Propaganda and Persuasion (Chapters 5 & 6, Triumph of the Will, and Leni Riefenstahl)

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psychological warfare

"Comprising the use of propaganda against an enemy, together with such other operational measures of a military, economic, or political nature as may be required to supplement propaganda"

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"The basic idea is that the best success in war is achieved by the destruction of the enemy's will to resist, and with a minimum annihilation of fighting capacity."

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Historical instances of psychological warfare:

From the Bible - Gideon equipped 300 of his men with torch and trumpet (usually only 1 per 100 men) creating the illusion of 30,000 men. Midianites thought they were facing a much larger force and fled the battlefield. Cortez used horses as instruments of terror and exploited Indian legends of a "Fair God." Chinese used rockets to intimidate their enemies. Primitives beat drums and cast spells to unsettle adversaries.

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Psychological warfare is an American term; British refer to political warfare.

Psychological warfare is the use of symbols to promote policies/politics; such campaigns use all available means of communication (i.e. xerography).

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wartime activity

this is when the public seems most familiar with the use of propaganda; symbolic manipulations can later appear to be gross distortions of reality, racist, naive, and essentially sill such impressions were readily accepted as part of the mythology created by the reality of the conflict

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Countering the residual power of psychological warfare has proved to be a difficult problem."

[i.e. the portrayal of Germans/Nazis & Japanese in Hollywood films, still shown today.]

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A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

A Smithsonian exhibit was to include a questioning of the military necessity, and, thus, he moral defensibility, of its use. This prompted a flurry of protest, resulting in parts of the exhibition being cancelled. In the wake of the collapse of the U.S.S.R., "...the West no longer has a clear perspective of who this "enemy" now is. But the artifacts of the Cold War remain..." (i.e. movies, books)

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In World War I, with the exception of the U.S.S.R., each participating nation had a communication infrastructure to rely upon for propaganda. "...the character of the indigenous communication systems dictated the way each nation approached the use of propaganda."

i.e. British - news gathering network, undersea cable; German - regimented press; America - extensive media system churches, private groups; French - diplomacy skills

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British Propaganda

The British developed an early lead in producing propaganda for the new conflict because it had to deal with internal, domestic debate as to the wisdom of the war. In Great Britain, the chief agency to develop a propaganda campaign was the Central Committee for National Patriotic Associations; it organized lectures, clubs, rallies throughout the British Empire. The Neutral Countries Subcommittee enlisted support from countries not directly involved in the war; colleagues, business associates in those countries were flooded with pamphlets, booklets, etc. War Aims Committee fought pacifism in Great Britain.

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War Propaganda Bureau

Lloyd George, upon becoming prime minister, reorganized this Bureau, forming the Department of Information, concentrating on enemy civilian psychological warfare outside Britain, with the National War Aims committee coordinating campaigns within Britain.

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German Propaganda

Hitler praised the British propaganda for finding the faults in the German campaign during WWI, He felt that this disparity was the crucial difference in determining the outcome of the war. In fact, "this became a part of the mythology of the Nazis" [helping to explain Hitler's preoccupation with propaganda leading up to and through World War II.] German propaganda lacked organization and moral drive "...most of the German diplomats were so convinced of the 'rightness' of Germany's cause that they felt no need to justify it..." "The Germans also made the mistake of being much too forthright in their use of German sympathizers in the United States to propagandize on their behalf...they had failed to take into account the degree of 'Americanization' that immigrants...had undergone." This tactic may have backfired, prompting German-Americans to be even more "pro-British" to avoid suspicion of disloyalty.

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'Zimmerman telegram incident'

the British intercepted a telegram from German foreign minister Zimmerman to German ambassador to the U.S., Bernstorff. He recommended unrestricted submarine warfare on all transatlantic shipping and that Germany enlist Mexico as an ally if the U.S. intervened militarily (suggesting they offer to return Texas & Arizona to the Mexicans!) President Woodrow Wilson used this, along with the sinking of the Lusitania and other factors, to overcome American resistance to entering the war The British were at a propaganda advantage with the ringing call "the war to end all wars." "Germany was never able to claim a moral position to compete with this platitude."

