Back in 1987, there was a band called “The Firm” (no, not the one with Paul Rodgers & Jimmy Page) … which released a very successful single named “Star Trekkin”. You can still find copies of the promo video today.
Imagine you were arriving at some planet somewhere and you discovered a developed civilization with a large thriving population there. You might reasonably assume there was some kind of social order, wouldn’t you agree (?) — perhaps some kind of hierarchical, or perhaps simply a very flat organization?
Now considering this civilization were foreign to you, and that you knew very little about it: Do you expect it would have any kind of propaganda? Whether yes or no, in either case: does the answer match up with what you think about your own civilization?
Please feel free to post your response as a comment below (before reading any further, if you feel like it, etc.).
Much in line with the previous chapter (“Community — Compared to What?“), I would be not-at-all surprized if people were to assume foreigners might be different. Yet I would also not be amazed if people were to think that one civilization probably behaves much like another civilization, since they are both civilizations.
So in this vein, I arrive at the perhaps quite provocative question: Is propaganda civilized? This question makes me quite uncomfortable. Perhaps another question more “built-for-comfort” might be: Why would anyone think that propaganda is impossible? Or even against the law? I think such questions were also raised quite well by Bob Dylan in his song “With God On Our Side”.
Here are some rather basic facts about propaganda, written rather “off the cuff” and / or from the top of my head:
- if something is recognized as propaganda, it ceases to be functional as propaganda
- propaganda breeds via repetition
- (roughly / by and large / to put it bluntly) after WWII, propaganda was rebranded as advertising (yet its “illicit” nature was relegated to only the realm of a rather murky notion of “subliminal” advertising)
What amazes me to no end is how widespread propaganda actually is while at the same time how widely it is believed to not exist at all … or at the very least how many people believe to be immune to its wiles, how many people think it is ineffective for themselves (yet apparently being indeed effective when used on others), in sum: how oblivious many people who consider themselves to be literate are (yet who obviously willingly engage in allowing themselves to be manipulated in this manner) … gullibly consuming it in mass quantities for “FREE“.