Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes

by Jacques Ellul; author of The Technological Society, translated from the French by Konrad Kellen and Jean Lerner, with an introduction by Konrad Kellen; Vintage Books, a division of Random House, New York, 1965

This information is being sent out and otherwise shared with people, free of charge, in order to alert and inform, in solidarity with Ellul's stated premise of being *in defense of man*; basically, the excellence of people before they are coercively subordinated to institutionalized alienation and the techniques of social control.

([Note: due to my disagreement with Ellul on the merits of holding "the technological society" to blame for the birth of propaganda--and would rather he spoke more directly of the actual problem--alienation, and it's notable rise before modern or even historical technology--I'm keeping his more superficial views to a minimum. I agree with Noam Chomsky that technology--or tools--don't necessarily and automatically *use* us; the resulting tendency of using technology may be to tool us towards alienation, but this may not always be a constant, especially when we are acquainted with important insights like Ellul's earlier book for which he is more famous (at least in anarchist and leftist circles): The Technological Society.])

from the introduction:
"Jacques Ellul's view of propaganda and his approach to the study of propaganda are new. The principal difference between his thought edifice and most other literature on propaganda is that Ellul regards propaganda as a socialogical phenomenon [resulting from our technological society] rather than as something made by certain people for certain purposes. (...)

"Most people are easy prey for propaganda, Ellul says, because of their firm but entirely erroneous conviction that it is composed only of lies and "tall stories" and that, conversely, what is true cannot be propaganda. But modern propaganda has long disdained the rediculous lies of past and outmoded forms of propaganda. It operates instead with many different kinds of truth--half truth, limited truth, truth out of context. (...)

"A second misconception that makes people vulnerable to propaganda is the notionthat it serves only to change opinions. That is one of its aims, but a limited, subordinate one. Much more importanly, it aims to intensify existing trends, to sharpen and focus them, and, above all, to lead men to action (or, when it is directed at immovable opponents, to non-actionthrough terror or discouragement, to prevent them from interfering). Therefore Ellul distinguishes various forms of propaganda and calls his book propagandes--the plural is one of the keys to his concept. The most trenchant distinction made by Ellul is between agitation propaganda and integration propaganda. The former leads men from mere resentment to rebellion; the latter aims at making them adjust themselves to desired patterns. Both exist all over the world. Integration propaganda is needed especially for the technological society to flourish, and its technological means--mass media among them--in turn make such integration propaganda possible.

A related point, central in Ellul's thesis, is that modern propaganda cannot work without "education"; he thus reversed the widespread notion that education is the best prophylactic against propaganda. On the contrary, he says, education or what usually goes by that word in the modern world, is the absolute prerequisite for propaganda. In fact, education is largely identical with what Ellul calls "pre-propaganda"--the conditioniong of minds with vast amounts of incoherent information, already dispensed for ulterior purposeds and posing as "facts" and as "education." Ellul follows through by designating intellectuals as virtually the most vulnerable of all to modern propaganda, for three reasons: 1) they absorb the largest amount of secondhand, unverifiable information;
2) they feel a compelling need to have an opinionon every important question of our time, and thus easily succumb to opinions offered to them by propaganda on all such indigestible pieces of information;
3) they consider themselves capable of "judging for themselves." The literally need propaganda.

In fact, the need for propaganda on the part of the "propagandee" is one of the most powerful elements of Ellul's thesis. Cast out of the disintegrating microgroups of the past, such as [extended] family, church, or village, the individual is plunged into mass society and thrown back upon his own inadequate resources, his isolation, his loneliness, his ineffectuality. Propaganda then hands him in veritable abundance what he needs: a raison d'etre, persornal involvement and participationin important events, an outlet and excuse for some of his more doubtful impulses, righteousness--all factitious, to be sure, all more or less spurious; but he drinks it all in and asks for more. Without this intense collaboration by the propagandee the propagandist would be helpless.

Thus propaganda, by first creating pseudo-needs through "pre-propaganda" and then providing pseudo-satisfactions for them, is pernicious. Can wholesom propaganda be made for a wholesome cause? Can Democracy, Christianity, Humanism be propagated by modern propaganda techniques? Ellul traces the similarities among all propaganda efforts--Communist, Nazi, Democratic. He thinks that no one can use this intrinsically undemocratic weapon--or, rather, abandon himself to it--unscathed or without undergoing deep transformations in the process. He shows the inevitable, unwilled propaganda effects of which the "good" propagndist is unaware, the "fallout" from any major propaganda activity and all its pernicious consequences. Most pernicious of all: the process, once fully launched, tends to become irreversible.

Ellul critically reviews what most American authors have written onthe subject of propagnada and mass media, having studied the literature from Lasswell to Riesman with great thoroughness...Ellul believes that, on the whole, propaganda is much more effective, and effective inmany more ways, than most American analysis shoes....propaganda is a unique phenomenon that results from the totality of forces pressing in upon an individual and his society...

NOTE: Ellul, due to his writing in the early 1960s, leaves out the most recent phenomenon of propaganda Newspeak, where all *popular* persuasion is being instilled in college students as the still negatively conotative "propaganda" while persuasion from alleged "reputable" sources is merely "information."--ed

To make his many original points, Ellul never relies on statistics or quantification, which he heartily disdains, but on observation and logic. His treatise is a fully integrated structure of thought in which every piece fits in with all the others--be they a hundred pages apart.

