Information is no longer the prerogative of the political elite. With cable television and internet widely available to the ordinary citizen, information accessibility has come of age. The impact of this new revolution on how we perceive the world in which we live is only beginning to be comprehended; the possible implications may well be far reaching. The purpose of the suggested course is to explore the problem of media, propaganda and persuasion and to enable the student to develop an ability to counter propaganda's detrimental affects and utilize its positive potential.
1. What is Propaganda?
An introduction to propaganda, its method and its history.
2. Nazi Propaganda
A study of the Nazi propaganda machine and its portrayal of the Jew.
3. New Antisemitism: Holocaust Denial
The use of propaganda to deny historical truth.
4. Propaganda and Persuasion II
An examination of the use of state propaganda by the Baath regime in Iraq.
5. The Creation of "President Rabin" z"l
An analysis of a new syle in the propaganda of the Israeli General Election of 1992
6. Propaganda in the Israeli General election 1996
An analysis of political propaganda in Israel.
7. Israeli in the Media
An examination of Israel's changing media image.
8. Propaganda on the Internet
Antisemitism in cyberspace. An examination of the Internet as a means of propaganda and persuasion.
9. Propaganda and Persuasion in the Gulf War
An analysis of ware and the media. How did CNN portray and Gulf War?
Was it accurate?
10. Creating Propaganda through the Media.1
A training guide to utilizing the media to create a positive image and organizing a campaign in your community.
11. Creating Propaganda through the Media.2
How to influence people at the work place or in the community through your own propaganda and persuation.
12. Propaganda and Beyond
What are the implications of propaganda today? Is it's impact necessarily detrimental? Concluding discussion.
TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF PROPAGANDA.
It is not easy to arrive at a value free explication of the term propaganda. Yet without such a definition it would be frivolous to commence our course. Lacking such a definition, the term propaganda is easily misused. It becomes either a slanderous description of the activity of an opponent, whose opinion or activity contradicts our own, or such an all inclusive term that "everything";(1) all television commercials, opinions, etc., are considered forms of propaganda.
Propaganda does not transpire by accident. Integral to a definition of propaganda is intention. It is an activity initiated for the purpose of the transmission of challenging ideas, the channeling of attitude and the reexamination of values. Indeed, propaganda provides the "link, albeit tenuous, between the propagandist and his audience." (2)
During our course we will examine not only the means of propaganda, but the propagandists themselves. By ascertaining (where possible) the source of propaganda, the aspirations and technique of the propagandist, the nature of propaganda will become apparent.
A. Huxley describes the propagandist as "a man who canalizes an already existing stream: in a land where there is not water he digs in vain." (3) Later in the course we shall examine the Nazi experience and contribution to propaganda. This tapping, by the propagandist, of an already existing stream of thought will become clearer, as will the potential effect of propaganda.
Success is not relevant to a definition of propaganda, nor is unsuccessful propaganda a contradiction in terms. For propaganda is the intentional channeling of public attitude, value and belief to create or change a public opinion desired by the propagandist. Propaganda is essentially a public affair.
"Propaganda, to be effective, must be seen, remembered, understood and acted upon...adapted to particular needs of the situation and the audience to which it is aimed."($) It is "the deliberate and systematic attempt to change perceptions, manipulate cognitions and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist." (5)
It is beneficial to differentiate between three forms of propaganda: namely white, gray and black propaganda.(6) Propaganda is determined white when the recipient is cognizant of the derivation of the propaganda and the content is generally accurate. White propaganda generally seeks to reemphasize the virtues of the ideology of the propaganda's source. For example, the BBC World Service could be considered white propaganda as it perceives itself as not only a news source but the voice of Britain.
Propaganda can be dtermined gray when the source "may or may not be correctly identified and the accuracy of the information is uncertain."(7)
As we shall discuss later in this course, CNN coverage of the Gulf War quite often moved over into the gray area.
Black propaganda can be described as the "big lie" where both the source of the broadcast is false as is the content of its information. Black propaganda often takes the form of disinformation.
We need now to consider, in an historic perspective, the development of propaganda. For whilst propaganda can be traced to time in memorial, it will become apparent that propaganda only reached its full potential with the development of mass media. Indeed, mass media - press, radio, television and cinema - provide for the propagandist the means for reaching a mass audience. We will need to consider in another lecture the impact of the development of the home computer and the new potential for the spread of propaganda across the information network.
Propaganda - An historical perspective
The development of propaganda can be seen to advance simultaneously with the exigency to persuade. An early attempt at persuasion can be seen in the Greek City States with the development of rhetoric. Consider the dialogue quoted below between Socrates and Gorgias in regard to the nature of rhetoric.
"GORGIAS, I mean, Socrates, what is in actual truth the greatest blessing, which confers on every one who possesses it not only freedom for himself but also the power of ruling his fellow-countrymen.
SOCRATES, What do you mean by that?
GORGIAS, I mean the ability to convince by means of speech a jury in a court of justice, members of the Council in the Chamber, voters at a meeting of the Assembly, and any other gathering of citizens whatever it may be. By the exercise of this ability you will have the doctor and the trainer as your slaves, and your man of business will turn out to be making money not for himself but for another; for you, in fact, who have the ability to speak and to convince the masses.
SOCRATES, Now, Gorgias, I think that you have defined with great precision what you take the art of oratory to be, and, if I understand you aright, you are saying that oratory is productive of conviction, and that this is the be-all and end-all of its whole activity. Or have you some further power to ascribe to oratory beyond that of producing conviction in the souls of its hearers? GORGIAS, No, Socrates; the definition which you have given seems to be quite adequate; that is the main point about oratory."(8)
Whilst Greek culture developed the use of sculpture poetry buildings and music it was Julius Caesar that was, perhaps, the worlds first master propagandist. Imperial Rome, with its lavish processions, its use of symbols of power and its use of legend was an early form of the propaganda state. "veni vidi vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered) was an early propaganda slogan still remembered until today.
The development of propaganda was furthered by the rise of Christianity. In fact, the word propaganda originated from the Latin "congregation de propaganda fide"translated as congregation for propagating the faith of the Roman Catholic church. Christianity utilized a masterful use of images and emotion to ensure that its message was seen and remembered. The use of parables provided a powerful and emotional message that was easily comprehended. The symbols of Christianity: the virgin child, the lion, the lamb and the cross (replacing the symbol of the fish) ensured a continuity of the faith.
If propaganda only came of age with the development of mass media, the development of printing press provided an important benchmark in the evolution of mass media. It is only in the eighteenth century which witnessed further development in printing and paper making that it became increasingly possible to disseminate messages to a mass audience. Pictures and drawings overcame problems of literacy. The 'political cartoonist' was to come of age.
In this century of ideological revolution, the need for propaganda became increasingly more apparent. The high literacy rate in America facilitated the propagandists in their endeavor. The newspaper was soon to become an invaluable tool in their armory. The so called "Boston Massacre" (1870) was perhaps, the first media story and provided the impetus for numerous media attacks.
Politicians became interested in propaganda as a political weapon as democracy, and democratic institutions developed. Yet it was only in the later 19th century and early twentieth century that the means of mass communication sufficiently developed and with it a mass society.
Modern propaganda techniques came of age with the First World War. For the first time it became necessary not only to mobilize a whole nation behind a common cause, but also to instill hatred of an enemy whilst retaining domestic support a war effort. The use of atrocity story and the accusations of massacres and mutilation were commonly used. The German, was depicted as barbaric in nature, "a Hun", inhumane and readily executing women and children. The sinking of Lusitania (7.5.1915) by a German U-boat and the loss of over one thousand lives reinforced increasingly hostile attitudes to German and epitomised for the propagandist Germany's barbarity..
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 necessitated a powerful propaganda network to spread an ideological message.
"But if "we" desire to be front-rank democrats, we must make it our concern to direct the thoughts of those who are dissatisfied only with conditions at the university, or in the Zemstvo, etc., to the idea that the entire political system is worthless. We must take upon ourselves the task or organizing an all-round political struggle under the leadership of our Party in such a manner as to make it possible for all oppositional strata to render their fullest support to the struggle and to our Party. We must rain our Social-Democratic practical workers to become political leaders, able to guide all the manifestations of this all-round struggle, able at the right time to "dictate a positive program of action" for the aroused students, the disoffended elementary schoolteachers, etc., etc. For that reason, Martynov's assertion that "with regard to these, we can function merely in the negative role of exposers of abuses... we can only dissipate their hopes in various government commissions" is completely false."(9)
The newspaper, for example Iskra, became an important tool of the revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks however needed a propaganda medium that was visual in order to overcome language and cultural differences and revolutionary in itself. Whilst the poster provided a part solution, it was the cinema that provided a modern means of propaganda that could appeal to the audience in a crowd and on mass. It was technological, and symbolized progress. It was the appropriate propaganda form from the new machine age.
The success of Bolshevik propaganda was not lost on Nazi Germany. Hitler noted:
"If propaganda has imbued a whole people with an idea, the organisation can draw the consequences with a handful of men. Propaganda and organization, in other words, supporters and members, thus stand in a certain mutual relation. The better the propaganda has worked, the smaller the organisation can be; and the larger the number of supporters, the more modest the number of members can be; and vice versa: the poorer the propaganda is, the larger the organization must be, and the smaller the host of followers of a movement remains, the more extensive the number of its members must be, if it still hopes to count on any success at all."(10)
The impact and organization of Nazi propaganda will be discussed in a later lecture. Yet as allied troops liberated the death camps, the influence of propaganda, its ability to direct and channel hatred became clear through the emaciated figures of the survivors of Nazism. Propaganda closes minds, education opens them. My purpose in this course in the study of propaganda is to limit it pernicious affects.
1.DREINCOURT J., 'La Propaganda Nouveille force politique'; Paris 1950 p.18. Quoted in R. Taylor "Film Propaganda - Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany'; Croomhelm, London 1989; p.19
2.TAYLOR R., Ibid; pp.20-21
3.HUXLEY A., 'Notes on Propaganda'; Harpers Monthly Magazine, Vol. 234; Decenber 1936, p.34-39; Quoted R. Taylor Ibid, p.23
4.QUALTER T.N., 'Propaganda and Psychological Warfare'; New York Random House, 1962, p.12. Quoted in JOWETT G.S. & O'DONNELL V., 'Propaganda and Persuasion'; SAGE Publications, England 1986; p.16
5.JOWETT G.S. & O'DONNELL V., Ibid; p.16
6.See JOWETT G.S. & O'DONNELL V., Ibid; pp. 17-19; for a further explanation of these three forms of propaganda
8.'Plato. Gorgias'; Penguin Classics, 1985; p0.25
9.LENIN, I., 'What is to be done"; Central Books, London; 1978; 0.85
10.HITLER, A., 'Mein Kampf'; Hutchinson, 1985; p.530