04/08 Open Thread: Propaganda, PR, and Marketing

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P1000799

Prefatory Intro:
Hi there kids, can you say Propaganda? How about Marketing? Notice how different they sound even though they are the same damn thing? What's with that? Is the sheep's clothing on the marketing wolf just an example of propaganda, or marketing, as the case may be? Funny thing is that in a different era the US actually outlawed "propaganda", but, of course never considered messing with "marketing" because "Free enterprise". There were, of course, some feeble limitations placed on "deceptive advertising" by so-called truth-in-advertising laws and regulations, but they were not only weak, but rarely and poorly enforced, and still are. So I'd like to start with one question:

How is it that the theoretical underpinnings of "free-market-capitalism" are not antithetical to the existence of marketing? Purportedly, an educated and informed populace exists which will, acting in its enlightened self interest, seek out and discover goods and services that will fulfil its needs and obtain them for the best possible price. They will do this without any "hidden persuader" psychological based marketing, trickery, deceptive packaging, product placement campaigns, or other con games. No need for endless repetition or other propaganda techniques, which, after all is said and done, only subvert and disrupt the operation of a true free market. Similarly, if we extend this to electoral politics, another form of free-market-capitalism, again the educated and informed populace will seek out, find and choose the persons, plans, platforms, and policy proposals that will best serve their needs and elect (or purchase, as the case may be) their services without need of propaganda political advertisements. Clearly something is amiss here.

Lastly, given that we do allow propaganda advertising and marketing, then should it not be an open field, a true marketplace of ideas, thoughts, concerns, opinions and the like such that any can play, not simply pre-selected ideological favorites? Why shouldn't people and companies be able to lie in product ads the way politicians and parties lie in theirs? What should it matter if Maduro broadcasts a speech decrying one of our politicians the same way they decry his existence? If the Taliban wants to purchase ads on facebook, why should anybody be allowed to interfere with their right to do so and have their content spewed over the air right along with whatever rubbish the CATO Institute, the NYT, megachurch preacher Joe Fulminator, or WAPO is putting out? Just some things to ponder, as a warm up for the rest of this writing.

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Propaganda

Propaganda

Propaganda

Propaganda

Here a propaganda, there a propaganda, everywhere a propaganda, or "marketing campaign", heh, as the case may be. We are literally awash in a sea of this bullshit, so what is it? How about frequent, constant, sustained repetition. In marketing the rule of thumb for any single ad seems to be three repeats "call 1-800-conJobb, that's 1-900-conjobb, remember, 1-800-conjobb!", etc. This was, oddly enough foretold by Lewis Carroll in The Hunting of The Snark

"...Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.”

Of course the ads themselves are repeated over and over and over (and over again). So called "News sources" use an advanced form of multiple repetitions in multiple articles several times daily as the leading edge of a campaign where after a while the allegation initially made is treated as established fact in further, more expansive "reporting" which builds from the base allegation initially laid down. Many repetitions of "xyz occurred" are then "followed up" with narratives concerning what that entails and/or led to, "because xyz occurred" followed by "as a result of the xyz occurrence", and on and on and on. When the same "News" is headlined or prominently covered for multiple consecutive days, whether in identical of endlessly shifting modified forms, be aware that, although whatever is being asserted might possibly actually be a fact, you are being propagandized about it. This is, in fact, a Brainwashing technique, adapted for marketing and propaganda, or from them, whichever came first. (Brainwashing purportedly differs in that those doing it control the victim and the victims environment completely at all times. This is contrasted to our environment, which is totally and completely under our control at all times, heh) You find various definitions, many asserting that brainwashing was "developed" by/in totalitarian regimes, which is pretty myopic and seems to be based on when the so-called democracies first began using the word. Or perhaps prisons, plantations, slave states, work farms and chain gangs, not to mention, reservations, colonies, territories and the like were totalitarian countries? Boot camp anyone? As Tuli Kupfenberg says, "sometimes I wonder".

