Seeing Wood For The Trees

From capitalistManifesto
"The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief. (Propaganda) proceeds by psychological manipulations, character modifications, by creation of stereotypes useful when the time comes - The two great routes that this sub-propaganda takes are the conditioned reflex and the myth." - Jacques Ellul


Train yourself to identify psychological manipulation. This can be done by anyone and can begin with the simplest possible proposition: what are the truths you hold to be self-evident, where you identify an 'other' group (or person) holding opposing irreconcilible or contradictory truths as similarly self-evident? This type of truth non-truth polarization always signposts psychological manipulation and it shouldn't be hard to perceive propaganda representing one or other side.

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." - Charles Mackay (1841)


Train yourself in fast propaganda deconstruction. It isn't complex once broken down into the details but, like translating in a new second language, it takes practice to impress methods deep enough into your mind, so the process becomes unconscious (and therefore, before long, instantaneous and real-time).


  1. Format: What is the genre of the propaganda?
  2. Message: What is the topic or message of the information and ideas being expressed?
  3. Method: How does this particular form influence audiences?
  4. Techniques: What symbols and rhetorical strategies are used to attract audience attention and activate emotional response?
  5. Context: Where, when, and how is this message usually encountered by people?
  6. Audience: How are people likely to think and feel about the message and how free they are to accept or reject it?
  7. Antithesis: What's the opposite message or what conclusion informs the beliefs of the other side?

"He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense." - Joseph Conrad (1900)