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Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes Paperback – January 12, 1973
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Text: English, French (translation)
From the Back Cover
'The theme of Propaganda is quite simply. . . that when our new technology encompasses any culture or society, the result is propaganda. . . . Ellul has made many splendid contributions in this book.' -Robert R. Kirsch, The Los Angeles Times
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Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), a French sociologist, was Professor Emeritus of Law and of the History and Sociology of Institutions at the University of Bordeaux.
''To warn him of his weakness is not to attempt to destroy him, but rather to encourage him strengthen himself. I have no sympathy with the haughty aristocratic intellectual who judges from on high, believing himself invulnerable to the destructive forces of his time, and disdainfully considers the common people as cattle to be manipulated, to be molded by the action of propaganda. . . . That having suffered, felt, and analyzed the impact of the power of propaganda on myself, having been time and again, and still being, the object of propaganda, I want to speak of it as a menace which threatens the total personality.'' (xvii)
'Menace threatens the total personality' - What would Ellul say now? Threatens the total society? Total world culture?
Chapter 1 - The Characteristics of Propaganda
1. External Characteristics
2. Internal characteristics
3. Categories of Propaganda
Chapter 2 - The Conditions for the Existence of Propaganda
1. The Sociological Conditions
2. Objective Conditions of Totsl Propaganda
Chapter 3 - The Necessity of Propaganda
1. The State's Necessity
2. The Individual's Necessity
Chapter 4 - Psychological Effects of Propaganda
Chapter 5 - The Socio-Political Effect
1. Propaganda and Ideology
2. Effects on the Structure of Public Opinions
3. Propaganda and Grouping
4. Propaganda and Democracy
Appendix 1 - Effectiveness of Propaganda
Appendix 2 - Mao Tse-tung's Propaganda
1. The War: From 1926 to 1949
2. Since 1949
''Central to Ellul's thesis, is that modern propaganda cannot work without ''education'': he thus reverses the widespread notion that education is the best prophylactic against propaganda. On the contrary, he says, education, or what usually goes by that word in the modern world, is the absolute prerequisite for propaganda.''
Education opens the mind to - ''propaganda''!
''In fact, education is identical with what Ellul calls ''pre-propaganda'' - the conditioning of minds vast amounts of incoherent information, already dispensed for ulterior purposes and posing as ''facts'' and as ''education''. (vi)
''Facts'' are only true when ''education'' says they are.
Therefore - ''The 'need' for propaganda on the part of the ''propagandee'' is one of the most powerful elements of Ellul's thesis. Cast out of the disintegrating micro groups of the past, such as family, church, or village, the individual is plunged into mass society and thrown back on his own inadequate resources, his isolation, his loneliness, his ineffectuality.'' (vi)
'Alienated in a world he never made'
''Propaganda then hands him in veritable abundance what he needs: a 'raison d'être', personal involvement and participation in important events, an outlet and excuse for some of his more doubtful impulses, righteousness - all factious, to be sure, all more or less spurious.'' (vii)
''The citizen of a modern state pays more taxes than the most heavily taxed people in pre-Napoleonic times the subject was forced to pay, whereas the free citizen of today must pay for reasons of conviction. His conviction will not about spontaneously, particularly when taxes are really heavy. The conviction must therefore be manufactured, ideals must be stimulated in order to give true significance to such a ''contribution to the nation''; here, too, propaganda is needed. This is the exact opposite of political freedom.'' (142)
Nationalism seems only sacred thing left standing.
''The man of whom such super-sacrifices are demanded finds himself in the middle of an incessant world conflict, pushed to the very limit of his nervous and mental endurance, and in a sort of constant preparation for ultimate sacrifice. He cannot live this way unless sustained by powerful motivations, which he will not find either inside himself, or spontaneously. They must be furnished him by society. . . . Man must be plunged into a mystical atmosphere, he must be given strong enough impulses as well as good enough reasons for his sacrifice, and, at the same time, a drug that will sustain his nerves and his morale.'' (143)
''History shows that plain truth can be so throughly snuffed out that it disappears, and that in certain periods the lie is all powerful. . . . Propaganda, in fact, creates truth in the sense that it creates in men subject to propaganda all the signs of true believers. For modern man, propaganda is really creating truth.'' (235)
Truth is given, received without struggle or pain, in contrast to the work of Socrates, Euclid, Grosseteste, Kepler, Aquinas, Newton, Faraday, Pascal, Locke, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Maxwell,
Pastuer, Plank, Einstein, etc., etc.. The decades of mental effort, heartbreaking struggle, produced treasure modernity still uses.
Newton's Physics has been replaced by Faraday's fields, but the insights of both were -never- given, they were produced/discovered through agonizing, heart wrenching struggle.
What a loss if such men disappear!
''The individual who is prevented by circumstances from becoming a real person, who cannot express himself through personal thought or action, who finds his aspirations frustrated, projects onto the hero all he would wish to be. He lives vicariously and experiences the athletic or amorous or military exploits of the God with whom he lives in spiritual symbiosis. . . . The hero becomes model and father, power and mythical of all that the individual cannot be.'' (172)
''Young is of the opinion that the propagandee no longer develops intellectually, but becomes arrested in an infantile neurotic pattern; regression sets in when the individual is submerged in mass psychology. This is confirmed by Stoetzel, who says that propaganda destroys all individuality, is capable of creating only a collective personality; and that it is an obstacle in the free development of the personality.'' (173)
(See also - ''Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies''. This short, recent work reaches similar conclusions. Also, ''Propaganda'', by Edward Bernays. Probably the most renowned work on this theme.)
After overcoming my own false expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Several aspects are brilliantly explained; the state's and individual's NEED for propaganda...to name only one of many.
With that being said, I would NOT recommend this book to the reader who wants to learn the basic fundamentals or psychological/sociological mechanisms involved in propaganda. Instead I would refer to Fromm's "Escape From Freedom" or Hoffer's "The True Believer" (both classics), even Bernays' book of the same name, even though it is very rudimentary.
But for those who already have some knowledge of the phenomenon, this study will take your understanding of propaganda to the next level, and I would consider this a must read for anyone serious on the topic.
At only 20 or so pages I have decided to break, for what he has given me to think about is a feast of feasts.
Truly a revolutionary work, bridging Edward Bernay's Propaganda and the work of the previously mentioned scholars.