Propaganda 103: The Word Changes, The Word Remains The Same

Reproduction of a Gutenberg press.

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

“I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out” – Katherine Dunn

“Until it is kindled by a spirit as flamingly alive as the one which gave it birth a book is dead to us. Words divested of their magic are but dead hieroglyphs.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

We return to the word; our most basic element of communication. The written word is naturally an extension of the spoken word. At the beginning of civilization, all propaganda was the spoken word. The primary limiting effect on the spread of ideas was the size of audience within hearing range of the speaker. Then came the image, the structure and written word. They had greater value in spreading ideas because of their inherently static nature. With the invention of paper and other portable means of propagating words and images, ideas were no longer tied directly to the speaker. The content was static, but the medium of exchange mobile. The primary limiting effect was the ability to reproduce these works manually by scribes and artisans combined with literacy in the ancient world being a comparative rarity.

Socrates; “I drank what?”

Since nearly the dawn of civilization, words have been used to shape civilization in the form of both laws and political polemics. The Code of Hammurabi is one of the best studied and oldest ancient writings in existence dating to back to almost 1800 BCE. Named for the sixth king of Babylon, it contains the oldest existent legal code. Laws, their shaping influence on society undeniable as it is, are ultimately rooted in philosophy and its cousin the political polemic. Going back to the ancient Greeks – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are just as well known for their political writings as their pure philosophy and metaphysics (the ancestor of science and the scientific method). Socrates was in fact put to death for essentially political reasons. His constant challenge to the authorities of the Athenian state eventually caused them to gather against him and put him on trial for corrupting the youth of Athens and his “impiety” in not believing in the state sponsored gods of the time. Found guilty, he was poisoned to death. Plato was not only known for his political works like The Republic – wherein he discusses the nature of justice, the just state and the just man – but he was (along with but to a lesser degree Isocrates and the Sophists) also arguably one of the first rhetoricians in recorded Western history in that he systematically analysed and understood the mechanics of rhetoric. Aristotle’s famous treatise on ethics, the Nicomachean Ethics, is a direct lead-in to his treatise Politics. In fact, Aristotle considered the study of ethics essential to the study of politics. These writers used a method still employed by teachers today and the format was retained in their writings even if the interactive component was lost: the Socratic method – a dialectical form of inquiry, essentially debate, between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. In the East, comparable writers like Confucius, perhaps better known as the father of Confucianism, was equally important to the Eastern tradition of politics and political writing. But what did these men all have in common? They were limited in audience to those they could reach by speaking to them directly or by the tedious production, slow distribution and high cost of making copies of their written works. Add to this the general high level of illiteracy in the ancient world and it becomes apparent that their knowledge was known only by a relatively small circle of people. Even Thomas Hobbes, one of the founders of modern political philosophy/political science suffered under these constraints limiting the spread of information by the written word.

However, all of that was about to change.

Johannes Gutenberg

Around 1440 CE, a German goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg took the idea of an existing machine tool – the screw press – and added his own idea – moveable type – and the printing press was born. Block printing was not a new idea. It had been around for centuries, but using multiple blocks on a rack to create reusable type was a new way to use an old technology. The printing press was one of those rare inventions that literally changed the world and almost overnight. It did so in several ways. Most importantly for the discussion of propaganda, the printing press heralded the age of mass media – a phenomena still impacting the world today, perhaps more now than ever, and integral to the modern dissemination of propaganda. Some of the other societal impacts of Gutenberg’s invention are certainly important as well. A ready supply of cheap books and other printed materials led to a boost in general literacy, the democratization of knowledge as what was once the province of the privileged became open to the masses, and in a fundamental way the foundation for a knowledge-based economy – an emergent phenomena our world is dealing with at this very moment. Unlike the writers of antiquity and even the relatively recently deceased Hobbes, political writers after Gutenberg no longer faced such constraints and in fact enjoyed the ancillary benefits of the rise of mass printing. Another interesting but less relevant side-effect of the printing press was the rise of European native vernacular languages for teaching, information dissemination and record keeping and the consequent death of Latin (and to a lesser degree, Greek) as the lingua franca of the educated class.

