Gustave Le Bon quotes

Who the hell is Gustave Le Bon?

Charles-Marie Gustave Le Bon was a French polymath whose areas of interest included anthropology, psychology, sociology, medicine, invention, and physics. Le Bon is best known for his 1895 work The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, which is still considered one of the seminal works of crowd psychology.

Gustave Le Bon books

Gustave Le Bon quotes


Under certain given circumstances, and only under those circumstances, an agglomeration of men presents new characteristics very different from those of the individuals composing it. The sentiments and ideas of all the persons in the gathering take one and the same direction, and their conscious personality vanishes. A collective mind is formed, doubtless transitory, but presenting very clearly defined characteristics. The gathering has thus become what, in the absence of a better expression, I will call an organized crowd, or, if the term is considered preferable, a psychological crowd. It forms a single being and is subject to the law of the mental unity of crowds.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“A civilization, when the moment has come for crowds to acquire a high hand over it, is at the mercy of too many chances to endure for long. Could anything postpone for a while the hour of its ruin, it would be precisely the extreme instability of the opinions of crowds and their growing indifference and lack of respect for all general beliefs.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“A crowd is not merely impulsive and mobile. Like a savage, it is not prepared to admit that anything can come between its desire and the realisation of its desire.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“A crowd thinks in images, and the image itself calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first. A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images invoked in its mind, though they most often have only a very distant relation with the observed facts. Crowds being only capable of thinking in images are only to be impressed by images.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“A few years are enough to civilize the intelligence of a people. It takes centuries to civilize one's character.”

Gustave Le Bon

“A person's words never reveal his true personality: only his actions reveal it, sometimes even to himself.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason.”

Gustave Le Bon

“All the civilizations we know have been created and directed by small intellectual aristocracies, never by people in the mass. The power of crowds is only to destroy.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Are the worst enemies of society those who attack it or those who do not even give themselves the trouble of defending it?”

Gustave Le Bon
The Psychology of Socialism

“At the bidding of a Peter the Hermit millions of men hurled themselves against the East; the words of an hallucinated enthusiast such as Mahomet created a force capable of triumphing over the Graeco-Roman world; an obscure monk like Luther bathed Europe in blood. The voice of a Galileo or a Newton will never have the least echo among the masses. The inventors of genius hasten the march of civilization. The fanatics and the hallucinated create history.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Crowds always, and individuals as a rule, stand in need of ready-made opinions on all subjects. The popularity of these opinions is independent of the measure of truth or error they contain, and is solely regulated by their prestige.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Crowds are influenced mainly by images produced by the judicious employment of words and formulas.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“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.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Experience alone, that supreme educator of peoples, will be at pains to show us our mistake. It alone will be powerful enough to prove the necessity of replacing our odious text-books and our pitiable examinations by industrial instruction capable of inducing our young men to return to the fields, to the workshop, and to the colonial enterprise which they avoid to-day at all costs.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“If atheism spread, it would become a religion as intolerable as the ancient ones.”

Gustave Le Bon

“If jealousy, envy and hatred could be eliminated from the universe, socialism would disappear on the same day.”

Gustave Le Bon

“In a crowd every sentiment and act is contagious, and contagious to such a degree that an individual readily sacrifices his personal interest to the collective interest.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“In crowds it is stupidity and not mother-wit that is accumulated.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“In politics, things matter less than their names. Disguising the most absurd theories under well-chosen words is often enough to get them accepted.”

Gustave Le Bon

“In the case of everything that belongs to the realm of sentiment, religion, politics, morality, the affections, and antipathies, etc. The most eminent men seldom surpass the standard of the most ordinary individuals.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian – that is, a creature acting by instinct.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“It is time in particular that prepares the opinions and beliefs of crowds, or at least the soil on which they will germinate.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Many can easily do without truths, but no one is strong enough to do without illusions.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“No need to be praised when you are sure of yourself. He who seeks praise doubts his own worth.”

Gustave Le Bon

“One of the most constant characteristics of beliefs is their intolerance. The stronger the belief, the greater its intolerance. Men dominated by a certitude cannot tolerate those who do not accept it.”

Gustave Le Bon

“Overthrowing tyranny does not mean creating freedom.”

Gustave Le Bon

“Science has promised us truth... It has never promised us either peace or happiness.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Sentiment has never been vanquished in its eternal conflict with reason.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The art of those who govern consists above all in the science of employing words.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The beginning of a revolution is in reality the end of a belief.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The conscious life of the mind is of small importance in comparison with its unconscious life.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The danger of autocracy does not lie so much in the autocrat himself as in the thousands of individuals sharing his power and each exercising it like a little despot.”

Gustave Le Bon

“The greater part of our daily actions are the result of hidden motives which escape our observation.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The ideas of the past, although half destroyed, being still very powerful, and the ideas which are to replace them being still in process of formation, the modern age represents a period of transition and anarchy.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The images evoked by words being independent of their sense, they vary from age to age and from people to people, the formulas remaining identical. Certain transitory images are attached to certain words: the word is merely as it were the button of an electric bell that calls them up.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The influence of the leaders is due in very small measure to the arguments they employ, but in a large degree to their prestige. The best proof of this is that, should they by any circumstance lose their prestige, their influence disappears.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The most difficult revolutions are those of habits and thoughts.”

Gustave Le Bon

“The precise moment at which a great belief is doomed is easily recognisable; it is the moment when its value begins to be called in question.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The precise moment at which a great belief is doomed is easily recognisable; it is the moment when its value begins to be called in question.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“The real cause of the great upheavals which precede changes of civilisations, such as the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Arabian Empire, is a profound modification in the ideas of the peoples. The memorable events of history are the visible effects of the invisible changes of human thought.”

Gustave Le Bon

“The role of the scholar is to destroy chimeras, that of the statesman is to make use of them.”

Gustave Le Bon

“The tyranny exercised unconsciously on men’s minds is the only real tyranny, because it cannot be fought against.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“This incessant creation of restrictive laws and regulations, surrounding the pettiest actions of existence with the most complicated formalities, inevitably has for its result the confining within narrower and narrower limits of the sphere in which the citizen may move freely.”

Gustave Le Bon

“This very fact that crowds possess in common ordinary qualities explains why they can never accomplish acts demanding a high degree of intelligence.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“To excuse evil is to multiply it.”

Gustave Le Bon

“To give man a belief is to multiply his strength tenfold.”

Gustave Le Bon

“To lose time in the manufacture of cut-and-dried constitutions is, in consequence, a puerile task, the useless labour of an ignorant rhetorician. Necessity and time undertake the charge of elaborating constitutions when we are wise enough to allow these two factors to act.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“To revolt or to adapt, there is hardly any other choice in life.”

Gustave Le Bon

“Two fundamental factors are at the base of this transformation. The first is the destruction of those religious, political, and social beliefs in which all the elements of our civilisation are rooted. The second is the creation of entirely new conditions of existence and thought as the result of modern scientific and industrial discoveries.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“We see, then, that the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these, we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of a crowd. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will.”

Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd

“Whoever wants to act only on reasonable grounds condemns himself to act only seldom.”

Gustave Le Bon