"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind."

George Orwell


"People can be made to believe any old tale and frothing at the mouth will set themselves to convince others that it is so and cannot be otherwise."



"The greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed."

-Adolf Hitler


"Propaganda is always invisible, and in any society people always think that if they’re smart, or cynical, or skeptical, or educated, they won’t fall victim to the propaganda. But they do."

John Stauber (Utne Reader May/June 2001)


"The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human."

-Aldous Huxley


"I wonder if we could contrive....some magnificent myth that would in itself carry conviction to our whole community."


"the judicious employment of words and formulas. Handled with art, they possess in sober truth the mysterious power formerly attributed to them by the adepts of magic."

Dr. Le Bon

The Crowd


"Propaganda makes up our mind for us, but in such a way that it leaves us the sense of pride and satisfaction of men who have made up their own minds. And in the last analysis, propaganda achieves this effect because we want it to. This is one of the few real pleasures left to modern man: this illusion that he is thinking for himself when, in fact, someone else is doing his thinking for him."

Thomas Merton


"Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?"

-Bertrand Russell


"I don't understand anything," she said with decision ,determined to preserve her incomprehensibility intact."

Aldous Huxley

Brave New World


"The group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emotions. In making up in mind, its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. This is one of the most firmly established principles of mass psychology."

Edward Bernays



"Is further proof needed that international war is a monster born of hypocrisy, fed on false hood, fattened on humbug, kept alive by superstition, directed to the death and torture of millions, succeeding in no high purpose, degrading to humanity, endangering of civilization and bringing forth in its travail a hideous brood of strife, conflict, and war, more war? Yet statesmen still hesitate to draw the sword of their wits to destroy it."

Arthur Ponsonby

Falsehood in Wartime (pub 1928)


"Unhappily, bad feeling between nations is fomented daily poisonous propaganda in the press and by other means. I cannot help feeling that if only we halt this war of words and some action is taken which would tend to restore confidence in the people in the peaceful intentions of all the statesmen of Europe-if only that could be done, then I still feel that I know of no question that could not and should not be solved by peaceful discussions. The gain would be enormous. On the other hand, if war should come, whichever side may claim ultimate victory, nothing is more certain than that victor and vanquished alike would glean a gruesome harvest of human misery and suffering."

Primes Minister Neville Chamberlain

(a month before WWII broke out)


"A good deal depends on the quality of the lie. You must have intellectual lies for intellectual people and crude lies for popular consumption, but if your popular lies are too blatant and your more intellectual section are shocked and see through them, they may (and indeed they did) begin to be suspicious as to whether they were not being hoodwinked too. Nevertheless, the inmates of colleges are just as credulous as the inmates of the slums."

Arthur Ponsonby

Falsehood in Wartime



"We must get rid of our arrogant assumption that it is the masses who can be led by the nose. As far as I can make out, the shoe is on the other foot. The only people who are really the dupes of their favorite newspapers are the intelligentsia. It is they who read leading articles; the poor read the sporting news, which is mostly true."

C.S. Lewis


"Perhaps nothing did more to impress the public mind-and this is true in all countries-than the assistance given in propaganda by intellectuals and literary notables."

Arthur Ponsonby

Falsehood in Wartime


"We can manufacture consent by the means of propaganda."

Walter Lippman


"The more intelligent members of the community can drive the population into whatever they want."

Edward Bernays


"The conscious and intelligent manipulations of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."

-Edward L. Bernays  (Freud's nephew)

Propaganda   1928


"We should not succumb to democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judge of their own interests.."

Harold Lasswell (1933 article in the Encyclopedia of Social Science)



"Repression cannot be made effective at every turn and everywhere, that would need as many policemen as there are citizens. Therefore it is sought to supply the defect of external compulsion by a form of constraint which is really the most efficacious of all, that which the forum of a man's own conscience exercises over his actions. Concepts of right conduct are put into him from without, for which purpose use must be made of the squalid weapons of mass suggestion and propaganda."

