Censored in 1939 by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, destroyed in 1940 by the Germans, this book was finally reissued in the early 1950s in its current expanded and updated version. It is a classic treatise on social psychology that seeks to dismantle as well as understand the mechanisms to which the crowds, the masses and, more generally, the formation of political will and political action obey. Four primary affective impulses are implemented through propagandist and ideological manipulation: aggressiveness, immediate material interest, sexual attraction in the broadest sense, and the search for security and normality. This social psychology discusses, of course, Freud, but also Jung, Tarde and Pavlov.
It is of course on the historical terrain of the confrontation between Nazi propaganda and social-democratic resistance that the author first analyzes the reasons for Hitler's dazzling success and those for the failure of democracy. But he extends his investigations beyond these events and also deals with Soviet propaganda, the ideological confrontation of the Cold War, pacifism, in short, the general forms of propaganda, its success or failure, as well as the means of resisting it, which leads the author, a biologist, to speak here as a sociologist and, above all, as an educator.