On Propaganda: Recognition and Diffusion

I have heard said that at the height of power in Nazi Germany there were no fewer than 8000 propagandists employed by the German State. I am not sure if this figure is correct, but it is not hard to ascertain that thousands certainly were employed knowingly and unknowingly for the sole purpose of disseminating political propaganda (on all sides) in WWII. Political propaganda sometimes combined with limited but violent "trigger" events, has in the past century, and can to this day change the face of the earth in very brief time periods.

Psychology of the individual and the mass manipulation of such via propaganda events or texts is the weapon to use in the 21st century in order to bring about the changes and policies, or lack there of, those in power seek – not by force, but by convincing the individual to implement the ideas of a few in control of State power. In its best form it is extremely subtle and phenomenally persuasive at the same time. Propaganda is the root, a spark from the ember of individual wants and desires if you will, and everything that follows, including war among other consequences both physical and monetary, is the result of the spark. I would propose that war is now a function of propaganda or mass psychological conditioning as much as vice-versa. This would be the logical result in any State once the MIC became the most powerful "institution" of the State.

One must ask oneself, honestly and without concern for those hurling names such as "conspiracy theorist" (propaganda itself), how much of the current world political system is governed by "men pushing our buttons" with propaganda events and texts. How many "Americans" will line up willingly for "security," issued of course by the State, such as their new federal ID when it comes time simply because of their own ignorance combined with State propaganda? Political propaganda is the most powerful weapon on the planet when used correctly because it has the potential power to make masses of normal individuals into a lethal "group-weapon" or into a suppressed and submissive society via deceit and manipulation that play on the basic instinct of fear in particular. The men in charge of the German State before and during WWII knew this all too well (as do the men in charge in our time).

Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

~ Hermann Goering, Nazi Reichsmarschall

In this vein, it would be prudent for one to have as much knowledge of propaganda as possible or face the possibility of becoming part of a lethal "group-weapon," "suppressed-submissives" (via taxation, we may all already be able to be defined as either) or worse. It is imperative, in my mind, that if there is one thing all of us should be doing it is becoming so familiar with propaganda and itstechniques, that we can recognize it "on-sight." By consistently having this ability available to as many individuals as possible, the influence of political propaganda may be diminished significantly. I believe 10% of the population possessing the ability to consistently recognize political propaganda on-sight (and call it such in as public a way as possible – before the war not after!) would be sufficient to begin diminishing propaganda effects and make starting wars, for example, for anything other than defense very difficult. This is based on a simple premise and nothing more: You don't have to spill the whole apple cart – just intercept 10% of the apples (inventory) each day until the guy goes out of business. Create disruption in just 10% of almost any system and the system will not run efficiently and has great potential for collapse (temporary or permanent) as the disruption, most likely, will cascade.

My review of propaganda techniques and events began around 1990. It has been very interesting to view the world of "political events" through this new microscope over the last several years. The amount of political propaganda that "Joe average" American is exposed to unknowingly every day (via the MSM in particular) is astounding – it now exists in ALL MSM in one form or another. The MSM issues propaganda on a variety of subjects that the State feels one should think of in a certain way and that way only. These messages are repeated diligently until they no longer benefit the State or must be adapted to new situations, or the State feels the message has been "heard loud and clear" by a large enough percentage of the population to reach its goal. Propaganda, in all its forms, has become so subtle and prevalent that it is difficult for one who is looking for it to see all of it due to the bombardment of near invisible shells.

I caught a shining example of the subtlety of the propaganda being foisted upon the general public in a string of jokes by Dave Letterman early last November. Of all the jokes, I remember one in particular because I was struck by the text book use of propaganda within the joke (Also and up-front, I haven't voted for a president since Perot, so this is not about my political view – this is about subtle propaganda and just ONE example). The joke was: "Horse John Kerry most looks like?" The answer was "Sea Biscuit." It was more than just a joke on a late night talk show, it was "text book name-calling" and it did exactly what it should have when name-calling is used correctly. It combined something extremely humorous – the fact Kerry has a face that is long like a horse – with a coined or archaic word or phrase – "Sea Biscuit." Brilliant – there is no response that is correct except to sit back and laugh at yourself which is no response at all – from Kerry or his supporters. Do I feel that Dave Letterman is a propagandist because of this? The answer is no. I think Dave is a very visible, but small cog in a much larger machine and doubt he was doing anything more that evening than reading jokes that were written for him. And, who knows, maybe a "cigar is just a cigar" in this case – but context (the PERFECT use of name-calling at election time, for one) would indicate otherwise.

On that note, it is important when scrutinizing media for propaganda that one takes into consideration if what one is scrutinizing is in fact propaganda. Propaganda is merely persuasion when boiled down and all of us use what COULD be construed as propaganda of one form or another almost every day. Context is a good identifier, but it is usually not too difficult to recognize most political propaganda (if consciously searching for and familiar with the techniques) because many of those attempting to use propaganda, in the MSM anyway, do not seem to have familiarized themselves enough with the techniques and subtleties in order to deliver their propaganda in a near transparent fashion, although some certainly have. This is easy to see with even a little familiarity of propaganda and its techniques when reviewing the build up to the current war in Iraq – in this case, the "lies" that led up to the war are a simple euphemism for " State sponsored propaganda." However, this shows that even when poorly done, most individuals will not recognize propaganda until it is too late – this is due to ignorance and nothing more and it can be corrected.

Another point to take into consideration when pondering propaganda and its (potential) sources and effects on oneself and others is the fact that we can all be conditioned quite easily and may not realize or think about it if not on-guard. Almost all animals can be conditioned in some way, and people can too. Even tree frogs, among other animals with very small brains, have been conditioned to respond in specific ways to visual-color stimulation via small colored "signs." They have been conditioned to respond to color associated with basic instincts like feeding and returning "home" to a cage (not at all unlike the color-coded "terrorist threat level" we are exposed to every day – via the State-approved combining of the basic emotion fear with a color). This is an extremely dangerous mass-psychological weapon in the communication/information age. It is imperative that this type of Association be recognized on sight to avoid irrational action(s) on a large scale.

In conclusion, I don't believe I have stated anything here that anyone reading a site like LewRockwell.com wasn't already aware of. What I tried to state is that this is something that should and can be combated in a number of different ways and I don't see enough of the "Joe average" population being made aware of what they are being exposed to in a way they can understand and react upon. Most "Joe averages" possess good levels of wisdom in certain areas and are intelligent enough to learn to recognize propaganda, but are still ignorant of a good many things regarding how the world really works. I have to wonder: If the "Joe averages" of this country were made aware of what they were being exposed to since grade school would the latest war in Iraq ever have begun? Would we be living with fiat money and taxation systems? Would we begin to realize as a society that there are better ways to organize than centralized Nation States?

I would suggest that anyone really interested in learning propaganda techniques "by heart," begin at Wikipedia.com. They have a great section on propaganda with solid examples and definitions. There are so many sources available that can help with serious endeavors to learn about propaganda and its techniques that all one needs to do is search on the net, visit the local library, or both. Once these "glasses" are put on however, don't expect to see the "events" of the world the same way ever again…

June 7, 2005