Those of us in the Cuban exile community and in Cuba are quite familiar with all of these. But take a look and see how many of these you recognize in your everyday life in the United States.
8 Frightening Characteristics of Propaganda
Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (1965) has been called “a far more frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell.” In it, the French philosopher and sociologist dispels some of the popular notions about propaganda and exposes how it really operates in the modern world.
In the first chapter of the book, Ellul describes some of the characteristics of modern propaganda. Eight of them appear below:
1) It Prevents Dialogue.
“To be effective, propaganda cannot be concerned with detail… Propaganda ceases where simple dialogue begins… it does not tolerate discussion; by its very nature, it excludes contradiction and discussion.”
2) It Focuses on the Mass
“For propaganda to address itself to the individual, in his isolation, apart from the crowd, is impossible. The individual is of no interest to the propagandist; as an isolated unit he presents too much resistance to external action… The most favorable moment to seize a man and influence him is when he is alone in the mass: it is at this point that propaganda can be most effective.”
3) It is “Total”
“Propaganda must be total. The propagandist must utilize all of the technical means at his disposal – the press, radio, TV, movies, posters, meetings, door-to-door canvassing. Modern propaganda must utilize all of these media. There is no propaganda as long as one makes use, in sporadic fashion and at random, of a newspaper article here, a poster or a radio program there, organizes a few meetings and lectures, writes a few slogans on walls; that is not propaganda.”
4) It Takes Over Education
“Education and training are inevitably taken over, as the Napoleonic Empire demonstrated for the first time. No contrast can be tolerated between teaching and propaganda, between the critical spirit formed by higher education and the exclusion of independent thought. One must utilize the education of the young to condition them to what comes later.”
5) It Takes Over Literature and History
“Propaganda will take over literature (present and past) and history, which must be rewritten according to propaganda’s needs.”
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