I first became aware of propaganda as something real, part of my world, my life and my environment and all that in the eighth grade. Once I did, I kept noticing it more and more, but was never sure if it was more and more prevalent, or if I was just starting to notice it more and more. In any event, I came to react to it with extreme skepticism. My thought processes, then (as now) followed a general path of "hmmm, this is propaganda, why in hell are they propagandizing this? Cui bono? Why the hell do they want me to buy into this and what the hell do they want me to do as a result?" Cui bono, of course, is often hard to discern, or at least hard enough that I decide not to pursue it. I used to invariably wind up suspending judgement either pending further research or information, or else indefinitely on the grounds that while we may eventually learn the truth, it won't be any time soon. More and more often lately, propaganda is so pervasive that there is really very little that one can buy into without reservations or hesitation. This situation is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that more and more of what we are being fed is so preposterous, or so far off from passing the smell test, that one can simply reject it outright, or at least reject it until it is proven. (This is ignoring all of the blatant lies and demonstrable falsehoods which can simply be rejected outright in perpetuity.) It is funny writing this because I can actually recall times when one didn't have to immediately and automatically ask for proof with regard to anything and everything, but that's where we have wound up thanks to the overuse of propaganda techniques for damn near absolutely everything under the sun all day everyday..

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Allowing that Brainwashing is an extreme form of the same process, propaganda or marketing is a lot more than just repetition and amplifying. I contemplated running through some of the more common techniques, allowing one to see how constant and continuous it is each and every day, but that would, of course, ba a massive undertaking. I'm still going to put some further stuff here, but everybody should read up on it a bit as well, because forewarned is forearmed, as they say. We need to really understand it in order to recognize it and be aware of it. Everybody who never read Vance Packard's "Hidden Persuaders" should, even though it is extremely dated, because it gets one thinking about the vast panoply of manipulative techniques that are in use all around us all of the time. A dive into the life, work, and works of Edward Bernays is also pretty instructive. That said, George Washington U, per the web says:

Regardless of how propaganda is employed, these common techniques are used to manipulate others to act or respond in the way that the propagandist desires.

Bandwagon. ...
Snob Appeal. ...
Vague Terms. ...
Loaded Words. ...
Transfer. ...
Unreliable Testimonial.

and they go into this in greater detail in Public Relations and Propaganda Techniques here: https://gspm.online.gwu.edu/blog/public-relations-and-propaganda-techniq...

Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_techniques ) has some good information and links a huge number, 89, I suspect, of specific techniques under a handful of very general headings:

1. Logical Fallacies

2. Diversion and Evasion

3. Appealing to the Emotions

4. Using Falsehoods and Trickery

5. Playing on Human Behavioral Tendencies, Mental Capacities and Processes

6. Speaking or Writing Styles

7. Reason or Common Sense

Note especially numbers 3 & 5. I mean, sophistry has been around long enough to even have had that name hung on it by Plato's time, but, in particular, number 5 wanders off into the realm of psychology and the deeper cons of today's propagandists and marketers. Also, the modern life permits trickery not really well developed of old, such as Agenda Setting, which is very much the mainstream press' primary function in the past few decades. The whole list, though worthy of perusal at least once, still doesn't do justice to vast quantity of techniques that appeal to emotions or rely on psychological and cultural reflexes and playing upon cognitive biases, which probably need to be specifically ferreted out.

