Propaganda: Module One: Session Six

Total Propaganda

  • Total propaganda is a phenomenon which takes place when all the media act together and bring about a complete change in perspective of the weltanschauung (paradigm) of the society. Almost no one disagrees with the belief. In fact, few people are even aware that they have the belief. One way to detect whether the phenomenon is total propaganda is to observe how dissenters are treated. There will always be a few people who won't go along. At a minimum they will be mocked and ridiculed. Hatred toward dissenters is often encouraged. They might get fired or have their businesses targeted. Laws might be passed to try to censor them. In extreme cases they might be jailed or even executed. (So far, people aren't executed for their beliefs in the U.S., but this happens elsewhere.)
  • It must be pointed out that the claim being made is not always false. Rather, it is the means of arriving at the conclusion that is wrong. Rather than using reason, methods of manipulation are used.
  • A few examples:
    • Smoking is bad.
    • The "green movement." Notice how every product is sold as being green in some way, whether it actually is or not.
    • Global warming.

Vertical and Horizontal Propaganda

  • Vertical propaganda is that which comes directly from the source to the target audience. It is analogous to lightning striking the ground.
  • Examples are any advertisement, a campaign speech given by the candidate, press releases from political action groups.
  • Horizontal propaganda takes place when the vertical propaganda has taken hold among a few members of the target audience. It then spreads among the group, either by word of mouth or by example. It is analogous to a fire spreading from the point of the lightning strike. This is the bandwagon effect.
  • Both vertical and horizontal propaganda are needed for the propaganda to be effective.

Reinforcing function of propaganda

Propaganda also serves to reinforce beliefs. For instance, people who listen to Rush Limbaugh are mostly those who already agree with his perspective. His function is to help maintain and strengthen the beliefs of the converted.

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