Quote of the Day: Propaganda

 

Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.
― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

As the rhetoric around elections has become more hyperbolic and offensive, I realized the information that is being tossed back and forth reminded me of Hannah Arendt’s work. Her definition of propaganda is precisely appropriate for our time: there is a contempt for facts, and the more powerful a person is, the more adept he will be at convincing others of his lies.

Beyond Arendt’s explanation, I thought it would be helpful to better understand propaganda, and found both of these definitions apt: (1) the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person, ideas, facts, or (2) allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause. Both of these fit the times.

For the most part, many of our citizens have become unable to tell truth from fiction. It can’t be possible that the things President Biden says with such certainty could be untrue. No one could possibly expect to be taken at his word when the truth is disguised under a blanket of adamancy. Yet there are many who have continued to believe him, even though their life experience contradicts much of what he says.

I believe the Democrat leaders are more adept and prolific in the distribution of propaganda. In these times, the truth is irrelevant, even inconvenient. When you have a mission to convince the country that it would be better off under Democrat control, integrity and truth are nuisances. Joe Biden repeatedly makes up information, whether through gaps in his memory, twisting of the data, or his determination to damage the Republicans’ goals. And the Democrats are in lockstep behind him.

Since the Biden administration was going to establish a “disinformation commission” (and there are some who say that it still exists, hidden by denial and subterfuge), I like the idea of the Republicans creating something similar, at least in name.

I think a credible person, perhaps someone who is no longer in office but was once respected by both sides, should be the head of a commission that reports every week, on the steps of the Capitol building, on a particular day, at a certain time. His/her report should be short and sweet: this is the Democrat propaganda for the week; and in contrast, these are the facts. No attacks, no name-calling. Maybe the presentation should be preceded by a musical group with something patriotic; it should be different every week to get the media engaged and keep them engaged.

Another way to publicize the results of this committee may be on Twitter, if Elon Musk follows through with his promises. After all, we are simply trying to discount the lies and promote the truth.

Let propaganda be moved to the trash heap for the foreseeable future.

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  1. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    There are plenty of people countering the Democrat propaganda. It’s a big job and better done in the diffuse way it’s currently done – by whoever can make the arguments and present the facts. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    There are plenty of people countering the Democrat propaganda. It’s a big job and better done in the diffuse way it’s currently done – by whoever can make the arguments and present the facts.

    So, you don’t like my idea of standing on the steps of Congress and educating the public? ;-)

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I was half-teasing Lily in comment #2 about standing on the Capitol steps. But on the other hand, I’m not sure if we keep doing what we’ve always done, that we’ll continue to connect with those who are Democrats. I’d like us to do something “outside the box” for a change; it doesn’t have to be precisely what I’ve described, but I think it has to be extra-ordinary. I’m open to ideas. You can be sure that when things begin to improve, the Democrats will either criticize those changes or take full credit in spite of the truth.

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn: Let propaganda be moved to the trash heap for the foreseeable future.

    Your lips to God’s ears. 

    • #4
  5. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    There are plenty of people countering the Democrat propaganda. It’s a big job and better done in the diffuse way it’s currently done – by whoever can make the arguments and present the facts.

    So, you don’t like my idea of standing on the steps of Congress and educating the public? ;-)

    All ideas welcome! Someone could do that, but whoever it is would be unlikely to please Republicans generally or appeal to voters more broadly. I can just picture lots of us yelling at the TV/phone while the person fails to make the points we wish they would. 

    • #5
  6. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I do agree that there is a lot of propaganda and overheated rhetoric.  I don’t think that this is anything new.  I do think that it’s gotten worse.

    Here’s a troubling thought, though, Susan.  I see extreme rhetoric on both sides, calling each other things like fascist and Nazi and authoritarian and totalitarian and racist, and so on.

    This post implicitly does the same thing.  It essentially accuses the Democrats of being totalitarians, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s not your purpose, but it’s the impression that I get.  You quote from Arendt about “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” and then present the Democrats in general, and President Biden in particular, as an example.

    What if this post is an instance of the same sort of unfair propaganda to which you are objecting?