...At the end of this book, Ellul...states that, in his view, propaganda is today a greater danger to mankind than any of the other more grandly advertised threats hanging over the human race. His super-analysis ends with a warning, not a prophesy.
Konrad Kellen, Ferbruary 1965.

Most of the preface, written by Ellul

Propaganda, by whatever name we may call it, has become a very general phenomenon in the modern world. Differences in political regimes matter little; differences in social levels are more important; and most important is national self-awareness [between three great propaganda blocs: the U.S.S.R., China, and the United States]. (...)

[(Ed's note: I can see this truth up to the early 1960s up through the 1980s; but in the 21st century, with the incoming of the *new world order* as Bush I called it, the importance of national self-awareness has taken a back-seet to differences in social levels--read Chomsky's analysis on the "new world order" and you may also come to this conclusion. For this reason, I'm skipping over this part of Ellul's analysis.)]

Whatever the diversity of countries and methods, they have one characteristic in common: concern with effectiveness. (1) Propaganda is made, first of all, because of a will to action, for the purpose of effectively arming policy and giving irresistible power to its decisions. (2) Whoever handles this instrument can be concerned solely with effectiveness. This is the supreme law, which must never be forgotten when the phenomenon of propaganda is analyzed. Inneffective propaganda is no propaganda. This instrument belongs to the technological universe [at a time, 1965, when technology, notably, was quite out of the hands of non-elites; thus the need for a deeper analysis in the year 2000+--ed], shares its characteristics, and is indissolubly linked to it.

note 1: [Nazi high official] Goebbels said: "We do not talk to say something, but to obtain a certain effect." And F.C. Bartlett accurately states that the goal of propaganda is not to increase political understanding of events, but to obtain results through action.

note 2: Harold D. Lasswell's definition of the goal of propaganda is accurate: "To maximize the power at home by subordinating groups and individuals, while reducing the material cost of power." Similarly, in war, propagnada is an attempt to win victory with a minimum of physical expense. Before the war, propaganda is a substitute for physical violence; during the war, it is a supplement to it.

Not only is propaganda itself a technique, it is also an indispensable condition for the development of technical progress and the establishment of a technological civilization***. And, as with all techniques, propaganda is subject to the law of efficiency. But whereas it is relatively easy to study a precise technique, wose scope can be defined, a study of propaganda runs into some extraordinary obstacles.

***While this information may be valuable for those persons wishing to block the rise of technological society in what is called the "3rd World", we can reasonably say that technological propagnada has won over most of the rest of the world, and is well established in the hearts and minds of most in the so-called "First and Second Worlds". I would thus promote that people realize the value of:
1) Looking at where the propaganda campaign has continued on and in which forms and
2) Looking at how we may demystify this meta game in steps which are not too far beyond the imaginations of those whose hearts and minds are now deeply tooled by the establishment of alienation (re: the technological society as it stands today, even with the advent of the Internet)

From the outset it is obvious that there is great uncertainty about the phenomenon itself, arising first of all froma priori moral or political concepts. Propaganda is usually regarded as an evil; this in itself makes a study difficult. To study anything porperly, one must put aside ethical judgments. Perhaps an objective study will lead us back to them, but only later, and with full cognizance of the facts.

A second source of confusion is the general conviction, derived from past experience, that propaganda consists mainly of "tall stories," disseminated by means of lies. To adopt this view is to prevent oneself from understanding anything about the actual phenomenon, which is very different from what it was in the past.

Even when these obstacles have been removed, it is still very difficult to determine what constitutes propaganda in our world and what the nature of propaganda is. This is because it is a secret action. The tempation is then twofold: to agree with Jacques Driencourt that "everything is propaganda" [(today's popular conception--ed)] because everything in the political or economic spheres seems to be penetrated and molded by this force; or, as certain modern American social scientists have done, to abandon the term propaganda altogether because it cannot be defined with any degree of precision. Either course is inadmissable intellectual surrender. To adopt either attitude would leade us to abandon the study of a phenomenon that exists and needs to be defined.

We then came up against the extreme difficulty of definition.
We can immediately discard such simplistic definitions as Marbury B. Ogle's: "Propaganda is any effort to change opinions or attitudes...The propagandist is anyone who communicates his ideas with the intent of influencing his listener." Such a definition would include the teacher, the priest, indeed any person conversing with another on any topic. [(No wonder, then, that today's thought control pushes this in the popular mind. How convenient to broadly wipe away illegitimate authority's complicity in one broad stroke!--ed)] Such a broad definition clearly does not help us to understand the specific character of propaganda.

As far as definitions are concerned, there has been a characteristic evolution in the United States. From 1920 to about 1933 the main emphasis was on the psychological: Propaganda is a manipulation of psychological symbols having goals of which the listener is not conscious. (3)

note 3: John Albig has named these elements of definition: the secret character of the sources and goals of propaganda; the intention to modify opinions; the dissemination of conclusions of doubtful validity; the notion of inculcating idas rather than explaining them. This is partially correct, but outdated.

