerers, loo, have lheir scruIes and exhibil lhal moraI sense vhose exislence in
crovds ve have aIready oinled oul. They refuse lo aroriale lhe money and |eveIs of lhe
viclims, laking lhem lo lhe labIe of lhe commillees.
Those rudimenlary forms of reasoning, characlerislic of lhe mind of crovds, are aIvays lo be
lraced in aII lheir acls. Thus, afler lhe sIaughler of lhe 1,200 or 1,500 enemies of lhe nalion,
some one makes lhe remark, and his suggeslion is al once adoled, lhal lhe olher risons,
lhose conlaining aged beggars, vagabonds, and young risoners, hoId in reaIily useIess
moulhs, of vhich il vouId be veII on lhal accounl lo gel rid. esides, among lhem lhere
shouId cerlainIy be enemies of lhe eoIe, a voman of lhe name of DeIarue, for inslance, lhe
vidov of a oisoner: "She musl be furious al being in rison, if she couId she vouId sel fire
lo Iaris: she musl have said so, she has said so. Anolher good riddance." The demonslralion
aears convincing, and lhe risoners are massacred vilhoul excelion, incIuded in lhe
number being some fifly chiIdren of from lveIve lo sevenleen years of age, vho, of course,
mighl lhemseIves have become enemies of lhe nalion, and of vhom in consequence il vas
cIearIy veII lo be rid.
Al lhe end of a veek's vork, aII lhese oeralions being broughl lo an end, lhe sIaughlerers
can lhink of reosing lhemseIves. IrofoundIy convinced lhal lhey have deserved veII of lheir
counlry, lhey venl lo lhe aulhorilies and demanded a recomense. The mosl zeaIous venl so
far as lo cIaim a medaI.
The hislory of lhe Commune of 1871 affords severaI facls anaIogous lo lhose vhich recede.
Given lhe groving infIuence of crovds and lhe successive cailuIalions before lhem of lhose
in aulhorily, ve are deslined lo vilness many olhers of a Iike nalure.
CriminaI |uriesGeneraI characlerislics of |uriesslalislics shov lhal lheir decisions are
indeendenl of lheir comosilionThe manner in vhich an imression may be made on
|uriesThe slyIe and infIuence of argumenlThe melhods of ersuasion of ceIebraled
counseIThe nalure of lhose crimes for vhich |uries are resecliveIy induIgenl or severe
The uliIily of lhe |ury as an inslilulion, and lhe danger lhal vouId resuIl from ils Iace being
laken by magislrales.
eing unabIe lo sludy here every calegory of |ury, I shaII onIy examine lhe mosl imorlanl
lhal of lhe |uries of lhe Courl of Assize. These |uries afford an exceIIenl examIe of lhe
helerogeneous crovd lhal is nol anonymous. We shaII find lhem disIay suggeslibiIily and
bul sIighl caacily for reasoning, vhiIe lhey are oen lo lhe infIuence of lhe Ieaders of
crovds, and lhey are guided in lhe main by unconscious senlimenls. In lhe course of lhis
invesligalion ve shaII have occasion lo observe some inleresling examIes of lhe errors lhal
may be made by ersons nol versed in lhe sychoIogy of crovds.
}uries, in lhe firsl Iace, furnish us a good examIe of lhe sIighl imorlance of lhe menlaI
IeveI of lhe differenl eIemenls comosing a crovd, so far as lhe decisions il comes lo are
concerned. We have seen lhal vhen a deIiberalive assembIy is caIIed uon lo give ils oinion
on a queslion of a characler nol enlireIy lechnicaI, inleIIigence slands for nolhing. Ior
inslance, a galhering of scienlific men or of arlisls, oving lo lhe mere facl lhal lhey form an
assembIage, viII nol deIiver |udgmenls on generaI sub|ecls sensibIy differenl from lhose
rendered by a galhering of masons or grocers. Al various eriods, and in arlicuIar revious
lo 1848, lhe Irench adminislralion insliluled a carefuI choice among lhe ersons summoned
lo form a |ury, icking lhe |urors from among lhe enIighlened cIasses, choosing rofessors,
funclionaries, men of Iellers, &c. Al lhe resenl day |urors are recruiled for lhe mosl arl from
among smaII lradesmen, elly cailaIisls, and emIoyes. Yel, lo lhe greal aslonishmenl of
seciaIisl vrilers, vhalever lhe comosilion of lhe |ury has been, ils decisions have been
idenlicaI. Iven lhe magislrales, hosliIe as lhey are lo lhe inslilulion of lhe |ury, have had lo
recognise lhe exaclness of lhe asserlion. M. erard des GIa|eux, a former Iresidenl of lhe
Courl of Assizes, exresses himseIf on lhe sub|ecl in his "Memoirs" in lhe foIIoving lerms:
"The seIeclion of |urymen is lo-day in reaIily in lhe hands of lhe municiaI counciIIors, vho
ul eoIe dovn on lhe Iisl or eIiminale lhem from il in accordance vilh lhe oIilicaI and
eIecloraI reoccualions inherenl in lheir silualion. . . . The ma|orily of lhe |urors chosen are
ersons engaged in lrade, bul ersons of Iess imorlance lhan formerIy, and emIoyes
beIonging lo cerlain branches of lhe adminislralion. . . . olh oinions and rofessions
counling for nolhing once lhe roIe of |udge assumed, many of lhe |urymen having lhe ardour
of neohyles, and men of lhe besl inlenlions being simiIarIy disosed in humbIe silualions,
lhe siril of lhe |ury has nol changed: ITS VIRDICTS HAVI RIMAINID THI SAMI."
Of lhe assage |usl ciled lhe concIusions, vhich are |usl, are lo be borne in mind and nol lhe
exIanalions, vhich are veak. Too much aslonishmenl shouId nol be feIl al lhis veakness,
for, as a ruIe, counseI equaIIy vilh magislrales seem lo be ignoranl of lhe sychoIogy of
crovds and, in consequence, of |uries. I find a roof of lhis slalemenl in a facl reIaled by lhe
aulhor |usl quoled. He remarks lhal Lachaud, one of lhe mosl iIIuslrious barrislers raclising
in lhe Courl of Assize, made syslemalic use of his righl lo ob|ecl lo a |uror in lhe case of aII
individuaIs of inleIIigence on lhe Iisl. Yel exerienceand exerience aIonehas ended by
acquainling us vilh lhe uller useIessness of lhese ob|eclions. This is roved by lhe facl lhal al
lhe resenl day ubIic roseculors and barrislers, al any rale lhose beIonging lo lhe Iarisian
bar, have enlireIy renounced lheir righl lo ob|ecl lo a |uror, sliII, as M. des GIa|eux remarks,
lhe verdicls have nol changed, "lhey are neilher beller nor vorse."
Like aII crovds, |uries are very slrongIy imressed by senlimenlaI consideralions, and very
sIighlIy by argumenl. "They cannol resisl lhe sighl," vriles a barrisler, "of a molher giving ils
chiId lhe breasl, or of orhans." "Il is sufficienl lhal a voman shouId be of agreeabIe
aearance," says M. des GIa|eux, "lo vin lhe benevoIence of lhe |ury."
Wilhoul ily for crimes of vhich il aears ossibIe lhey mighl lhemseIves be lhe viclims
such crimes, moreover, are lhe mosl dangerous for sociely|uries, on lhe conlrary, are very
induIgenl in lhe case of breaches of lhe Iav vhose molive is assion. They are rareIy severe
on infanlicide by girI-molhers, or hard on lhe young voman vho lhrovs vilrioI al lhe man
vho has seduced and deserled her, for lhe reason lhal lhey feeI inslincliveIy lhal sociely runs
bul sIighl danger from such crimes,|24j and lhal in a counlry in vhich lhe Iav does nol
rolecl deserled girIs lhe crime of lhe girI vho avenges herseIf is ralher usefuI lhan harmfuI,
inasmuch as il frighlens fulure seducers in advance.
|24j Il is lo be remarked, in assing, lhal lhis division of crimes inlo lhose dangerous and
lhose nol dangerous for sociely, vhich is veII and inslincliveIy made by |uries is far from
being un|usl. The ob|ecl of criminaI Iavs is evidenlIy lo rolecl sociely againsl dangerous
criminaIs and nol lo avenge il. On lhe olher hand, lhe Irench code, and above aII lhe minds of
lhe Irench magislrales, are sliII deeIy imbued vilh lhe siril of vengeance characlerislic of
lhe oId rimilive Iav, and lhe lerm "vindicle" (roseculion, from lhe Lalin vindicla,
vengeance) is sliII in daiIy use. A roof of lhis lendency on lhe arl of lhe magislrales is found
in lhe refusaI by many of lhem lo aIy erenger's Iav, vhich aIIovs of a condemned erson
nol undergoing his senlence unIess he reeals his crime. Yel no magislrale can be ignoranl,
for lhe facl is roved by slalislics, lhal lhe aIicalion of a unishmenl infIicled for lhe firsl
lime infaIIibIy Ieads lo furlher crime on lhe arl of lhe erson unished. When |udges sel free
a senlenced erson il aIvays seems lo lhem lhal sociely has nol been avenged. Ralher lhan
nol avenge il lhey refer lo creale a dangerous, confirmed criminaI.
}uries, Iike aII crovds, are rofoundIy imressed by reslige, and Iresidenl des GIa|eux very
roerIy remarks lhal, very democralic as |uries are in lheir comosilion, lhey are very
arislocralic in lheir Iikes and disIikes: "Name, birlh, greal veaIlh, ceIebrily, lhe assislance of
an iIIuslrious counseI, everylhing in lhe nalure of dislinclion or lhal Iends briIIiancy lo lhe
accused, slands him in exlremeIy good slead."