    I’m no fan of the Democrats.  I don’t think that they’re planning to set up gulags and concentration camps, though.  I see some law enforcement excesses, particularly the use of the FBI for some prosecutions that seem politically motivated, but I don’t think that they are the Gestapo or the NKVD.

    I recall that you’ve posted on several occasions about friends of yours who seem to be Democrats, with whom you disagree politically.  I have such friends, too.  Do you really think that they would support a Nazi or Communist tyranny?

    It seems to be difficult to present any nuance in an argument, at least in the common media.  Let’s face it, TV and social media typically deal in sound-bites and memes.  The political ads that I see are mostly hit-jobs, on both sides, quoting candidate statements out of context and then saying that so-and-so is too “extreme” and is “dangerous.”  I’ve seen these ads on both political sides.

    I’ve been puzzled by what seems, to me, to be a superficiality of argument on both political sides.  Not always here at Ricochet, of course, though often enough here.

    I suspect that this is a fundamental flaw in the so-called Enlightenment, at least the way that it’s come to be understood in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.  The excessive focus on liberty and rights makes compromise almost impossible, as the fundamental method of argument is to classify what one wants as a “right,” usually based on “liberty,” which is then presumed to be inviolable.  Such an argument necessarily leads to the conclusion that opponents are evil people depriving us of our “rights.”  Since one thinks — erroneously, in my view — that one has a purely rational argument supporting one’s position, it is very difficult to tolerate opposition.

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I was half-teasing Lily in comment #2 about standing on the Capitol steps.

    Good.  Standing on the Capitol steps brands you an insurrectionist . . .

    • #7
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I do agree that there is a lot of propaganda and overheated rhetoric. I don’t think that this is anything new. I do think that it’s gotten worse.

    Here’s a troubling thought, though, Susan. I see extreme rhetoric on both sides, calling each other things like fascist and Nazi and authoritarian and totalitarian and racist, and so on.

    This post implicitly does the same thing. It essentially accuses the Democrats of being totalitarians, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s not your purpose, but it’s the impression that I get. You quote from Arendt about “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” and then present the Democrats in general, and President Biden in particular, as an example.

    What if this post is an instance of the same sort of unfair propaganda to which you are objecting?

    I’m no fan of the Democrats. I don’t think that they’re planning to set up gulags and concentration camps, though. I see some law enforcement excesses, particularly the use of the FBI for some prosecutions that seem politically motivated, but I don’t think that they are the Gestapo or the NKVD.

    I recall that you’ve posted on several occasions about friends of yours who seem to be Democrats, with whom you disagree politically. I have such friends, too. Do you really think that they would support a Nazi or Communist tyranny?

    It seems to be difficult to present any nuance in an argument, at least in the common media. Let’s face it, TV and social media typically deal in sound-bites and memes. The political ads that I see are mostly hit-jobs, on both sides, quoting candidate statements out of context and then saying that so-and-so is too “extreme” and is “dangerous.” I’ve seen these ads on both political sides.

    I’ve been puzzled by what seems, to me, to be a superficiality of argument on both political sides. Not always here at Ricochet, of course, though often enough here.

    I suspect that this is a fundamental flaw in the so-called Enlightenment, at least the way that it’s come to be understood in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. The excessive focus on liberty and rights makes compromise almost impossible, as the fundamental method of argument is to classify what one wants as a “right,” usually based on “liberty,” which is then presumed to be inviolable. Such an argument necessarily leads to the conclusion that opponents are evil people depriving us of our “rights.” Since one thinks — erroneously, in my view — that one has a purely rational argument supporting one’s position, it is very difficult to tolerate opposition.

    It is not on both sides, Jerry. You are fool if you think so.

    Cancel Culture is Dress Rehearsal for Mass Murder

     

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The Left is by far the aggressor and far more dangerous than the right. Whenever the political left gains enough power, it engages in mass murder. Every. Single. Time. 

     

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    This post implicitly does the same thing.  It essentially accuses the Democrats of being totalitarians, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s not your purpose, but it’s the impression that I get.  You quote from Arendt about “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” and then present the Democrats in general, and President Biden in particular, as an example.