Since the appearance of Lasswell's studies, propaganda by other means and with stated objectives has been considered possible. Attention then became focused on the intention of the propagandist. In more recent books, the aim to indoctrinate--particularly in regard to political, economic, and social matters--has been regarded as the hallmark of propaganda. Within this frame of reference one could determine what constitutes propaganda by looking at the propagandist--such and such a personis a propagandists, therefore his words and deeds are propaganda [(and therefore bad--ed)].

But it appears that American authors eventually accepted the definition given by the Institute of Propaganda Analysis and inspired by Lasswell:
"Propaganda is the expression of opinions or actions carried out deliberately by individuals or groups with a view to influencing the opinions or actions of other individuals or groups for predetermined ends and through psychological manipulations" (4)

note 4: The idea is often added that propaganda deals with "controversial questions in a group." More profound is Daniel Lerner's idea that propaganda is a means of altering power ratios in a group by modifying attitudes through manipulation of symbols. However, I am not entirely in agreement with the exclusively psychological character of this definition.

We could quote definitions for pages on end. [Author goes on to give short quotes from the Italian author, Antonio Miotto, the well-known American specialist Leonard W. Doob, and "even more remote definitions in German or Russian literature on the subject."]

I will not give a definition of my own heare. I only watned to show the uncertainty among specialists on the question. I consider it more useful to proceed with the analysis of the characteristics of propaganda as an existing socialogical phenomenon. It is perhaps proper to underline this term. We shall examine propaganda in both its past and present [(1965)] forms.

In my opinion, necessity never establishes legitimacy; the world of necessity is a world of weakness, a world that denies [the best of humanity]. To say that a phenomenon is necessary means, for me, that it denies man: its necessity is proof of its power, not of its excellence.

To study propaganda we must trun not to the psychologist, but to the propagandist; [(Thomas Szasz might protest, as he shows that psychology and psychiatry are, as a rule, full of scientific and religious-like propagnda)] we must examine not a test group, but a whole nation subjected to real and effective propaganda. Of course this excludes all so-called scientific (that is, statistical) types of study, but at least we shall have respected the object of our study--unlike many present -day specialists who establish a rigorous method of observation,but, in order to apply it, lose the object to be studied. Rather, we shall consider what the nature of propaganda is wherever it is applied and wherever it is dominated by a concern for effectiveness.

Finally, we take the term propaganda in its broadest sense, so that it embraces the following areas:

Psychological action: The propagandist seeks to modify opinions by purely psychological means; most often he pursues a semi-educative objective and addresses himelf to his fellow citizens.
Psychological warfare: Here the propagandist is dealing with a foreign [(and domestic, illustrated by war on American Indians and f.b.i.'s once illegal COINTELPRO--ed)] adversary whose morale he seeks to destroy by psychological means so that the opponent begins to doubt the validity of his beliefs and actions. (5)

note 5: Maurice Megret's analysis distinguishes three parts: a propaganda agency (support of military operations); a politico-military action (to insure the submission of the population by technical, non-violent means); a coherent thought system.

Re-education and brainwashing: Complex methods of transforming an adversary into an ally which can be used only on prisoners. [(notably, such "allies" are often viewed only as tools which can be and have been thrown away or turned on when such weighed interests are served--ed)]

Public and human relations: These must necessarily be included in propaganda. This statement may shock some readers, but we shall show that these activities are propaganda because they seek to adapt the individual to a society,to a living standard, to an activity. They serve to make him conform, which is the aim of all propaganda. [(Jerome Agel's 1970s book, Rough Change: Therapy Means Liberation Not Adjustment comes to my mind here; as well as the value of the public and private schools in the indoctrination of our most trusting and unprepared--ed)]

Propaganda in its broad sense includes all of these. In the narrow sense it is characterized by an institutional quality. In propaganda we find techniques of psychological influence combined with techniques of organization and the envelopment of people with the intention of sparking action. This, then, will be the broad field of our inquiry.

From the complete universe of propaganda I have delibereately excluded the following subjects found in most propaganda studies:
Historical accounts...particularly...1914 or 1940, and so forth.
Propaganda in public opinion as an entity, considering public opinion, its formation, and so forth, as the major problem, and propaganda as a simple instrument for forming or changing opinion as the minor problem.
Psychological foundations...On what prejudices, drives, motivations, passions, complexes, does the propagandist play? What psychic force does he utilize to obtain his results?
The techniques...How does the propagandist put the psychic force into action, how can he reach people, how can he induce them to act?
The media of propaganda: the mass media of communication.