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The main thing is that we need to always be aware of the fact that we live in a world of incessant, all pervasive propaganda. Even facts, truths, and beneficial information are given the propaganda treatment. Forget how you floss or brush, or what with, flossing and brushing, though not nefarious, have been the subject of propaganda and brainwashing campaigns just as much as everything else in the world today. No idea or opinion is ever simply presented straight up outside of textbooks. We must be constantly aware of what is going on in order that we may combat it, being unduly skeptical of anything and everything, analysing and scrutinizing everything, holding out for proof or at least strong evidence of everything and pushing back against bullshit at every opportunity. By coincidence, Joe Shikspack had a great quote from Bernays in his Evening Blues as I was working on this, and it sums it all up quite nicely:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

-- Edward Bernays

He sure gets that right, oddly enough. Whoever controls the narrative controls the past and the present, and, thereby, the future. This is a long known and well established fact, spoken of and relied on by many who have gone before us. Accordingly, we all need to be constantly aware of and ferret out all narrative manipulation wherever it occurs and expose it for what it is whenever and wherever we can. We need to establish propaganda free zones, free of narrative manipulation, where we can talk honestly and openly with no strings attached and little or nothing off of the table. This is really a prerequisite for attempting to live our lives in a rational manner.

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have a good one

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Title Image is via di Propaganda (09182011: p1000798)

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It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours
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magiamma's picture

et al

Remember when “dirty hippies” and “war protesters” and “drug addicts” were all woven into the same cloth. Nixon during the Viet Nam war...

We were not dirty and as I recall the great majority of the people my age were hippies. Everywhere. AA was, at one point, recommending the use of LSD to people to help with alcohol addiction. Heh. I remember around that time noting that all the television channels had exactly the same news stories. Almost to a word!

And don’t even get me started on how The Christian Church manipulates people. Omg.

Great essay. Tyvm. Be safe and have a good one.

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mimi's picture

@magiamma
(dpa = German Press Agency) and my job was to follow all incoming wires from various wire services. I realized that they all copy from each other. This was in the early to mid nineties. I also learned through the job of my then husband how much was copied among the IMF and the WB and think tanks. It was so boring that I guess that's why ended up reading alternative news sites or readhing nothing much at all.

Propaganda and brainwashing ... I saw what happened with my son in basic training for the AF. Luckily it really didn't work out in his brain as intended, but has caused a lot of damage nevertheless. I visited him during basic training in Texax. He reacted like those little tin soldiers marching on a battery power (like the easter bunnies). Well, I better don't think back. 9/11 happened just a year after he enlisted. That was the end of it. Propaganda, if it enterend his brain, only because of threats and fear, but never through persuasion or conviction. "Irgend wann hat das auch sein Ende".

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
been in the thick of it. And, of course, the propaganda within the propganda, the continued misrepresentation of pot and its use, for example to make that use appear nefarious and dangerous to the uninitiated (with started with Yellow Press Grand Master Hearst).

I won't go after the various chirches except to note that some were called cults for exactly the same brainwashing techniques as were used by the largest and oldest of the "legitimate" chirches. (Legitimate itself is a thoroughly propagandized word anymore, meaning nothing other than "approved" or "being sold" depending upon circumstances)

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Raggedy Ann's picture

Propoganda nullifies critical thinking. On the other hand, what isn't propaganda?

Happy hump day, everyone! Pleasantry

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"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

enhydra lutris's picture

@Raggedy Ann

On the other hand, what isn't propaganda?

and, of course, somewhat the point of this essay is that today damn near nothing would seem to qualify except maybe math, theoretical math, not some of the uses to which specific aspects of it are put.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/750894794/john-prine-obituary

One of my faves, and a big influence on my music. Just learned this one recently from his fist record...

Your essay today is appropriate, as what passes as news media does little else other than repeat the importance of the oligarchs narrative. Democracy requires an informed populous. That is one of the reasons we are not a democracy.

And hear hear for critical thinking! Take care everyone.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

mimi's picture

@Lookout
posted this song in response to one of my comments. Just to say thanks to you for all the good-hearted advice and teaching and humor you share for and with us.

I enjoy so much your weekly watches and shared the last one with my son, who loves gardening and it helps him staying sane and not give up.

There was a little video from the 'fit farmer' in, which I liked a lot.

HI there, be well and don't leave us here alone. We need you. Thanks.

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Lookout's picture

@mimi

of the fit farmer. They are in the Piedmont of North Carolina, a very old red clay soil. They run a little market garden.