Machiavelli – who advocated using propaganda as a means to power and control – and Sir Thomas More – in many ways the antithesis of Machiavelli in advancing the new wealth of cheap information to spread factual knowledge and the philosophy of doing good as intrinsically valuable to society as well as spiritually beneficial – both enjoyed mass printing and distributions of their works during their lifetimes.  The Federalist Papers, and indeed many pamphlets, flyers and treatises including copies of the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution, were mass produced and distributed during the period leading up to and immediately following the American Revolution. More modern political polemicists such as George Orwell enjoyed not only mass distributions of his more technical essays like “Politics and the English Language”, but enjoyed literary success with his distinctly polemic novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four.  Adolph Hitler’s and the Nazi Party’s rise to power was made possible by the publication and distribution of Mein Kampf.  The rise of the former Soviet Union depended upon the mass distributions of the works of Karl Marx, and revolutionary leaders like Vladimir Lenin and Trotsky. Today, modern politicians and political theorists are practically guaranteed to have an accompanying book by the dictates of their public relations and image management by the advertising and mass media industries even if the books have to be ghost written.

Detail from Trajan’s Column
Roman soldiers crossing the Danube.

As important as these ideas can be, for good or ill, their propagation to the masses was changed forever by the invention of the printing press. Concurrently with the spread of the printing press came a new industry so associated with the machine itself, it adopted the same basic name: the press. This is not to say before the printing press there were no means of getting the news. Indeed, stretching back in antiquity, the Egyptians regularly carved information we would consider news on obelisks and other public monuments. As far back as 200 CE, the Chinese distributed hand painted announcements and news on silk to be distributed amongst government officials called tipao – literally “reports from the official residences”. In 59 BCE the Romans at the order of Julius Caesar published Acta Diurna or “Daily Acts” that were carved in stone or metal and placed in public places. This even carried over into their monuments as Trajan’s Column (completed 113 CE)  is a very good example of both news and state propaganda as the relief carved upon the column depicts Trajan’s successful military campaigns against the Dacians.

Newspapers were the primary distribution channel of current events information in the West since the 16th Century CE with the German publication of Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien in 1605 but did not truly take off until the 17th Century when the full effects of the spread of the printing press technology came in to bloom. Before this, pamphlets and publicly posted flyers in Europe often carried news of the day. They did not meet the criteria for being true newspapers though as they lacked public distribution, periodicity, currency in information and their often specialized topics lacked range or universality. This became common place as technology spread. Quick printing and turnaround time on sales meant that those of political or financial power to quash publications that portrayed them in a negative light had less opportunity to do so as well as quick profits to printers as their now timely publications would be sold out before political forces could marshal against them. It was not only words those in the burgeoning press industry were printing, but images as well. Wood-cuts and engravings were the standard of the day until the advent of modern photojournalism when on March 4, 1880, The Daily Graphic – a New York newspaper – published the first halftone reproduction of a news photograph that most of us are familiar with today. Today’s four-color CMYK process is still basically the same technological process as black and white halftone image printing, but with the process simply repeated for each of the four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black (which is called “key” by printers)). The information and ideas in both text and images could be applied to the masses with industrial efficiency. This efficiency gained a huge boost with the invention of steam powered presses by German printer Friedrich Koenig and engineer Andreas Friedrich Bauer. Where manual Gutenberg presses could produce 240 pages per hour, a Koenig-Bauer steam powered press could produce 2,400 pages per hour, a ten-fold increase in capacity. Newspapers blossomed and dominated the news well into the 20th Century.

The dominance of newspapers in mass dissemination of information (which is critical to spreading propaganda as well) faced a new challenger in the radio. Invented in the late 19th Century CE ostensibly by Guglielmo Marconi (the invention of radio is a wild and contentious story in itself involving such well-known names as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla), the radio didn’t take off until the dual technologies of distributed electricity and vacuum tubes came in to their own in the 1930’s. From the 1930’s well in to the 1950’s and early 1960’s, radio was a prime delivery vector for information and entertainment directly into the homes of consumers. It was in some ways a step backward for propaganda as it relied upon the spoken word alone, but that did not impact its effectiveness or deter its use. Hitler, an renowned and skilled public speaker, heavily relied up radio broadcasts of his speeches to spread the Nazi Party doctrine as far as possible. FDR was quite famous for his regular “Fireside Chats” delivered to the American people via radio between 1933 and 1934. The entertainment programs you would hear were just as likely to be sponsored by U.S. War Bonds as they were to be sponsored by Chevrolet or Ovaltine and very often the content of the these programs was quite pointed in their consumer directed message be it “support the American war effort” or “buy this product”.

