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Crowds and DemocracyThe Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism$
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Stefan Jonsson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164788

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164788.001.0001

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Authority Versus Anarchy

Authority Versus Anarchy

Allegories of the Mass in Sociology and Literature

(p.51) 2 Authority Versus Anarchy
Crowds and Democracy

Stefan Jonsson

Columbia University Press

Surveys of crowd psychology tend to dwell first on its French and Italian origins, usually establishing Gustave Le Bon's La psychologie des foules (1895) as the doxa of the discourse. The historical reviews then jump to Freud's reinterpretation of Le Bon in Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse (1921). This chapter argues that a crucial chapter is missing in existing histories of the masses. Between Le Bon's 1890s and Freud's 1920s, three events shattered inherited assumptions about society and politics: first, the establishment of universal suffrage in most Western countries, brought about by the dual force of the workers' movement and the women's movement; second, World War I, with its patriotic frenzy; and third, the Russian revolution, which many Europeans perceived as the ultimate “revolt of the masses,” especially in Germany, which experienced its own wave of socialist revolutions in 1918 and 1919.

Keywords:   mass psychology, universal suffrage, workers' movement, women's movement, Russian revolution, World War I, Gustave Le Bon, crowd psychology

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