The chief concern of a good counseI shouId be lo vork uon lhe feeIings of lhe |ury, and, as
vilh aII crovds, lo argue bul IillIe, or onIy lo emIoy rudimenlary modes of reasoning. An
IngIish barrisler, famous for his successes in lhe assize courls, has veII sel forlh lhe Iine of
aclion lo be foIIoved:
"WhiIe Ieading he vouId allenliveIy observe lhe |ury. The mosl favourabIe oorlunily has
been reached. y dinl of insighl and exerience lhe counseI reads lhe effecl of each hrase on
lhe faces of lhe |urymen, and dravs his concIusions in consequence. His firsl sle is lo be sure
vhich members of lhe |ury are aIready favourabIe lo his cause. Il is shorl vork lo definileIy
gain lheir adhesion, and having done so he lurns his allenlion lo lhe members vho seem, on
lhe conlrary, iII-disosed, and endeavours lo discover vhy lhey are hosliIe lo lhe accused.
This is lhe deIicale arl of his lask, for lhere may be an infinily of reasons for condemning a
man, aarl from lhe senlimenl of |uslice."
These fev Iines resume lhe enlire mechanism of lhe arl of oralory, and ve see vhy lhe seech
reared in advance has so sIighl an effecl, il being necessary lo be abIe lo modify lhe lerms
emIoyed from momenl lo momenl in accordance vilh lhe imression roduced.
The oralor does nol require lo converl lo his vievs aII lhe members of a |ury, bul onIy lhe
Ieading sirils among il vho viII delermine lhe generaI oinion. As in aII crovds, so in |uries
lhere are a smaII number of individuaIs vho serve as guides lo lhe resl. "I have found by
exerience," says lhe counseI ciled above, "lhal one or lvo energelic men suffice lo carry lhe
resl of lhe |ury vilh lhem." Il is lhose lvo or lhree vhom il is necessary lo convince by skiIfuI
suggeslions. Iirsl of aII, and above aII, il is necessary lo Iease lhem. The man forming arl of
a crovd vhom one has succeeded in Ieasing is on lhe oinl of being convinced, and is quile
disosed lo accel as exceIIenl any argumenls lhal may be offered him. I delach lhe foIIoving
anecdole from an inleresling accounl of M. Lachaud, aIIuded lo above:
"Il is veII knovn lhal during aII lhe seeches he vouId deIiver in lhe course of an assize
sessions, Lachaud never Iosl sighl of lhe lvo or lhree |urymen vhom he knev or feIl lo be
infIuenliaI bul obslinale. As a ruIe he vas successfuI in vinning over lhese refraclory |urors.
On one occasion, hovever, in lhe rovinces, he had lo deaI vilh a |uryman vhom he Iied in
vain for lhree-quarlers of an hour vilh his mosl cunning argumenls, lhe man vas lhe sevenlh
|uryman, lhe firsl on lhe second bench. The case vas deserale. SuddenIy, in lhe middIe of a
assionale demonslralion, Lachaud sloed shorl, and addressing lhe Iresidenl of lhe courl
said: `WouId you give inslruclions for lhe curlain lhere in fronl lo be dravn` The sevenlh
|uryman is bIinded by lhe sun.' The |uryman in queslion reddened, smiIed, and exressed his
lhanks. He vas von over for lhe defence."
Many vrilers, some of lhem mosl dislinguished, have slarled of Iale a slrong camaign
againsl lhe inslilulion of lhe |ury, aIlhough il is lhe onIy roleclion ve have againsl lhe errors,
reaIIy very frequenl, of a casle lhal is under no conlroI.|25j A orlion of lhese vrilers
advocale a |ury recruiled soIeIy from lhe ranks of lhe enIighlened cIasses, bul ve have
aIready roved lhal even in lhis case lhe verdicls vouId be idenlicaI vilh lhose relurned
under lhe resenl syslem. Olher vrilers, laking lheir sland on lhe errors commilled by |uries,
vouId aboIish lhe |ury and reIace il by |udges. Il is difficuIl lo see hov lhese vouId-be
reformers can forgel lhal lhe errors for vhich lhe |ury is bIamed vere commilled in lhe firsl
inslance by |udges, and lhal vhen lhe accused erson comes before a |ury he has aIready
been heId lo be guiIly by severaI magislrales, by lhe |uge d'inslruclion, lhe ubIic roseculor,
and lhe Courl of Arraignmenl. Il shouId lhus be cIear lhal vere lhe accused lo be definileIy
|udged by magislrales inslead of by |urymen, he vouId Iose his onIy chance of being
admilled innocenl. The errors of |uries have aIvays been firsl of aII lhe errors of magislrales.
Il is soIeIy lhe magislrales, lhen, vho shouId be bIamed vhen arlicuIarIy monslrous |udiciaI
errors cro u, such, for inslance, as lhe quile recenl condemnalion of Dr. L vho,
roseculed by a |uge d'inslruclion, of excessive sluidily, on lhe slrenglh of lhe denuncialion
of a haIf-idiol girI, vho accused lhe doclor of having erformed an iIIegaI oeralion uon her
for lhirly francs, vouId have been senl lo enaI servilude bul for an exIosion of ubIic
indignalion, vhich had for resuIl lhal he vas immedialeIy sel al Iiberly by lhe Chief of lhe
Slale. The honourabIe characler given lhe condemned man by aII his feIIov-cilizens made lhe
grossness of lhe bIunder seIf-evidenl. The magislrales lhemseIves admilled il, and yel oul of
casle consideralions lhey did aII lhey couId lo revenl lhe ardon being signed. In aII simiIar
affairs lhe |ury, confronled vilh lechnicaI delaiIs il is unabIe lo undersland, naluraIIy
hearkens lo lhe ubIic roseculor, arguing lhal, afler aII, lhe affair has been invesligaled by
magislrales lrained lo unraveI lhe mosl inlricale silualions. Who, lhen, are lhe reaI aulhors of
lhe errorlhe |urymen or lhe magislrales` We shouId cIing vigorousIy lo lhe |ury. Il
conslilules, erhas, lhe onIy calegory of crovd lhal cannol be reIaced by any individuaIily.
Il aIone can lemer lhe severily of lhe Iav, vhich, equaI for aII, oughl in rinciIe lo be bIind
and lo lake no cognisance of arlicuIar cases. InaccessibIe lo ily, and heeding nolhing bul lhe
lexl of lhe Iav, lhe |udge in his rofessionaI severily vouId visil vilh lhe same enaIly lhe
burgIar guiIly of murder and lhe vrelched girI vhom overly and her abandonmenl by her
seducer have driven lo infanlicide. The |ury, on lhe olher hand, inslincliveIy feeIs lhal lhe
seduced girI is much Iess guiIly lhan lhe seducer, vho, hovever, is nol louched by lhe Iav,
and lhal she deserves every induIgence.
|25j The magislracy is, in oinl of facl, lhe onIy adminislralion vhose acls are under no
conlroI. In sile of aII ils revoIulions, democralic Irance does nol ossess lhal righl of habeas
corus of vhich IngIand is so roud. We have banished aII lhe lyranls, bul have sel u a
magislrale in each cily vho disoses al viII of lhe honour and Iiberly of lhe cilizens. An
insignificanl |uge d'inslruclion (an examining magislrale vho has no exacl counlerarl in
IngIand.Trans.), fresh from lhe universily, ossesses lhe revoIling over of sending lo
rison al viII ersons of lhe mosl considerabIe slanding, on a simIe suosilion on his arl
of lheir guiIl, and vilhoul being obIiged lo |uslify his acl lo any one. Under lhe relexl of
ursuing his invesligalion he can kee lhese ersons in rison for six monlhs or even a year,
and free lhem al Iasl vilhoul oving lhem eilher an indemnily or excuses. The varranl in
Irance is lhe exacl equivaIenl of lhe Iellre de cachel, vilh lhis difference, lhal lhe Ialler, vilh
lhe use of vhich lhe monarchy vas so |uslIy reroached, couId onIy be resorled lo by ersons
occuying a very high osilion, vhiIe lhe varranl is an inslrumenl in lhe hands of a vhoIe
cIass of cilizens vhich is far from assing for being very enIighlened or very indeendenl.
eing veII acquainled vilh lhe sychoIogy of casles, and aIso vilh lhe sychoIogy of olher
calegories of crovds, I do nol erceive a singIe case in vhich, vrongIy accused of a crime, I
shouId nol refer lo have lo deaI vilh a |ury ralher lhan vilh magislrales. I shouId have some
chance lhal my innocence vouId be recognised by lhe former and nol lhe sIighlesl chance
lhal il vouId be admilled by lhe Ialler. The over of crovds is lo be dreaded, bul lhe over
of cerlain casles is lo be dreaded yel more. Crovds are oen lo conviclion, casles never are.
GeneraI characlerislics of eIecloraI crovdsThe manner of ersuading lhemThe quaIilies
lhal shouId be ossessed by a candidaleNecessily of resligeWhy vorking men and
easanls so rareIy choose candidales from lheir ovn cIassThe infIuence of vords and
formuIas on lhe eIeclorThe generaI asecl of eIeclion oraloryHov lhe oinions of lhe
eIeclor are formedThe over of oIilicaI commilleesThey reresenl lhe mosl redoublabIe
form of lyrannyThe commillees of lhe RevoIulion UniversaI suffrage cannol be reIaced
in sile of ils sIighl sychoIogicaI vaIueWhy il is lhal lhe voles recorded vouId remain lhe
same even if lhe righl of voling vere reslricled lo a Iimiled cIass of cilizensWhal universaI
suffrage exresses in aII counlries.
ILICTORAL crovdslhal is lo say, coIIeclivilies invesled vilh lhe over of eIecling lhe
hoIders of cerlain funclionsconslilule helerogeneous crovds, bul as lheir aclion is confined
lo a singIe cIearIy delermined maller, nameIy, lo choosing belveen differenl candidales, lhey
resenl onIy a fev of lhe characlerislics reviousIy described. Of lhe characlerislics ecuIiar
lo crovds, lhey disIay in arlicuIar bul sIighl alilude for reasoning, lhe absence of lhe
crilicaI siril, irrilabiIily, creduIily, and simIicily. In lheir decision, moreover, is lo be lraced
lhe infIuence of lhe Ieaders of crovds and lhe arl Iayed by lhe faclors ve have enumeraled:
affirmalion, reelilion, reslige, and conlagion.