Stepping into a new realm of information dissemination and further putting a dent in the press’ near monopoly on news and information came television. The basic scientific principles behind television were known in the late 19th Century and much like radio, its development in to a full blown invention was dependent upon both the spread of the electrical power grids and other complementary technologies.  Building upon the works of Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, John Logie Baird, Kálmán Tihanyi, and others, Philo Farnsworth is credited with inventing the first integrated pickup/broadcast/receiver television system in 1927. He first demonstrated the system to the press on September 1, 1928. Soon after, television began its long march into dominance over both radio and print media for both information dissemination and entertainment.

But still, the medium was largely static like print and radio before it despite the addition of moving pictures to sound.

The nature of information dissemination was about to change again, oddly coming full circle.

The World Wide Web and the Internet is an information sharing innovation easily on par with and possibly surpassing Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. It all started with ARPAnet – the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. What started as a simple messaging and bulletin board system based on a robust modular nodal packet sharing network for use by scientists and academics and funded by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) became something very different. Much like Gutenberg took the screw press and added functionality to it by his innovation, so did physicist Tim Berners-Lee take ARPAnet and make it into something entirely more functional and user friendly all at the same time with his creation of HTML – HyperText Markup Language.  In 1980, Berners-Lee was working as a contractor at CERN. He developed the first simple prototype hypertext system in the form of ENQUIRE which used by CERN researchers to share documents. After leaving CERN, Berners-Lee went to work for Image Computer Systems, Ltd, in Bournemouth, England. At ICS, the primary project he worked on was a real-time remote procedure call. This project gave him experience in computer networking so that when he returned to CERN as a fellow in 1984, the pieces of knowledge he needed to make the next step and turn the Internet in to the World Wide Web. In 1989, Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the Internet.  That year, with the assistance of CERN data systems engineer Robert Cailliau, Berners-Lee built the first web server from a NEXTcube workstation (a computer I really wanted as a kid). Much like Gutenberg, the invention of the World Wide Web was the right person coming along at the right time and seeing existing technologies that could be combined in a complementary fashion. As Berners-Lee himself said, “I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and—ta-da!—the World Wide Web.”

Words had become accessible almost instantly in real time and in a user friendly fashion. The creation of new technologies like Java, Perl and Python (cross-platform languages) as well as streaming video and audio and IRC (Internet Relay Chat) protocols soon added richness and depth to what was possible from the “Web experience”. The World Wide Web had the utility of information depth previously seen only in print combined with the benefit of both static and moving images and interactivity between both speaker and audience. It was in many ways the return of the Socratic method. A monolog had again become dialog. Words, images and the information they convey have become something more than static ideas discussed among a small circle of friends or academia. Knowledge has again been democratized. But the medium has drawbacks. Because it is not static but editable in real time by speakers, unless data is captured into storage, it can disappear as readily as it appeared for public consumption. Even more troubling is the ownership of the majority of the network backbone by private companies.  Because the Web traffic is carried by privately owned and largely unregulated – specifically concerning content and the freedom of speech – corporations are now seeking to censor in the Internet, something that would effectively chill if not outright kill the return of the Socratic method and critical thinking applied to the news and information of our times. This is a governmental or corporatist propagandist’s dream – to suppress dissent not by withstanding the critical scrutiny of the marketplace of ideas that this interactive medium invites but at the push of a button. We see it already in repressive countries like Saudi Arabia and China that block access to certain sites and types of traffic based on the political ideology of their political and/or religious leadership. We see that here with the DOJ seizing domains at an alarming and ever increasing rate. I’m not talking editorial control of individual outlets on the Web. I’m talking the ability to eliminate certain channels of communication at a systemic level for political purposes. There are potential consequences to a non-fixed digital medium and not all of them are good, especially when the means of digital distribution lay largely in the hands of private enterprise, but it is hard to argue that the return of the Socratic method to public discourse and the further democratization of knowledge is a bad thing for society. Information is the basis of knowledge and knowledge is power.

