Propaganda

Discussion in 'Politics' started by takenyouth, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. #1 takenyouth, Feb 2, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 2, 2009
    An essay i did.

    We are being manipulated on a daily basis without even knowing it. Every time we watch the television, search the Internet; even driving on the highway; we are being manipulated. This form of manipulation is known as advertisement, and it is all around us. Advertisement is a form of propaganda. One weekend I went to New York City, as I was walking around the packed street, one thing caught my attention. It amazed me how much advertisement there was in this huge city. Time Square is full of advertisement, and it got me thinking. What does all this advertisement do the human psyche?
    Edward Bernays is the nephew to Sigmund Freud, a world famous psychoanalyst. Edward Bernays was heavily influenced from his uncle’s teachings of Unconsciousness and applied this to his work with public relations. Bernays used psychology and other social sciences to pioneer public relations. He says, “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it?” He called his scientific technique of mass manipulation, “engineering of consent.” (Lippmann)
    Edward Bernays opens his book Propaganda by saying; “The conscious and intelligent manipulat of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” (Bernays) Bernays suggests that propaganda is a technique used to organize a democratic society.
    Bernays says that it is nearly impossible to come up with a logical conclusion with all data, because it is impossible for everyone to know everything. “In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion without anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issue so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions.” (Bernays)
    Propaganda in the dictionary is defined as this, “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.” (Dictionary.com) It is only when the person who is reading a the information and accepts it as true, for no reason other than that it is printed on the paper, does propaganda become dangerous. Bernays says that modern propaganda is an “effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.” (Bernays)
    Bernays talks about the men behind the curtain who are constantly manipulating the mind of millions of people. Bernays states how the hands of a few can control the opinions and habits of the masses. These are propaganda specialist. They specialize in interpreting ideas to enterprises and the public. This is known as public relations.
    Public relations have grown significantly due to the increasing dependence on organized power upon public opinion. Whether it is a minority or a majority idea, the only way it will succeed is with the support of public opinion. Public relations bring ideas to the consciousness of the public. (Bernays)
    Trotter, Le Bon, Graham Wallas, and Walter Lippmann did studies on the group mind and established its characteristics apart from the individual. It is motivated by impulses and emotions and cannot be explained with individual psychology. Edwards Bernays adds, “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it?” (Bernays) The implications of this are staggering. People can be controlled without knowing it by a select few. He also adds, “the recent practice of propaganda have proved it is possible.”
    Propaganda can never be an exact science because it deals with human beings. But only improving these methods of manipulation do the effects become very real. Bernays makes an analogy of saying, “We can effect some changes in public opinion with a few degrees of accuracy…just as motorist can regulate the speed of his car by manipulating the flow of gasoline.” (Bernays) It is through this analogy do we see a vaguely see how propaganda regulates information.
    Trotter and Le Bon concluded doesn’t think, instead it acts on impulse, habit, and emotion. The first impulse is usually to follow a trusted leader. Bernays says if you can influence the leader, you automatically influence the group, which they sway. (Bernays)
    Now it is through the examples of how just manipulating things, you can manipulate the mindset. Bernays gives an example of the implications of just changing a word or phrase. In Great Britain during World War I, the evacuation hospital gained some criticism. After the names were changed to evacuation posts, the criticism stopped. The word hospital was associated to the public in a certain way, and it was this that brought criticism. Instead of completely changing the image of a hospital, the word was only changed to remove this image. (Bernays)
    The psychologist of the school of Freud pointed out man’s thought and actions are substitutes for desires that have been suppressed. When a man is buying a car, he may want it because it is a symbol of social position, or a means of satisfying his wife. Propagandists understand these primitive instincts and tap into them so sell a product. (Bernays)
    Salesmen and advertisers now know the structure of society. They understand the principles of mass psychology. By knowing these things they have gained an advantage and use these tricks to sell a product, and idea to a group of people. However, the leaders who lend their authority to propaganda will do so because of their own interest. (Bernays) This creates a monopoly and competition. If the competing company does not employ similar or better tactics, he will fall short. Bernays adds, “The ideas of the new propaganda are predicted on sound psychology based on enlightened self-interest.” (Bernays)
    Sigmund Freud believed that primitive sexual and aggressive forces drove humans. Forces that when not controlled could lead individuals and societies into chaos and destruction. Freud’s views are now widely accepted. However, a hundred years ago, the views of Freud were hated in Vienna. Freud’s views were seen as a threat to look at a person inners self to the ruling class. He believed that to examine ones self, one must to examine society as a whole. Freud was the creator of psychoanalysis. ("The Century of Self")
    Freud believes that human primitive instincts were unleashed during World War I. During World War I Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew was working with the United States to try and promote America’s war aims in the press. Edward Bernays attend the Paris Peace conference at the end of the war. Through propaganda Woodrow Wilson was made a hero to the masses. ("The Century of Self")
    Bernays wondered if propaganda could be used during wartime, could be used during peacetime? Propaganda was deemed a bad word so he changed the name to the Counsel of Public Relations. Bernays was determined to alter the way people thought and felt. ("The Century of Self")
    Bernays experimented with the minds of popular classes. One of the most dramatic experiments was to persuade women to smoke cigarettes. At the time cigarettes were a taboo for women. The President of the American Tobacco Corporation, George Hill, asked Bernays if he could be able to break this taboo. Bernays met with Abraham Brill, who said that cigarettes were a symbol of the male’s private parts. During an Easter Day parade, Bernays persuaded a group of rich debutants to light a cigarette simultaneously when a signal was called. The signal was “Torches of Freedom.” Because of the press coverage it was on all of the newspapers in the United States. He had made them socially acceptable. ("The Century of Self")
    Bernays believed that it would be possible to persuade people to act irrationally by linking products to emotional desires and feelings. Irrelevant objects could be powerful emotional symbols of how someone would be seen by others. His main goal was not to sell a product to intellect, but to have someone buy a product because it made them feel better about themselves. He had originated the idea of emotional connect to product or service. ("The Century of Self")
     
