'A lie repeated hundred times becomes a truth' - Goebbels, Chief Propagandist of Nazi Party of Germany.

Propaganda is derived from the Latin word, propagane, meaning to derive or to develop new branches of something original. Clearly, the product derived is going to be artificial. Propaganda is also well explained with the analogy of a tree, where the original tree is the parent and the branches of the trees as offsprings. Similarly, the ideas are originated by one and are used by many. It is the artificial propagation of ideas. Yes, you get it right. Propaganda is nothing but the implicit idea which means the large-scale production of ideas. Propaganda is not always easily identifiable. It is used as a cloak by policymakers to pursue their self-interest. All art is propaganda, but not all propaganda is art. The development of propaganda is universal and rests on many factors. Wait, this is all we already know about 'Propaganda'. What is the scholars' opinion on this? Let's check that.

  • According to Joseph Frankel, Professor of International Politics, 'Propaganda is any systematic deliberate attempt to affect the minds, emotions, and actions of a given group for a public purpose'.
  • According to Padelford and Lincoln, 'The deliberate manipulation of symbols with the purpose of affecting men's ideas, attitudes, behaviour in a particular way'.
  • According to Palmer and Perkins, 'Organised efforts by governments or members of governments to induce either domestic groups or foreign states to accept policies favourable or at least not unfavourable to their own.'

Methods of Propaganda

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(1) Methods of Presentation:

The propagandist presents the 'facts' in such a way that the people are convinced of his sincerity and they start doubting the bonafide of the other party.

Forms of Methods used:

  • References from History: The propagandist may prove his 'acts' by citing references from history, although these are just manipulations. For example, Chinese incursion on Indian borders with the support of the historical fact that China had control on them since the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
  • Fraud: The propagandist pursues his idea with the help of 'painting a false picture'. Goebbels( chief propagandist of the Nazi Party used to paint a false picture of desperate conditions in Germany).
  • Truth: It can be used as a method of propaganda to gain the support of people and their morale rises high.
  • Preparation for Crises: The propangandist may gain the 'popular favour' by presenting conditions in such a way that the states feel that they also have to make 'sacrifices' in terms of crises.

(2) Methods of Gaining Attention:

The primary goal of propagandist is to attract attention to his cause. He pursues the following methods to gain that required attention.

  • The opponent governments may send to each other 'protest notes' from time to time so as to gain attention in political affairs.
  • The Nazis, Fascists, and Communists demonstrated their strength on particular occasions to impress upon people. Use of the atomic bomb by the USA in WWII or simply parading the armies are examples of it.
  • The resident embassies try to glorify their home country through participation in ceremonial and social affairs.
  • The statesmen travel to each other countries, hold conferences or meetings, thus trying to create an impression on people. The statesmen are like to convey, 'Behold here, I am here to tell you that I am sincere'.

(3) Methods of Gaining Response:

A propagandist appeals to certain basic emotions of the people, such as patriotism, self-defence, and human rights. He may use the following devices to gain the response.

  • Attractive Slogans of Psychological Effect: The communists used the Marxist slogans, 'Down with bourgeoisie reactionaries' and 'Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains'. These slogans have a psychological impact on people.
  • Symbols such as 'hammer and sickle' of communist states and the symbol of Nazis was 'Swastik' ( symbol of good prosperity and fortune ). The national anthem, national flag, and symbols are used to gain response.
  • The role of personalities such as Non-alignment is well associated with J. Nehru, Nazism with Hitler, and Fascism with Benito Mussolini.
  • If the propagandist feels that the ideology prevailing is averse to his actions or motives, he aggravates the danger of that ideology to make room for himself.
  • The propagandist must never impose his ideas upon people, as they will never be accepted. He influences people with the use of psychological techniques.

In New York, USA, there is an 'Institute of Propaganda Analysis'. This Institute has classified the various methods of propaganda and they are:

  1. Name-calling: Propaganda gets effective when the propagation for somebody is carried out with the use of some names either in favour or against him. It is sometimes unfavourable also.
  2. Many propagandists narrate many 'unrelated facts' and transfer them as the 'motive in their objects.
  3. There are some words which attract everyone and are acceptable to all. Some words of this kind are universal brotherhood, equality, liberty, and fraternity.
  4. Testimonials: In trying to spread the propaganda vigorously, the propagandists make use of testimonials/ declarations of great and renowned individuals.
  5. Bandwagon: Propaganda tries to impress the majority 'public opinion'. This method is extensively used during the time of elections.

Traits of an Effective Propaganda:

  1. To be effective, the propagandist must use 'simple and catching language'. Simple words convey more than the whole theories in propaganda.
  2. The propagandist must make the propaganda 'interesting' for the recipient. In all sincerity, he must show that he is seriously interested in affairs with an intention to help them.
  3. A policy in propaganda loses it's 'credibility' if it is not followed by an action. Therefore, the propagandist must substantiate his declarations with actions. Projects should be visible and tangible. Such projects are called, 'Impact Projects'.
  4. Nothing against 'religion' should be said in propaganda, where religion is prominent especially. The propaganda is directed against 'what' should be taken care of. In developing states, politicians carry out propaganda against the ill consequences of colonialism and imperialism. In America and Europe, Propaganda is successful against each other.
  5. Element of consistency must be there in the course of propaganda. A propagandist must not change his views too often, as he can lose 'credibility' in that case.

Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship. It does not deceive people rather it helps them to deceive themselves. It is amazing as people can be led to believe anything. The whole purpose of propaganda is to make the obvious seem obscure, or offensive. It is called the 'Executive Arm of the Invisible Government'

To quote, Aldous Huxley,
'The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human'.

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