This concludes the segments of this series covering mediums of communication.  Next, we’ll examine specific tactics of propaganda, the rhetoric and psychology behind persuasion. Some of these tactics may be new to you, others you may be familiar with, all you should be aware of and guard against with vigilance and skepticism. Remember: ultimately the only person who can change your mind is you . . . unless you let someone else do it for you.


~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

The Propaganda Series;

Propaganda 105: How to Spot a Liar

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Streisand Effect and the Political Question

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Sound of Silence

Propaganda 104: Magica Verba Est Scientia Et Ars Es

Propaganda 102 Supplemental: Holly Would “Zero Dark Thirty”

Propaganda 102: Holly Would and the Power of Images

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Child’s Play

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Build It And They Will Come (Around)

Propaganda 101: What You Need to Know and Why or . . .

Related articles of interest;

Mythology and the New Feudalism by Mike Spindell

How about Some Government Propaganda for the People Paid for by the People Being Propagandized? by Elaine Magliaro


32 thoughts on “Propaganda 103: The Word Changes, The Word Remains The Same

  1. This is fascinating. As a long time student of propaganda, disinformation and other such verbal gymnastics, your series is worth bookmarking. This afternoon, I watched a two hour TV program on Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.”

    He was a master of deception and using the enemy’s strength against them. Those lessons were forgotten by General Westmoreland in Vietnam, General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg and our current leaders of the “War on Terror.”

  2. Thanks, OS.

    I’d have posted it sooner, but I had to take advantage of a cool snap today to do some yard work I’ve been putting off. Then I apparently needed to take a nap sitting up on the couch afterward too. :D

  3. Cool snap? What cool snap? Oh yeah, the one we had today. Temps dropped all the way down to 96. When I was in Nashville on Friday, it was 104 when I left. Reminded me of when I used to live in Natchitoches, and later in West Monroe.

  4. Gene,

    Okay … we have the background and the structure … onward!

    By the way, Gutenberg’s printing press made the reformation.

    When Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittemburg Cathedral his only intention was to protest clerical abuses, especially the sale of indulgences which had grown substantially in number due to clerics no longer having to write out each document but instead using the printing press to produce thousands thus bringing incredible sums of money to Rome.

    However, interested parties translated the 95 Theses and then ran copies off on the printing press distributing them throughout Christendom. In a matter of two months Europe was flooded with copies. (ironic to the max)

    Luther found himself at the head of a movement he never intended to start and the European world changed forever. (Now there was a piece of propaganda that really worked!)

  5. Gene:

    Always the pleasure and a good read on the historical background. A couple of dynamics I might add:

    As you indicated with your reference to the philosophers of the ancient world having a reach that was essentially limited to the audience within hearing range (with the occasional stone tablet) from that we have changed the ease for which the individuals now have the potential for real projection. Formerly it was limited to elites, later to owners or members of print media and to a slightly better video media but now a person can have global reach. Professor Turley through his website here is certainly one example but even more so is the ability of individuals such as we to have nearly equal range as the owner of the blog.

    Another aspect is the concept how it has in some ways been an enabler of justice. Previously, scandal and exposure of injustice was limited to word of mouth, then localization of news, later limited by the space available for newsprint or TV broadcast, and now most gloriously there are no limits. In fact once it gains momentum it “goes viral.” I speak of course of how most recently in our forum The Lifeguard who was unjustly fired for saving a life. I’ll bet the company would not have budged on the termination unless they were flamed and defamed by the internet backlash. Eventually I believe, the little nazis of the world will have to also consider the potential for beling flame broiled for screwing over the little guy.

    Moreover, I believe we are now also seeing the individual sense of fairness, honor and justice being on at least equal or even in some incidences more powerful than the statutory or legal authority. My first observation of this was the famous “Toy War” . Succinctly, the corporation had the legal authority but not the moral one. Being a member of the networked geek world and culture since 1983, I understood the legal position of the corporation but sympathized with etoy. When the resulting DOS Attack and flame war went nuclear and essentially destroyed the corporation I was supremely overjoyed that etoy “won”. The Arab Spring even more so of an example. So in a sense we have come full circle, that is where in the beginning it was sort of a “common, community code of behavior” that kept members of small town in line. Then this began to wane when governments and statutes became the predominant source of control. I now believe we are seeing the beginnings of a degree of will of the people returning to being a social control but this time it is more so on a global scale. (both for good and ill)