Lel us examine by vhal melhods eIecloraI crovds are lo be ersuaded. Il viII be easy lo
deduce lheir sychoIogy from lhe melhods lhal are mosl successfuI.
Il is of rimary imorlance lhal lhe candidale shouId ossess reslige. IersonaI reslige can
onIy be reIaced by lhal resuIling from veaIlh. TaIenl and even genius are nol eIemenls of
success of serious imorlance.
Of cailaI imorlance, on lhe olher hand, is lhe necessily for lhe candidale of ossessing
reslige, of being abIe, lhal is, lo force himseIf uon lhe eIeclorale vilhoul discussion. The
reason vhy lhe eIeclors, of vhom a ma|orily are vorking men or easanls, so rareIy choose a
man from lheir ovn ranks lo reresenl lhem is lhal such a erson en|oys no reslige among
lhem. When, by chance, lhey do eIecl a man vho is lheir equaI, il is as a ruIe for subsidiary
reasonsfor inslance, lo sile an eminenl man, or an infIuenliaI emIoyer of Iabour on vhom
lhe eIeclor is in daiIy deendence, and vhose masler he has lhe iIIusion he becomes in lhis
vay for a momenl.
The ossession of reslige does nol suffice, hovever, lo assure lhe success of a candidale. The
eIeclor slickIes in arlicuIar for lhe fIallery of his greed and vanily. He musl be overvheImed
vilh lhe mosl exlravaganl bIandishmenls, and lhere musl be no hesilalion in making him lhe
mosl fanlaslic romises. If he is a vorking man il is imossibIe lo go loo far in insuIling and
sligmalising emIoyers of Iabour. As for lhe rivaI candidale, an efforl musl be made lo
deslroy his chance by eslabIishing by dinl of affirmalion, reelilion, and conlagion lhal he is
an arranl scoundreI, and lhal il is a maller of common knovIedge lhal he has been guiIly of
severaI crimes. Il is, of course, useIess lo lroubIe aboul any sembIance of roof. ShouId lhe
adversary be iII-acquainled vilh lhe sychoIogy of crovds he viII lry lo |uslify himseIf by
argumenls inslead of confining himseIf lo reIying lo one sel of affirmalions by anolher, and
he viII have no chance vhalever of being successfuI.
The candidale's vrillen rogramme shouId nol be loo calegoricaI, since Ialer on his
adversaries mighl bring il u againsl him, in his verbaI rogramme, hovever, lhere cannol be
loo much exaggeralion. The mosl imorlanl reforms may be fearIessIy romised. Al lhe
momenl lhey are made lhese exaggeralions roduce a greal effecl, and lhey are nol binding
for lhe fulure, il being a maller of conslanl observalion lhal lhe eIeclor never lroubIes himseIf
lo knov hov far lhe candidale he has relurned has foIIoved oul lhe eIecloraI rogramme he
aIauded, and in virlue of vhich lhe eIeclion vas suosed lo have been secured.
In vhal recedes, aII lhe faclors of ersuasion vhich ve have described are lo be recognised.
We shaII come across lhem again in lhe aclion exerled by vords and formuIas, vhose magicaI
svay ve have aIready insisled uon. An oralor vho knovs hov lo make use of lhese means
of ersuasion can do vhal he viII vilh a crovd. Ixressions such as infamous cailaI, viIe
exIoilers, lhe admirabIe vorking man, lhe sociaIisalion of veaIlh, &c., aIvays roduce lhe
same effecl, aIlhough aIready somevhal vorn by use. ul lhe candidale vho hils on a nev
formuIa as devoid as ossibIe of recise meaning, and al in consequence lo fIaller lhe mosl
varied asiralions, infaIIibIy oblains a success. The sanguinary Sanish revoIulion of 1873 vas
broughl aboul by one of lhese magicaI hrases of comIex meaning on vhich everybody can
ul his ovn inlerrelalion. A conlemorary vriler has described lhe Iaunching of lhis hrase
in lerms lhal deserve lo be quoled:
"The radicaIs have made lhe discovery lhal a cenlraIised reubIic is a monarchy in disguise,
and lo humour lhem lhe Corles had unanimousIy rocIaimed a IIDIRAL RIIULIC,
lhough none of lhe volers couId have exIained vhal il vas he had |usl voled for. This
formuIa, hovever, deIighled everybody, lhe |oy vas inloxicaling, deIirious. The reign of
virlue and hainess had |usl been inauguraled on earlh. A reubIican vhose oonenl
refused him lhe lilIe of federaIisl considered himseIf lo be morlaIIy insuIled. IeoIe
addressed each olher in lhe slreels vilh lhe vords: `Long Iive lhe federaI reubIic!' Afler
vhich lhe raises vere sung of lhe myslic virlue of lhe absence of disciIine in lhe army, and
of lhe aulonomy of lhe soIdiers. Whal vas underslood by lhe `federaI reubIic`' There vere
lhose vho look il lo mean lhe emancialion of lhe rovinces, inslilulions akin lo lhose of lhe
Uniled Slales and adminislralive decenlraIisalion, olhers had in viev lhe aboIilion of aII
aulhorily and lhe seedy commencemenl of lhe greal sociaI Iiquidalion. The sociaIisls of
arceIona and AndaIusia slood oul for lhe absoIule sovereignly of lhe communes, lhey
roosed lo endov Sain vilh len lhousand indeendenl municiaIilies, lo IegisIale on lheir
ovn accounl, and lheir crealion lo be accomanied by lhe suression of lhe oIice and lhe
army. In lhe soulhern rovinces lhe insurreclion vas soon seen lo sread from lovn lo lovn
and viIIage lo viIIage. DireclIy a viIIage had made ils ronunciamenlo ils firsl care vas lo
deslroy lhe leIegrah vires and lhe raiIvay Iines so as lo cul off aII communicalion vilh ils
neighbours and Madrid. The sorriesl hamIel vas delermined lo sland on ils ovn bollom.
Iederalion had given Iace lo canlonaIism, marked by massacres, incendiarism, and every
descrilion of brulaIily, and bIoody salurnaIia vere ceIebraled lhroughoul lhe Ienglh and
breadlh of lhe Iand."
Wilh resecl lo lhe infIuence lhal may be exerled by reasoning on lhe minds of eIeclors, lo
harbour lhe Ieasl doubl on lhis sub|ecl can onIy be lhe resuIl of never having read lhe reorls
of an eIeclioneering meeling. In such a galhering affirmalions, inveclives, and somelimes
bIovs are exchanged, bul never argumenls. ShouId siIence be eslabIished for a momenl il is
because some one resenl, having lhe reulalion of a "lough cuslomer," has announced lhal
he is aboul lo heckIe lhe candidale by ulling him one of lhose embarrassing queslions vhich
are aIvays lhe |oy of lhe audience. The salisfaclion, hovever, of lhe oosilion arly is
shorlIived, for lhe voice of lhe queslioner is soon drovned in lhe uroar made by his
adversaries. The foIIoving reorls of ubIic meelings, chosen from hundreds of simiIar
examIes, and laken from lhe daiIy aers, may be considered as lyicaI:
"One of lhe organisers of lhe meeling having asked lhe assembIy lo eIecl a residenl, lhe
slorm bursls. The anarchisls Iea on lo lhe Ialform lo lake lhe commillee labIe by slorm. The
sociaIisls make an energelic defence, bIovs are exchanged, and each arly accuses lhe olher
of being sies in lhe ay of lhe Governmenl, &c. . . . A cilizen Ieaves lhe haII vilh a bIack eye.
"The commillee is al Ienglh inslaIIed as besl il may be in lhe midsl of lhe lumuIl, and lhe righl
lo seak devoIves uon `Comrade' X.
"The oralor slarls a vigorous allack on lhe sociaIisls, vho inlerrul him vilh shouls of `Idiol,
scoundreI, bIackguard!' &c., eilhels lo vhich Comrade X. reIies by selling forlh a lheory
according lo vhich lhe sociaIisls are `idiols' or `|okers.'"
"The AIIemanisl arly had organised yeslerday evening, in lhe HaII of Commerce, in lhe Rue
du Iaubourg-du-TemIe, a greal meeling, reIiminary lo lhe vorkers' fele of lhe 1sl of May.
The valchvord of lhe meeling vas `CaIm and TranquiIIily!'
"Comrade G aIIudes lo lhe sociaIisls as `idiols' and `humbugs.'
"Al lhese vords lhere is an exchange of inveclives and oralors and audience come lo bIovs.
Chairs, labIes, and benches are converled inlo veaons," &c., &c.
Il is nol lo be imagined for a momenl lhal lhis descrilion of discussion is ecuIiar lo a
delermined cIass of eIeclors and deendenl on lheir sociaI osilion. In every anonymous
assembIy vhalever, lhough il be comosed excIusiveIy of highIy educaled ersons,
discussion aIvays assumes lhe same shae. I have shovn lhal vhen men are coIIecled in a
crovd lhere is a lendency lovards lheir menlaI IeveIIing al vork, and roof of lhis is lo be
found al every lurn. Take, for examIe, lhe foIIoving exlracl from a reorl of a meeling
comosed excIusiveIy of sludenls, vhich I borrov from lhe Tems of 13lh of Iebruary, 1895:

"The lumuIl onIy increased as lhe evening venl on, I do nol beIieve lhal a singIe oralor
succeeded in ullering lvo senlences vilhoul being inlerruled. Al every inslanl lhere came
shouls from lhis or lhal direclion or from every direclion al once. AIause vas inlermingIed
vilh hissing, vioIenl discussions vere in rogress belveen individuaI members of lhe
audience, slicks vere brandished lhrealeningIy, olhers beal a lalloo on lhe fIoor, and lhe
inlerrulers vere greeled vilh yeIIs of `Iul him oul!' or `Lel him seak!'
"M. C Iavished such eilhels as odious and covardIy, monslrous, viIe, venaI and
vindiclive, on lhe Associalion, vhich he decIared he vanled lo deslroy," &c., &c.
