Propaganda  

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Cover of the catalogue of the Nazi "Degenerate Art Exhibition" (1937). The exhibition was held to defame modern and Jewish artists. On the cover is Der Neue Mensch sculpture by Otto Freundlich.
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Cover of the catalogue of the Nazi "Degenerate Art Exhibition" (1937). The exhibition was held to defame modern and Jewish artists. On the cover is Der Neue Mensch sculpture by Otto Freundlich.
Cover of the brochure of the "Entartete Musik exhibition
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Cover of the brochure of the "Entartete Musik exhibition

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people. Instead of impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. The most effective propaganda is often completely truthful, but some propaganda presents facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience.

Contents

History

Ancient propaganda

Propaganda has been a human activity as far back as reliable recorded evidence exists. The Behistun Inscription (c. 515 BC) detailing the rise of Darius I to the Persian throne is viewed by most historians as an early example of propaganda. The Arthashastra written by Chanakya (c. 350 - 283 BC), a professor of political science at Takshashila University and a prime minister of the Maurya Empire in ancient India, discusses propaganda in detail, such as how to spread propaganda and how to apply it in warfare. His student Chandragupta Maurya (c. 340 - 293 BC), founder of the Maurya Empire, employed these methods during his rise to power. The writings of Romans such as Livy (c. 59 BC - 17 AD) are considered masterpieces of pro-Roman propaganda. Another example of early propaganda is the 12th century work, The War of the Irish with the Foreigners, written by the Dál gCais to portray themselves as legitimate rulers of Ireland.

The Papal Belvedere[1]|“HIC OSCULA PEDIBUS PAPAE FIGUNTUR.” “Kissing the Pope’s feet.” (1545). German peasants respond to a papal bull of Pope Paul III. From a series of woodcuts by Lucas Cranach commissioned by Martin Luther usually referred to as the Papstspotbilder or Papstspottbilder.

Caption reads: “Nicht Bapst: nicht schreck uns mit deim ban, Und sey nicht so zorniger man. Wir thun sonst ein gegen wehre, Und zeigen dirs Bel vedere.” "Don’t frighten us Pope, with your ban, and don’t be such a furious man. Otherwise we shall turn away and show you our rears."

Propaganda during the Reformation

Propaganda during the Reformation

Propaganda during the Reformation, helped by the spread of the printing press throughout Europe, and in particular within Germany, caused new ideas, thoughts, and doctrine to be made available to the public in ways that had never been seen before the sixteenth century. The printing press was invented in approximately 1450 and quickly spread to other major cities around Europe; by the time the Reformation was underway in 1517 there were printing centers in over 200 of the major European cities. These centers became the primary producers of both Reformation works by the Protestant Reformers and anti-Reformation works put forth by the Roman Catholics.

19th and 20th centuries

Gabriel Tarde's Laws of Imitation (1890) and Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1897) were two of the first codifications of propaganda techniques, which influenced many writers afterward, including Sigmund Freud. Hitler's Mein Kampf is heavily influenced by Le Bon's theories. Journalist Walter Lippmann, in Public Opinion (1922) also worked on the subject, as well as the American advertising pioneer and founder of the field of public relations Edward Bernays, a nephew of Freud, who wrote the book Propaganda early in the 20th century.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson hired Lippmann and Bernays to participate in the Creel Commission, which was to sway popular opinion in favor of entering the war on the side of the United Kingdom. The Creel Committee provided themes for speeches by "four-minute men" at public functions, and also encouraged censorship of the American press. Starting after World War I, propaganda had a growing negative connotation. This was due in part to the 1920 book “How We Advertised America: the First Telling of the Amazing Story of the Committee on Public Information that Carried the Gospel of Americanism to Every Corner of the Globe” in which the impact of the Creel Committee, and the power of propaganda, was overemphasized. The Committee was so unpopular that after the war, Congress closed it down without providing funding to organize and archive its papers.

The war propaganda campaign of Lippmann and Bernays produced within six months such an intense anti-German hysteria as to permanently impress American business (and Adolf Hitler, among others) with the potential of large-scale propaganda to control public opinion. Bernays coined the terms "group mind" and "engineering consent", important concepts in practical propaganda work. The file Century of the Self by Adam Curtis documents the immense influence of these ideas on public relations and politics throughout the last century.

The current public relations industry is a direct outgrowth of Lippmann's and Bernays' work and is still used extensively by the United States government. For the first half of the 20th century Bernays and Lippmann themselves ran a very successful public relations firm. World War II saw continued use of propaganda as a weapon of war, both by Hitler's propagandist Joseph Goebbels and the British Political Warfare Executive, as well as the United States Office of War Information.

In the early 2000s, the United States government developed and freely distributed a video game known as America's Army. The stated intention of the game is to encourage players to become interested in joining the U.S. Army.