    Lastly looking at what it takes to suppress dissent. In ancient times it was the word, then individuals having weapons that had to be confiscated, later the printed word became a weapon in the eyes of tyrants–causing authorities to smash small printing presses “subversives” utilized in basements. Now that anyone, from anywhere, anonymously if needed, can crank out all the weapons of words possible the Wildcat is out of the bag it is going to be very difficult for unscrupulous people and their acts to go unpunished. Maybe some day there will be less will to prosecute wars when the populace sees through the oligarchs’ propaganda and especially when the “enemy nation” is comprised of millions of people who have been “Friended” on Facebook by their constituents.

    A brave new world wide web.

  6. The late Fifth Circuit Federal District Judge Harold Cox once lamented, “The invention of the Xerox machine was the worst thing that ever happened to the law.”

  7. Another great piece on propaganda, Gene! (which is much better than another great piece of propaganda…) I don’t think that the problem you’re talking about is due to the inpermanence of the medium, though–after all, there are sites that record the past state of the web–but instead due to the volume of the medium. It’s not necessarily that anyone’s words are erased (and in most cases they are still exactly as first posted), but that everyone’s past words are buried in a sea of new words. One thing that propagandists really don’t want (in my opinion) is to have their prior words thrown back in their faces–or, even worse, to have their credibility tied to their previous propaganda (especially if it has become demonstrably false). Just my $0.02.

    Personally, I’ve found the last few days very pleasant–being on a lake in northern Michigan is a good place to ride out a heat wave (although this is the first time I can remember my sister’s family–from North Carolina–not complaining about the cold… ;-) )

  8. Judge Cox therefore might not like to hear this, but in view of our current technology, what possible excuse can there be for any opinion written by any court in the land being “unpublished” and “not for precedent”? It is simply a way to turn law into mere propaganda, since SOME law is more equal than OTHER law and, in the last analysis, THE law need not apply to any one (or a million) case(s). In fact, there is a whole body of secret, result-driven law in this country, flying too low for radar. It is not even “unpublished” any more because it’s all over the place and it IS published and we can all READ it but we can’t USE it. So, in the end, what was sauce for the goose cannot be sauce for your gander, necessarily — that decision will rest with whatever chef is cooking your goose.

  9. GeneH,

    Great job, haven’t even begun to absorb it yet. The internet is an enabling system, whose current uses and how they are tied to human communication and social effects (virality, word of mouth, etc) would require as series of its own. Of which you are surely aware and will return to later.

    I, myself, can think of propaganda (ie lies) being used in the pre-verbal era of voice communication: for ex. sound imitations of animals to communicate detection of same to a companion for the appropriate
    purpose—which could be instead a “lie”. Or the tales told at the campfire to divert the assumed path of migration to another one.

  10. Thanks….

    Those who control the dissemination of information control the contents….. Hitler people did it well….. We one upped him….. And also send in bogus money as a bonus…… wise words chosen control the less chosen…..

  11. I have become an anti-federalist, an aficionado of BIG Goverment. Here, a cross-post from Et tu Pennsylvania thread posted this morning has some relevance even here—highly so I believe.
    The insanity of small pond federalism prevents us from

    quickly regulating and counteracting the propaganda abuses that commmercial freedom accords those who would mislead/misinform us.

    One man=one vote is countered by Citizens United.
    The one person=one voice is countered by the power of money or delegate power.
    And OUR freedom of speech again depends on our purse.

    Here is an example of how a benevolent person registry is used. Which is impossible in a federalized small pond world.


    Thank god I was sleeping instead. What a waste of time.

    ONE: You are all victims of federalism: The duty to be subject to different procedures, rules etc to achiieve the same goal; I AM ME PROOF…..whether it be voting, banking, paying in a store, getting medical help, dealing with the government, etc.

    And since you have no say, either individually nor jointly, in each arrangement, then you are subjects of tyranny.
    In the land of the free, etc.

