Friday, 27 August 2010

Propaganda as Subjective Reality; on Wikipedia (Jon Kofas, Greece)

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August 27th, 2010

With the ushering in of mass politics after the European revolutions of 1848, coinciding with the publication of the Communist Manifesto, it became necessary to constantly propagate for the hearts and minds of the masses. The Second Industrial Revolution and the “Age of Imperialism” also made propaganda more significant in all domains of life from businesses interested in selling their products to the non-Western World to missionaries trying to spread their faith.
Naturally, the most effective means of propaganda have always rested with the state, religious, and business elites. However, intellectuals from Marx to Marcuse as well as trade unionists and leftist opposition politicians engaged in propaganda and in many cases very effective. Even the rebuttal to propaganda is itself another form of propaganda regardless of the stated intention. The Nazi regime raised propaganda to new levels, until of course the Cold War, when propaganda became superimposed reality whether for the Soviets, US and NATO, Mao, Nasser, or De Gaulle. Each side engaged in propaganda gained legitimacy by presenting the other side as propaganda and issuing data to support its position. Institutions–from foreign ministries to universities–became part of the propaganda campaign serving a political agenda: domestic or foreign policy. Amid the epoch of mass politics and mass propaganda in every segment of society from politics to business designed to indoctrinate the masses, a segment of the population became co-opted and another apathetic–neutralized as far as the propagandist goal is concerned.
One reason for the attraction of many to Existentialism, Phenomenology, Nihilism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen for example, is because of the hypocritical Western culture and value system as it has unfolded especially in the past 100 years. The withering away of “objective reality” in the age of a narcissistic materialistic culture compels people to accept propaganda so they can experience the pleasures that conformity yields and avoid the pain of dissent. Naturally, safety and security are of paramount significance in the lives of people as Palmiro Togliatti argued in Lectures on Fascism. I have no problem with any government, organization, or other entity propagating, as long as there is full disclosure and there is no attempt to propagate for example against the rights of women, but in fact the goal is to curtail such rights. Similarly, I have no problem with Wikipedia engaged in “Zionist editing” (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, 26 August) as long as that is fully disclosed to the reader/audience. In fact, that I respect and could defend as “free speech” and of course would be free to propagate against it if I so choose. If Wikipedia, however, tries to present the killing of unarmed Palestinian children in the Gaza by Israeli fire as a case of Tel Aviv defending “human rights” of its citizens, then only those who already share the pro-Israeli position will read Wikipedia.

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