I also like Josh Sattin ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHynVrKVZtTXf3hndd2ZR4A ) another NC market gardener your son might enjoy.

I don't know much about tropical gardening, but I bet your son does. Glad you enjoy the WW. Nice to hear folks appreciate it. All the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout
yesterday evening. Oddly enough, I was just listening to some of his stuff a couple of days ago, though I can't recall what got me there. He will be missed.

You hit the nail on the head here:

Democracy requires an informed populous. That is one of the reasons we are not a democracy.

I couldn't agree more, and they push it more and more and more out of a deep fear that if they let up for so much as a second then Democracy could break out like some sort of plague.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

ggersh's picture

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tRump amerika's last president

voting in ameriKa is an illusion

I'm fairly sure that the R's have finally figured out
that the D's are no longer necessary

enhydra lutris's picture

@ggersh
appropriate one today.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

(I didn’t choose this package; every tenant in my apartment complex gets it automatically.)

Bloomberg TV presents itself as a firehose of info which viewers — investors and other decision-makers — supposedly need to place new bets and track whether previous bets are losing or winning.

The format, with charts, numbers, and news headlines continually flashing by, stands in dramatic contrast to all other channels on my TV. All the rest are “entertainment” including news and documentaries packaged as entertainment. They provide the Trojan-horse delivery system for “marketing” / propaganda.

Take a look at the Bloomberg channel if you have it. That format difference, whereby Bloomberg positions itself of a source of facts rather than (propaganda-laced) entertainment, is worth pondering for a moment.

If people were really all “rational actors” as economists like to assume, we’d all be watching Bloomberg or something like it.

One “facts and reason” channel versus 99 “images and emotion” channels?

One channel for the predators and 99 for their easily manipulated prey?

While the 1% have their guard up and continually monitor their bets on Bloomberg, we the 99% are expected to let our guard down and zone out watching one of the other channels, absorbing the propaganda of the day . . .

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enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard

says a lot about humans and society, as you note. OTOH, Bloomberg is also propaganda, just in a different guise they will tell you all about the meaningless dow jones as if it were really something other than a pari-mutual betting scheme and nothing about the misery index which speaks to the reality and quality of your life, all about GDP, which is simply a gross and somewhat manufactured measure of the extraction and exploitation proceeds being misappropriated by the elites and nothing about why you should give a shit or where your next meal is or isn't coming from. It is, indeed, more or less NEWS for the 1%, but also a con for the gullible wannabes who aspire to rentierdom.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

CB's picture

two secret agents, one a KGB and the other a CIA, met at a bar in Berlin to share a few drinks.

KGB agent asked: "You know Sam, both of our countries had extensive propaganda programs but your country won in the end. Why was that?"

CIA agent: "It was because the people in America believed it, Natasha."

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enhydra lutris's picture

@CB
telling.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

Only bad countries have propaganda. We don't have oligarchs, we have rich guys. We don't have a regime, we have an administration.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
brief statements, eh? I don't know what to say beyond thank you. A perfect embodiment of the propaganda underpinnings of US propaganda. Thanks again.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
I didn't figure it out in the 8th grade, took me 'til around my sophomore year of H.S.
I know you're a couple of years older than me so it could be we tripped to it at about the same time, Hidden Persuaders and all that. I'm still, all these years later, trying to explain to people that TV is the most effective propaganda device ever invented.
Years from now, after we're gone maybe, people will be asking, "How did this happen, why did Americans allow this ?" The answer, of course, is the picture-box.
The State of Sonora shuts down Semana Santa, AZ Daily Star.
We weren't planning to go this year but the story brought back some good memories.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
very little of it except Lowell Thomas. I remember some of the Beat authors railing abut them and in HS in rambling notes to myself decrying the blue glare from every window when one went out at night. My buds and I had better things to do that watch somebody else doing stuff. I also recall (sixties?) the whole "Kill your TV" campaign(s). I never started watching it much until my thirties or so, and mostly KQED (local public TV station) for Masterpiece Theater, I Caludius and stuff like that.