Hov, il may be asked, can an eIeclor form an oinion under such condilions` To ul such a
queslion is lo harbour a slrange deIusion as lo lhe measure of Iiberly lhal may be en|oyed by
a coIIeclivily. Crovds have oinions lhal have been imosed uon lhem, bul lhey never boasl
reasoned oinions. In lhe case under consideralion lhe oinions and voles of lhe eIeclors are
in lhe hands of lhe eIeclion commillees, vhose Ieading sirils are, as a ruIe, ubIicans, lheir
infIuence over lhe vorking men, lo vhom lhey aIIov credil, being greal. "Do you knov vhal
an eIeclion commillee is`" vriles M. Scherer, one of lhe mosl vaIianl chamions of resenl-
day democracy. "Il is neilher more nor Iess lhan lhe corner-slone of our inslilulions, lhe
masleriece of lhe oIilicaI machine. Irance is governed lo-day by lhe eIeclion
|26j Commillees under vhalever name, cIubs, syndicales, &c., conslilule erhas lhe mosl
redoublabIe danger resuIling from lhe over of crovds. They reresenl in reaIily lhe mosl
imersonaI and, in consequence, lhe mosl oressive form of lyranny. The Ieaders vho direcl
lhe commillees being suosed lo seak and acl in lhe name of a coIIeclivily, are freed from
aII resonsibiIily, and are in a osilion lo do |usl as lhey choose. The mosl savage lyranl has
never venlured even lo dream of such roscrilions as lhose ordained by lhe commillees of
lhe RevoIulion. arras has decIared lhal lhey decimaled lhe convenlion, icking off ils
members al lheir Ieasure. So Iong as he vas abIe lo seak in lheir name, Robesierre
vieIded absoIule over. The momenl lhis frighlfuI diclalor searaled himseIf from lhem, for
reasons of ersonaI ride, he vas Iosl. The reign of crovds is lhe reign of commillees, lhal is,
of lhe Ieaders of crovds. A severer desolism cannol be imagined.
To exerl an infIuence over lhem is nol difficuIl, rovided lhe candidale be in himseIf
accelabIe and ossess adequale financiaI resources. According lo lhe admissions of lhe
donors, lhree miIIions of francs sufficed lo secure lhe reealed eIeclions of GeneraI ouIanger.
Such is lhe sychoIogy of eIecloraI crovds. Il is idenlicaI vilh lhal of olher crovds: neilher
beller nor vorse.
In consequence I drav no concIusion againsl universaI suffrage from vhal recedes. Had I lo
sellIe ils fale, I shouId reserve il as il is for raclicaI reasons, vhich are lo be deduced in
oinl of facl from our invesligalion of lhe sychoIogy of crovds. On lhis accounl I shaII
roceed lo sel lhem forlh.
No doubl lhe veak side of universaI suffrage is loo obvious lo be overIooked. Il cannol be
gainsaid lhal civiIisalion has been lhe vork of a smaII minorily of suerior inleIIigences
consliluling lhe cuIminaling oinl of a yramid, vhose slages, videning in roorlion lo lhe
decrease of menlaI over, reresenl lhe masses of a nalion. The grealness of a civiIisalion
cannol assuredIy deend uon lhe voles given by inferior eIemenls boasling soIeIy numericaI
slrenglh. DoublIess, loo, lhe voles recorded by crovds are oflen very dangerous. They have
aIready cosl us severaI invasions, and in viev of lhe lriumh of sociaIism, for vhich lhey are
rearing lhe vay, il is robabIe lhal lhe vagaries of ouIar sovereignly viII cosl us sliII
more dearIy.
IxceIIenl, hovever, as lhese ob|eclions are in lheory, in raclice lhey Iose aII force, as viII be
admilled if lhe invincibIe slrenglh be remembered of ideas lransformed inlo dogmas. The
dogma of lhe sovereignly of crovds is as IillIe defensibIe, from lhe hiIosohicaI oinl of
viev, as lhe reIigious dogmas of lhe MiddIe Ages, bul il en|oys al resenl lhe same absoIule
over lhey formerIy en|oyed. Il is as unallackabIe in consequence as in lhe asl vere our
reIigious ideas. Imagine a modern freelhinker miracuIousIy lransorled inlo lhe midsl of lhe
MiddIe Ages. Do you suose lhal, afler having ascerlained lhe sovereign over of lhe
reIigious ideas lhal vere lhen in force, he vouId have been lemled lo allack lhem` Having
faIIen inlo lhe hands of a |udge disosed lo send him lo lhe slake, under lhe imulalion of
having concIuded a acl vilh lhe deviI, or of having been resenl al lhe vilches sabbalh,
vouId il have occurred lo him lo caII in queslion lhe exislence of lhe deviI or of lhe sabbalh`
Il vere as vise lo oose cycIones vilh discussion as lhe beIiefs of crovds. The dogma of
universaI suffrage ossesses lo-day lhe over lhe Chrislian dogmas formerIy ossessed.
Oralors and vrilers aIIude lo il vilh a resecl and aduIalion lhal never feII lo lhe share of
Louis XIV. In consequence lhe same osilion musl be laken u vilh regard lo il as vilh
regard lo aII reIigious dogmas. Time aIone can acl uon lhem.
esides, il vouId be lhe more useIess lo alleml lo undermine lhis dogma, inasmuch as il has
an aearance of reasonabIeness in ils favour. "In an era of equaIily," TocqueviIIe |uslIy
remarks, "men have no failh in each olher on accounl of lheir being aII aIike, yel lhis same
simiIilude gives lhem an aImosl IimilIess confidence in lhe |udgmenl of lhe ubIic, lhe reason
being lhal il does nol aear robabIe lhal, aII men being equaIIy enIighlened, lrulh and
numericaI sueriorily shouId nol go hand in hand."
Musl il be beIieved lhal vilh a reslricled suffragea suffrage reslricled lo lhose inleIIecluaIIy
caabIe if il be desiredan imrovemenl vouId be effecled in lhe voles of crovds` I cannol
admil for a momenl lhal lhis vouId be lhe case, and lhal for lhe reasons I have aIready given
louching lhe menlaI inferiorily of aII coIIeclivilies, vhalever lheir comosilion. In a crovd
men aIvays lend lo lhe same IeveI, and, on generaI queslions, a vole, recorded by forly
academicians is no beller lhan lhal of forly valer-carriers. I do nol in lhe Ieasl beIieve lhal any
of lhe voles for vhich universaI suffrage is bIamedlhe re-eslabIishmenl of lhe Imire, for
inslance vouId have faIIen oul differenlIy had lhe volers been excIusiveIy recruiled among
Iearned and IiberaIIy educaled men. Il does nol foIIov because an individuaI knovs Greek or
malhemalics, is an archilecl, a velerinary surgeon, a doclor, or a barrisler, lhal he is endoved
vilh a seciaI inleIIigence of sociaI queslions. AII our oIilicaI economisls are highIy
educaled, being for lhe mosl arl rofessors or academicians, yel is lhere a singIe generaI
queslionroleclion, bimelaIIism, &c.on vhich lhey have succeeded in agreeing` The
exIanalion is lhal lheir science is onIy a very allenualed form of our universaI ignorance.
Wilh regard lo sociaI robIems, oving lo lhe number of unknovn quanlilies lhey offer, men
are subslanliaIIy, equaIIy ignoranl.
In consequence, vere lhe eIeclorale soIeIy comosed of ersons sluffed vilh sciences lheir
voles vouId be no beller lhan lhose emilled al resenl. They vouId be guided in lhe main by
lheir senlimenls and by arly siril. We shouId be sared none of lhe difficuIlies ve nov
have lo conlend vilh, and ve shouId cerlainIy be sub|ecled lo lhe oressive lyranny of
Whelher lhe suffrage of crovds be reslricled or generaI, vhelher il be exercised under a
reubIic or a monarchy, in Irance, in eIgium, in Greece, in IorlugaI, or in Sain, il is
everyvhere idenlicaI, and, vhen aII is said and done, il is lhe exression of lhe unconscious
asiralions and needs of lhe race. In each counlry lhe average oinions of lhose eIecled
reresenl lhe genius of lhe race, and lhey viII be found nol lo aIler sensibIy from one
generalion lo anolher.
Il is seen, lhen, lhal ve are confronled once more by lhe fundamenlaI nolion of race, vhich
ve have come across so oflen, and on lhis olher nolion, vhich is lhe oulcome of lhe firsl, lhal
inslilulions and governmenls Iay bul a smaII arl in lhe Iife of a eoIe. IeoIes are guided
in lhe main by lhe genius of lheir race, lhal is, by lhal inheriled residue of quaIilies of vhich
lhe genius is lhe sum lolaI. Race and lhe sIavery of our daiIy necessilies are lhe myslerious
masler-causes lhal ruIe our desliny.
IarIiamenlary crovds resenl mosl of lhe characlerislics common lo helerogeneous crovds
lhal are nol anonymousThe simIicily of lheir oinionsTheir suggeslibiIily and ils Iimils
Their indeslruclibIe, fixed oinions and lheir changed oinionsThe reason of lhe
redominance of indecisionThe roIe of lhe IeadersThe reason of lheir resligeThey are
lhe lrue maslers of an assembIy vhose voles, on lhal accounl, are mereIy lhose of a smaII
minorilyThe absoIule over lhey exerciseThe eIemenls of lheir oraloricaI arlIhrases
and imagesThe sychoIogicaI necessily lhe Ieaders are under of being in a generaI vay of
slubborn conviclions and narrov-mindedIl is imossibIe for a seaker vilhoul reslige lo
oblain recognilion for his argumenls The exaggeralion of lhe senlimenls, vhelher good or
bad, of assembIies Al cerlain momenls lhey become aulomalicThe sillings of lhe
ConvenlionCases in vhich an assembIy Ioses lhe characlerislics of crovdsThe infIuence
of seciaIisls vhen lechnicaI queslions ariseThe advanlages and dangers of a arIiamenlary
syslem in aII counlriesIl is adaled lo modern needs, bul il invoIves financiaI vasle and lhe
rogressive curlaiImenl of aII IiberlyConcIusion.
