Charles-Marie-Gustave Le Bon (May 7, 1841 – December 13, 1931) was a French social psychologist, sociologist, and physicist. He was the author of several works in which he expounded theories of national traits, racial superiority, herd behavior, and crowd psychology. His views on cultural evolution were based on his belief that it is the character or “soul” of the people that determines their progress, and that this character took the form of an unconscious “collective mind.” This collective mind would also emerge in a crowd of people, influencing their behavior in ways not predicted by simply studying an individual.
In 1944, three years before writing and five years before publishing 1984, George Orwell penned a letter detailing the thesis of his great novel. The letter, warning of the rise of totalitarian police states that will ‘say that two and two are five,’ is reprinted from George Orwell: A Life in Letters, edited by Peter Davison and published today by Liveright. Plus, Orwell’s advice to Arthur Koestler on how to review books.