Propaganda A-Z

A is for Adolf Hitler, chancellor of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) from 1933 to 1945. Through various media Hitler spread his anti-semitic doctrine throughout Germany. The action he inspired resulted in the genocide of over 6 million Jews.

B is for Black propaganda. This term is used by famed writer Jacques Ellul in his book Propagandes to describe the dissemination of propaganda by an unseen source.

C is for Consistency. This, along with Credibility, is a vital element to the success of propaganda.

D is for Doctrine, a series of thoughts.

E is for Education, which opens us up to accepting unverified information as fact. Ellul argues that the more educated a memeber of society, the more prone he (or she) is to propaganda.

F is for Feelings, which must be provoked in order to incite individuals to action as a mass.

G is for Goebbels, Hitler’s Reichsminister and Minister of Propaganda during his reign as chancellor.

H is for Horizontal Propaganda, which is formed within a social group.

I is for Ideologies. Raymond Aron states that they are ” any set of ideas accepted by individuals or peoples without attention to their origin or value.” (Ellul, 116) In Marxist terms they are “a particular set of ideas, values and beliefs- that support the dominant or ruling class.” The effect of ideology is to maintain the status quo.

J is for Justification. This can be on the part of the propagandist or the propagandee. In one case the propagandist seeks to call upon cultural ideologies in order to justify his or her actions, on the part of the individual, justification will be sought to condone his or her behaviour as a participant.

K is for Mein Kampf. English translation: My Struggle. ThisĀ  text was written by Adolf Hitler during his imprisonment for “political crimes” in 1923. It was both an autobiography and his own political ideologies. Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and was often given as a wedding gift to newlyweds.

L is for Lenin, Bolshevik Leader of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia.

M is for the 4 Myths Ellul proposes. They are the myth of the nation, the myth of youth, the myth of work and the myth of happiness. These are man’s “principle orientations” (Ellul, 40)

N is for Nationalism. Oxford Dictionary Definition: n. patriotic feeling, principles or efforts.An extremem form of this, esp. marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries. Advocacy of political independence for a particular country: Palestinian Nationlism.

O is for Orthopraxy, “an action that in itself, and not because of the value judgements of the person who is acting, leads directly to a goal, which for the individual is not a concious and intentional objective to be obtained, but which is considered such by the propagandist.” (Ellul, 27)

P is for Pre- Propaganda, the practice of cultivating the masses before engaging in full propaganda.

Q is for Q.Wright

R is for Repetition, which is crucial to do in order to get your message across, which is crucial to do in order to get your message across.

S is for Slogans, Symbols and Stereotypes. Semiology (the study of signs) plays a crucial role in the history of propaganda. By creating signs one is able to transcend language or cultural barriers and ascribe their own meaning to it. This is one way to short circuit thought and incite immediate emotional reaction. Slogans and stereotypes also contribute to this immediacy of action, they allow a mass of individuals to unite under one ideology and act as a unit.

T is for Timeliness. “Propaganda in its explicit form must relate solely to what is timely.” (Ellul, 43)

U is for Unity. In order to gain public support, the propagandist calls on dominant ideologies to promote a sense of unity amoung the people he or she is attempting to propagate. This makes the masses easier to manipulate or incite to action.

V is for Vertical Propaganda, the type we envisage most often. This is the act of propaganda coming directly down to us from one source, fed through various filters and media until it reaches the masses at the bottom of the communication line.

W is for White Propaganda, where the source of the message is easily identifiable.

X is for Xenocide: the killing or attempted killing of an entire “alien” species.

Y is for Hitlers Youth, a training and recruiting program for future members of the Sturmabteilung or “Storm Troppers” in the German Army.

Z is for Zeitgeist, the spirit of a time or generation.

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