    I did not imply that the Democrats are totalitarian, nor did I call them that; you inferred that. But I do think they are moving in that direction, showing the attributes that Arendt describes. So I’m fine with what I wrote.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I’ve been puzzled by what seems, to me, to be a superficiality of argument on both political sides.  Not always here at Ricochet, of course, though often enough here.

    This is a blog, Jerry. I agree with Bryan that superficiality dominates the arguments of the Left. On the other hand, a blog doesn’t necessarily encourage long discourses, thus, sometimes comments are brief.

    • #11
  12. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    This post implicitly does the same thing. It essentially accuses the Democrats of being totalitarians, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s not your purpose, but it’s the impression that I get. You quote from Arendt about “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” and then present the Democrats in general, and President Biden in particular, as an example.

    I did not imply that the Democrats are totalitarian, nor did I call them that; you inferred that. But I do think they are moving in that direction, showing the attributes that Arendt describes. So I’m fine with what I wrote.

    I will more than imply that Democrats are totalitarian and call them that proudly. 

    The people trying to suppress free speech are never the good guys. Democrats are the party of slavery. Democrats are the Party of Jim Crow. Democrats are the party of stolen elections. Democrats are the Part of Succession. Democrats are the Party of dividing Americans by Race. Democrats are the Party of using Crisis to increase their power. They are the Part of Japanese Interment, they are the Party of Woodrow Wilson’s brownshirts. The Democrats are the Party of the Trail of Tears. 

    Apt name, because the history of the Democrat part is a trail of tears and their progressive bent leads to a tyranny and extinguishing of freedom. 

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I will more than imply that Democrats are totalitarian and call them that proudly. 

    I wonder at what point others would think that calling Democrats totalitarian would be appropriate? How many of our rights do they have to violate? How destructive do they need to be? Unfortunately I don’t think we can clearly say, this is the line you can’t cross over. Mainly because they already have.

    • #13
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I will more than imply that Democrats are totalitarian and call them that proudly.

    I wonder at what point others would think that calling Democrats totalitarian would be appropriate? How many of our rights do they have to violate? How destructive do they need to be? Unfortunately I don’t think we can clearly say, this is the line you can’t cross over. Mainly because they already have.

    Yes. and Please note, I mean the folks in power, not the voters. People who vote for Democrats are dupes. 

    • #14
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The Left is by far the aggressor and far more dangerous than the right. Whenever the political left gains enough power, it engages in mass murder. Every. Single. Time.

     

    I don’t think that this has ever happened in the US.  Do you think that it has?

    I don’t think that it’s happened in any Left-wing European democracy since WWII.  Do you think that it has?

    I think that you are unfairly accusing our political opposition of plans to commit mass murder.  This is an example of extreme political rhetoric on the Right, which I pointed out and you denied, even calling me a fool for believing it.

    It is ironic that you provided an example of the phenomenon that you said doesn’t exist.

    • #15
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The Left is by far the aggressor and far more dangerous than the right. Whenever the political left gains enough power, it engages in mass murder. Every. Single. Time.

     

    I don’t think that this has ever happened in the US. Do you think that it has?

    I don’t think that it’s happened in any Left-wing European democracy since WWII. Do you think that it has?

    I think that you are unfairly accusing our political opposition of plans to commit mass murder. This is an example of extreme political rhetoric on the Right, which I pointed out and you denied, even calling me a fool for believing it.

    It is ironic that you provided an example of the phenomenon that you said doesn’t exist.

    I am going to assume you did not watch the video. 

    The reality of history, Jerry, which I take it you are not a student, is that the pathway of de-humanization is towards mass murder. The political left has always moved in that direction. 

    It is not a plan to commit mass murder, it is a direction. What we can say is the Democrat party has already engaged in genocidal activities with American Indians and Blacks. They have already engaged in treating others a second class citizens, looking the other way when they are murdered. They have already used concentration camps. And, despite what you seem to think, Democrat voices have already called for their fellow Americans to be locked up over covid. Democrats have already declared that Republicans are a greater threat to America than Islamic Terrorists. In fact, no less than the President of the United States of America has called “MAGA Republicans” A clear and present danger to America. Indeed, the Democrats are, and always have been, the party of political violence.

