Thursday, September 3, 2015

How to Use Propaganda to Start Wars

"Those who control language, control the perception of reality."

Hitler, who was half-genius, half-insane, did understand propaganda. He said the masses were "feminine," ruled by their feelings, never thought and were never rational (incidentally, Hitler was democratically - and democracy is feminine - voted into office by women - the vast majority of men voted against him, while the vast majority of women did).

However, the originator of modern organized propaganda techniques in the United States was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays described three main characteristics of successful propaganda, ones that everyone should know so they can become immune to it.

The main reason people should be aware of how propaganda works because it can used to start completely unnecessary wars.

The first thing successful propaganda does is appeal to people’s emotions while deluding them it appeals is to their reason.

The second thing is to demonize or dehumanize the “enemy.”

The third thing is to claim after the enemy is defeated it will be a better, safer world.

All three of these characteristics of propaganda do not stand alone; all of them are so interrelated that one cannot exist without the others.

The emotions that propaganda appeals to are not our adult emotions. They’re not even childish emotions. They’re the infantile ones.

The infantile emotions that propaganda appeals to is our narcissistic tendency to split things into all-good or all-bad, either good or evil with no shades of grey. I think it’s the basis of our self-righteousness, which is one of those emotions that I don’t see as having much good to it.

This splitting into good or evil is how we can demonize or dehumanize whoever has been defined as the enemy. This splitting is a well-known logical fallacy – and the easiest way to recognize it as propaganda is by the insistence of the propagandist that you are under attack by insane evil monsters who want nothing more than to destroy you. And once the monsters are destroyed, only the good is left.

As George Orwell put it, “Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.”

In war, both combatants define themselves as good and their “enemies” as evil. George Bush was using propaganda when he said “the evil ones” attacked us “for our goodness” – simple-minded foolishness that many a 12-year-old could see though. And of course once the “evil ones” were eradicated it’d be a better, safer world, especially for the “homeland.”

Bush’s comments were the purest, simplest and most infantile form of propaganda.

This splitting into all-good and all-bad is very primitive, and researchers believe it goes back to when we are infants. In other words, demonizing or dehumanizing the enemy is infantile and not adult.

This brings us to Bernay’s third characteristic of propaganda: if the enemy is exterminated, it will be a better, safer world.

To exterminate enemies you have to, again, demonize or dehumanize them and make them into evil monsters, who, being evil monsters, want only to destroy. In other words, with enough violence, killing and destruction, there will be harmony and peace (there is an old saying: “The butcher is held in high esteem in Harmony”).

Unfortunately, it is far too easy to get the mass of men to march off to war. As Hermann Goering said,

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, 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 pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

Obviously, it is vitally important for people to know how propaganda works. If they don’t they can be manipulated into killing and dying for the most meaningless of reasons.

The way propaganda works on the masses is almost magic.


Unknown said...

I'm not aware of the latest stats on the Americans who don't vote, that would include me, if the number of Americans who don't vote or engage with the political machine has been increasing over the years, can that increase be attributed to propaganda not working? Or is there something else at play?

Also, I do recall the wars the Bush administration started, the country was split down the middle for supporting both wars.

Carnivore said...

That quote is attributed to Hermann Goering, not Goebbels, as recorded by Gustave Gilbert from an interview of Goering during his captivity in Nuremberg. The exact exchange is as follows. Gilbert's response is laughable.

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that 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 in America, 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.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, 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 pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Quartermain said...

Idiot Alert:

Some idiot hoser from north of the border is going to start accusing us of being hippies.

Glen Filthie said...

Why, how RUDE!!!!

I shall have to write a stern letter to Unca Bob protesting my shoddy treatment at the hands of his readership!!! :)

But to be fair...yeah, I will disagree with Unca Bob on this too. Old school propaganda that worked in Nazi Germany and on the simple flower children of your youth won't cut it today. The internet has made propaganda obsolete - else we would all believe that open borders are a good thing, that feminism, socialism, Marxism and statism are well and good, etc. Propaganda requires trust in the gubbermint, trust in the media, and trust in the nation's values...and it is my view that neither of our countries have had any of that since the 60's. Any hype I can generate in my propaganda machine can be negated with the click of a mouse.

Quartermain said...

Not everybody that disagrees with you is a flower child. Considering the weird haircuts, tattoos, piercings, and other body modifications among some of the young, they do make hippies look conservative by comparison.

Anyway, how is your blog coming along? It looks good so far.

little dynamo said...

"The internet has made propaganda obsolete"

Not at all. Mass propaganda is still very effective, and is in broad use worldwide -- by no means limited to academia, the MSM, etc.

Especially in America/the West, both the subtlety and ubiquity of current propaganda distinguishes it from past efforts. It's far too cunning and complex for the average person to understand, much less reject. Of course the average person considers himself/herself quite sharp and aware, well beyond any efforts to propagandize. Feature not bug!

And it is the 'average person' whose consent is manipulated and manufactured to legitimize larger designs, decided-upon long before any 'vote' is taken.

Glen Filthie said...

The blog is going swimmingly, Quartermain! If the stats are to be believed I think I have about 40 regular readers. I suspect most are wretches like myself that have no life.

Perhaps that would make an excellent topic for my towering intellect too: Elderly Hippies! What a great topic for discussion! I will make a point of slandering and libelling you, Unca Bob and all the denizens of the Treehouse in it!

Feel free to drop by and leave your complimentary comments!

Quartermain said...


The Equal Opportunity Employer Trilogy and The Vibrant and Diverse Workplace were great not to mention my favorite posts of yours. I recommended The Vibrant and Diverse Workplace to Broke Townsend at Free North Carolina and he enjoyed it. Both of the pieces rang true and was told with robust humor. Most likely many if not most have had similar experiences.

I would comment but you don't have a Name/URL for me to push.

The last post made me think of this song:

Mindstorm said...

Is the campaign "Black lives matter" propaganda? My take of it: