And neither five nor three
The heart of man has long been sore
And long ‘tis like to be.
– A.E. Houseman, Last Poems, xxv
Propaganda is a planted lie designed as a means to the end of power. Lies create a false reality, and propaganda is intended to form the illusion that two and two are no longer four. This false perception of reality is designed to provoke specific responses of emotion that will be strong enough to lead to actions that will have consequences the propagandist can use to gain power.
Lie → Responses → Actions → Consequences → Power
Propaganda is an illusion for power.
You can still find the word propaganda used in a neutral sense and taking on a benign or malignant meaning from its context, but after its use during the 20th century, the word has become tainted in its implications, and I won’t be using it within a positive framework.
The Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA) was established in the United States in 1937 because of concern over increasing propaganda within the country:
…for the purpose of assisting the public to detect and analyze propaganda. The IPA conducted research into the methods by which public opinion is influenced, published analyses of current problems, and promoted the establishment of study groups in public schools for detecting propaganda. It published a monthly bulletin, Propaganda Analysis, from 1937 to 1941. The organization was dormant during World War II and in 1950 all formal operations ceased.
In a 1939 publication, the IPA wrote:
If American citizens are to have a clear understanding of conditions and what to do about them, they must be able to recognize propaganda, to analyze it, and to appraise it. They must be able to discover whether it is propaganda in line with their own interests and the interests of our civilization or whether it is propaganda that may distort our views and threaten to undermine our civilization.
Propaganda more than ever is an instrument of aggression, a new means for rendering a country defenseless in the face of an invading army. While it has been used in a halting way for centuries, within the past few years we have seen it prepare the way for Hitler to seize the Saar, Austria, the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia. It is called a new instrument of aggression because development has given it an effectiveness never before experienced in the history of the world.
Never before has there been so much propaganda. Never before have there been so many propagandas of such great importance to the lives of all of us. And never before have there been such powerfully implemented propagandas. The modern news-gathering systems of the newspapers and the gigantic radio broadcasting facilities of the world have made the chief differences, but refinements in propagandist methods have kept pace.
As generally understood, propaganda is opinion expressed for the purpose of influencing actions of individuals or groups. More formally, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis has defined propaganda as “expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups deliberately designed to influence opinions or actions of other individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends.”
In the eyes of some sophisticates, the IPA’s work is now considered simplistic, but it provides an excellent basis for building understanding of propaganda, and I will be quoting their key definitions. The IPA’s hammer and nails have lain forgotten and unused, but even these ‘simplistic’ tools can render harmless much of today’s propaganda.
Propaganda is a planted lie used to shape a perception of reality. The propagandist never stops at swaying the individual. Persuasion is not his final goal. Propaganda is an illusion designed to make the first domino fall in a cascade of events with planned consequences that will be a means to the end of power.
Propaganda is an llusion for power.
Helen MacInnes, Neither Five Nor Three. Poem via America’s Marxist Media by David B. Jenkins.
“The Fine Art Of Propaganda; A Study of Father Coughlin’s Speeches” by The Institute for Propaganda Analysis, Edited by Alfred McClung Lee & Elizabeth Briant Lee, and published in 1939 by Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York via Phil Taylor’s Web Site, The Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds, UK.