I was going over my files last night looking for something, and I came across a file that I had made some time back. It was a selection of quotes from what I think is probably one of the most explicit (and still relevant) books about propaganda that I have ever seen.
It came out in 1965 originally, just about right exactly when all of the slavemaster front groups were “re-organizing” themselves to better fit this very model. Like scientology and Synanon, for example.
I’m going to be using the selected quotes in a variety of topics/places here at the blog, but for now I thought it would be interesting for people to see some of them in one place.
These are all from Propaganda: the Formation of Men’s Attitudes by Jacques Ellul. You can read it here.
- Precipitate usually means “bringing something on” or “making it happen” — and not always in a good way.
…only action is of concern to modern propaganda, for its aim is to precipitate an individual’s action
It does not seek to create wise or reasonable men, but proselytes and militants.
To be effective, propaganda must constantly short-circuit all thought and decision.
It must operate on the individual at the level of the unconscious.
He must not know that he is being shaped by outside forces (this is one of the conditions for the success of propaganda), but some central core in him must be reached in order to release the mechanism in the unconscious which will provide the appropriate — and expected — action.
Moreover, the action-reflex obtained by propaganda is only a beginning, a point of departure; it will develop harmoniously only if there is an organization in which (and thanks to which) the proselyte becomes militant.
…. Through organization…he is actually transformed into a religious man…
He who acts in obedience to propaganda can never go back. He is now obliged to believe in that propaganda because of his past action.
He is obliged to receive from it his justification and authority, without which his action will seem to him absurd or unjust, which would be intolerable.
…Often he has committed an act reprehensible by traditional moral standards and has disturbed a certain order; he needs a justification for this — and he gets more deeply involved by repeating the act in order to prove that it was just.
He is what one calls committed…
From then on he has enemies.
Propaganda now masters him completely….any propaganda that does not lead to this kind of participation is mere child’s play.
But we must divide propaganda into two phases. There is pre-propaganda (or sub-propaganda) and there is active propaganda.
…The essential objective of pre-propaganda is to prepare man for a particular action.
…pre-propaganda does not have a precise ideological objective; it has nothing to do with an opinion, an idea, a doctrine.
It proceeds by psychological manipulations, by character modifications, by the creation of feelings or stereotypes useful when the time comes. It must be continuous, slow, imperceptible.
Man must be penetrated in order to shape such tendencies. He must be made to live in a certain psychological climate.
The two great routes that this sub-propaganda takes are the conditioned reflex and the myth.
Propaganda tries first of all to create conditioned reflexes in the individual by training him so that certain words, signs, or symbols, even certain persons or facts, provoke unfailing reactions.
On the other hand, the propagandist tries to create myths by which man will live, which respond to his sense of the sacred.
By “myth” we mean an all-encompassing, activating image a sort of vision of desirable objectives …
Such an image pushes man to action precisely because it includes all that he feels is good, just, and true.
Only when conditioned reflexes have been created in a man and he lives in a collective myth can he be readily mobilized.
Made to act in the way the propagandist wants.
…propaganda must not concern itself with what is best in man — the highest goals humanity sets for itself, its noblest and most precious feelings. Propaganda does not aim to elevate man, but to make him serve.