[(Editor's note: important authors on the topic of propaganda of which I'm aware of include Christopher Simpson on psychological warfare from 1945-1960 and Noam Chomsky on the public relations industry, specifically in his online book Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Socieites(see his archive with Also the rare find, Alex Carey is supposed to be worth the effort, but I've yet to find his work even tho Chomsky gave him a major plug. See also the Reporter's Collective on psychological warfare at: )]

Such are the five chapter headings found everywhere. Somewhat less common are studies on the characteristics of the great examples of propaganda: Hitlerite, Stalinist, American, and so on. These are omitted here precisely because they have been frequently analyzed. The reader will find in the bibliography all that is useful to know on each of these quetions. I have instead tried to examine aspects of propaganda very rarely treated--to adopt a point of view, a perspective, an unorthodox view. I have sought to use a method that is neither abstract nor statistical, but occasionally relies on existing studies.The reader should know that he is not dealing with an Encyclopedia of Propaganda, but with a work that assumes his familiarity with its psychological foundations, techniques, and methods, and that endeavors to bring contemporary man a step closer to an awareness of propaganda--the very phenomenon that conditions and regulates him

On the other hand, I have considered propaganda as a whole. It is usual to pass ethical judgments on its ends, judgments that then dedound on propaganda considered as a means, such as: Because democracy is good and dictatorship bad, prpaganda serving a democracy is good even if as a technique it is identical with propaganda serving a dictatorship. Or, because Socialism is good and Fascism bad, propaganda is not altogether evil in the hands of Socialists, but is totally evil in Fascist hands (6). I repudiate this attitude. Propaganda as a phenomenon is essentially the same inChina or the Soviet Union or the United States or Algeria. Techniques tend to align themsevles with one another. The media of dissemination may be more or less perfected, more or less directly used, just as organizations may be more or less effective, but that does not change the heart of the problem: those who accept the principle of propaganda and decide to utilize it will inevitably employ themost effective organization and methods. (7) Moreover, the premise of this book is that propaganda, no matter who makes it--be he the most upright and best-intentioned of men--has certain identical results in Communism or Hitlerism or Western democracy, inevitable results on the individual or groups, and different from the doctrine promulgated, or the regime supported, by that propaganda. In other words, Hitlerism as a regime had certain effects, and the propaganda used by the Nazis undeniably had certain specific characteristics. But whereas most analysts stop at this specificity, I have tried to eliminate it in order to look only at the mot general characteristics, the effects common to all cases, to all methods of propaganda. Therefore I have adopted the same perspective and the same method in studying propaganda as in studying any other technique.

note 6: This what Serge Tchakhotin claims.
note 7: As Megret has said, the officers in Indochina who came in contact with North Vietnamese propaganda had an "over-all political view" that substituted itself for the "fragmented use of the technical means" of propaganda; all this is part of the progression from old ideas to new phenomena.

I shall dvote much space to the fact that propaganda has become an inescapable necessity for everyone [(path of least resistance has become institutionalized, at least amongst elites vying for power in the Left, Right, Center, and margins, apparently--ed)]. In this connection I have come upon a source of much misunderstanding. Modern man worships "facts"--that is, he accepts "facts" as the ultimate reality. He is convinced that what is, is good.He believes that facts in themselves provide evidence and proof, and he willingly subordinates values to them; he obeys what he believes to be necessity, which he somehow connects with the idea of progress. This stereotyped ideological attitude ineviably results in a confusion between judgments of probability and judgments of value. Because fact is the sole criterion, it must be good.

[(editor's note: if you recall the Leftist penchance to propaganda on the comment of George Bush I, where he says: "I don't care what the facts are" in regard to his 'patriotism' to his country, then you can get a better grasp of the awareness of the meta gamers--re: Bush-- who know that there is more to the game than mere facts; unlike the masses, where such meta concepts escape them. Same also with the use of facts without honesty-oreinted contexts.)] (...)
As we proceed to analyze the developement of propaganda, to consider its inescapable influence in the modern world and its connection with all structures of our society, the reader will be tempted to see an approval of propaganda. Because propaganda is presented as a necessity, such a work would therefore force the author to make propaganda, to foster it, to intensify it. I want to emphasize that nothing is further from my mind; such an assumption is possible only by those who worship facts and power. In my opinion, necessity never establishes legitimacy; the world of necessity is a world of weakness, a world that denies [the best of humanity]. To say that a phenomenon is necessary means, for me, that it denies man: its necessity is proof of its power, not of its excellence.

" I insist that to give such warning is an act in the defense of man, that I am not judging propaganda with Olympian detachment, and that having suffered, felt, and analyzed the impact of the power of propaganda on myself, having been time and again, and still being, the object of propaganda, I want to speak of it as a meance..."

However, confronted by a necessity, man must become aware of it, if he is to master it. As long as man denies the inevitability of a phenomenon, as long as he avoids facing up to it, he will go astray. He willdelude himself, by submitting in fact to "necessity" while pretending that he is free "in spite of it," and simply because he claims to be free. Only when he realizes his delusion will he experience the beginning of genuine freedom--in the act of realization itself--be it only from the effort to stand back and look squarely at the phenomenon and reduce it to raw fact.

The force of propaganda is a direct attack against man. The question is to determine how great is the danger. Most replies are based on unconscious a priori dogmas. Thus the Communists, who do not believe in human nature but only in the human condition, believe that propaganda is all-powerful, legitimate (whenever they employ it), and instrumental in creating a new type of man. American sociologists scientifically try to play down the effectiveness of propaganda because they cannot accept the idea that the individual--the cornerstone of democracy--can be so fragile; and because they retain their ultimate trust in man. Personally, I too, tend to believe in the pre-eminence of man and, consequently, in his invincibility. Nevertheless, as I observe the facts, I realize man is terribly malleable, uncertain of himself, ready to accept and to follow many suggestions, and is tossed about by all the winds of doctrine. But when, in the course of these pages, I shall reveal the full power of propaganda against man, when I advance to the very threshold of showing the most profound changes in his personality, it does not mean I am anti-democratic.

