Propaganda: Heart of Darkness

Reading through sections on propaganda in Mein Kampf, you find Hitler methodically laying out how to deceive and manipulate people so they believe and act as desired. He writes without concern for the impact of lies on neither those who were the objects nor the subjects of propaganda. His dispassionate approach is chilling because there is such a total disconnect between that analytical lecture and the unleashed evil you know is coming.

Hitler considered propaganda to be a weapon. More than that, he called it a spiritual weapon, and a weapon of the first order. As he evaluated World War I, in the chapter, “War Propaganda,” he wrote:

“If those in what are called positions of authority had realized this there would have been no uncertainty about the form and employment of war propaganda as a weapon; for it is nothing but a weapon, and indeed a most terrifying weapon in the hands of those who know how to use it

“The situation is the same in regard to what we understand by the word, propaganda. The purpose of propaganda is not the personal instruction of the individual, but rather to attract public attention to certain things, the importance of which can be brought home to the masses only by this means.

“Here the art of propaganda consists in putting a matter so clearly and forcibly before the minds of the people as to create a general conviction regarding the reality of a certain fact, the necessity of certain things and the just character of something that is essential. But as this art is not an end in itself and because its purpose must be exactly that of the advertisement poster, to attract the attention of the masses and not by any means to dispense individual instructions to those who already have an educated opinion on things or who wish to form such an opinion on grounds of objective study–because that is not the purpose of propaganda, it must appeal to the feelings of the public rather than to their reasoning powers...

“The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses….

“…all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward…the greater the scope of the message that has to be presented, the more necessary it is for the propaganda to discover that plan of action which is psychologically the most efficient…”

You may have heard of propaganda using the Big Lie. In “Why the Second Reich Collapsed,” Hitler explained:

“…All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true in itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying…”

There is darkness at the heart of this malevolent process, because in its core of lies and deception, it echoes the father of lies. It’s a weapon formed by lies with the intent to attack through deception in order to enslave the soul of its listeners. Jesus told the Pharisees,

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Hitler’s description of propaganda as a spiritual weapon is intriguing. It reminds me of the quip that you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. It also reminds me that Christians have our own set of armor and a weapon given to us by God, so that we can destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to Christ.

Learning about propaganda isn’t simply a matter of attaining knowledge and analytical ability, it’s also a matter of growing in wisdom and discernment. A heart that fears the Lord is the best protection from propaganda and its heart of darkness.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf. Translated by James Murphy. Quotes retrieved 02/03–04/2016.

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