  2. The media is always outputting a certain image that glorifies war. It has been that way since the beginning of media. The government both directly and indirectly plays a role in persuading a nation to back a war. The war with Iraq is a great example. In the early stages of going to war with Iraq, the media constantly put out and image of Iraq to help convince people to back a war with Iraq. This image of a scary dictator who could send intercontinental missiles to hit major cities is ridiculous. But because the media said so, the people believed it. Because of this, the majority of the nation backed a war with Iraq, beginning Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now we're stuck in a conflict with a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.
    9/11 is a major turning point in an American history. Many historians will look back at the event and look at it in a greater scale. They wont just see the event, but they'll see the aftermath of the event. After 9/11 the government used fear tactics to get people to give up their personal liberties in the name of safety. Scare tactics such as these have been used for many years. Throughout history propaganda tactics have been used in times of war and conflict.
    Propaganda techniques have been used in this country for years. One of the most notable cases was leading up to World War I. Woodrow Wilson turned a nation of immigrant into a nation of fighters. America's drift into war was subtle, however it was forceful. Bertrand Russell said that "the greatest difficulty was the purely psychological one of resisting mass suggestion, of which the force becomes terrific when the whole nation is in a state of violent collective excitement." (Delwiche)
    When America joined the war on April 6, 1917, America was not unified in the idea of a war. Public support was considered crucial in the wartime effort. On April 13, 1917, the Committee of Public Information was created. This was to promote the war both domestically and abroad. The CPI understood human psychology and applied it to its efforts in modern propaganda. Propaganda, which was normally seen in totalitarian regimes, appeared in a democratic state. (Delwiche)
    The Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 helped with censoring the media. It implemented “voluntary guidelines” for the news. Journalist complied with the guidelines in order to stay connected to the information. The CPI was not a censor in the strictest terms, but "it came as close to performing that function as any government agency in the US has ever done." (Delwiche)
    The CPI also had other efforts. The CPI examined different ways that information flowed the population, and then added pro-war material to these outlets. The CPI used newspapers, academics, artists, and filmmakers in the techniques of propaganda. (Delwiche)
    The Division of News was a division of the CPI, which distributed more than 6,000 press releases and acted a primary means for accessing war-related information. On any given week, more than 20,000 newspaper columns had filled with information CPI handouts. CPI examined that many Americans went past the front page and headed for the features section, so the CPI created the Division of Syndicated Features, and recruited novelist, short story writers, and essayist. These writers presented the official line in an easily digestible form. Twelve million people read their work every month. (Delwiche)
    The CPI didn't limit itself to just written word. The Division of Pictorial Publicity had many of the most talented advertising illustrators and cartoonist of the time. Powerful posters were placed on billboards. The images helped create a deep yearning to buy liberty bonds or enlist in the navy. There were also moving images. The Division of Film ensured that the war was promoted in the cinema. (Delwiche)
    CPI typically appealed to emotions, not the mind. Wartime slogans were used to appeal to these emotions. These slogans included phrases like, “Bleeding Belgium,” “The Criminal Kaiser,” and “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” A typical propaganda poster would portray an aggressive, bayonet-wielder German soldier with a caption "Beat Back The Hun With Liberty Bonds." The emotions of hate and fear were redirected toward giving money to the war effort. (Delwiche)
    A second propaganda technique used by the CPI was the demonization of the enemy. "So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern nations," wrote Lasswell "that every war must appear to be a war of defense against a menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about who the public is to hate." (Delwiche) These propaganda techniques are mirrored and today's world, but it is most subtle.
     