The strength of propaganda reveals, of course, one of the most dangerous flaws of democracy. But this has nothing to do with my own opinions. If I am in favor of democracy, I can only regret that propaganda renders the true exercise of it almost impossible. But I think it would be even worse to entertain any illusions about a coe-existence of true democracy and propaganda. Nothing is worse in times of danger than to live in a dream world. To warn a political system of the meance hanging over it does not imply an attack against it, but is the greatest service one can render the system. The same goes for man: to warn him of his weakness is not to attempt to destroy him, but rather to encourage him to strengthen himself. I have no sympathy with the haughty aristocratic intellectual who judges from on high, believing himself invulnerable to the destructive forces of his time, and disdainfully considers the common people as cattle to be manipulated, to be molded by the action of propaganda in the most intimate aspects of their being. I insist that to give such warning is an act in the defense of man, that I am not judging propaganda with Olympian detachment, and that having suffered, felt, and analyzed the impact of the power of propaganda on myself, having been time and again, and still being, the object of propaganda, I want to speak of it as a meance which threatens the total personality.

In order to delineate the real dimensions of propaganda we must always consider it within the context of civilization. Perhaps the most fundamental defect of most studies made on the subject is their attempt to analyze propaganda as an isolated phenomenon. This corresponds to the rather prevalent attitude that separates socio-political phenomena from each other and of not establishing any correlation between parts, an attitude that in turn, reassures the student of the validity of the various systems. Democracy, for example, is studied as it the citizen were an entity separate from the State, as if public opinion were a "thing in itself"; meanwhile, the scientific study of public opinion and propaganda is left to other specialists, and the specialist in public opinion in turn relies on the jurist to define a suitable legal framework for democracy. The problems of the technological society are studied without reference to their possible influence on mental and emotional life; the labor movement is examined without attention to the changes brought about by psychological means, and so on.

(Note:authors like Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend write in depth about the poly-tricks of scientific *method* itself, and such may be valuable in addition to Ellul, here--ed)

Again, I want to emphasize that the study of propaganda must be conducted within the context of the technological society. Propaganda is called upon to solve problems created by technology, to play on maladjustments, and to integrate the individual into a technological world. Propaganda is a good deal less the politcal weapon of a regime (it is that also) than the effect of a technological society that embraces the entire man and tends to be a completely integrated society. At the present time [(1965, and surely continuing--ed)], propagnada is the innermost, and most elusive, manifestation of this trend. Propaganda must be seen as situated at the center of the growing powers of the State and governmental and administrative techniques. People keep saying: "Everything depends on what kind of a State makes use of propaganda." But if we really have understood the technological State, such a statement becomes meaningless. In the midst of increasing mechanization and technological organization, propaganda is simply the means used to prevent these things from being felt as too oppressive and to persuade man to submit with good grace. When man will be fully adapted to this technological society, when he will end by obeying with enthusiasm, convinced of the excellence of what he is forced to do, the constraint of the organization will no longer be felt by him; the truth is, it will no longer be a constraint, and the police will have nothing to do [(except when their interest groups help create new enemies and new illegalities--ed)]. The civic and technolgical goodwill and the enthusiasm for the right social myths--both created by propaganda--will finally have solved the problem of man.

Jacques Ellul, 1962
[(Note: Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World--REVISITED, his companion book to the famous novel, goes into more depth on these end topics, especially around page 21.)]

From the Contents, parts I'm including excerpts from here: Chapter 1: The Characteristics of Propaganda section 3: Political Propaganda and Sociological Propaganda Propaganda of Agitation and Propaganda of Integration Vertical and Horizontal Propaganda Rational and Irrational Propaganda

Chapter IV: Psychological Crystallization Alienation through Propaganda (...) Creation of the Need for Propaganda (...) Section 1: Propaganda and Ideology (...) The New Relationship

Section 3: Propaganda and Grouping The Partitioning of Groups (...) Section 4: Propaganda and Democracy Democracy's Need for Propaganda Democratic Propaganda (...) Effects of Internal Propaganda (...) Appendix I--Effectiveness of Propaganda Section 2: Ineffectiveness of Propaganda Section 4: The Limits of Propaganda Appendix II--Mao Tse-Tung's Propaganda Section 2: Since 1949 Education Encirclement

Excerpts from the main text

from The Characteristics of Propaganda, Chapter 1

True modern propaganda can only function within the context of the modern scientific system. But what is it? Many observers look upon propaganda as a collection of "gimmicks" and of more or less serious practices (1). And psychologists and sociologists very often reject the scientific character of these p ractices. For our part, we completely agree that propaganda is a technique rather than a science (2). But it is a modern technique--that is, it is based on one or more branches of science. Propaganda is the expression of these branches of science; it moves with them, shares their successes, and bears witness to their failures. The time is past when propaganda was a matter of individual inspiration,personal subtlety, or the use of unsophisticated tricks. Now science has entered propaganda, as we shall reveal from four different points of view.
Note 1: Most French psychologists and psycho-sociologists do not regard propaganda as a serious practice or as having much influence [in 1965].