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The Committee on Public Information (CPI)

civilian agency headed by George Creel; "the world's greatest adventure in advertising." "[T]he CPI used every available means of communicating with the American public with an intensity never before devoted to a single issue in the United States." short run - CPI was successful in created a 'war psychosis' in the US long run - led to suspicion of the power of organized propaganda and ultimately encouraged the pacifist and isolationist tendencies that existed in the United States for the next 20 years. This was all because Wilson's claim that this war would "make the world safe for democracy" largely discredited, there were serious questions raised about the tactics and tenacity of the CPI.

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The CPI produced propaganda primarily (but not exclusively) for domestic consumption.

i.e. the Four-Minute Men - speakers who would lecture on the war "at a moment's notice." young Hollywood made propaganda movies; their exhibition in neutral countries was encouraged radio broadcast from U.S. to Eiffel Tower, and from there to neutral countries

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G-2D military propaganda

emphasized pamphlets designed to encourage surrender, delivering them with airplanes, balloons, leaflet bombs and mortars. The messages were largely anti-military and pro-democracy. Many focused-on food, an effective strategy for an audience (both military and civilian) which was close to starvation The Germans attacked such propaganda as unethical; ..."the German army's reluctance to get its hands dirty in psychological warfare cost it dearly."

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Atrocity stories

hate propaganda' focused on:

  1. massacre

  2. mutilation

  3. mistreatment of military and civilian populations intended to create fear of defeat, raise funds and encourage enlistment

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"the Hun"

was a label given to the Germans this was a central theme of American propaganda

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Atrocity stories, many with no basis in fact, were at the heart of American propaganda two stories were very effective :

1.) Edith Cavell, a Red Cross nurse, was convicted on the charge of helping French and British soldiers escape in Belgium where she worked. At her execution, she declared, "Standing before God and eternity, I realize this--patriotism is not enough. I must be free from hate and bitterness." The French had earlier shot several women spies, but the Germans did not use this to their propaganda advantage. Their attempt to do so with the execution of Mata Hari was too little, too late. 2.) A German U-boat sunk the luxury liner Lusitania without warning, killing 1,198. That the Lusitania was carrying arms didn't carry much weight with the British or American public. Five days later, the Bryce Commission Report was released, finding "a compelling mass of evidence" to substantiate atrocity reports. Later examination of the evidence suggests that "the commissioners were themselves caught up in the hysteria of war."

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Reaction to WWI Propaganda

The wartime propaganda was effective, and the fear of mass media was being shown through the reaction of the nation prevailing theories of psychology and the instinctual understanding of the way the mass media worked were still influential.

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Between the World Wars, propaganda was marked by three major developments:

1.) establishment of U.S.S.R. 2.) U.S. isolationism 3.) ascendancy of fascist states (i.e. Germany, Italy, Spain)

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modern political ideology that seeks to regenerate the social, economic, and cultural life of a country by basing it on a heightened sense of national belonging or ethnic identity. Fascism rejects liberal ideas such as freedom and individual rights, and often presses for the destruction of elections, legislatures, and other elements of democracy. Despite the idealistic goals of fascism, attempts to build fascist societies have led to wars and persecutions that caused millions of deaths. As a result, fascism is strongly associated with right-wing fanaticism, racism, totalitarianism, and violence.

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The Soviets used a number of symbolic and political propaganda devices:

-claim that there was an immediate threat or plot which then legitimated a harsh response. -hammer and sickle as a striking visual symbol -huge May Day parades showing Soviet military might -That this propaganda was effective is given evidence by polls indicating that many in Russia regret the collapse of the Communist state and would welcome its restoration.-There was an international dimension to Soviet propaganda, in keeping with its self-appointed mission to foment Communist revolution throughout the world. "such sentiments had enormous appeal during the Depression," [even in Western democracies.]

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Huey Long

"The Kingfish"- populist governor of Louisiana, later U.S. Senator from Louisiana, promulgated a "share the wealth" philosophy. This earned him a reputation as a radical champion of "the little people." Some feared him for his autocratic style ("he ran Louisiana like a dictatorship") and his possible fascist leanings (though he never pronounced himself allied with such a movement.)

