Propaganda

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No, this is not about the Russian girl group of a similar name (Пропаганда). Or the German '80s popstars. Or the album by the band Sparks.
There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.
Bertrand Russell[1]

Propaganda is the use of media and other information sources in order to affect or control the perceptions and behaviour of a population.

Propaganda is designed to influence emotion, hence the factual accuracy of the content is of little or no relevance. Propaganda is more versatile than advertising because it is not always about encouraging consumerism, name-recognition, and brand loyalty. Rather, it can be used to create and associate negative emotions with opponents. Individual pieces of advertising and propaganda share techniques including repetition, reliance on famous spokespeople, musical and lighting cues, and disguising content as innocuous information.

Religious and political movements of all types have used propaganda widely. For example, in World War II, the Allies, Soviets and Nazis, all very different in their ideologies, all used propaganda to a great degree during the course of the conflict and after.[2][3][4]

The term goes back to the Thirty Years War (1622) and originally meant the spread or propagation of the Catholic faith against filthy Protestant Heresy but wasn't applied to secular matters until the 1790s and didn't pick up its negative connotations until the mid-point of the 19th century.[5] Even then it wouldn't be seen as threat to democratic ways of life until the 1930s,[6] and during World War II become pejorative in common usage...ironically thanks to the Why We Fight Propaganda films shown to soldiers and then the public.

Like many words, it has fallen victim to the euphemism treadmill – meaning, sometimes we only call that which we disagree with propaganda. The rest is considered PR (Public Relations), marketing or awareness spreading.

Propaganda techniques[edit]

Agitprop[edit]

Agitprop

Agitprop is a particular kind of propaganda designed to arouse intense, even violent, emotions within people who are exposed to it. It is a portmanteau of the Russian words for "agitation" and "propaganda," and the term originated in the Soviet Union, whose information bureau was originally called the Department for Agitation and Propaganda.

Examples[edit]

  • A Discovery and plain Declaration of the Sundry Subtill practices of the Holy Inquisition Of Spain (1567) under the pseudonym Montanns — collection of real (mostly pre-1500) and imagined excesses of the Spanish Inquisition.
  • The infamous 1903 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion — repackaged as the banking conspiracy to take over the world.
  • Tanaka Memorial (1929) — this fit so well with Japan's actual actions from 1931 to 1937 that in some areas (such as China) it is still presented as an actual document. No evidence that it ever really existed has been found.
  • Dasein ohne Leben aka Existence without Life (1939) — one of the many films used to confuse voluntary euthanasia with state-sanctioned mass murder. Destroyed in early 1945, it was reconstructed for the BBC documentary Selling Murder: the Killing Films of the Third Reich
  • Der Ewige Jude a.k.a., The Eternal Jew (1940) — The biggest, most foul-smelling turd in the sewer that is Nazi antisemitism.
  • Frank Capra's Why We Fight series (1942-1945) is filled with distortions, half-truths, omissions, and outright lies (In The Battle of Russia (1943) the joint treaty with Russia that allowed the conquest of Poland is not even mentioned. Nor is the oppression the Russian people suffered under Stalin mentioned. ) A similar film (but not part of 'Why We Fight') Know your Enemy — Japan (1945), can't seem to make up its mind if the Emperor was directly responsible or that he was little more than a figurehead. This issue is unresolved to this day.

Art[edit]

The arts are often employed as a medium for presenting propaganda.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]