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Propaganda in Society

23 May 2017Essay Samples

In the modern era, the masses are communicated through the medium of press, radio and today’s glamorous representation in the films and TV. The scope of influence of these communication methods have been widely discussed and understood. It is through these channels of communication that the theme of propaganda flows. Propaganda by any means is the promotion of ideas, interests and experiences done for the purpose of vested interests.

Starting from the article by Hadley Cantril, Propaganda and Radio, 1937, in which the author has emphasized the importance of radio as a means of propagating the ideals of the interested body. In United States, he narrates, there were more of the privately owned radio channels than most of the European countries and USSR, where there were restrictions and the monopoly of the publicly and government owned radio stations. The author argues that, however, it was even more of a severity, as big business giants who commercialized their products were and services owned these radio channels.

This propaganda of staying on the prescribed path and not deviating, run through most favored radio programs, may it be a comedy or a most watched musical show of that time. Another propagation problem was with the ownership size and the returns expected if conformity to the present standards were ensured. There was a sort of monopoly as most of the small radio channels were affiliated with the bigger giants. Radio was taken as the medium to propagate the policies of the present government and the political agenda, as it was thought that people feel close when they listen to voices, even more when of favorites.

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Comparatively, he is of the same opinion as to the propaganda purpose and the ownership of these two mediums: the business class and their vested interests. The mutilation and manipulation of facts are sometimes to such an extent that it would not be wise to give such expressive and consistent medium in the business hands. The author cites the example of the National Recovery Act. Also the contradictory attitude of most of the publications when on one hand they flows the article in favor of any political party or against smoking and on the other give advertisements a cigarette product, there by, not only giving information but also propagating the harmful product.

The author also criticizes the ‘departments of information’, which sends readymade statements to the press for publication. And these are published without gaining the actual facts to please the sponsoring body, may it be business or government. Jaques Ellul has the same notion when he asserts that the term "propaganda" is thrown around very loosely today, and is used especially in the sphere of politics by politicians who want to impute their political adversary of deceiving the electorate in some way or another: "None of what my opponent says is true. It’s all propaganda!" Thus, he says that the word "propaganda" has become equivalent to lying.

Further he asserts that the actual propaganda very seldom makes use of lies. He says that propaganda means a discipline of thought and action, which makes use of the modern-day media of print, broadcast and television, as well as person-to-person contact, to convince a large group of people with a particular concept or disposition. More precisely, propaganda attempts to evoke a preferred action from the group of people being propagandized. While this theme does try to indoctrinate its audience with ideas and attitudes, but it is more often used for stimulating its victims to some sort of action.

In his book, The Formation of Men’s Attitude, Ellul depicts how the men who have employed propaganda most successfully over the last century like, Hitler, Stalin, Marx, Lenin and Mao, have perfected into a highly practical technique utilizing the components of psychology, sociology, behaviorism, oratory, and many other disciplines. Those who practice it have gradually perfected into what could be called a "scientific art".

Ellul says that while many conquests and accomplishments that came through propaganda during this century, none have been so vital as the fragmentation of the family and the church. According to Ellul no propaganda can be successfully made until these two important milestones of society have been broken up and removed from a position of influence.

As compared to common wisdom, a group-oriented society is less exposed to the effects of propaganda than an individualistic society. He describes the phenomena of "lonely crowd" where each individual within the crowd, despite being surrounded by others, is in complete isolation and loneliness and is removed from significant outside influences such as the church or family. Thus, we can conclude that the enormity and magnitude of propaganda’s influence as it makes use of every tool at its disposal for propagating.

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