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Long was able to bypass normal media channels:

1.) he published American Progress which had only a small paid subscription base, but which was sent free to 300,000 people 2.) his autobiography, Every Man a King was given free to anyone wishing a copy 3.) a staff of stenographers churned out letters, circulars, pamphlets 4.) most importantly, radio. He used a "personal, folksy style."

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Father Charles Coughlin, S.J.

  • also used radio masterfully. He began with religious themes but changed nearly exclusively to political topics due to positive audience response. He played to "the hopes and fears of his largely working-class audience."

  • rhetorical techniques included "maudlin sentimentality, anger and invective, sober reasonableness, religious this unpredictability lay much of Coughlin's appeal." His audience was unhappy with America's course, and Coughlin played to that dissatisfaction.

  • took aim at "Wall Street and the international bankers" he blamed for the economic downturn -"moved over the edge" by adopting an anti-Semitic stance (1938) and arguing that the U.S. should stay neutral in the conflict which would become WWII

  • book Social Justice was banned from the U.S. mails; he was threatened with charges of sedition

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Both Long and Coughlin demonstrated that

"radio, with its inherent capacity to become 'personal,' was a potent force for propagandizing."

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In its monthly publication Propaganda analysis, it published the "ABC's of propaganda analysis":

1.) name calling 2.) glittering generality 3.) transfer 4.) testimonial 5.) plain folks 6.) card stacking 7.) band wagon

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The Group Leader's Guide to Propaganda Analysis

intended to "promote critical thinking and informed discussion" about contemporary issues

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As late as 1939, the American public remained anti-war, though they were increasingly pro-Ally. After Pearl Harbor ended the debate, a huge propaganda campaign was again aimed at the American public.

"Since the end of World War II, the isolationist impulse has periodically risen, but the realities of the atomic age have effectively prevented total withdrawal from the world political arena, although many Americans still wish that isolationism were possible."

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In Mein Kampf, he laid down rules for propaganda:

1.) avoid abstract ideas; appeal to the emotions 2.) constantly repeat a few ideas, using stereotyped phrases and avoiding creativity 3.) advance only one side of the argument 4.) constantly criticize enemies of the state 5.) single out one special enemy

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Hitler "saw the masses as 'malleable, corrupt and corruptible,' and open to emotional appeals."

He felt that propaganda was more effective if accompanied with intimidation and terror. He "rose to power with a skillful combination of power, spectacle, and propaganda."

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Treaty of Versailles

made the Germans psychologically susceptible to Hitler's propaganda--they craved effective leadership.

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Hitler relied heavily upon radio to carry his message, judging the written word to be an ineffective carrier for his emotion-laden appeals.

The Nazi government even produced a cheap one-channel radio (the Volksempflanger) and required that radios be installed in public places (i.e. restaurants, factories.) "Radio wardens" checked that people were listening to the right stations.

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(Triumph of The Will, Ohm Kruger [Uncle Kruger], Jud Suss [The Jew Suss], Der Ewige Jude [The Eternal Jew].) The greatest successes came in documentaries and newsreels (where audience expectations of being entertained are diminished.

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gigantic rallies, such as the one documented in Triumph of The Will

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visual symbols

eagle, goose step, heil salute, swastika

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Radio was the preeminent media for communicating messages to foreign countries. The use of radio and other, more traditional media attempted to leverage a presumed understanding of human psychology to achieve a more effective propaganda. A major aim of domestic U.S. propaganda was to explain the war and its aims to the American people (i.e. Why We Fight.)

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The Korean War, 1950-1953

The United States found itself on the propaganda defensive, on occasion, in terms of the international audience it was trying to persuade. Forced confessions of American pilots, and charges of U.S. use of germ warfare were proven groundless; however, these charges were circulated around the world and were difficult to dispel.

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i.e. mentally reprogrammed to do things regardless of their will.

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The CIA responded with MK-ULTRA, a program aimed at understanding such techniques, enhancing them and using them on behalf of the U.S.

(i.e. dosing uniformed subjects with LSD; hypnosis; telepathy, precognition; remote viewing.)

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The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

1964-The USS Maddox was involved in an “incident.” This was used as a basis for ratcheting up U.S. presence in the conflict. Other black and gray propaganda was employed to justify our continued presence in Vietnam.

