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#3659 - 01/23/08 09:56 AM An Interesting Read
MCSA TEK Offline

Registered: 09/13/07
Posts: 97
Loc: Orlando Fl USA
I came across this essay completely by accident. I decided to share it with you because of its interest.


It's not hard to understand how propaganda works. You don't need a college degree, or to read any of those thick textbooks everyone hates. Everything relevant can be explained in one not-particularly-long article. And, I guarantee you, you must understand how propaganda targets you, to immunize yourself against the attempts.

Propaganda works by appealing to our most base, animalistic instincts. It does not appeal to our better nature, although one of the purposes of it is to convince us it does. It pretends to appeal to our reason, when in fact it appeals to our most primitive emotions. There is good reason for this: perception travels through the emotional brain first, to the rational brain last.

Specifically, propaganda works by appealing to three things: emotionalism, tribalism and narcissism.

I just mentioned perception travels first to the emotional brain, then the rational brain. This happens to everyone, including people who con themselves they are the most rational and intelligent of intellectuals.

As for tribes, we share with every nearly every animal in the world the instinct to form tribes, arranged in a hierarchy, with a leader. We are group animals. The fact we look to a leader to take care of us is one of the most firmly established principles in psychology (if you don't remember anything else, remember that).

When anyone transgresses the taboos of a tribe, they can, and often are, ostracised or even expelled. An example? Say some people oppose a war. What happens? They are often called cowards and told to leave the country. Who hasn't heard the insult, "You're a coward! If you don't like it here, get out!" People who say such things think they're being patriotic; in reality they're acting like animals. Emotional, irrational, herd animals, prone to the fear and flight activated by propaganda. Individuals think; groups do not, and cannot.

Narcissism is our inborn tendency to see everything as grandiose or devalued, good or bad, with nothing in-between. It's why nearly every tribe in the world -- and nations are just tribes writ large -- called itself "the People," "the Humans," "the Chosen," "the Motherland," "the Fatherland," or "the greatest nation on earth," relegating everyone outside the tribe to a devalued non-people, non-human status (aka "collateral damage"). No wonder it's so easy to kill the outsiders -- they're just not quite ...
Read about this great Patriot and Vote!

#3711 - 01/27/08 02:40 PM Re: An Interesting Read [Re: MCSA TEK]
Meq Offline
active member

Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 861
Excellent article.

I'm particularly interested in the effects of narcissism - this is closely related to what psychologists call projection.

Projection (in this context) is when a person sees the 'badness' as outside him/herself and the 'goodness' within - making 'me' or 'us' good and 'them' bad or evil.

This is extemely evident in certain political groups - people who don't share the opinions of oneself or one's group are often demonised as 'morally inferior'. I saw an extreme example of this once in a 'liberal' supporter - he considered all advocates of capitalism to be 'fucking cunts'.

Here is an interesting abridged extract from Ayn Rand's 'The Argument from Intimidation' in 'The Virtue of Selfishness', which described the process of emotional intimidation in propaganda quite well:


There is a certain type of argument which, in fact, is not an argument, but a means of forestalling debate and extorting an opponent's agreement with one's undiscussed notions. It is a method of bypassing logic by means of psychological pressure.

The psychological pressure method consists of threatening to impeach an opponent's character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate. Example: "Only the immoral can fail to see that Candidate X's argument is false." The falsehood of his argument is asserted arbitrarily and offered as proof of his immorality.

The essential characteristic of the Argument from Intimidation is its appeal to moral self-doubt and its reliance on the fear, guilt or ignorance of the victim. It is used in the form of an ultimatum demanding that the victim renounce a given idea without discussion, under threat of being considered morally unworthy. The pattern is always: "Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea." [Rand gives the example of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'.] This is the exact pattern of the working of the Argument from Intimidation, as it is being worked all around us today.

"Only those who lack finer instincts can fail to accept the morality of altruism." "Only the ignorant can fail to know that reason has been invalidated." "Only black-hearted reactionaries can advocate capitalism." "Only war-mongers can oppose the United Nations." "Only the lunatic fringe can still believe in freedom." "Only cowards can fail to see that life is a sewer." "Only the superficial can seek beauty, happiness, achievement, values or heroes."

The Argument from Intimidation dominates today's discussions in two forms. In public speeches and print, it flourishes in the form of long, involved, elaborate structures of unintelligible verbiage, which convey nothing clearly except a moral threat. ("Only the primitive-minded can fail to realize that clarity is oversimplification.") But in private, day-to-day experience, it comes up wordlessly, between the lines, in the form of inarticulate sounds conveying unstated implications. It relies, not on what is said, but on how it is said - not on content, but on tone of voice.

The tone is usually one of scornful or belligerent incredulity. "Surely you are not an advocate of capitalism, are you?" And if this does not intimidate the prospective victim - who answers: "I am," - the ensuing dialogue goes something like this: "Oh, you couldn't be! Not really!" "Really." "But everybody knows that capitalism is outdated!" "I don't." "Oh, come now!" "Since I don't know it, will you please tell me the reasons for thinking that capitalism is outdated?" "Oh, don't be ridiculous!" "Will you tell me the reasons?" "Well, really, if you don't know, I couldn't possibly tell you!"

All this is accompanied by raised eyebrows, wide-eyed stares, shrugs, grunts, snickers and the entire arsenal of nonverbal signals communicating ominous innuendoes and emotional vibrations of a single kind: disapproval.

If those vibrations fail, if such debaters are challenged, one finds that they have no arguments, no evidence, no proof, no reason, no ground to stand on - that their noisy aggressiveness serves to hide a vacuum - that the Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.

The primordial archetype of that Argument is obvious (and so are the reasons of its appeal to the neo-mysticism of our age): "To those who understand, no explanation is necessary; to those who don't, none is possible."

Rand thus instead advocates a theory of knowledge (epistemology) based on reason - by asking 'why', and being able to state valid answers to that 'why', as an antidote to propaganda. Such an approach extends to ethics and politics.

Propagandists want to make asking 'why' a sin - to teach "Good people believe this - only bad people question it," and "People who don't 'get it' only disagree with us because they are morally inferior."

"Therefore their reasoning must be flawed, so we do not need to answer their 'why'."

This is when thinking stops.

Edited by Mequa (01/27/08 03:33 PM)
Edit Reason: When thinking stops

#3712 - 01/27/08 03:10 PM Religious propaganda in politics [Re: MCSA TEK]
Meq Offline
active member

Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 861
"People who don't 'get it' only disagree with us because they are morally inferior."
...Or "blinded by Satan" (as the JWs and other fundamentalist religionists believe of all who don't accept their creeds).

Religion and political propaganda make an explosive combination. Radical Islamists see the Western world as the 'Great Satan', to be brought over to the true God, coincidentally Allah from Islam.

American Christian fundies see the Islamic world as Satanic, also needing to be brought over to the true God (who happens to belong to THEIR religion).

And, of course, atheists, secularists and 'liberals' are the scapegoats of many religious conservatives.

And what about 'Satanists'? ;\)

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