Today it is impossible not to note how much the heroes are cops, spooks and warriors, CIA, FBI, SEALs, commandos and whatever, inuring us to their existence and their intrusions and our acts of war/war crimes in foreign countries. Then there's the "news", which even here is pretty bad except the weather.

I had an elder brother, 4 years older, who probably was a factor in my possibly early awareness of it. Also, San Diego was a hotbed of blatant over-the-top RW craziness dispensed as normal. I had a open hard-core Bircher V.P. in Jr. High, and nobody found that odd. I did a heavily researched paper for English on the thesis that IF the US didn't radically step up its game, funding and research and everything else, the Soviets would beat us into space. I caught abouot 4 metric shitloads of grief from about half of my fellow students and from that VP - none of it coherent or fact based, just "how could you believe such a thing, the US is the best, rah, rah" type of crap. That probably helped me see it too. (I was at that same school when Sputnik went up, and all those same persons initially chose to deny it was real, but I was definitely a cheerful little shit for a bit there)

Thanks for the link to the Daily Star article, I tend to envy the expats and temporary expats who opted to stay there, looks and sounds idyllic. Of course, I think of Mazatlan and Manzanillo a lot too, especially Manzanillo.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

CB's picture

@Azazello
propaganda and social control tool: the ubiquitous cell phone. It is now global in reach.

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CB's picture

@Azazello
We bomb countries to bring democracy and freedom.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@CB

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

CB's picture

@enhydra lutris
was not on the list of countries that were to receive American democracy. A large number of the B52 bombing runs over Cambodia were because the US military couldn't find enough people in Vietnam to drop the democracy on. It's dangerous to land a B52 with 108 500lb packages of democracy on board (plus the extra cost of fuel to bring them back to Guam) they dropped the democracy onto the Cambodian people instead of wasting it in the Pacific Ocean.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

Christian Smalls - fired Amazon worker:

Stop clicking the button

on the Intercepted podcast today around 48 minutes in:
https://theintercept.com/2020/04/08/pandemic-racism-the-wisconsin-primar...
on the Grayzone in a heartbreaking interview:

Stop clicking the button and save lives.

A message, not propaganda, not marketing, nor secret messaging, not doublespeak from our sponsor - the corona virus.

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"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

CB's picture

@Raggedy Ann
This needs to be addressed IMMEDIATELY.

Early Data Shows African Americans Have Contracted and Died of Coronavirus at an Alarming Rate

No, the coronavirus is not an “equalizer.” Black people are being infected and dying at higher rates. Here’s what Milwaukee is doing about it — and why governments need to start releasing data on the race of COVID-19 patients.

The coronavirus entered Milwaukee from a white, affluent suburb. Then it took root in the city’s black community and erupted.

As public health officials watched cases rise in March, too many in the community shrugged off warnings. Rumors and conspiracy theories proliferated on social media, pushing the bogus idea that black people are somehow immune to the disease. And much of the initial focus was on international travel, so those who knew no one returning from Asia or Europe were quick to dismiss the risk.

Then, when the shelter-in-place order came, there was a natural pushback among those who recalled other painful government restrictions — including segregation and mass incarceration — on where black people could walk and gather.
...

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Raggedy Ann's picture

@CB
are the workers in these facilities. They are the ones that need the income to barely survive. They are the collateral damage we don't care about.

STOP CLICKING THE BUTTON AND SAVE LIVES!!!!

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"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

ggersh's picture

@CB https://www.moonofalabama.org/

Jared Kushner's Anti-Virus Priorities

April 3: Jared Kushner Faces Backlash for Saying ‘Our Stockpile’ Is Not Meant to Be ‘States’ Stockpiles’

bigger

April 7: Hospitals say feds are seizing masks and other coronavirus supplies without a word

bigger

April 8: US Department of Defense give 1 million masks to IDF for coronavirus use

bigger

Posted by b at 7:43 UTC | Comments (71)

Alan Grayson got it right

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tRump amerika's last president

voting in ameriKa is an illusion

I'm fairly sure that the R's have finally figured out
that the D's are no longer necessary

gulfgal98's picture

Great essay!