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“Hearts and Minds”: The Propaganda Campaign

This was a propaganda campaign which early on was conducted by multiple U.S. agencies in an uncoordinated fashion, resulting in duplication and inefficiencies. Control was eventually consolidated in the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO.) Different techniques were used on different audiences which had been identified. However, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were so dedicated to their cause that it was difficult to persuade them otherwise. Chandler (1981) pointed out interesting parallels between the Vietnam War and he Revolutionary War, in that both conflicts saw a relatively small group of backward farmers bring a world superpower to its knees by protracted and unconventional warfare. In both cases, the odds for success were minimal, but “psychologically with both patriotism and a vision of the future, the weak prevailed over the mighty—a common denominator in both revolutions was love of country and an uncompromising desire to achieve freedom from foreign rule.

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One main objective of propaganda

achieve acceptance of the propagandist’s ideology both by its own and by the other side

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In the Gulf War, any analysis of the propaganda must start with an analysis of the propaganda must start with an analysis of the ideological objective of both sides

The dominant ideology of the United States is firmly based on the idea of a participatory democratic political structure and a free enterprise capitalist economic structure...The key ideological term is freedom.

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a holy war against the infide

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he scars of Vietnam are deeply etched into the American mind, and the Gulf War was clearly fought against this gestalt

The fear of another Vietnam was initially a negative metaphor, but it also set the groundwork for developing a strong propaganda campaign aimed at creating a mood in the American public that those experiences would never be repeated.

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important method in maximizing propaganda effectiveness

selected use of the metaphors and images created to enlist public support for the propagandist’s position

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examples of metaphors/images

-On August 8, President Bush told the nation and the Iraqis that “a line has been drawn in the sand”—a metaphor (and a pun, considering the geographic location of the conflict) that has a very precise symbolic meaning for the American public...The message was obviously very clear, for after this statement was made, no further Iraqi expansionist military actions were made. -President Bush...declared that the 3,000 Americans remaining in Kuwait were, in fact, hostages. The word hostage conjured up immediate images of the demoralizing impotency experienced during the Iran hostage crisis of a decade earlier...[T]he word had also become synonymous with terrorism, and this added to the willingness (even eagerness) of the majority of Americans to accomplish finally something that had frustrated them since Iran

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The ”Nayirah” Incident

On October 10, 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named “Nayirah” had shocked the congressional Human Rights Caucus when she tearfully asserted that she had watched as Iraqi soldiers took 15 babies from their incubators in Al-Adan Hospital in Kuwait City and “Left the babies on the cold floor to die”...Nayirah was, in fact, a member of the Kuwaiti ruling family. Once the Gulf War ended, all attempts to verify the story by independent groups such as Amnesty International and Middle East Watch failed to turn up any evidence that this incident had actually taken place.

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The Aftermath [2005]: The Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq

From the very beginning of the decision to strike back at the terrorists after September 11, 2001, the government began informing the American public that Saddam Hussein was somehow implicated in this event, and as such, he had to be removed...Later evidence from members of the intelligence community, as well as direct inspections of facilities in Iraq, revealed that there was no clear association between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda and that he did not have “weapons of mass destruction”...It is becoming increasingly obvious that the government’s propaganda campaigns, devised to gain public support, was based on faulty intelligence and a lack of a clearly articulated exit strategy. We can only restate what has been pointed out in previous chapters—that in a democracy, a government should not lie to those who have elected it, and in the long run, it does so at its own peril.

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International Sports Events

  • [T]he Olympic Games, in particular, have become a major propaganda event ever since Adolph Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Games to showcase his Aryan Reich...In 1988, the Games were held in Seoul, south Korea, and became a deliberate and carefully orchestrated international showcase for the economic development of that Pacific nation. In 1992, the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, proved to be a showcase for that country and for the emerging European Union

  • World Cup now attracts a worldwide audience equal to, and often exceeding, that for the Olympic Games. Because of the team nature of this sport, the World Cup takes on an even more nationalistic fervor, and the winning nation is afforded a definite propaganda advantage on the world stage.

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Freedom of Speech and New Technologies

  • The emergence of new communication technologies has often made it possible for those wishing to propagandize to make direct contact with their target audiences, and thus governments have much less control over the flow of information than was possible in the age of print.

