The magical power of words

and formulae--The power of words bound up with the images they

evoke, and independent of their real sense--These images vary

from age to age, and from race to race--The wear and tear of

words--Examples of the considerable variations of sense of

much-used words--The political utility of baptizing old things

with new names when the words by which they were designated

produced an un
avourable impression on the masses-- variations of

the sense of words in consequence of race differences--The

different meanings of the word "democracy" in Europe and America.

2. ILLUSIONS. Their importance--They are to be found at the

root of all civilisations--The social necessity of

illusions--Crowds always prefer them to truths. 3.

EXPERIENCE. Experience alone can fix in the mind of crowds truths

become necessary and destroy illusions grown

dangerous--Experience is only effective on the condition that it

be frequently repeated--The cost of the experiences requisite to

persuade crowds. 4. REASON. The nullity of its influence on

crowds--Crowds only to be influenced by their unconscious

sentiments-- The role of logic in history--The secret causes of

improbable events.

We have just investigated the remote and preparatory factors

which give the mind of crowds a special receptivity, and make

possible therein the growth of certain sentiments and certain

ideas. It now remains for us to study the factors capable of

acting in a direct manner. We shall see in a forthcoming chapter

how these factors should be put in force in order that they may

produce their full effect.

In the first part of this work we studied the sentiments, ideas,

and methods of reasoning of collective bodies, and from the

knowledge thus acquired it would evidently be possible to deduce

in a general way the means of making an impression on their mind.

We already know what strikes the imagination of crowds, and are

acquainted with the power and contagiousness of suggestions, of

those especially that are presented under the form of images.

However, as suggestions may proceed from very different sources,

the factors capable of acting on the minds of crowds may differ

considerably. It is necessary, then, to study them separately.

This is not a useless study. Crowds are somewhat like the sphinx

of ancient fable: it is necessary to arrive at a solution of the

problems offered by their psychology or to resign ourselves to

being devoured by them.