Russian revolution

Russian revolutionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries distinguished two different aspects covered by the English term propaganda. Their terminology included two terms: Template:Lang-ru (agitatsiya), or agitation, and Template:Lang-ru, or propaganda, see agitprop (agitprop is not, however, limited to the Soviet Union, as it was considered, before the October Revolution, to be one of the fundamental activities of any Marxist activist; this importance of agit-prop in Marxist theory may also be observed today in Trotskyist circles, who insist on the importance of leaflet distribution).

Soviet propaganda meant dissemination of revolutionary ideas, teachings of Marxism, and theoretical and practical knowledge of Marxist economics, while agitation meant forming favorable public opinion and stirring up political unrest. These activities did not carry negative connotations (as they usually do in English) and were encouraged. Expanding dimensions of state propaganda, the Bolsheviks actively used transportation such as trains, aircraft and other means.

Joseph Stalin's regime built the largest fixed-wing aircraft of the 1930s, Tupolev ANT-20, exclusively for this purpose. Named after the famous Soviet writer Maxim Gorky who had recently returned from fascist Italy, it was equipped with a powerful radio set called "Voice from the sky", printing and leaflet-dropping machinery, radio stations, photographic laboratory, film projector with sound for showing movies in flight, library, etc. The aircraft could be disassembled and transported by railroad if needed. The giant aircraft set a number of world records.

Nazi Germany

Nazi propaganda

Most propaganda in Germany was produced by the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Joseph Goebbels was placed in charge of this ministry shortly after Hitler took power in 1933. All journalists, writers, and artists were required to register with one of the Ministry's subordinate chambers for the press, fine arts, music, theatre, film, literature, or radio.

The Nazis believed in propaganda as a vital tool in achieving their goals. Adolf Hitler, Germany's Führer, was impressed by the power of Allied propaganda during World War I and believed that it had been a primary cause of the collapse of morale and revolts in the German home front and Navy in 1918 (see also: Dolchstoßlegende). Hitler met nearly every day with Goebbels to discuss the news, and Goebbels would obtain Hitler's thoughts on the subject. Goebbels then met with senior Ministry officials to pass down the official Party line on world events. Broadcasters and journalists required prior approval before their works were disseminated. Along with posters, the Nazis produced a number of films and books to spread their beliefs. Artists deemed irreplaceble where included in Goebbel's Gottbegnadeten list (people such as Marika Rokk and Johannes Heesters). Leni Riefenstahl was arguably the most famous director from the era.


The United States and the Soviet Union both used propaganda extensively during the Cold War. Both sides used film, television, and radio programming to influence their own citizens, each other, and Third World nations. The United States Information Agency operated the Voice of America as an official government station. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which were, in part, supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, provided grey propaganda in news and entertainment programs to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union respectively. The Soviet Union's official government station, Radio Moscow, broadcast white propaganda, while Radio Peace and Freedom broadcast grey propaganda. Both sides also broadcast black propaganda programs in periods of special crises.

In 1948, the United Kingdom's Foreign Office created the IRD (Information Research Department), which took over from wartime and slightly post-war departments such as the Ministry of Information and dispensed propaganda via various media such as the BBC and publishing.

The ideological and border dispute between the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China resulted in a number of cross-border operations. One technique developed during this period was the "backwards transmission," in which the radio program was recorded and played backwards over the air. (This was done so that messages meant to be received by the other government could be heard, while the average listener could not understand the content of the program.)

When describing life in capitalist countries, in the US in particular, propaganda focused on social issues such as poverty and anti-union action by the government. Workers in capitalist countries were portrayed as "ideologically close". Propaganda claimed rich people from the US derived their income from weapons manufacturing, and claimed that there was substantial racism or neo-fascism in the US.

When describing life in Communist countries, western propaganda sought to depict an image of a citizenry held captive by governments that brainwash them. The West also created a fear of the East, by depicting an aggressive Soviet Union. In the Americas, Cuba served as a major source and a target of propaganda from both black and white stations operated by the CIA and Cuban exile groups. Radio Habana Cuba, in turn, broadcast original programming, relayed Radio Moscow, and broadcast The Voice of Vietnam as well as alleged confessions from the crew of the USS Pueblo.

George Orwell's novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four are virtual textbooks on the use of propaganda. Though not set in the Soviet Union, these books are about totalitarian regimes that constantly corrupt language for political purposes. These novels were, ironically, used for explicit propaganda. The CIA, for example, secretly commissioned an animated film adaptation of Animal Farm in the 1950s with small changes to the original story to suit its own needs.

Revolution in Central and Eastern Europe

During the democratic revolutions of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe the propaganda poster was an important weapon in the hand of the opposition. Printed and hand-made political posters appeared on the Berlin Wall, on the statue of St. Wenceslas in Prague and around the unmarked grave of Imre Nagy in Budapest and the role of them was important for the democratic change.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Propaganda" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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