It’s the same sappy, frolicsome folktale — over and over. Soldier gets sent off to fight the Empire’s war. Soldier gets his limbs blown off. Soldier, however, feels he did the righteous thing — he fought for freedom! Soldier has a great attitude. Soldier is legless but happy. So it’s all okay! The CNN interviewer is happy. We all should be happy. Or so we are all told by the dullard media heads.
Only this ending has a slight twist. Soldier, we are told, can’t wait to get his prosthetic legs so that he can go jogging with our divine president Bush. Ahh yes, who ever thought that life could be so cheery as a result of losing one’s limbs?
As I listened to this feature, on Communist Network News, I couldn’t believe the carefree and upbeat nature of this presentation. Accordingly, this is perhaps the worst, most devious, most offensive kind of war propaganda: that no matter how calamitous the consequences of a murderous war, we must look on the “bright side” via the unfurling of sprightly animations. Please, dear media, do give us another gleeful feature story that reminds us how meritorious all the killing and limb shedding really is.
The story — as I listened to it over my satellite radio — came upon me like an ad blitz, and in a moment of coincidence, too. I had just popped on my XM receiver, in a parking lot, after having left a hospital in downtown Detroit. The two hours spent there were to guide my brother toward the Mother of All Decisions: to endure yet another dangerous, tormenting surgery (with less than a 30% chance of success) to save the leg, or, bring on the inevitable amputation. Somehow, that moment did not take on the attributes of a breezy, Disney-like feature story as do the innumerable instances of war mutilations. Thus I consider my brother to be an absentee from the "Amputees for Bush" club.
Yes, I shall regain my senses and come to Believe. Oh to be twenty-something, and looking forward to prosthetics made necessary by the pursuit of a democratic cause in the role of cannon fodder! After all, Hiroshima and Nagasaki “ended the war,” and thus made us all very safe and happy. Those damn Japanese, like the damn Ay-rabs, are so damn immaterial anyway.
The State has perpetually enabled its concubine media to pump up the propaganda well for the furtherance of its own cause clbre, and why not? The general masses — otherwise engaged in nighttime sitcom snigger, video things-go-boom, and unremitting mall-hopping — have provided a fertile ground for sowing the seeds of a cerebral takeover by the US Politburo.
Propaganda is, and always has been, a tool of totalitarian regimes. The ultimate goal of propaganda is the mindless obedience of human herds through the acceptance of State values, and thus affirmation of the Politburo ideology. Nazi killer Joseph Goebbels called State propaganda "background music to government policy." Goebbels, at Nuremberg in 1934, uttered the following:
Each situation brings new challenges. And each task requires the support of the people, which can only be gained by untiring propaganda that brings the broad masses knowledge and clarity. No area of public life can do without it. It is the never resting force behind public opinion. It must maintain an unbroken relationship between leadership and people. Every means of technology must be put in its service; the goal is to form the mass will and to give it meaning, purpose, and goals that will enable us to learn from past failures and mistakes and ensure that the lead National Socialist strength has given us over other nations will never again be lost.
May the bright flame of our enthusiasm never fade. It alone gives light and warmth to the creative art of modern political propaganda. Its roots are in the people. The movement gives it direction and drive. The state can only provide it with the new, wide-ranging technical means. Only a living relationship between people, movement, and state can guarantee that the creative art of propaganda, of which we have made ourselves the world’s master, will never sink into bureaucracy and bureaucratic narrow-mindedness.
Creative people made propaganda and put it in the service of our movement. We must have creative people who can use the means of the state in its service.
While the media is at times "creative," more accurately, the soldiers of agitprop are sales agents for demagogy and herders of mice. The mice that make up the masses oftentimes lack the traits of self-examination and adequate literacy. Thus the catchpenny phrases, 15-second sound bites, and 2-minute highlights are carefully crafted in order to move the masses, at once, toward a chosen frame of reference. Accordingly, dissonance emerges, and all the little mice accommodate popular credo in order to reduce and mobilize conflict. It all seems so darn easy.
Ancient civilizations, such as Rome and the city-states of Greece, encouraged persuasion through learned debate and argumentation. Plato, Aristotle, the Sophists, and Cicero certainly differed in terms of their thoughts on the usefulness and role of persuasion. However, decision by persuasion, in those times, was of a different sort: more often than not it involved the rigorous use of enlightened techniques as opposed to shoddy sloganeering to fulfill instant psychological needs.
Modern media pop psychology has emerged as a herding technique of men over mice. The propaganda of soft-and-fuzzy war mutilation stories is a means to an end, the end of which is the stiffening of resolve in the face of an unjust and immoral war. Hence do the atrocities of war receive a warm spin. Those in the public hear these stories and they come to believe that if the soldier himself can find purpose in death or devastation, then they too must give in to popular song, and oblige the media masters in their quest for obedience to Leviathan.
Like the Creel Commission forcing German-Americans to kiss American flags, so does the State administrate and regulate every aspect of media — from airwaves to profanity to advertising — and thus force its minions into compliance, and eventually, loyalty. This routine kissing of the flag insures that the vanguard of the people — the Politburo — never goes without its fox in the peoples’ henhouse.
And so it goes. If propaganda is background music to government policy, then war has the composer shedding traditional tonal harmony to play the banjo behind the barn at the square dance. And the mice are indeed dancing.
Karen De Coster, CPA, [send her mail] is a part-time freelance writer; graduate student in Economics and Finance; and a full-time, accounting and finance professional. She is fond of motorcycles, guns, Delirium Tremens, lake perch, Stillwater (Minnesota), deadlifting, old barns, road trips through the Ohio Valley, magazine racks, general stores, cigars, iTunes, martini bars, and articles defending Martha Stewart. She enjoys pissing off the extroverts by listening to her iPod in public. Check out her website, along with her blog.