Note 2: In this connection Albig is right to stress that propaganda cannot be a science because in the field in which it applies there can be neither valid generalizations nor constant factors.

First of all, modern propaganda is based on scientific analyses of psychology and sociology. Setp by step, the propagandist builds his techniques on the basis of his knowledge of man, his tendencies, his desires, his needs, his psychic mechanisms, his conditioning--and as much on social psychology as ondepth psychology. He shapes his procedures on the basis of our knowledge of groups and their laws of formation and dissolution, of mass influences, and of environmental limitations. Without the scientific research of modern psychology and sociology there would be no propaganda, or rather we still would be in the primitive stages of propaganda that existed in the time of Pericles or Augustus.
[(For purposes of internet readability, I'm going to break his longer paragraphs up some more, and follow the more recent trend of getting away from his days of long paragraphs--ed)]

Of course, propagandists may be insufficiently versed in these branches of science; they may misunderstand them, go beyond the cautious conclusions of the psychologists, or claim to apply certain psychological dicoveries that, in fact, do not apply at all. But all this only shows efforts to find new ways: oly for the past fifty years [in 1962] have men sought to apply the psychological and sociological sciences. The important thing is that propaganda has decided to submit itself to science and to make use of it.

Of course, psychologists may be scandalized and say that this is a misuse of their science. But this argument carries no weight; the same applies to our physicists and the atomic bomb. The scientist should know that he lives in a world in which his discoveries will be utilized. (...) last trait reveals the scientific character of modern propaganda: the increasing attempt to control its use, measure its results, define its effects. ...He wants to understand the how and why of them and measure their exact effect. ([note: I wonder if the media's close observation of audiences watching movies, such as one called "Happiness" is an example; where commissars--those whom've internalized the values of propaganda--do the most valuable groundwork, similar to college students submitting their energies to the university--ed])

section 1: External Characteristics: The individual and the masses
Any modern propaganda will, first of all, address itself at one and the same time to the individual and to the masses. It cannot separate the two elements. For propaganda to address itself to the individual, in his isolation, apart from the crowd, is impossible. The individual is of no interest to the propagandist; as an isolated unit he presents much too much resistance to external action. To be effective, propaganda cannot be concerned with detail, not only because to win menover one by one takes much tooo long, but also because to create certain convictions inan isolated individual is much too difficult. (...)

...The most favorable moment to seize a man and influence him is when he is alone in the mass: it is at this point that propaganda can be most effective.

We must emphasize this circle which we shall meet again and again: the structure of present-day society places the individual where he is most easily reached by propaganda. The media of mass communication, which are part of the technical evolution of this society, deepenthis situationwhile makingit possible to reach the individual man, integrated in the mass; and what these media do is exactly what propaganda must do in order to attain its objectives. In reality propaganda cannot exist without using these mass media. If, by chance, propaganda is addressed to an organized group, it can have practically no effect on individuals before that group has been fragmented (3).

Total Propaganda
Propaganda must be total. The propagandist must utilize all of the technical means at his disposal--the press, radio, TV, movies, posters, meetings, door-to-door canvassing. Modern propaganda must utilize all of these media. There is no propaganda as long as one makes use, in sporadic fashion and at random,of a newspaper article here, a poster or a radio program there, organizes a few meetings and lectures, writes a few slogans on walls; that is not propaganda [of and by itself; it needs the systematic method of the techniques in the mainstream] ([yet another example of the pernicious attempt of recent--21st Century--attempts to push the idea that ALL persuasion by independents with comparably tiny resources is BAD/propaganda, while mainstream persuasion is Good/simply informational--ed])

note 3: Edward A. Shils and Morris Janowitz have demonstrated the importance of the group in the face of propaganda; the Germans, they claim, did not yield earlier in World War II because the various groups of their military structure held fast. Propaganda cannot do much when the social group has not disintegrated...See below, Appendix I.
from note 9: ...the public must be conditioned to accept the claims that are made.

Continuity and Duration of Propaganda
Propaganda must be continuous and lasting--continuous in that it must not leave any gaps, but must fill the citizen'swhole day and all his days....Propaganda tends to make the individual live in a separate world; he must not have outside points of reference. He must not be allowed a moment of meditation or reflection inwhich to see himself vis-a-vis the propagandist, as happens when the propagnda is not continuous. At that moment the individual emerges from the grip of propaganda...

The individual must not be allowed to recover, to collect himself, to remain untouched bypropaganda during any relatively long period, for propaganda is not the touch of a magic wand. It is based on slow, constant impregnation. It creates convictions and compliance through imperceptable influences that are effective only by continuous repetition. It must create a complete environment for the individual...The slow building up of reflexes and myths ([re: "reputable vs. disreputable" information, "professionalism", etc.--ed]), of psychological environment and prejudices, requires propaganda of a very long duration. ([re: being forced to trust in the value of Western professionals as with Africans in today's AIDS crisis, which could well be something similar to the introduction of Small Pox in blankets given to the American Indians as an extension of colonization and control desires. Another example: In the USA during the 1960s and '70s, people in pain being coerced to trust in psychiatrists and professionalized therapists when their traditional modes of help--independent organization--was in the midst of being broken down by COINTELPRO in the 1960s--ed])