Bertrand de Jouvenel


   "Chomsky and others have shown that the commitment of the public relations industry was to "control the public mind." Their techniques matured in the late thirties, when a surge of union organization threatened to bring true democracy back to the common populace. Then big business joined with government public relations experts to create a more persuasive campaign than simply beating up union organizers or bashing heads at labor strikes. These actions only unified the public against management. The Mohawk Valley formula (first used in the 1930s against a steelworker strike in Pennsylvania) was a landmark effort in a more subtle form of persuasion. Instead of attacking unions directly, businesses sought to influence public opinion through the media. This self-proclaimed "scientific " method of strike breaking" was a conceptual campaign, oversimplifying the labor issue into a single, easy-to-understand message: Strikers hurt us all. They disrupt American harmony. The simple propaganda formula was to equate union activity with something bad, namely, disunity and un-American (communist) activity. This had nothing to do with the real issues at hand-wages, conditions, the right to organize-but rather reframed the issue in a headline-length, easy-to-photograph image: Striking is un-American. And thus the "sound bite" was born."

Douglas Rushkoff

Media Virus


"War is fought in this fog of falsehood, a great deal of it undiscovered and accepted as truth. The fog arises from fear and is fed by panic. Any attempt to doubt or deny even the most fantastic story has to be condemned at once unpatriotic, if not traitorous. This allows a free field for the rapid spread of lies."

Arthur Ponsonby


"So great are the psychological resistance to war in modern nations, that ever war must appear to be a war of defense against a menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about whom the public is to hate. The war must not be due to a world system of conducting international affairs, nor to the stupidity of malevolence of all governing classes, but to the rapacity of the enemy."

Professor Harold D. Lasswell

Propaganda Technique in the World War



"You will find wars are supported by a class of argument which, after the war is over, the people find were arguments they should never have listened to."

John Bright



"In the arena of international rivalry and conflict men have placed patriotism above truthfulness as the indispensable virtue of statesmen."

Stanley Baldwin


"And when war did come we told youth, who had to get us out of it, tall tales of what it really is and of the clover beds to which it leads."

J.M. Barrie


"This, is the greatest of all wars, is not just another war-it is the last war!

H.G. Wells


"I launched the phrase (about World War I) "the war to end war"-and that was not the least of my crimes."

H.G. Wells


"With the help of clever persistent propaganda, even heaven can be represented to the people as hell, and the most wretched life as paradise.:

Adolph Hitler


"The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy."

Alex Carey

Taking the Risk out of Democracy


"Propaganda is also thought to characterize primarily the heinous activities of 20th century totalitarian regimes, like National Socialism or Stalinist communism that used state-sanctioned methods to deliberately distort the truth. Many Americans today view their own government and other professed democracies like the United States generally as tellers of the truth except, of course, in wartime or when trying to win over converts during the cold war. It would surprise many Americans to learn that our own government has a decades-long history of propagandizing its own population and other countries."

Nancy Snow

Propaganda Inc


"George Creel and his committee members had to convince the American people that a war some 4,000 miles away was worth fighting. The first transatlantic flight was still two years away and the American soil was not directly threatened. Creel explained the entire propaganda operation in his book, How we Advertised America: The First Telling of the Amazing Story of the Committee on Public Information that Carried the Gospel of Americanism to Every Corner of the Globe. Creel estimated that 72 million copies of thirty different booklets about American ideals and the purposes of war were sent across the United States while millions were sent abroad. He organized a group of 75,000 influential speakers, nicknamed the "Four Minute Men" for the average of length of their patriotic speeches. These men gave more than one million speeches to 400 million people at home and abroad. Creel’s strategy worked to sell war bonds, aid in the recruitment of soldiers, and stir up popular sentiment for war."

Nancy Snow

Propaganda Inc.


"If anyone, even today, questions the domestic impact of CPI, he has only to ask educated Americans why w fought World War I, Inevitably he will hear that it was the’war to end all wars.’ ‘save the world for democracy,’ and to put down the Kaiser who started it all anyway….Creel virtually brainwashed the American citizenry."

Fitzhugh Green

American Propaganda Abroad



"Bernays argued that American public opinion must be engineered from above by society’s few masters, the intelligent minorities, to control the rabble. Bernays described these engineers of consent as "the invisible government"….concentrated in the hands of a few because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery which controls the opinions and habits of the masses."