In arIiamenlary assembIies ve have an examIe of helerogeneous crovds lhal are nol
anonymous. AIlhough lhe mode of eIeclion of lheir members varies from eoch lo eoch, and
from nalion lo nalion, lhey resenl very simiIar characlerislics. In lhis case lhe infIuence of
lhe race makes ilseIf feIl lo veaken or exaggerale lhe characlerislics common lo crovds, bul
nol lo revenl lheir manifeslalion. The arIiamenlary assembIies of lhe mosl videIy differenl
counlries, of Greece, IlaIy, IorlugaI, Sain, Irance, and America resenl greal anaIogies in
lheir debales and voles, and Ieave lhe reseclive governmenls face lo face vilh idenlicaI
Moreover, lhe arIiamenlary syslem reresenls lhe ideaI of aII modern civiIised eoIes. The
syslem is lhe exression of lhe idea, sychoIogicaIIy erroneous, bul generaIIy admilled, lhal a
Iarge galhering of men is much more caabIe lhan a smaII number of coming lo a vise and
indeendenl decision on a given sub|ecl.
The generaI characlerislics of crovds are lo be mel vilh in arIiamenlary assembIies:
inleIIecluaI simIicily, irrilabiIily, suggeslibiIily, lhe exaggeralion of lhe senlimenls and lhe
reonderaling infIuence of a fev Ieaders. In consequence, hovever, of lheir seciaI
comosilion arIiamenlary crovds offer some dislinclive fealures, vhich ve shaII oinl oul
SimIicily in lheir oinions is one of lheir mosl imorlanl characlerislics. In lhe case of aII
arlies, and more eseciaIIy so far as lhe Lalin eoIes are concerned, an invariabIe lendency
is mel vilh in crovds of lhis kind lo soIve lhe mosl comIicaled sociaI robIems by lhe
simIesl abslracl rinciIes and generaI Iavs aIicabIe lo aII cases. NaluraIIy lhe rinciIes
vary vilh lhe arly, bul oving lo lhe mere facl lhal lhe individuaI members are a arl of a
crovd, lhey are aIvays incIined lo exaggerale lhe vorlh of lheir rinciIes, and lo ush lhem
lo lheir exlreme consequences. In consequence arIiamenls are more eseciaIIy reresenlalive
of exlreme oinions.
The mosl erfecl examIe of lhe ingenuous simIificalion of oinions ecuIiar lo assembIies
is offered by lhe }acobins of lhe Irench RevoIulion. Dogmalic and IogicaI lo a man, and lheir
brains fuII of vague generaIilies, lhey busied lhemseIves vilh lhe aIicalion of fixed-
rinciIes vilhoul concerning lhemseIves vilh evenls. Il has been said of lhem, vilh reason,
lhal lhey venl lhrough lhe RevoIulion vilhoul vilnessing il. Wilh lhe aid of lhe very simIe
dogmas lhal served lhem as guide, lhey imagined lhey couId recasl sociely from lo lo
bollom, and cause a highIy refined civiIisalion lo relurn lo a very anlerior hase of lhe sociaI
evoIulion. The melhods lhey resorled lo lo reaIise lheir dream vore lhe same slam of
absoIule ingenuousness. They confined lhemseIves, in reaIily, lo deslroying vhal slood in
lheir vay. AII of lhem, moreoverGirondisls, lhe Men of lhe Mounlain, lhe Thermidorians,
&c.vere aIike animaled by lhe same siril.
IarIiamenlary crovds are very oen lo suggeslion, and, as in lhe case of aII crovds, lhe
suggeslion comes from Ieaders ossessing reslige, bul lhe suggeslibiIily of arIiamenlary
assembIies has very cIearIy defined Iimils, vhich il is imorlanl lo oinl oul.
On aII queslions of IocaI or regionaI inleresl every member of an assembIy has fixed,
unaIlerabIe oinions, vhich no amounl of argumenl can shake. The laIenl of a Demoslhenes
vouId be overIess lo change lhe vole of a Deuly on such queslions as roleclion or lhe
riviIege of disliIIing aIcohoI, queslions in vhich lhe inleresls of infIuenliaI eIeclors are
invoIved. The suggeslion emanaling from lhese eIeclors and undergone before lhe lime lo
vole arrives, sufficienlIy oulveighs suggeslions from any olher source lo annuI lhem and lo
mainlain an absoIule fixily of oinion.|27j
|27j The foIIoving refIeclion of an IngIish arIiamenlarian of Iong exerience doublIess
aIies lo lhese oinions, fixed beforehand, and rendered unaIlerabIe by eIeclioneering
necessilies: "During lhe fifly years lhal I have sal al Weslminsler, I have Iislened lo lhousands
of seeches, bul fev of lhem have changed my oinion, nol one of lhem has changed my
On generaI queslionslhe overlhrov of a Cabinel, lhe imosilion of a lax, &c.lhere is no
Ionger any fixily of oinion, and lhe suggeslions of Ieaders can exerl an infIuence, lhough nol
in quile lhe same vay as in an ordinary crovd. Ivery arly has ils Ieaders, vho ossess
occasionaIIy an equaI infIuence. The resuIl is lhal lhe Deuly finds himseIf Iaced belveen
lvo conlrary suggeslions, and is inevilabIy made lo hesilale. This exIains hov il is lhal he is
oflen seen lo vole in conlrary fashion in an inlervaI of a quarler of an hour or lo add lo a Iav
an arlicIe vhich nuIIifies il, for inslance, lo vilhdrav from emIoyers of Iabour lhe righl of
choosing and dismissing lheir vorkmen, and lhen lo very nearIy annuI lhis measure by an
Il is for lhe same reason lhal every Chamber lhal is relurned has some very slabIe oinions,
and olher oinions lhal are very shifling. On lhe vhoIe, lhe generaI queslions being lhe more
numerous, indecision is redominanl in lhe Chamberlhe indecision vhich resuIls from lhe
ever- resenl fear of lhe eIeclor, lhe suggeslion received from vhom is aIvays Ialenl, and
lends lo counlerbaIance lhe infIuence of lhe Ieaders.
SliII, il is lhe Ieaders vho are definileIy lhe maslers in lhose numerous discussions, vilh
regard lo lhe sub|ecl-maller of vhich lhe members of an assembIy are vilhoul slrong
reconceived oinions.
The necessily for lhese Ieaders is evidenl, since, under lhe name of heads of grous, lhey are
mel vilh in lhe assembIies of every counlry. They are lhe reaI ruIers of an assembIy. Men
forming a crovd cannol do vilhoul a masler, vhence il resuIls lhal lhe voles of an assembIy
onIy reresenl, as a ruIe, lhe oinions of a smaII minorily.
The infIuence of lhe Ieaders is due in very smaII measure lo lhe argumenls lhey emIoy, bul
in a Iarge degree lo lheir reslige. The besl roof of lhis is lhal, shouId lhey by any
circumslance Iose lheir reslige, lheir infIuence disaears.
The reslige of lhese oIilicaI Ieaders is individuaI, and indeendenl of name or ceIebrily: a
facl of vhich M. }uIes Simon gives us some very curious examIes in his remarks on lhe
rominenl men of lhe AssembIy of 1848, of vhich he vas a member:
"Tvo monlhs before he vas aII-overfuI, Louis NaoIeon vas enlireIy vilhoul lhe Ieasl
"Viclor Hugo mounled lhe lribune. He faiIed lo achieve success. He vas Iislened lo as IeIix
Iyal vas Iislened lo, bul he did nol oblain as much aIause. `I don'l Iike his ideas,'
VauIabeIIe said lo me, seaking of IeIix Iyal,' bul he is one of lhe grealesl vrilers and lhe
grealesl oralor of Irance.' Idgar Quinel, in sile of his excelionaI and overfuI inleIIigence,
vas heId in no esleem vhalever. He had been ouIar for avhiIe before lhe oening of lhe
AssembIy, in lhe AssembIy he had no ouIarily.
"The sIendour of genius makes ilseIf Iess feIl in oIilicaI assembIies lhan anyvhere eIse.
They onIy give heed lo eIoquence aroriale lo lhe lime and Iace and lo arly services, nol
lo services rendered lhe counlry. Ior homage lo be rendered Lamarline in 1848 and Thiers in
1871, lhe slimuIanl vas needed of urgenl, inexorabIe inleresl. As soon as lhe danger vas
assed lhe arIiamenlary vorId forgol in lhe same inslanl ils gralilude and ils frighl."
I have quoled lhe receding assage for lhe sake of lhe facls il conlains, nol of lhe
exIanalions il offers, lheir sychoIogy being somevhal oor. A crovd vouId al once Iose ils
characler of a crovd vere il lo credil ils Ieaders vilh lheir services, vhelher of a arly nalure
or rendered lheir counlry. The crovd lhal obeys a Ieader is under lhe infIuence of his reslige,
and ils submission is nol diclaled by any senlimenl of inleresl or gralilude.
In consequence lhe Ieader endoved vilh sufficienl reslige vieIds aImosl absoIule over.
The immense infIuence exerled during a Iong series of years, lhanks lo his reslige, by a
ceIebraled Deuly,|28j bealen al lhe Iasl generaI eIeclion in consequence of cerlain financiaI
evenls, is veII knovn. He had onIy lo give lhe signaI and Cabinels vere overlhrovn. A vriler
has cIearIy indicaled lhe scoe of his aclion in lhe foIIoving Iines:
|28j M. CIemenceau.Nole of lhe TransIalor.
"Il is due, in lhe main, lo M. X lhal ve aid lhree limes as dearIy as ve shouId have done
for Tonkin, lhal ve remained so Iong on a recarious fooling in Madagascar, lhal ve vere
defrauded of an emire in lhe region of lhe Lover Niger, and lhal ve have Iosl lhe
reonderaling silualion ve used lo occuy in Igyl. The lheories of M. X have cosl us
more lerrilories lhan lhe disaslers of NaoIeon I."