IMO, our focus of our education system upon mostly tech subjects to the detriment of the arts and humanities has made us smarter in many ways, but also has dumbed down our critical thinking skills. It used to be that a liberal arts degree was highly valued by employers because they knew their hires had good critical thinking skills. Now a liberal arts degree will get you no where.

I am constantly amazed at how many people accept what they see on tv as the gospel truth but are terrified to check out alternative media for fear of not having their already preconceived ideas validated. My own anecdotal experiences include highly educated friends and family in that category. This country has become thoroughly propagandized but if someone even raises that possibility, they are accused of hating this country (being a Russian agent) or being out there with the lunatic fringe.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

enhydra lutris's picture

@gulfgal98

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
the world what they really are and the more people began to see the whole illusion.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

WoodsDweller's picture

@magiamma @magiamma
on your landslide reelection. Though the most incompetent, mentally ill, morally contemptible man ever to hold the office, your victory over Sleepy Joe Biden is as inevitable as sunrise.
Thank you, Senator Sanders, for building a movement and leading it as far as you have. I hope you manage to get a few decent amendments added to the horrible bailout bills that we can expect going forward. When your term ends, enjoy a well-earned retirement.
To those of us who allowed a glimmer of hope to illuminate our dark pits of cynicism one last time, I guess the joke's on us.

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"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Albert Bartlett

@WoodsDweller

wtf, hope for change
where is this man's spine when we need it fcs
doesn't matter, the dnc will have their way with us
make me sick mommy

too confusing?

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS @QMS
just think about something other, but not THE OTHER. heh.

Resumé

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

~~Dorothy Parker

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@enhydra lutris
Wink

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

CB's picture

@enhydra lutris @enhydra lutris

Like this
.
.
.
.
and this

EDIT: Hehehehe - you figured it out already

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enhydra lutris's picture

@CB

my continuation below the at 10.2.1.1.1.1 etc, but forget about the eyeball off to the right. (Probably because t isn't visible on the blank form) I just hae to train myself at least 2 and maybe 3 carriage returns from the "at" line before typing.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

CB's picture

@enhydra lutris Smile

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CB's picture

@magiamma
We would have been just as disappointed as we were with Obomba's Kabuki theatrics.

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@CB

bitter solace
we can do better
but america needs trump
or so we are informed

no choice anymore

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

Russiagate dominated elite media for over three years overshadowing even warnings about an upcoming pandemic. Just some observations.

  • Propaganda about propaganda. As facts emerged about the Russian ads on FaceBook, seemed to me one of the key points was how propaganda worked on those who read the ads. Given that the ads were not repeated and had very little reads (FB lied about the reach), the notion was that propaganda could instantly with one mere exposure change and alter a person's beliefs. In fact, if the ads were about such things as puppies and mastrubtion, they could have immediate pernicious effects if they came from Russians. The need for censorship is based on this notion. Yes, propaganda works, but not without the things mentioned in this article like constant repetition.
  • Appeal to authority. This was thee basis for Russiagate info. The total reliance on authoritative but anonymous sources. There was literally no evidence provided in any article I read. Michael Tracey stated that literally article on Russiagate could have this title: Anon sources with unseen evidence make unsubstantiated claims. Trust those 17 intel agencies completely and without question. It was interesting to see how NYTimes articles evolved on Russiagate. Early on reporters would state they did not see any evidence from sources. Later, this caveat was literally the last sentence in the article.
  • Guilt by association. Anything Russian was suspect. Every attack on Jill Stein was all guilt by association to the point that a Senate committee wanted a list of every Russian she ran into. She refused and called it McCarthyism. Maddow and Cenk Urgyur of TYT were thee biggest users of this tactic.