    Once Republicans have engaged in all those things, then, Jerry, you can get back to me with your stupid moral equivalence. 

    PS: Speaking of moral equivalence, who know who has always embraced that to tear America down?  The Democrats. 

    • #16
  17. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    . . . extreme contempt for facts as such . . .

    Is that Biden or is that Biden?  And his lackey and enabling Press Secretary.

     

     

    • #17
  18. Franco Inactive
    Franco
    @Franco

    Do you really think that they would support a Nazi or Communist tyranny?

    “They”meaning Democrat friends…

    I think so. Absolutely. They won’t admit the label but every aspect of totalitarianism they will embrace.
    They’ve already done it with the lockdowns and vax mandates. That’s totalitarianism, Jerry.

    People are vulnerable to propaganda including you. You are demonstrating the both sides fallacy here.

    • #18
  19. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Franco (View Comment):

    Do you really think that they would support a Nazi or Communist tyranny?

    “They”meaning Democrat friends…

    I think so. Absolutely. They won’t admit the label but every aspect of totalitarianism they will embrace.
    They’ve already done it with the lockdowns and vax mandates. That’s totalitarianism, Jerry.

    People are vulnerable to propaganda including you. You are demonstrating the both sides fallacy here.

    Democrats and Republics reliably call each other totalitarian:

    https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/04/16/history-shows-trump-personality-cult-end-00024941

    https://understandingsociety.blogspot.com/2022/06/the-gop-descent-into-right-wing.html

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2021/6/15/22522504/republicans-authoritarianism-trump-competitive

    Assuming that it’s more than vulgar abuse (always possible!) is it possible that the country’s culture is more open/vulnerable to totalitarianism than it has been previously?  And if so, why is that?

     

     

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Democrats and Republics reliably call each other totalitarian:

    Again, more false moral equivalency.  At least among the leadership the Democrats lie and call Republicans liars, and the Republican citizens can see that Democrats are lying.

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Democrats and Republics reliably call each other totalitarian:

    Again, more false moral equivalency. At least among the leadership the Democrats lie and call Republicans liars, and the Republican citizens can see that Democrats are lying.

    Dude, my head’s spinning from that sentence!

    Do you think the country is more vulnerable to totalitarianism than before, and if so, why?

    • #21
  22. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Arendt’s book is fundamental to understanding our age. Understanding doesn’t bring happiness. But it does alert one to falsehoods that, if believed, cause self-harming behavior.

    • #22
  23. Franco Inactive
    Franco
    @Franco

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Democrats and Republics reliably call each other totalitarian:

    Again, more false moral equivalency. At least among the leadership the Democrats lie and call Republicans liars, and the Republican citizens can see that Democrats are lying.

    Dude, my head’s spinning from that sentence!

    Do you think the country is more vulnerable to totalitarianism than before, and if so, why?

    Democrats are routinely pro – censorship and pro cancellation of their political opponents.

    They are anti- second Amendment but all for  armed guards for elites.

    They are for the appropriation of private property and against religious freedom advocating for a belief in ‘science’ and government. 
    Those things are ALL totalitarian.

    The reason it’s easier to accomplish is that we have the internet, tracking payments and economic activity and social media. We are already in ‘jail’ in a way. 

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Do you think the country is more vulnerable to totalitarianism than before, and if so, why?

    First I need to explain that I attach the word totalitarianism to those groups that demonstrate and speak that language. I think what Flicker was saying is that a lot of accusations are thrown around, but they aren’t validated by words spoken or actions taken. For example, Trump went along with lockdowns during Covid because the “expert,” Fauci said he should. If anyone is a totalitarian, it’s Fauci. I think you’d have a hard time pointing to actual totalitarian actions and words from any of our leaders. The Left likes to infer that those kinds of things are being said (such as Trump telling people to invade the Capitol), but they often aren’t. But Biden does it all the time. 

    Yes, I think we are more vulnerable because there’s a concerted effort by the radical Left to destroy, literally, the Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights. Without protecting those beliefs and values, we are in danger.