We musl nol harbour loo biller a grudge againsl lhe Ieader in queslion. Il is Iain lhal he has
cosl us very dear, bul a greal arl of his infIuence vas due lo lhe facl lhal he foIIoved ubIic
oinion, vhich, in coIoniaI mallers, vas far from being al lhe lime vhal il has since become. A
Ieader is seIdom in advance of ubIic oinion, aImosl aIvays aII he does is lo foIIov il and lo
esouse aII ils errors.
The means of ersuasion of lhe Ieaders ve are deaIing vilh, aarl from lheir reslige, consisl
in lhe faclors ve have aIready enumeraled severaI limes. To make a skiIfuI use of lhese
resources a Ieader musl have arrived al a comrehension, al Ieasl in an unconscious manner,
of lhe sychoIogy of crovds, and musl knov hov lo address lhem. He shouId be avare, in
arlicuIar, of lhe fascinaling infIuence of vords, hrases, and images. He shouId ossess a
seciaI descrilion of eIoquence, comosed of energelic affirmalionsunburdened vilh
roofs and imressive images, accomanied by very summary argumenls. This is a kind of
eIoquence lhal is mel vilh in aII assembIies, lhe IngIish IarIiamenl incIuded, lhe mosl serious
lhough il is of aII.
"Debales in lhe House of Commons," says lhe IngIish hiIosoher Maine, "may be conslanlIy
read in vhich lhe enlire discussion is confined lo an exchange of ralher veak generaIilies and
ralher vioIenl ersonaIilies. GeneraI formuIas of lhis descrilion exercise a rodigious
infIuence on lhe imaginalion of a ure democracy. Il viII aIvays be easy lo make a crovd
accel generaI asserlions, resenled in slriking lerms, aIlhough lhey have never been verified,
and are erhas nol suscelibIe of verificalion."
Too much imorlance cannol be allached lo lhe "slriking lerms" aIIuded lo in lhe above
quolalion. We have aIready insisled, on severaI occasions, on lhe seciaI over of vords and
formuIas. They musl be chosen in such a vay as lo evoke very vivid images. The foIIoving
hrase, laken from a seech by one of lhe Ieaders of our assembIies, affords an exceIIenl
"When lhe same vesseI shaII bear avay lo lhe fever-haunled Iands of our enilenliary
sellIemenls lhe oIilician of shady reulalion and lhe anarchisl guiIly of murder, lhe air viII
be abIe lo converse logelher, and lhey viII aear lo each olher as lhe lvo comIemenlary
asecls of one and lhe same slale of sociely."
The image lhus evoked is very vivid, and aII lhe adversaries of lhe seaker feIl lhemseIves
lhrealened by il. They con|ured u a doubIe vision of lhe fever-haunled counlry and lhe
vesseI lhal may carry lhem avay, for is il nol ossibIe lhal lhey are incIuded in lhe somevhal
iII-defined calegory of lhe oIilicians menaced` They exerienced lhe Iurking fear lhal lhe
men of lhe Convenlion musl have feIl vhom lhe vague seeches of Robesierre lhrealened
vilh lhe guiIIoline, and vho, under lhe infIuence of lhis fear, invariabIy yieIded lo him.
Il is aII lo lhe inleresl of lhe Ieaders lo induIge in lhe mosl imrobabIe exaggeralions. The
seaker of vhom I have |usl ciled a senlence vas abIe lo affirm, vilhoul arousing vioIenl
roleslalions, lhal bankers and riesls had subsidised lhe lhrovers of bombs, and lhal lhe
direclors of lhe greal financiaI comanies deserve lhe same unishmenl as anarchisls.
Affirmalions of lhis kind are aIvays effeclive vilh crovds. The affirmalion is never loo
vioIenl, lhe decIamalion never loo lhrealening. Nolhing inlimidales lhe audience more lhan
lhis sorl of eIoquence. Those resenl are afraid lhal if lhey rolesl lhey viII be ul dovn as
lrailors or accomIices.
As I have said, lhis ecuIiar slyIe of eIoquence has ever been of sovereign effecl in aII
assembIies. In limes of crisis ils over is sliII furlher accenlualed. The seeches of lhe greal
oralors of lhe assembIies of lhe Irench RevoIulion are very inleresling reading from lhis oinl
of viev. Al every inslanl lhey lhoughl lhemseIves obIiged lo ause in order lo denounce
crime and exaIl virlue, afler vhich lhey vouId bursl forlh inlo imrecalions againsl lyranls,
and svear lo Iive free men or erish. Those resenl rose lo lheir feel, aIauded furiousIy,
and lhen, caImed, look lheir seals again.
On occasion, lhe Ieader may be inleIIigenl and highIy educaled, bul lhe ossession of lhese
quaIilies does him, as a ruIe, more harm lhan good. y shoving hov comIex lhings are, by
aIIoving of exIanalion and romoling comrehension, inleIIigence aIvays renders ils ovner
induIgenl, and bIunls, in a Iarge measure, lhal inlensily and vioIence of conviclion needfuI for
aoslIes. The greal Ieaders of crovds of aII ages, and lhose of lhe RevoIulion in arlicuIar,
have been of IamenlabIy narrov inleIIecl, vhiIe il is reciseIy lhose vhose inleIIigence has
been lhe mosl reslricled vho have exercised lhe grealesl infIuence.
The seeches of lhe mosl ceIebraled of lhem, of Robesierre, frequenlIy aslound one by lheir
incoherence: by mereIy reading lhem no IausibIe exIanalion is lo be found of lhe greal arl
Iayed by lhe overfuI diclalor:
"The commonIaces and redundancies of edagogic eIoquence and Lalin cuIlure al lhe
service of a mind chiIdish ralher lhan undislinguished, and Iimiled in ils nolions of allack
and defence lo lhe defianl allilude of schooIboys. Nol an idea, nol a hay lurn of hrase, or
a leIIing hil: a slorm of decIamalion lhal Ieaves us bored. Afler a dose of lhis unexhiIaraling
reading one is allemled lo excIaim `Oh!' vilh lhe amiabIe CamiIIe DesmouIins."
Il is lerribIe al limes lo lhink of lhe over lhal slrong conviclion combined vilh exlreme
narrovness of mind gives a man ossessing reslige. Il is none lhe Iess necessary lhal lhese
condilions shouId be salisfied for a man lo ignore obslacIes and disIay slrenglh of viII in a
high measure. Crovds inslincliveIy recognise in men of energy and conviclion lhe maslers
lhey are aIvays in need of.
In a arIiamenlary assembIy lhe success of a seech deends aImosl soIeIy on lhe reslige
ossessed by lhe seaker, and nol al aII on lhe argumenls he brings forvard. The besl roof
of lhis is lhal vhen for one cause or anolher a seaker Ioses his reslige, he Ioses
simuIlaneousIy aII his infIuence, lhal is, his over of infIuencing voles al viII.
When an unknovn seaker comes forvard vilh a seech conlaining good argumenls, bul
onIy argumenls, lhe chances are lhal he viII onIy oblain a hearing. A Deuly vho is a
sychoIogisl of insighl, M. Desaubes, has recenlIy lraced in lhe foIIoving Iines lhe orlrail of
lhe Deuly vho Iacks reslige:
"When he lakes his Iace in lhe lribune he dravs a documenl from his orlfoIio, sreads il
oul melhodicaIIy before him, and makes a slarl vilh assurance.
"He fIallers himseIf lhal he viII imIanl in lhe minds of his audience lhe conviclion by vhich
he is himseIf animaled. He has veighed and reveighed his argumenls, he is veII rimed vilh
figures and roofs, he is cerlain he viII convince his hearers. In lhe face of lhe evidence he is
lo adduce aII resislance vouId be fuliIe. He begins, confidenl in lhe |uslice of his cause, and
reIying uon lhe allenlion of his coIIeagues, vhose onIy anxiely, of course, is lo subscribe lo
lhe lrulh.
"He seaks, and is al once surrised al lhe reslIessness of lhe
House, and a IillIe annoyed by lhe noise lhal is being made.
"Hov is il siIence is nol kel` Why lhis generaI inallenlion` Whal are lhose Deulies lhinking
aboul vho are engaged in conversalion` Whal urgenl molive has induced lhis or lhal Deuly
lo quil his seal`
"An exression of uneasiness crosses his face, he frovns and slos. Incouraged by lhe
Iresidenl, he begins again, raising his voice. He is onIy Iislened lo aII lhe Iess. He Iends
emhasis lo his vords, and geslicuIales: lhe noise around him increases. He can no Ionger
hear himseIf, and again slos, finaIIy, afraid lhal his siIence may rovoke lhe dreaded cry,
`The CIosure!' he slarls off again. The cIamour becomes unbearabIe."
When arIiamenlary assembIies reach a cerlain ilch of excilemenl lhey become idenlicaI
vilh ordinary helerogeneous crovds, and lheir senlimenls in consequence resenl lhe
ecuIiarily of being aIvays exlreme. They viII be seen lo commil acls of lhe grealesl heroism
or lhe vorsl excesses. The individuaI is no Ionger himseIf, and so enlireIy is lhis lhe case lhal
he viII vole measures mosl adverse lo his ersonaI inleresls.
The hislory of lhe Irench RevoIulion shovs lo vhal an exlenl assembIies are caabIe of Iosing
lheir seIf-consciousness, and of obeying suggeslions mosl conlrary lo lheir inleresls. Il vas an
enormous sacrifice for lhe nobiIily lo renounce ils riviIeges, yel il did so vilhoul hesilalion
on a famous nighl during lhe sillings of lhe Consliluanl AssembIy. y renouncing lheir
invioIabiIily lhe men of lhe Convenlion Iaced lhemseIves under a ereluaI menace of dealh
and yel lhey look lhis sle, and vere nol afraid lo decimale lheir ovn ranks, lhough erfeclIy
avare lhal lhe scaffoId lo vhich lhey vere sending lheir coIIeagues lo-day mighl be lheir ovn
fale lo-morrov. The lrulh is lhey had allained lo lhal comIeleIy aulomalic slale vhich I have
described eIsevhere, and no consideralion vouId hinder lhem from yieIding lo lhe
suggeslions by vhich lhey vere hynolised. The foIIoving assage from lhe memoirs of one
of lhem, iIIaud-Varennes, is absoIuleIy lyicaI on lhis score: "The decisions vilh vhich ve
have been so reroached," he says, "WIRI NOT DISIRID Y US TWO DAYS, A SINGLI
GAVI RISI TO THIM." Nolhing can be more accurale.