  3. Recently former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had this to say about Al Qaeda, “"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaeda. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US.” (Al Qaeda) Whether or not Al Qaeda is real remains to be seen, but the probability of the US using campaigns of propaganda for this war on “terror” is undeniable.
    Rod Nordland of Newsweek talked about the reporting during the Iraq war. He says that the Bush administration had successfully managed the news. He managed the news “to the extent that most Americans are not aware of just how dire it is and how little progress has been made.” Some embedded reporters were even “blacklisted because the military wasn't happy with [their] work.” (Silverstein)
    Another reporter who did not want to be named, was embedded with the troops for 45 days. She arrived in Tikrit on December 12, 2003. She said she had never had so many issues regarding restrictions imposed by the pentagon. “I was,” she said, “a mouthpiece for the American military.” She tells about how whenever an insurgent would attack civilians the army would rush her to the scene to record the carnage. When there would be a story that was “sympathetic” to the American soldiers, like a funeral, the army would be “encouraging.” However if she wanted to report on a story that cast the war in an unfavorable light, the situation was completely different. (Silverstein)
    Every few days she would hear a report of civilians being killed by American soldiers, but when she would ask to leave the compound to confirm for herself, her requests were denied. Whenever she wanted to out on her own she would have to ask a Public Information Officer, but he would jut say they needed to get more information. Hours would pass before they were allowed to witness the scene, by which point the incident would have already passed. (Silverstein)
    Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, and independent news organization said, “The media are among the most power institutions in the world.” She talked about the difference of reporting between CNN and CNN International when the statue of Saddam came crumbling down. On CNN, pictures of the statue coming down were played back to back, all day. On CNN International there was a split screen. On one screen there was the video of the statue coming down. On the other screen there were pictures of the casualties of war. This is very powerful. It shows the difference of domestic consumption and what the rest of the world sees. ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    All over Europe there are pictures of the casualties in Iraq, just not in the United States. Aaron Brown of CNN was asked why there were no pictures of casualties and he responded by saying that war is “tasteless.” But isn't war tasteless? He also used the excuse that CNN was not allowed in Baghdad. But why did they take videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad the first day of the invasion, but not pictures of the casualties? ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    Amy Goodman said that if we saw pictures of casualties for one week, war would be eradicated. Instead we see grainy war game video from above looking down on a target. What we don't see are those people as the targets on the ground. ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    Another issue with the war in Iraq is the use of “embedded reporters.” This is a propaganda technique just by using the name “embedded reporters.” Walter Cronkite even raised objections by saying “what an unfortunate choice of words.” We are seeing a parade of retired Generals on the networks payrolls. But why don't we see peace activists on the networks payrolls? And why don't we see embedded reporters in the peace movement all over the world? ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    Amy Goodman was interviewing Aaron Brown and he even admits that they came late to the peace movement. But once the war started their voices were irrelevant. She asks how would the Vietnam War ended if we didn't see the infamous pictures that will last through the centuries? We are seeing romanticized pictures of war. ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    When thousands of people who protested the war in the freezing rain, why didn't CNN invite a peace activist like they do with the Generals? Why don't they have doctors on the payroll? So when they have General talking about the technologies and advances of bombs, have the doctor talk about the effects of the bomb. ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    Fair and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) did a study in a time when more than half of the people were opposed to the invasion. For Four major news organizations, out of 393 interviews on the war in Iraq, 3 were opposed to the war. It is this kind of technique used by the media that helps promote a war. ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    In the Palestine Hotel, a hotel packed with mainly unembedded Journalists was shelled by the United States military. 14 journalists died in the shelling. Tareq Ayyoub was at his office at Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera had repeatedly given the coordinates of the building to the Pentagon, everything from the latitude, longitude, and height of the building. However, it was shelled by a tank killing Tareq Ayyoub. ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    Next door at Abu Dhabi TV, reporters were still broadcasting while the tanks surrounded their offices. They knew they had just bombed Al Jazeera and they pleaded for help as tanks shelled their offices. ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
    When this happened Spanish journalists engaged in a one-day strike when the Prime Minister of Spain came the Spanish Parliament. They laid down the tools of their trade. They put down their camera, pens and pencils; they laid down the cables and microphones. Then they turned their backs that they would not report on the words of those who condone acts of these. Then the elite of Spanish journalism walked outside the US Embassy and shouted “murderer, murderer.” ("Independent Media in a Time of War")
     