Continuous propaganda exceeds the individual's capacities for attention or adaptation and thus his capabilities of resistance. This trait of continuity explains why propaganda can indulge in sudden twists and turns. (1) It is always surprising that the content of propagnada can be so inconsistent that it can approve today what it condemned yesterday. [(re: US friendship with Iraq's Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, and game of hatred against him in the '90s; or G.Bush I's infamous "Read My Lips: No New Taxes" lie--ed)]

Antonio Miotto considers this changeability of propaganda an indication of its nature. Actually it is only an indication of the grip it exerts, of the reality of its effects. We must not think that a man ceases to follow it because he is caught up in the system. Of course, he notices the change that has taken place, and he is surprised. He may even be tempted to resist...But will he then engage in a sustained effort to resist propaganda? will he dsavow his past actions? Such breaks are to painful...

note 1: The propagandist does not necessarily have to worry about coherence and unity in his claims. Claims can be varied and even contradictory, depending on the setting (for example, Goebbels promised an increase inthe price of grain inthe country and, at the same time, a decrease intheprice of bread in the city); andthe occasion (for example, Hitler's propaganda against democracy in 1936 and for democracy in 1943).

Immediately [after the citizen questions the game] he will hear the new truth reassessed a hundred times [in all the "reputable" media--ed], he will find it explained and proved, and he does not have the strength [alone] to fight against it each day...Propaganda continues its assault without an instant's respite; his resistance is fragmentary and sporadic. He is caught up inprofessional tasks and personal preoccupations, and each time he emerges from them he hears and sees the new truth proclaimed. The steadiness of the propaganda prevails over his sporadic attention and makes him follow all the turns from the time he has begun to eat of his bread [in the morning until night]. (page 19)

That is why one cannot really speak of propaganda in connection with an election campaign that lasts only two weeks. ...And it is true that the population is often indifferent to election propaganda [despite the fanfare of the media and commissars--ed]. But it is not surprising that such propaganda has little effect: none of the great techniques of propaganda can be effective in two weeks. [Unless there's conditioning in the background, like when the US population was hyped up to go to WWI in a very short time, after being told complete lies about children having their arms torn off by the Huns, etc.--ed, by way of Noam Chomsky in "Media Control" speech, 1991]

Having no more relation to real propaganda are the experiments often undertaken to discover whether some propaganda method is effective on a group of individuals being used as guinea pigs. ([i.e. recurring campaigns against smokers, camel racers in India who kidnap kids, eccentric ladies with lots of cats, hippies, single mothers on welfare, etc.?--ed]) Such experiments are basically vitiated by the fact that they are of short duration. Moreover, the individual can clearly discern any propaganda when it suddenly appears in a social environment normally not subject to this type of influence; if one isolated item of propaganda or one campaign appears without massive effort, the contrast is so strong that the individual can recognize it clearly as propaganda and begin to be wary.

Other valuable pages:
20-23, especially 24, 25, 26, 27; 28-30; 38-98; 119, 121, 123, 126, 128, 131-136; 181-188; 206-208;

The partitioning of Groups (page 212)
All propaganda has to set off its group from all the other groups. Here we find again the fallacious character of the intellectual communication media (press, radio), which far from uniting people and bringing them closer together, divide them all the more.

When I talked about public opinion, I stressed that everybody is susceptible to the propaganda of his group. He listens to it and convinces himself of it. He is satisfied with it. But those who belong to another milieu ignore it. According to an I.F.O.P. survey [French?] (No.1, 1954), everybody is satisfied with his own propaganda. Similarly, Lazarsfeld (4), in his survey of radio broadcasts, cites the case of programs designed to acquaint the American public with the value of the ethnic minority groups in the American population. The point was to demonstrate the contributions each group was making, with the purpose of promoting mutual understanding and tolerance. The survey revealed that each broadcast was listened to by the ethnic group in question (for example, the Irish tuned in the program about the Irish), but rarely by anybody else. In the same way, the Communist press is read by Communist voters, the Protestant press by Protestants [in Europe only? In America we can see this in the alternative media, especially].

What happens? Those who read the press of their group and listen to the radio of their group are constantly reinforced in their allegiance. They learn more and more that their group is right, that its actions are justified...At the same time,such propaganda contains elements of criticism and refutation of other groups, which will never be read or heard by a member of another group [(except by ideologically subservient "watchdogs" engaged in their own propaganda campaigns, re: the Accuracy In Media (Rightist), FAIR (Leftist), etc.--ed)].

...That the bourgeois paper Le Figaro will contain valid criticism of and genuine facts about the dictatorship of the Soviet Union will never reach [an individual, non-ideologically-challenged] Communist. But this criticism of one's neighbor, which is not heard by that neighbor, is known to those inside the group that expresses it. The anti-Communist will be constanly more convinced of the evilness of the Communist, and vice versa. As a result, people ignore each other more and more. They cease altogether to be open to an exchange of reason, arguments, points of view.