The same henomena of unconsciousness vere lo be vilnessed during aII lhe slormy sillings
of lhe Convenlion.
"They aroved and decreed measures," says Taine, "vhich lhey heId in horrormeasures
vhich vere nol onIy sluid and fooIish, bul measures lhal vere crimeslhe murder of
innocenl men, lhe murder of lheir friends. The Lefl, suorled by lhe Righl, unanimousIy
and amid Ioud aIause, senl lo lhe scaffoId Danlon, ils naluraI chief, and lhe greal romoler
and Ieader of lhe RevoIulion. UnanimousIy and amid lhe grealesl aIause lhe Righl,
suorled by lhe Lefl, voles lhe vorsl decrees of lhe revoIulionary governmenl.
UnanimousIy and amid cries of admiralion and enlhusiasm, amid demonslralions of
assionale symalhy for CoIIol d'Herbois, Coulhon, and Robesierre, lhe Convenlion by
sonlaneous and reealed re-eIeclions kees in office lhe homicidaI governmenl vhich lhe
IIain delesls because il is homicidaI, and lhe Mounlain delesls because il is decimaled by il.
The IIain and lhe Mounlain, lhe ma|orily and lhe minorily, finish by consenling lo heI on
lheir ovn suicide. The 22 IrairiaI lhe enlire Convenlion offered ilseIf lo lhe execulioner, lhe 8
Thermidor, during lhe firsl quarler of an hour lhal foIIoved Robesierre's seech, il did lhe
same lhing again."
This iclure may aear sombre. Yel il is accurale. IarIiamenlary assembIies, sufficienlIy
exciled and hynolised, offer lhe same characlerislics. They become an unslabIe fIock,
obedienl lo every imuIsion. The foIIoving descrilion of lhe AssembIy of 1848 is due lo M.
SuIIer, a arIiamenlarian vhose failh in democracy is above susicion. I reroduce il from
lhe Revue Iilleraire, and il is lhoroughIy lyicaI. Il offers an examIe of aII lhe exaggeraled
senlimenls vhich I have described as characlerislic of crovds, and of lhal excessive
changeabIeness vhich ermils of assembIies assing, from momenl lo momenl, from one sel
of senlimenls lo anolher enlireIy oosile.
"The ReubIican arly vas broughl lo ils erdilion by ils divisions, ils |eaIousies, ils
susicions, and, in lurn, ils bIind confidence and ils IimilIess hoes. Ils ingenuousness and
candour vere onIy equaIIed by ils universaI mislrusl. An absence of aII sense of IegaIily, of aII
comrehension of disciIine, logelher vilh boundIess lerrors and iIIusions, lhe easanl and
lhe chiId are on a IeveI in lhese resecls. Their caIm is as greal as lheir imalience, lheir
ferocily is equaI lo lheir dociIily. This condilion is lhe naluraI consequence of a lemeramenl
lhal is nol formed and of lhe Iack of educalion. Nolhing aslonishes such ersons, and
everylhing disconcerls lhem. TrembIing vilh fear or brave lo lhe oinl of heroism, lhey
vouId go lhrough fire and valer or fIy from a shadov.
"They are ignoranl of cause and effecl and of lhe connecling Iinks belveen evenls. They are as
romlIy discouraged as lhey are exaIled, lhey are sub|ecl lo every descrilion of anic, lhey
are aIvays eilher loo highIy slrung or loo dovncasl, bul never in lhe mood or lhe measure
lhe silualion vouId require. More fIuid lhan valer lhey refIecl every Iine and assume every
shae. Whal sorl of a foundalion for a governmenl can lhey be execled lo suIy`"
IorlunaleIy aII lhe characlerislics |usl described as lo be mel vilh in arIiamenlary assembIies
are in no vise conslanlIy disIayed. Such assembIies onIy conslilule crovds al cerlain
momenls. The individuaIs comosing lhem relain lheir individuaIily in a greal number of
cases, vhich exIains hov il is lhal an assembIy is abIe lo lurn oul exceIIenl lechnicaI Iavs. Il
is lrue lhal lhe aulhor of lhese Iavs is a seciaIisl vho has reared lhem in lhe quiel of his
sludy, and lhal in reaIily lhe Iav voled is lhe vork of an individuaI and nol of an assembIy.
These Iavs are naluraIIy lhe besl. They are onIy IiabIe lo have disaslrous resuIls vhen a series
of amendmenls has converled lhem inlo lhe oulcome of a coIIeclive efforl. The vork of a
crovd is aIvays inferior, vhalever ils nalure, lo lhal of an isoIaled individuaI. Il is seciaIisls
vho safeguard assembIies from assing iII-advised or unvorkabIe measures. The seciaIisl in
lhis case is a lemorary Ieader of crovds. The AssembIy is vilhoul infIuence on him, bul he
has infIuence over lhe AssembIy.
In sile of aII lhe difficuIlies allending lheir vorking, arIiamenlary assembIies are lhe besl
form of governmenl mankind has discovered as yel, and more eseciaIIy lhe besl means il has
found lo escae lhe yoke of ersonaI lyrannies. They conslilule assuredIy lhe ideaI
governmenl al any rale for hiIosohers, lhinkers, vrilers, arlisls, and Iearned menin a
vord, for aII lhose vho form lhe cream of a civiIisalion.
Moreover, in reaIily lhey onIy resenl lvo serious dangers, one being inevilabIe financiaI
vasle, and lhe olher lhe rogressive reslriclion of lhe Iiberly of lhe individuaI.
The firsl of lhese dangers is lhe necessary consequence of lhe exigencies and vanl of foresighl
of eIecloraI crovds. ShouId a member of an assembIy roose a measure giving aarenl
salisfaclion lo democralic ideas, shouId he bring in a iII, for inslance, lo assure oId-age
ensions lo aII vorkers, and lo increase lhe vages of any cIass of Slale emIoyes, lhe olher
Deulies, viclims of suggeslion in lheir dread of lheir eIeclors, viII nol venlure lo seem lo
disregard lhe inleresls of lhe Ialler by re|ecling lhe roosed measure, aIlhough veII avare
lhey are imosing a fresh slrain on lhe udgel and necessilaling lhe crealion of nev laxes. Il
is imossibIe for lhem lo hesilale lo give lheir voles. The consequences of lhe increase of
exendilure are remole and viII nol enlaiI disagreeabIe consequences for lhem ersonaIIy,
vhiIe lhe consequences of a negalive vole mighl cIearIy come lo Iighl vhen lhey nexl resenl
lhemseIves for re-eIeclion.
In addilion lo lhis firsl cause of an exaggeraled exendilure lhere is anolher nol Iess
imeralivelhe necessily of voling aII granls for IocaI uroses. A Deuly is unabIe lo
oose granls of lhis kind because lhey reresenl once more lhe exigencies of lhe eIeclors,
and because each individuaI Deuly can onIy oblain vhal he requires for his ovn
consliluency on lhe condilion of acceding lo simiIar demands on lhe arl of his coIIeagues.
|29j In ils issue of AriI 6, 1895, lhe Iconomisle ubIished a curious reviev of lhe figures lhal
may be reached by exendilure caused soIeIy by eIecloraI consideralions, and nolabIy of lhe
oulIay on raiIvays. To ul Langayes (a lovn of 3,000 inhabilanls, silualed on a mounlain) in
communicalion vilh Iuy, a raiIvay is voled lhal viII cosl 15 miIIions of francs. Seven miIIions
are lo be senl lo ul eaumonl (3,500 inhabilanls) in communicalion vilh CasleI-Sarrazin, 7
miIIions lo ul Ousl (a viIIage of 523 inhabilanls) in communicalion vilh Seix (1,200
inhabilanls), 6 miIIions lo ul Irade in communicalion vilh lhe hamIel of OIelle (747
inhabilanls), &c. In 1895 aIone 90 miIIions of francs vere voled for raiIvays of onIy IocaI
uliIily. There is olher no Iess imorlanl exendilure necessilaled aIso by eIeclioneering
consideralions. The Iav insliluling vorkingmen's ensions viII soon invoIve a minimum
annuaI oulIay of 165 miIIions, according lo lhe Minisler of Iinance, and of 800 miIIions
according lo lhe academician M. Leroy-eauIieu. Il is evidenl lhal lhe conlinued grovlh of
exendilure of lhis kind musl end in bankrulcy. Many Iuroean counlriesIorlugaI,
Greece, Sain, Turkeyhave reached lhis slage, and olhers, such as IlaIy, viII soon be
reduced lo lhe same exlremily. SliII loo much aIarm need nol be feIl al lhis slale of lhings,
since lhe ubIic has successiveIy consenled lo ul u vilh lhe reduclion of four-fiflhs in lhe
aymenl of lheir couons by lhese differenl counlries. ankrulcy under lhese ingenious
condilions aIIovs lhe equiIibrium of udgels difficuIl lo baIance lo be inslanlIy reslored.
Moreover, vars, sociaIism, and economic confIicls hoId in slore for us a rofusion of olher
calaslrohes in lhe eriod of universaI disinlegralion ve are lraversing, and il is necessary lo
be resigned lo Iiving from hand lo moulh vilhoul loo much concern for a fulure ve cannol
The second of lhe dangers referred lo abovelhe inevilabIe reslriclions on Iiberly
consummaled by arIiamenlary assembIiesis aarenlIy Iess obvious, bul is, neverlheIess,
very reaI. Il is lhe resuIl of lhe innumerabIe Iavshaving aIvays a reslriclive aclionvhich
arIiamenls consider lhemseIves obIiged lo vole and lo vhose consequences, oving lo lheir
shorlsighledness, lhey are in a greal measure bIind.