    SOLUTION: You are registerd at birth with a uniques number composed of YYYY-MM-DD-SSSS. Where SSSS if your ordinal number. Simple. It follows you through life, it is the access number to all systems containing YOU: insurance, medical, whatever someone decides they need to identify you in their

    Every system, BTW, that stores you and others, has to be approved by a state agency to assure it’s use, purpose, safety routines, integrity, right to removal by you, etc. is guaranteed. Even governmental agency system must be checked and approved, and often meet forced changes to our benefit. Thus we feel secure that most data systems can be trusted. Not the bank or insurance company using the system, but the system as such. You may at any time request a printout of your file contents.
    And since it is sent to your registere domiciles post address, nobody else can order your file contents and have them delivered to their address.

    Access to a photo ID is mostly done by driver’s license, through the tax office, open ordinary office hours in every city, or a bank ID. Type student ID valldity is unknown by me.

    Naturally, deceased reported by doctor registrations, removes the deceased from the voting system, permanently.

    You register a domicile address, be it buddy, wife, own or parents or temp of any kind. You get your post there, your post packages at the nearest large grocery store open until 10 PM, you get your bills there, etc.

    Life is orderly, convenient, simple, and uniform.
    I called it the vanilla way. If you prefer another way, then vote for chocolate. That is possible too here in Sweden.

    What other problems have we discussed?

    Now untouched is the voter caging issue, the vote fraud inherent or possible in the various voting systems, the vote fraud/caging in the various voter checks done in the various state systems.

    Oh,yes, the elderly, by virtue of the ID-number which follows them to their demise and even after, they are always registered, with or without photo ID. So they vote in their care center. See, even that is easy.

    Hope some read this. Risk of later cross-posting.

    FEDERALISH WAS SOLD AS A GUARANTEE THAT BIG GOVENNMENT WOULD NOT CONTROL YOU. Now you’ve got 50 small governments controlling you, and a new system to learn, adapt to, laws to learn, etc. whenever you move to a new state. Fun, ultimate fun.

    But that is another thread.

  12. As for commercial propaganda, take the subject of labeling.

    What or who controls what must and must not be shown on a consumer product, particularly consumables?

    Who wrangles these cases for right to process, right of jurisdiction, and who decides what canon is applicable first or last. Who processes up to the hightest court applicable. And who can afford to pay the process of protest?

    And who do YOU turn to for info, protests, etc.
    What is correct? JUST GUESSING, seems to be your only right.

    What a mess quite frankly.

    Remember the “Does NOT contain XYZ” controversy?
    I’m sure you remember others too.

    Well, the interstate commerce clause does NOT protect you from the small text on the label, now does it?
    Can you read ant of the “required info”?

    I stop with a short (for me) example. It is relevant as an example, but a source of many threads also.

  13. That post was easy reading because it is well written Gene. You finished with:

    Remember: ultimately the only person who can change your mind is you . . . unless you let someone else do it for you.

    I think it was said in one of the other posts on this subject, whether Elaine’s or yours, that it is important to ask “where does this propaganda want to take me, what does it want me to do?” (paraphrased).

    After all, progaganda is the vehicle for conveying the ideas of someone or some group who want to manipulate us.

    The techniques were calculated, by Huxley, to become so overpowering that we would learn to love not only the technique, but also the manipulation:

    “There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

    (Bully Worship, quoting Huxley). A professor of neurobiology indicates that the military is quite interested in some research he is doing on parasitic microbes that affect the thinking of mammals:

    If you take a lab rat who is 5,000 generations into being a lab rat, since the ancestor actually ran around in the real world, and you put some cat urine in one corner of their cage, they’re going to move to the other side. Completely innate, hard-wired reaction to the smell of cats, the cat pheromones. But take a Toxo-infected rodent, and they’re no longer afraid of the smell of cats. In fact they become attracted to it. The most damn amazing thing you can ever see, Toxo knows how to make cat urine smell attractive to rats. And rats go and check it out and that rat is now much more likely to wind up in the cat’s stomach.

    (On The Origin of Propaganda). I posted a link to the video of his talk yesterday.

    The professor goes on to point out that the military was interested in the research about the highly complex brain surgery the parasite microbe does on the human brain, causing behavioral changes, causing people to do what they would not otherwise do.

    That is the underlying purpose of propaganda in this context, so it may become something we “can’t resist” at some point in time.

    The vast propaganda engine at work in the today needs to be taken off line as quickly as possible because it is by far the most “sophisticated”.