One of the big issues in propaganda is that propagandists are paid and financially supported. Those who counter propaganda are not paid.

What is next? The criminalization of dissent as propaganda.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@MrWebster

Argumentum ad Verecundiam (old school) now, it appears, at least some of the time Argumentum ab auctoritate, that's all there ever was to Russiagate, coupled with repetition and a few other gimmicks.

You ask:

What is next? The criminalization of dissent as propaganda.

, and I do believe that we are seeing the thin leading edge of that wedge in play even as we sit here today. And, of course, it is pretty much supported by the masses, do not venture to hold a reasonable discussion of Russiagate's evidence free history as a form of propaganda on most sites, such as the Daily Kos.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

travelerxxx's picture

Thanks for the essay, el. Wish I'd have had a chance to write earlier, but better late than never...

Like you, I think I became aware of propaganda at a young age. Perhaps I was a little younger than you, but close enough. As time went on, it became something always in the front of my mind, filtering nearly all that I heard, read, saw (television and movies) ... and of course, "advertising."

My amazement was always that one of the most advanced nations in the 20th Century, certainly one of the most educated, could succumb to it. Even in the 1960s, I realized that if Germany could fall for it hook, line, and sinker, we here in the US certainly could. They used advanced techniques for the day, but our current propagandists are light years ahead of them. Nevertheless, the crude appeals to hate, xenophobia, extreme nationalism, etc., have changed little, no matter the delivery method.

My wife and I are suffering the effects of propaganda directly today. This began with a text conversation between my wife and my father this past Tuesday evening. I need to mention that my wife has just turned 66 and my father is in his early 90s. My wife is from upstate New York, my father has lived his life in Kansas, other than a stint in the US Army which did take him to Europe. Wife and I are in the Houston area now.

My wife and my father text each other most evenings. Usually it's benign chatter. Not last night. What began as questions from my father regarding the spread of the Corona virus here in Texas soon got fairly heated. My father was stating that new cases here in Texas were pretty much stopped; we informed him that this was not the situation. I wondered where he was getting his information. While he's still quite sharp, he's not one to go peruse medical data. It seemed to us that he'd read or heard this from somewhere.

The text conversation took a decided turn for the worse when he began to attack New York City and, in particular, New York state. "The most corrupt government in the nation...," and people "living like rats..." in NYC. Comments similar to this were non-stop and rather vicious. Further attacks came aimed at New York medical facilities as "...the worst in the nation," "...no one knows what they're doing there and never have," etc.

My wife tried to calm him down by reminding him that she was a native New Yorker and didn't really appreciate the venom aimed at her home state. No dice. He didn't slow down with it. Finally, my wife simply put her phone up and no longer answered him. That was over 24 hours ago; she still hasn't answered him. I don't blame her.

I recognized very quickly that my father was mirroring what he'd been seeing on Fox News for the last few days. My father has several televisions running from the moment he gets up in the morning until he goes to bed at night – always turned to Fox. It's so loud that when we phone my parents they can't even hear us on the phone until they go drop the volume. You can probably hear it outside their house with no problem. Neither of my parents have hearing problems.

So, what I recognized was that Fox has been busy demonizing New York state and NYC. Of course, Fox is well aware that Cuomo is a likely choice to run against their man Trump in the election. Therefor, the knives are out in force. Anything to do with New York is being attacked. My father simply reflects this propaganda. The fact that my father used the image of "...living like rats," evoked chills from me. This is way too close to the 1930s images used by the Nazis in their propaganda films to demonize the Jewish population. I'm pretty certain that my father didn't dredge up that "living like rats" image on his own. He wouldn't go that far. Not unless he's already seen it or heard it on television, validating it for him. I suspect that's exactly what happened. Somebody said it, and they said it on television. As the only television my father watches, I can safely assume it was said on Fox.

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