The Corporate Media has "everything to sell and nothing to tell."

April 13, 2017

Propaganda

This is more of a book review and suggestions for reading than a real essay.

I was interested in reading some books about propaganda, and a friend suggested a book by Jacques Ellul entitled "Propaganda, the formation of men's attitudes", 1965. He warned me that it was dense reading.

Mr. Ellul lived from 1912 to 1994. He was a leader in the French Resistance during WW-II, a lay theologian (whatever exactly that means), and a philosopher. (Isn't any intelligent person a philosopher?)

I have been disappointed by the book thus far. He states early in the book that he does not intend (and refuses for some bizarre reason of his own) to define what propaganda is! At this point I was pretty much ready to declare the book a disaster and toss it in the trash bin. I might still do this, but for now it is on a stack of things to read if better things don't present themselves.

Mr. Ellul has another book that may be his "great work", namely a book entitled "The Technological Society". I may take a look at it someday, but given my impressions of his Propaganda book, I am not in a rush.

Other books on propaganda

Propaganda by Edward Bernays, 1928
Escape from Freedom by Eric Fromm, 1941
The True Believer by Eric Hoffer, 1951
One word for propaganda is "social engineering" and the study of it and related issues is "social psychology".

Bernays book was around for Goebbels and the Nazis to study and learn from.

Eric Hoffer has interesting credentials. He was a longshoreman, not a paid intellectual. That fact alone makes me want to read his book. He worked on the docks in San Francisco.

An interesting comment:

Surprisingly, the far left and the far right can be indistinguishable from each other from the viewpoint of what it's like to live under them.
And here is an interesting quote by Hoffer:
“There can be no mass movement without some deliberate misrepresentation of facts.”
And:
The human experience is usually optimal when common sense rules.
"Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil."
Demons may be created that both transfix whole populations and which may be used as an excuse for measures such as increased security, media control and support of military industries.

Noam Chomsky

He made his name in linguistics, but being a clever fellow has written a myriad of books on every imaginable subject. One book he has written that has implications for this propaganda business is "Understanding Power". Others are "Deterring Democracy" and "Manufacturing Consent".
Feedback? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's Essays / tom@mmto.org