  • In the past 50 years, the world has also witnessed the emergence of new networks of common interest that cross international boundaries, such as terrorist organizations composed of members of the Irish Republican army, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Al Queda, and most recently ISIS, as well as other Middle East factions, the Italian Red Brigades, and Japanese radicals.

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The Patriot Act

New developments in international propaganda activities...create a problem for open societies such as the United States and Great Britain...[I]n the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in September 11...the U.S. Congress, after some vigorous debate, passed what was known as the Patriot Act, which restricted certain rights related to privacy, freedom of travel, and freedom of speech...This legislation cause great concern for civil libertarians...The Patriot Act, while necessary for “the defense of the realm,” runs very close to damaging the thin line of protection provided by the Constitution.

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  • have the potential to harm individuals, as well as disrupt the normally secretive diplomatic process.

  • The Propaganda value of these document “dumps” is potentially immense, and they have provided fuel for continued attacks on the activities of many international organizations.

  • provides a valuable service in exposing state and corporate secrets, increasing transparency, assisting in promoting press freedom, and essentially enhancing democratic discourse while challenging powerful organizations.

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Negative Counterpropaganda

  • a new challenge to the control of international propaganda is presented by the emergence of the Internet...The wildest rumors are swiftly circulated, enhanced, and enshrined as truth.

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Public diplomacy

  • deals with the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies.

  • compasses dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy; the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries; the interaction of private groups and interest in one country with another; the reporting of foreign affairs and its impacts on policy; communication between those whose job is communication, as diplomats and foreign correspondents; and the process of intercultural communications

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Nicholas Cull...has created a useful taxonomy of public diplomacy that identifies the constituent elements of this type of propaganda:

  1. Listening

  2. Advocacy

  3. Cultural Diplomacy

  4. Exchange Diplomacy

  5. International Broadcasting (News)

  6. Psychological Warfare

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10-step plan of analysis:

  1. the ideology and purpose of the propaganda campaign

  2. the context in which the propaganda occurs

  3. identification of the propagandist

  4. the structure of the propaganda campaign

  5. the target audience

  6. media utilization techniques

  7. special techniques to maximize effect

  8. audience reaction to various techniques

  9. counterpropaganda, if present

  10. effects and evaluation

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beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors, ways of perceiving and thinking that constitute a set of social norms; a coherent world view; common sense; consent to a kind of social order (including assignment of roles according to gender, race, religion, social groups, etc.)

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analyst looks at verbal and visual messages for ideology

(Look for attempt to use symbols from the past that resonate in the present [i.e. antebellum plantation myth appropriated by white supremacists.])

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integration propaganda:

maintain the positions and interests of organization's officials

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agitation propaganda:

arouse people to participate in or support a cause

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Propaganda's main purpose:

achieve acceptance of ideology

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"times and events"

the historical context of the propaganda. (i.e. what are cultural myths, which transcend categories of fiction or nonfiction - such as the Lincoln myth - and which serve as models for social action.)

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The likely source is an institution or organization. This source may by revealed or concealed, depending upon the needs of the propagandist.

Ask: who has the most to gain.

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If the propagandist is a person

s/he may have "verbal compulsions" which make him/her easier to identify. Beware that they may, however, simply be a front for the actual propagandist.

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Effective propaganda comes from

"a strong, centralized, decision-making authority."

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The analyst should also determine the membership of the organization

(i.e. difference between a follower or member of the party (i.e. Nazis.)

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system of informal rules that spell out how people are to behave most of the time;

Hall: whatever is distinctive about the 'way of life' of a people, community, nation, or social group...[I]t is concerned with the production and exchange of meanings) Looks for beliefs, slogans, heroes/heroines that personify values, rituals, formal rules, communication networks.

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message should be aimed at the audience

"most likely to be useful to the propagandist if it responds favorably." Market research is used to help identify this audience.

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Mass communication may be used, but more targeted messages will be as well (interest groups, cultural elite, opinion leaders, etc.)

(i.e. U.S. Information Agency addresses its messages to opinion leaders rather than the masses.)