Nancy Snow

Propaganda Inc



The USIA uses "national security" and "democracy" interchangeably with "free enterprise" and "the free market". Economic prosperity is defined as "expand exports, open markets assist American business, and foster sustainable economic growth. "Democracy" means a system in which business interests and their government allies make political decisions that run the free enterprise system of private profit and public subsidy, i.e. the military-industrial complex. The people are permitted to endorse the decisions of their leaders by voting occasionally, but otherwise are not expected to meddle in the affairs of the private/public partnership. This neoliberal model of market democracy is not based on a participatory ideal of politics but on one in which the public’s role is minimized, and transnational (and thus publicly unaccountable) private interests carry out political and economic decision-making. Economic prosperity becomes narrowly defined as that condition by which corporation’s can function free of any government regulation of their bottom line while relying on government intervention in the form of tax breaks, corporate welfare, and related business assistance."

Nancy Snow


"The Corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No first world country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity-much less dissent."

Gore Vidal



"....We live in an age that is frightened by the very idea of certitude, and one of its really disturbing outgrowths is the easy divorce between words and the conceptual realities which our right minds know they must stand for. This takes the form especially of looseness and exaggeration. Now exaggeration, it should be realized, is essentially a form of ignorance, one that allows and seems to justify distortion. And the psychopathic mind of war has greatly increased our addiction to this vice; indeed, during the struggle distortion become virtually the technique of reporting. A course of action, when taken by our side, was "courageous"; when taken by the enemy, "desperate"; a policy instituted by our command was "stern," or in a delectable euphemism which became popular, "rugged"; the same thing instituted by the enemy was "brutal." Seizure by military might when committed by our side, it was "occupation" or even "liberation," so transposed did the poles become....."

Richard M. Weaver

Ideas Have Consequences


".....A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day Totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers."

Aldous Huxley

Brave New World


"The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals. But silence is not enough. If persecution, liquidation, and the other symptoms of social friction are to be avoided, the positive sides of propaganda must be made as effective as the negative. The most important Manhattan Projects of the future will be vast government sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call "the problem of happiness" in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude."

Aldous Huxley

Brave New World


   "For twenty-five years, give or take a few, we have lived with this system of silent censorship. We have seen the refinement and perfection of this system, in which publishers have joined hands with state school boards to censor texts and tests. Now that the rules of censorship have been codified, editors, writers, and illustrators know well in advance what is not acceptable. No one speaks of "censoring" or "banning" words or topics; they "avoid" them. The effect is the same. Euphemisms are kinder and gentler than raw truths. By now, the rules and guidelines could be dismissed, and they would still function because they have been deeply internalized by the publishing industry. George Orwell and Franz Kafka would have understood this system perfectly; it works best when it permeates one's consciousness and no longer needs to be explained or defended.

   The goal of the language police is not just to stop us from using objectionable words but to stop us from having objectionable thoughts. The language police believe that reality follows language usage. If they can stop people from ever seeing offensive words and ideas, they can prevent them from having the thought or committing the act that the words signify. If they never read a story about suicide or divorce, the they will never even think about killing themselves or ending their marriage. If they abolish words that have man as a prefix or suffix then women will achieve equality. If children read and hear only language that has been cleansed of any mean or hurtful words, they will never have a mean or hurtful thought. With enough censorship, the language police might create a perfect world."

Diane Ravitch

The Language Police


Book: "Lies We Live By" by Carl Hausman

Book: "Coercion: Why we listen to what "They" say", by Douglas Rushkoff

Book: "Creating the Corporate Soul: The Rise of Public Relations and Corporate Imagery in American Big Business" by Roland Marchand

Book: "Trust Us, We’re Experts!" by John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton

Book: "Warriors of Disinformation" by Alvin A. Snyder

Book: "EASILY LED: A History of Propaganda by Oliver Thomson

Book: "Propaganda" by Edward L. Bernays

Book: "Chinese Propaganda Posters" by Anchee Min et. al

Book: "Propaganda & Dreams: Photographing the 1930s in the USSR and the US" by Leah Bendavid-Val



© 2001



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