  4. The recent attack on Gaza by the Israel has also been a product of a massive propaganda effort. The Israel propaganda effort has two main goals. One is to justify the air attacks. The second is to show that there are no humanitarian calamities in Gaza. These were intended to place Israel in a strong position internationally. Israel has pursued the first aim by being very active in the story that Hamas is to blame. The sights of rockets have been helpful in that respect. But how do we know that this is not some tactic for war? (Reynolds)
    Israel has also banned foreign correspondents from Gaza, despite the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court. The absence of reporters from major organization means that most of the news came from secondary sources, instead of on the spot examinations. However after the world media was given access to Gaza, people were outraged at the humanitarian disaster that it was. We now see that people are coming out of their pacified positions and protesting. We are seeing demonstrations with more than 100,000 people. People are opening up their eyes and seeing the potential of power they hold in the free world. (Reynolds)
    When the media puts on filters that glorify something so tasteless as war, it should really make one question the information they are being told. When only one side of a story is being told, while the others voices are drowned out. How can their message survive? What we are seeing is a monopoly of information. We are only told what they want us to hear. It is becoming increasingly scary to see how little our speech really means these days. Does this mean that our democracy is merely an illusion?





    1 – Lippmann, Walter. Public Opinion. BN Publishing, 2008.
    2 - Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. New York: Ig Publishing, 1928.
    3. The Century of Self. Dir. Adam Curtis. Film. BBC Four, 2002.
    4 – "There Is No 'Al Qaeda' says Ex UK Foreign Secretary." Pakistan Daily 24 December 2008 28 Jan 2009 <http://www.daily.pk/world/europe/8714-there-is-no-al-qaeda-says-ex-uk-foreign-secretary.html>.
    5 – Silverstein, Ken. "“I Was a Mouthpiece for the American Military”." Harper's Magazine 07 July 2008 28 Jan 2009 <http://harpers.org/archive/2006/07/sb-i-was-a-mouthpiece-1152219764>.
    6 - Delwiche, Aaron. Propaganda Critic September 2002 28 Jan 2009 <http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/index.html>.
    7 – Independent Media in a Time of War. Dir. Amy Goodman. Video. Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center, 2003.
    8 - Reynolds, Paul. "Propaganda war: trusting what we see” BBC News 5 January 2009 28 Jan 2009 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7809371.stm>.
    9 - "propaganda." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 29 Jan. 2009. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/propaganda>.
     
  5. Damn dude, can I get a summary of the main points? :p
     
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