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buckshot approach

mass media, homogeneous message

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Media Utilization Techniques

  • All media forms may be used.

  • Music may be an important component (i.e. anthems.)

  • The analyst should trace the flow of messages from one media to another, and from media to groups and individuals (multistep flow.) The relationships between each can be profitably examined.

  • What is the pattern and sequence of information flow (i.e. why this info now, why that then?)

  • What visual images are utilized? Any innovative verbal messages? (i.e. slogans, etc)

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Special Techniques to Maximize Effect

Predispositions of the audience: Creating Resonance

  • Source Credibility

  • Opinion Leaders

  • Face-to-Face Contact\

  • Group Norms

  • Reward and Punishment

  • Monopoly of the Communication Source

  • Visual Symbols of Power

  • Language Usage

  • Music as Propaganda

  • Arousal of Emotions

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Audience Reaction to Various Techniques

Voting, joining, contributions, purchasing, adoption of language, slogans, attire

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May be underground, if media is controlled

alternate ideology presented as entertainment [i.e. The Crucible; 50's sci-fi movies]; more easily monitored if a free society.

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Triumph of the Will

-Plane cruising through billowing clouds. [Perhaps a (metaphoric?) suggestion of a divine origin of Hitler--he literal descends from the heavens to lead his people.] -aerial views of city (Nuremburg) -an ordered movement of people along the city streets to parade grounds -plane lands to exuberant 'heil' salutes -Hitler disembarks, sparking exultant 'heils' -Hitler standing in moving car, saluting the assembled masses as they salute him. He moves, literally, into the people -a smiling human face on Hitler

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-torches, banners, standards, an illuminated swastika on top of the hotel; “Heil Hitler" is spelled- out with illuminated light bulbs just under his window -white cross members in windows catch light in a way which seems to emphasize their resemblance to a Christian cross (coincidence?) -morning: windows open to the city, revealing Nazi flags and German banners seemingly everywhere -fade to a massive array of lined tents (apparently an encampment just outside the stadium to house the participants)

-'Nazis at Play!': horseplay with water while bathing, having fun hauling wagons of wood to be burned preparing meals -men wrestling, cavorting; boys joyously reacting, viewing their role models with joyous admiration (complete with dubbed-in squeals of laughter) -shift to emphasis on rising employment and opportunities in all sectors of the German economy (an economic predicate for Nazism) -Reich Labor Service Review: we hear Hitler for the first time--just a "heil" to the laborers colonnaded for his review -after adoring introduction, Hitler himself addresses the youth (this is the first, real, sustained voice given Hitler in the film) -"We want these people to be obedient, peace-loving, courageous... [as you must be)”; “to become hard...steel yourself...sacrifice...never to you Germany will live on"

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-tracking shot of crowd as Hitler leaves (impresses viewer again with the immense scale of the gathering) -Hitler speaking (sheer admiration as traveling shot looks upwards from far below dais) (Hitler as object not only of admiration, but of desire?)

  • (Others deceive themselves if they look upon us and think we're gathered because we were ordered to be) "The State does not order us; we order the state...The State did not create us, we created the State." -Hitler, in addressing SA & SS, refers to some "shadow," but Hitler exculpates "my SA"; if any try to harm the SA, they shall be harmed. -people stuffed out windows as review passes on city streets -troops marching stuffed into city streets pass unremittingly

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-endless stream of troops pass in review (another way to impress the viewer with the unstoppable nature of the Nazi regime) -closing ceremonies (held in hall)

-Hitler starts slow, somber, then fairly quickly revs up in recalling the early days and struggles of the National Socialists. This becomes an encomium to the Party (it will provide instruction like that of a "holy order.") A spiritual exhortation. -The party is Hitler; Hitler is Germany. A tautology with Hitler as the nexus. -fades with shot of huge, illuminated swastika looming over the assembly.

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Leni Riefenstahl

  • film producer

  • never a member of a Nazi party, found favor with Hitler

  • enlisted to make a film of the 1934 Nuremburg Party Convention

  • called this "pact with the devil"

  • inventing unprecedented techniques

  • 30 cameras, 120 assistances

  • dramatic intensity, traveling shots, and creative camera positions

  • five months editing (10-20 hours each day)

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