Some history of propaganda

500 BC and after

“The development of a theory of persuasion began as long as 500 BC in the Greek City states. At that time philosophers compiled a set of rules for the use of rhetoric and persuasion. So compelling were these systems that only small changes of theory took place until the Industrial Revolution opened the way for mass persuasion through mass marketing. After 1900 marketing studies began to be made of consumers’ wants and habits and their susceptibility to alternative kinds of salesmanship.

It was however the advent of World War 1 which provided mass propaganda in its central place in twentieth – century political thinking. For the first time propaganda was used as a weapon of war. Lasswell-Hitler Two men on either side of the Atlantic were deeply affected by this development. They were the democrat Harold D Lasswell, the first modern analyst of propaganda, and Adolf Hitler, arguably its most perverse practitioner.

Lasswell wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject and called it ‘Propaganda Techniques in the World War‘. Several years earlier.

Hitler had written Mein Kampf, in which he had described the allies propaganda was in contrast to German attempts at persuasion, the incompetence of which he believed had contributed in the demoralization of German soldiers and civilians and hence to Germany’s defeat… Later the fascist Hitler was to turn his attention to managing public opinion in totalitarian Germany, while the democrat Lasswell studied the need for managing public opinion in democratic America. While totalitarian propaganda is universally condemned in the West as a loss of personal and democratic freedom, the management of public opinion in a democracy is generally considered to be good business…”

from: Taking the risk out of democracy

To put this into context:

Today if powerful western state or business bullies want something in third-world-countries, it is, business as usual – they simply kill the people, take their possessions, then make up some lie about defending democracy.

At one time in western society it was much the same, but out and out violence, when robbing and bullying the poor, became unpopular with the public, so things became a bit more difficult. New ways of oppression needed to be found and the respectable image of the business elite maintained

Take someone like the Scots, American, millionaire. Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, who like most of his kind, made his fortune from the profits of war. Carnegie, who incidentally has a foundation titled after his name, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is an interesting example of ironic propaganda.

Around 1870 Pittsburgh

Carnegie hired thugs to beat-up striking workers at his steel plant in Pittsburgh, US in his rise to prominence. This is how industrialists did business then, starving kids, and murdering workers, all to keep there profits as high as possible. As we have said this type violence was unpopular with the American public, who were generally sympathetic to the strikers, and it needs to be noted here racism didn’t exist between the various nationalities in the communities that grew up around the steel plants. These were working people involved in a common struggle. New ways had to be found to control domestic dissent.
So emigrant workers were blamed for stealing jobs, Racism was used to keep working people blaming each other. Propaganda became a substitute for using clubs to reach the same ends.

Note the miser [Carnegie] who made his fortune at the cost of the misery of others, is now lorded as the great benefactor, with libraries, art foundations, and so on that bares his name. You will need to wade through lots of this type of propaganda to find his crimes, and they are not much different from most people of Carnegie’s stature, who now still adorn the walls of our institutions.

Public relations, could hide the crime while keeping the profits flowing

Some History of propaganda
Understanding propaganda (books/ Links)
Tools of propaganda
Symbols of propaganda
When there is no need for propaganda