    • #24
  25. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Do you think the country is more vulnerable to totalitarianism than before, and if so, why?

    First I need to explain that I attach the word totalitarianism to those groups that demonstrate and speak that language. I think what Flicker was saying is that a lot of accusations are thrown around, but they aren’t validated by words spoken or actions taken.

    I’m not arguing either way wrt Dems/Reps, Susan, I was just curious as to whether people thought that the country was more vulnerable to totalitarianism than in the past, and if so why.

    For example, Trump went along with lockdowns during Covid because the “expert,” Fauci said he should. If anyone is a totalitarian, it’s Fauci. I think you’d have a hard time pointing to actual totalitarian actions and words from any of our leaders. The Left likes to infer that those kinds of things are being said (such as Trump telling people to invade the Capitol), but they often aren’t. But Biden does it all the time.

    Yes, I think we are more vulnerable because there’s a concerted effort by the radical Left to destroy, literally, the Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights. Without protecting those beliefs and values, we are in danger.

    I get that the Left does this – and limiting freedom of speech, especially with the collusion/assistance of social media organisations (the blurring of the line between the State and industry is one of the signs of fascism, btw) – but it isn’t just the Left.  For example:

    Twenty-six states have adopted laws that punish companies that choose to boycott Israel. Defenders of the law see them as necessary to protect an ally from hostile activists, while critics argue that the laws are unconstitutional infringements on free speech. So far, the only two federal courts to consider such bills have sided with the critics..

    It just seems like it might be a broader cultural shift or drift, and I was curious what had caused it.  Or is it such a change?  McCarthy was all about harrassing people because of their political beliefs – is the biggest change here the specific beliefs targeted?  Meaning these things seem to come and go in waves.

    • #25
  26. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Franco (View Comment):
    The reason it’s easier to accomplish is that we have the internet, tracking payments and economic activity and social media. We are already in ‘jail’ in a way. 

    Or  perhaps just on permanent, conditional parole.  It horrified me when those truck drivers in Canada had their bank accounts frozen.

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Zafar (View Comment):
    McCarthy was all about harrassing people because of their political beliefs –

    Doesn’t sound like him.

    Also, some aspects come and go. But I believe they have momentum this time.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I think we’ve just lost the propaganda war.

    • #28
  29. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I think we’ve just lost the propaganda war.

    Jerry says it is nothing to worry about. 

    • #29
  30. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    The trouble with moral equivalency should be self-evident, but it is often used as a lame propagandistic technique.  For the benefit of those who use it, here are two ways of looking at it.

    The first is the simplistic deception of: It takes two to tango.  This takes the outwardly similar behavior of two people and equates them categorically and in severity.

    But when the police come to someone’s home to stop a violent fight between the husband and a violent home intruder who initiated the fight this cannot be relegated to a simple equivalency of actions and motivations.  One person is clearly wrong, and the other is clearly in the right.

    When it comes to the moral equivalency of this statement, “I see extreme rhetoric on both sides, calling each other things like fascist and Nazi and authoritarian and totalitarian and racist, and so on,” this is a false moral equivalency IF one side is actually fascistic and the other is NOT.

    Democrats and demagogues use this so-called projection as a device to preempt criticisms of what they plan to do: We are going to call for fascistic practices, and so we will blunt any criticism and misdirect blame by attaching the word “fascist” to to those who may be victims of fascism and who identify it as such.

    To which the children’s logical rhetorical refrain applies: I know you are but what am I?!  I am not the fascist, but you are.

    It does not take two to emotionally, intellectually, or physically enslave a population.  It takes apparently only 10% of the psychopathic portion of a populace to threaten, isolate, intimidate, and harm the broad whole of the remainder of an otherwise peaceful populace.

    Maybe perhaps the whole populace generally deserves the tribulation in which they are being placed, but it is not their own intentions and actions of the 90% that accomplish this, it is only the actions of the 10% which actually do this.

    It does not take two to tango, or two to have a violent disagreement, or to change a society into a malignant police state.  And anyone who equates the words and motivations of an increasingly violent societal movement with those resisting this movement is unfathomably wrong.

    [edited]

    • #30
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