This double foray on the part of propaganda, proving the excellence of one's own group and the evilness of the others, produces an increasingly stringent partitioning of our socity. [And] this partitioning takes place on different levels--a unionist partitioning, a religious partitioning, a partitioning of political parties or classes; beyondthat, a partitioning of nations, and, at the sumit, a partitioning of blocs of nations ([re: NATO vs. OPEC--ed]). But this diversity of levels and objectives in no way changes the basic law, according to which the more propagnda there is, the more partitioning there is. For propaganda suppresses conversation; the man opposite is no longer an interlocutor but an enemy. And to the extent he rejects that role, the other becomes an unknown whose words can no longer be understood.

Thus, we see before our eyes how a world of closed minds establishes itself, a world in which...everybody constantly reviews his own certainty about himself and the wrongs done him by the Others--a world in which nobody listens to anybody else, everybody talks, nobody listens. And the more one talks, the more one isolates oneself, because the more one accuses others and justifies oneself.

One must not think, incidentally, that such partitioning is in conflict with the formation of public opinion. Although propaganda partitions society, it affects opinion andtranscends the groups in which it operates. In the first place, it maintains its effectiveness toward the mass of undecided who do not yet belong to a group. Then, too, it is possible to affect those who belong to a group o f a different sort: for example, Communist propaganda that willnot affect militant Socialistsmight affect Protestants; American propaganda that willnot affect a Frenchman in his capacity as a Frenchman, might influence him with regard to capitalism or the liberal system.

This is particularly important because there is a difference of level between the groups. For example, the nationalist propaganda results in building a barrier against other nations; however, domestically, it respects the isolation of inferior groups, but still affects them by making them join a common collective movement [(i.e. "patriotism"--ed)]. This is a process comparable to that occurring int he Middle Ages whenChristian ideology expanded inthe society but in no way affected the aristocracy or the religious orders.

A national propaganda is perfectly effective inside a nation and changes public opinion, whereas party propaganda or religious propaganda is effective on another plane--each having the power to modify public opinion on a certain level and to produce a socialogical partitioning on another. But only a superior group can affect other groups. (...)

A well-organized propaganda willwork with all these different elements. This explainsthe duality of some propagandas,for example, in the U.S.S.R.: on one side, inthe papers with large circulation, or on the radio, one finds only ecstatic praise of the regime or vague criticism of it, designed to satisfy the public, but without basis in reality [(i.e. in the US rural Southwest, there's a popular belief cropping up that political leaders are alien lizards called "Dracs")].

On the other side, we find extremely violent, specific, and profound criticism inspecialized periodicals--for example, in medical journals or magazines on city-planning. If one really wants to know and understand the shortcomings of the Soviet regime, one can find a mine of precise and impartial information in these magazines.

How can such a duality be tolerated? It can be explained only by partitioning. One must tell the public about the grandeur of the regime and the excellence of the USSR; the public must be made to undersand this even in the face of contrary personal experience, either to dissociate the individual or to convince him that his personal experience is only an accident without meaning. Such propaganda (directed to the masses), therefore, can only be positive.

Conversely, the violent critical propaganda addressed to technicians in specialized periodicals aims at showing the Party's vigilance, its knowledge of detail, it centralized control, its demand for Communist perfection. It is aimed at the mass of technicians, broken up into groups of specialists. Such propaganda asserts that the regime is excellent, that all services are working very well, except...the service in question--medical for the doctors, and so on.

How is such duality possible? Precisely by virtue of the partitioning of society, which is to such a large extent propaganda's work. Because one knows that the doctor willnot read a magazine on city-planning, and because one knows that the public at large wil not read any of the specialized journals, and because one knows that the Ukrainians wilnot read Georgian newspapers, one can, according to necessity, make contradictory assertions in any and all of them. ([similar to knowing the US public isn't going to read the UK media,and thus they have a lot of criticism and exposes of US foreign policy; nor the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), where they sometimes write critically of psychiatrists like John Kellogg, and such things--ed.])

See also pages 218, 219; Propaganda and Democracy: 232-235; 244, 245; 247, 249,251; ([Ed: The internet as possible Trojan Horse (thus need to utilize privacy software; Internet DID begin as a military project)]: 307, 308:
Since 1949:
...we must remember the--incidentally quite remarkable--method of the "Hundred Flowers." As in Nazi Germany in 1943 (3), there was a period of apparent liberalism whenexpressions of all sort of criticism, deviationism, idealistic and religious inclinations, and so on, were tolerated, authorized, even encouraged. Then, after all opponents had spoken, the wave of repression hit them: arrests, jail sentences, and, above all, political re-education took place. Thepurpose of the "Hundred Flowers Campaign" was to make opponents come out in the open so they could be arrested and eliminated...

note 3: A liberatlization of the regime's pressat the end of 1934 was designed to make opponents reveal themselves ([No other information given on this; who designed? Are there other precedents of this kind of thing in history besides the infamous Trojan Horse?--ed])

Even a propaganda centered on education cannot do without terror. In order to arrive at full compliance with propaganda, the 7 percent "incorrigible" individualists must be eliminated.The objective of Mao's propaganda is a double one: to integrate individuals into the new body politic as deeply as possible, and, at the same time, to detach them fromthe old groups, such as the family or traditional organizations. These groups must be disintegrated, always through action from within [(re: COINTELPRO, and it's much thriving and now legal offspring)]. (...)

page 308, 309; 312, 313. back to main index