  14. Notice how words can change in meaning in a fairly short amount of time.

    In the following song “the company was gay” does not mean now what it did then, and a “terraced house” would be heard by hippy haters as a “turrist house”, and no telling what “no milk today” would be interpreted as:

  15. Oops.

    I forgot to mention the other phrase “behind closed doors where my love reigned as queen” … in the above song.

    Can you hear rednecks today calling these guys “fags” when the reality is that they were hetero and this is a song about his girlfriend being gone.

  16. “Remember: ultimately the only person who can change your mind is you . . . unless you let someone else do it for you.”

    What is the value of my opinion? When my children were small my opinion was godlike to them…. now not so much… thank goodness they learned I was not or ever was godlike. That myth was never a goal of mine to promote. I can only see that as a detriment to self development.
    Propagandist have the goal of promoting allegiance to group think, deny individual opinion, and create unity in the image of the propagandii.

    Of all the brilliant bar snippets of wisdom I have heard or uttered, none has effected me more than this one.

    “you know, you can think and think and think for yourself, till someday you give up and let other people think for you”

    This was said by a native of Australia that fate had placed in my watering hole and I on a nearby bar stool.
    I have an active mind for my environment, my amazement at the piercing truth and undeniable relevance to my experience of that simple thought, has kept that statement resonating in my conscience thought for 5 years now.

    So many know so much more than I …..Yet when do I acknowledge the uselessness of my brain? when do I surrender my thought as my guide?

    Some institutions unashamedly require this surrender of self as an entry and continuation of membership. Propaganda that promotes the dissolution
    of self for the good of the whole, often if not always has the dominance of a singular thought creator with a HUGE EGO.

    I stumbled upon Henry David Thoreau at 20 yrs of age. He still resonates in my mind 37 years later. …..And I don’t know if this has been Boon or Bane.
    Thinking for myself has caused most all of my difficulties. Thinking Honestly for myself has caused me all of my Honest difficulties.

    I am responsible for my honesty, my brain, my self, has dominion over my honest “soul” When I dishonestly unbalance myself to follow reason contrary to my honest soul, I imagine that it is then necessary for me to surrender my mind to another. Go along to get along. Muzzle myself and benefit from being muzzled. Follow and reap reward.

    That darn Thoreau, I did read Atlas Shrugged about the same time, Perhaps if I had put more effort into Rands philosophy, I would currently be a big rich self centered self glorified super human !!!!!. Nahhh! I am too honest for that. Honesty is the labor of the day every day. It is not stored in bank vaults. It is the currency of honest thought and action. That is the highest market place, all may enter.

    Lonely are the abandoned dreams of youth, Lonely are the market fields of Honesty.

  17. David Blauw,

    Surely, you have heard other voices there?

    And even being honest, while alone, pays dividends of better mental capabilities—even though there is and will be areas you lack the expertise to think your way through.

    Just as was said above: consider who is the utterer, and what do they want?, do very well as starting pointf for any point in time. That was Dredd, perhaps?

  18. Gene,

    I was waiting all day for your latest installment and it came after I’d gone to bed. Your are building the foundation here for something very important to us all. One needs to understand the structure of propaganda in order to free themselves from it. You are exposing that structure in a logical step by step framework. With our current overabundance of information we are faced with both opportunity and peril. Never in history have humans been both capable of unbounded information and yet susceptible to mind control by those with a will to power. The battle over Net Freedom may yet be the most important battle in human history. I can’t wait for you next installment of what I think is a most important body of work.

  19. My lament is for so many difficulties in this world based on False speech.
    I have had false goals, (and I’m sure still do). This is the effort I see intrinsically valuable to me and and all that choose to self think.
    “Know Thy Self”, or “To Thy Own Self Be True”.
    Simple words, in one form or another all cultures must instill a seeking of truth in their children. Yet these are words often abandoned within Adults as naive thoughts for children. The Golden rule morphs into “do unto others BEFORE they do unto you” Trust becomes risk, Protection becomes Sacred./ Culture, Religion, Society manifests into a shield against risk, and a wall, a fence, a denier of other truths, for its own self perpetuating survival. Negative propaganda offers protection, don’t think outside the box.
    I believe this is one accurate depiction of Dragons. ‘Know its name speak its name, and the dragons power over self dissipates’. Fear has made Dragons in my past Ferocious, Negative propaganda can and does create dragons, to benefit the wielders with a contained placid herd of manageable sheep.
    This sounds to be or can be interpreted negatively but to me much truth exists beyond the dragons, and the struggles are rewarding, the journey is all. The end of the journey is the same for everyone.
    Ps. I may have made my coffee too strong this morning, but it is delicious, and it is coffee, true to its nature.

