By Lou Arata
The word propaganda was coined in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. Determined to halt the spread of Protestantism, he created the “Office for the Propagation of the Faith” to oversee the church’s missionary efforts in the New World. The term propaganda originally did not carry the negative connotation it does today and up until 1911, Encyclopedia Britannica didn’t even include a definition.
During World War I the word became synonymous for big fat lies when the Allies made the word familiar to the masses of Great Britain and the United States. Politically, propaganda has been used for centuries, but it was the effectiveness of the war effort that governments observed, and systematically deployed the entire range of modern media to stir the collective populations into action.
In fact, it was such an extraordinary state accomplishment of exciting mass enthusiasm in support of fighting in an ugly global brawl that government and business took notice, realizing “public opinion” was a force that could and needed to be managed. The Allied campaign was so successful celebrating democracy that after the war, propagandists went to work for the likes of General Motors, Procter & Gamble and General Electric.
Walter Lippmann’s famous 1922 phrase, “the manufacture of consent” was in reference to the management of public opinion. It was a “necessity throughout the public sphere,” sentiments employed by businessmen, journalists and politicians alike.
Edward Bernays wrote, in 1947, “The Engineering of Consent.” In it, he defines "engineering consent" as the art of manipulating people and he maintained that entire populations, which were undisciplined or lacking in intellectual or definite moral principles, were vulnerable to unconscious influence. They were susceptible to want things that they do not need and to support various ideas and programs that they did not fully understand. This was achieved by linking those products and ideas to their unconscious desires. According to Bernays, this practice was extended to everything, including the fluoridation of water supplies, presidential elections, and the creation of superstars in the entertainment industry.
And so it goes, from American Dream, to the Mad Men of Madison Avenue, to today’s politics. We are now being bombarded by an unrelenting stream of propagandists pushing their particular take on what we should do and think, what we should buy and what we should support, through every form of media. The pure truth is that in the art of persuasion, not all the information presented or implied is factual.
Now we see major global social media corporations controlling content and obstructing free speech, thereby prohibiting the free expression of ideas and thought.
Fake news is absolutely real and so is the stupefying amount of hypocrisy that surrounds us. I’ve written in the past that we collectively must decide as a nation whether we want to retain those rights safeguarding our individual liberties and freedoms as contained in the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, or will we allow a globalist socialist/communist takeover of our system of governance, disarm our population and enable the ever-growing elitist tyrannical forces to control every aspect of our lives through an all-knowing governing body?
Beware of the man behind the curtain.
I will respect you and your right to think, however you decide what is best for you. Just don’t go trying to force me into something I know or feel is wrong or immoral. It might be nice if we were all the same and shared the same opinions and outlook on life. But we don’t, and I doubt we ever will. Many politicians pontificate that it is our differences that make this nation of immigrants strong. I challenge that overused tag line and offer that it has been, for the most part, the willingness of previous immigrants to assimilate into our society that has made this country so strong.
Cancel culture and those woke folks have gone too far, IMHO. Movements popularize their agenda through propaganda, their talking points, and the main stream media (MSM) supports those messages with exhaustive repetition. Malcolm X said, “The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” If falsehoods are mentioned often enough, for long enough, the public will end up going along with the fabrication. The MSM does not necessarily publicize all relevant facts and certainly cherry-pick the news stories they want you to hear.
Media hypocrisy is best demonstrated by the entire dysfunction surrounding the Hunter Biden story that’s unravelling now. The suppression of specific known information about Hunter Biden undoubtedly assisted his father in the 2020 presidential election. If the original NY Post breaking story was followed up on, we would have a much different nation today and we are all aware of the obvious bias the MSM has against conservatism.
I’ve been a huge fan of sports all my life. However, I’ve decided to stop paying attention to major league sports and their advertisers. I could care less what a “celebrity” or a professional athlete thinks. One lives and “works” in a pretend world with ridiculous salaries and the other gets paid exorbitant amounts of money to play a game. Both live in a fantasy world and live a fantasy life. I believe John and Jane Doe working several jobs to make ends meet and raising their children together are the real heroes in this world.
The bottom line is the eternal fight for power and control. Only as free-thinking individuals can we be assured to continue our lives as free people.
What lasts are the real, real things. Family. Faith. Love. Not the opulence of your home, the car you drive or the gaudiness of personal accessorizing. Some people have money and lots of material stuff, but they lack class and a civility towards their fellow man. We have all seen the obnoxious gyrations of some screwball or self-entitled jerk, that makes you shake your head in wonder — why do they act like that?
What do I want to see more of? Honesty and people helping other people, not more people looking for more handouts.
Lou Arata has been a candidate for the CT 83rd House District and is vice chairman of the Meriden Republican Town Committee and the Meriden Public Utilities Commission.