The origins of propaganda through the work of Edward Bernays and the resulting birth of American consumerism.

By Tara Jons
03/11/2018 • 07:01 AM EST

The Century of the Self - "Happiness Machines" documentary details the emergence of propaganda in the U.S., under the auspices of the Committee of Public Information. The CPI developed methods of "mass persuasion" to rally the American public around the WWI effort. These methods proved so effective that they lived on after the war through the work of Sigmund Feud's nephew Edward Bernays, who mastered the art of controlling the masses by satisfying the irrational inner desires that his uncle had identified. With early successes helping big-business sell consumers products they didn't need, Bernays went on to rebrand propaganda as the field of public relations and give birth to the era of American consumerism.