  20. Slartibartfast,

    Your point about data capture is a valid point, but I don’t think that negates the mutable nature of the medium. Mutability brings with it inherently a degree of deniability – a “he said/she said” – that can cloud the issue of authenticity. True, from a technical level, this matter of authenticity can (usually) be determined to a standard sufficient for a trier of fact but in the court of public opinion anything that can be used for obfuscation carries a rhetorical (and ergo a propagandistic) value no matter the level of proof provided. For some people simply the suggestion of doubt, especially if it appeals to a confirmation bias or like psychological mechanism, can forever cloud their judgment of an issue. Law, like science, has objective standards of proof. Most people don’t.

  21. OS, OK, Judge Cox is gone, RIP.

    RIOP (our peace)

    But the stuff I was fussing about, unpublished opinions, is still bad stuff.

  22. Gene,

    I don’t deny that mutability is an issue–they both really boil down to the same thing–for all practical purposes it is very hard to tie people to their prior online statements and propagandists make good use of this fact.

  23. Gene,

    There was a reason Shakespeare and his actors were looked down upon.

    During the Feudalistic period class structure was strict. Sons and daughters followed in the footsteps of their parents for generations and no one, no one, stepped outside the well-drawn lines of his/her place. Church sponsored Morality plays were fine with everybody but once actual drama and comedy hit the stage with actors dressing up in costumes and pretending to be someone they were not, society as a whole was shocked and then fascinated.

    Pretending to be someone you were not?!! Stepping outside the clearly drawn lines of place?!! What was happening to society?! What was next?!! The Church and the ruling class were in an uproar as they considered the breakdown and the “actors” who brought it on.

    There’s something wrong with people who want to do this! But wait … wait … maybe we can turn this to our advantage … hello propaganda!

    Funny that still, to this day, actors are given a jaundiced eye and it all stems from that Feudalistic period.

  24. Well, well Beavis has risen, now where is Buttheah?

    Dumb and Dumber appeared yesterday.

    So well played the…. The Drum Roles please, the trumpeter trumpets its horn with an ox to gore. How garish, said the damsel as the kerchief drops to the floor, and the fool rushes to attain the graces of the wooden maiden.

  25. Blouise,

    It seems to me that actors are both viewed with a jaundiced eye and simultaneously idolized. If you think about it actors are seen as the epitome of the American Dream when they achieve fame. The rise from obscurity to stardom is a propagandists goldmine, for it shows that with pluck (anachronistic but fun word) anyone can succeed.

    As McCluhan said “the medium is the message” and the overlap between movie stars and the true elite has become merged. Think of the White House Correspondents dinner with Lindsay Lohan and Donald Trump as attendees. However, Lohan as an actor can get arrested for minor offenses and suffer the opprobrium of the media, while the elite of inherited wealth such as Trump gets a TV show where he can play a business guru, with his bankruptcy’s ignored.

    It all has to do with the propaganda promoting the mythology of social. Like the rise of an actor from obscurity to fame, the propaganda of class decrees that those achieving Hollywood fame serve as proof anyone can do it and yet in their excesses and failures they are useful tools to show the inherent instabilty of the lower classes.

    Another illustration of this is the sports star who receives media acclaim bordering on worship. Yet if that star demands millions from the billionaire who owns the team, the corporate media will try to destroy these athletes with the implication that they don’t deserve so much money and are ungrateful to the teams ownership. As long as the teams owners are somewhat successful at winning the public led by medias propaganda will always side mostly with ownership against the idolized star, since there is an implicit assumption that athletes are from the lower classes.

  26. And here I thought their disrepute depended on their constant stare of rut and consequent fornication.
    But then I recall the english Henry VIII production which showed the noble ladies doing the same—-so it can’t be that, or….???

    You see, even I get my information on other cultures through popular media like “The Millenium Series”, fascism and all that, plus a good dose of sex, derringdo and illogical and near impossible plot development. English history: Tea made with tepid water and used teabags in comparison.

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