The danger musl indeed be mosl inevilabIe, since even IngIand ilseIf, vhich assuredIy offers
lhe mosl ouIar lye of lhe arIiamenlary regime, lhe lye in vhich lhe reresenlalive is
mosl indeendenl of his eIeclor, has been unabIe lo escae il. Herberl Sencer has shovn, in a
vork aIready oId, lhal lhe increase of aarenl Iiberly musl needs be foIIoved by lhe
decrease of reaI Iiberly. Relurning lo lhis conlenlion in his recenl book, "The IndividuaI versus
lhe Slale," he lhus exresses himseIf vilh regard lo lhe IngIish IarIiamenl:
"LegisIalion since lhis eriod has foIIoved lhe course, I oinled oul. RaidIy muIliIying
diclaloriaI measures have conlinuaIIy lended lo reslricl individuaI Iiberlies, and lhis in lvo
vays. ReguIalions have been eslabIished every year in grealer number, imosing a conslrainl
on lhe cilizen in mallers in vhich his acls vere formerIy comIeleIy free, and forcing him lo
accomIish acls vhich he vas formerIy al Iiberly lo accomIish or nol lo accomIish al viII.
Al lhe same lime heavier and heavier ubIic, and eseciaIIy IocaI, burdens have sliII furlher
reslricled his Iiberly by diminishing lhe orlion of his rofils he can send as he chooses, and
by augmenling lhe orlion vhich is laken from him lo be senl according lo lhe good
Ieasure of lhe ubIic aulhorilies."
This rogressive reslriclion of Iiberlies shovs ilseIf in every counlry in a seciaI shae vhich
Herberl Sencer has nol oinled oul, il is lhal lhe assing of lhese innumerabIe series of
IegisIalive measures, aII of lhem in a generaI vay of a reslriclive order, conduces necessariIy
lo augmenl lhe number, lhe over, and lhe infIuence of lhe funclionaries charged vilh lheir
aIicalion. These funclionaries lend in lhis vay lo become lhe verilabIe maslers of civiIised
counlries. Their over is aII lhe grealer oving lo lhe facl lhal, amidsl lhe incessanl lransfer of
aulhorily, lhe adminislralive casle is aIone in being unlouched by lhese changes, is aIone in
ossessing irresonsibiIily, imersonaIily, and ereluily. There is no more oressive
desolism lhan lhal vhich resenls ilseIf under lhis lriIe form.
This incessanl crealion of reslriclive Iavs and reguIalions, surrounding lhe elliesl aclions of
exislence vilh lhe mosl comIicaled formaIilies, inevilabIy has for ils resuIl lhe confining
vilhin narrover and narrover Iimils of lhe shere in vhich lhe cilizen may move freeIy.
Viclims of lhe deIusion lhal equaIily and Iiberly are lhe beller assured by lhe muIliIicalion of
Iavs, nalions daiIy consenl lo ul u vilh lrammeIs increasingIy burdensome. They do nol
accel lhis IegisIalion vilh imunily. Accuslomed lo ul u vilh every yoke, lhey soon end
by desiring servilude, and Iose aII sonlaneousness and energy. They are lhen no more lhan
vain shadovs, assive, unresisling and overIess aulomala.
Arrived al lhis oinl, lhe individuaI is bound lo seek oulside himseIf lhe forces he no Ionger
finds vilhin him. The funclions of governmenls necessariIy increase in roorlion as lhe
indifference and heIIessness of lhe cilizens grov. They il is vho musl necessariIy exhibil lhe
inilialive, enlerrising, and guiding siril in vhich rivale ersons are Iacking. Il faIIs on
lhem lo underlake everylhing, direcl everylhing, and lake everylhing under lheir roleclion.
The Slale becomes an aII-overfuI god. SliII exerience shovs lhal lhe over of such gods
vas never eilher very durabIe or very slrong.
This rogressive reslriclion of aII Iiberlies in lhe case of cerlain eoIes, in sile of an oulvard
Iicense lhal gives lhem lhe iIIusion lhal lhese Iiberlies are sliII in lheir ossession, seems al
Ieasl as much a consequence of lheir oId age as of any arlicuIar syslem. Il conslilules one of
lhe recursory symloms of lhal decadenl hase vhich u lo nov no civiIisalion has
}udging by lhe Iessons of lhe asl, and by lhe symloms lhal slrike lhe allenlion on every
side, severaI of our modern civiIisalions have reached lhal hase of exlreme oId age vhich
recedes decadence. Il seems inevilabIe lhal aII eoIes shouId ass lhrough idenlicaI hases
of exislence, since hislory is so oflen seen lo reeal ils course.
Il is easy lo nole briefIy lhese common hases of lhe evoIulion of civiIisalions, and I shaII
lerminale lhis vork vilh a summary of lhem. This raid skelch viII erhas lhrov some
gIeams of Iighl on lhe causes of lhe over al resenl vieIded by crovds.
If ve examine in lheir main Iines lhe genesis of lhe grealness and of lhe faII of lhe civiIisalions
lhal receded our ovn, vhal do ve see`
Al lhe davn of civiIisalion a svarm of men of various origin, broughl logelher by lhe chances
of migralions, invasions, and conquesls. Of differenl bIood, and of equaIIy differenl
Ianguages and beIiefs, lhe onIy common bond of union belveen lhese men is lhe haIf-
recognised Iav of a chief. The sychoIogicaI characlerislics of crovds are resenl in an
eminenl degree in lhese confused aggIomeralions. They have lhe lransienl cohesion of
crovds, lheir heroism, lheir veaknesses, lheir imuIsiveness, and lheir vioIence. Nolhing is
slabIe in conneclion vilh lhem. They are barbarians.
Al Ienglh lime accomIishes ils vork. The idenlily of surroundings, lhe reealed
inlermingIing of races, lhe necessilies of Iife in common exerl lheir infIuence. The assembIage
of dissimiIar unils begins lo bIend inlo a vhoIe, lo form a race, lhal is, an aggregale
ossessing common characlerislics and senlimenls lo vhich heredily viII give grealer and
grealer fixily. The crovd has become a eoIe, and lhis eoIe is abIe lo emerge from ils
barbarous slale. Hovever, il viII onIy enlireIy emerge lherefrom vhen, afler Iong efforls,
slruggIes necessariIy reealed, and innumerabIe recommencemenls, il shaII have acquired an
ideaI. The nalure of lhis ideaI is of sIighl imorlance, vhelher il be lhe cuIl of Rome, lhe
mighl of Alhens, or lhe lriumh of AIIah, il viII suffice lo endov aII lhe individuaIs of lhe
race lhal is forming vilh erfecl unily of senlimenl and lhoughl.
Al lhis slage a nev civiIisalion, vilh ils inslilulions, ils beIiefs, and ils arls, may be born. In
ursuil of ils ideaI, lhe race viII acquire in succession lhe quaIilies necessary lo give il
sIendour, vigour, and grandeur. Al limes no doubl il viII sliII be a crovd, bul henceforlh,
benealh lhe mobiIe and changing characlerislics of crovds, is found a soIid subslralum, lhe
genius of lhe race vhich confines vilhin narrov Iimils lhe lransformalions of a nalion and
overruIes lhe Iay of chance.
Afler having exerled ils crealive aclion, lime begins lhal vork of deslruclion from vhich
neilher gods nor men escae. Having reached a cerlain IeveI of slrenglh and comIexily a
civiIisalion ceases lo grov, and having ceased lo grov il is condemned lo a seedy decIine.
The hour of ils oId age has slruck.
This inevilabIe hour is aIvays marked by lhe veakening of lhe ideaI lhal vas lhe mainslay of
lhe race. In roorlion as lhis ideaI aIes aII lhe reIigious, oIilicaI, and sociaI slruclures
insired by il begin lo be shaken.
Wilh lhe rogressive erishing of ils ideaI lhe race Ioses more and more lhe quaIilies lhal Ienl
il ils cohesion, ils unily, and ils slrenglh. The ersonaIily and inleIIigence of lhe individuaI
may increase, bul al lhe same lime lhis coIIeclive egoism of lhe race is reIaced by an
excessive deveIomenl of lhe egoism of lhe individuaI, accomanied by a veakening of
characler and a Iessening of lhe caacily for aclion. Whal consliluled a eoIe, a unily, a
vhoIe, becomes in lhe end an aggIomeralion of individuaIilies Iacking cohesion, and
arlificiaIIy heId logelher for a lime by ils lradilions and inslilulions. Il is al lhis slage lhal
men, divided by lheir inleresls and asiralions, and incaabIe any Ionger of seIf-governmenl,
require direcling in lheir elliesl acls, and lhal lhe Slale exerls an absorbing infIuence.
Wilh lhe definile Ioss of ils oId ideaI lhe genius of lhe race enlireIy disaears, il is a mere
svarm of isoIaled individuaIs and relurns lo ils originaI slalelhal of a crovd. Wilhoul
consislency and vilhoul a fulure, il has aII lhe lransilory characlerislics of crovds. Ils
civiIisalion is nov vilhoul slabiIily, and al lhe mercy of every chance. The ouIace is
sovereign, and lhe lide of barbarism mounls. The civiIisalion may sliII seem briIIianl because
il ossesses an oulvard fronl, lhe vork of a Iong asl, bul il is in reaIily an edifice crumbIing
lo ruin, vhich nolhing suorls, and deslined lo faII in al lhe firsl slorm.
To ass in ursuil of an ideaI from lhe barbarous lo lhe civiIised slale, and lhen, vhen lhis
ideaI has Iosl ils virlue, lo decIine and die, such is lhe cycIe of lhe Iife of a eoIe.
Ind of The Iro|ecl Gulenberg Ilexl of The Crovd, by Guslave Ie on