The Propaganda Menace

The Propaganda Menace

The Propaganda Menace

The Propaganda Menace

Excerpt

A number of years ago some writings of Professor John Dewey directed my attention to the phenomena of propaganda. Then for the first time the scales began to fall from my unseeing eyes and I was rudely made aware of the reality, the omnipresence, and the banefulness of this force among men. Since I was, at that time, preparing my means of Social Control, I included a chapter on propaganda and hurriedly considered related aspects, more as a challenge to myself than as an illumination for the reader. The very superficial examination then made convinced me that Professor Dewey's estimate of the dangers involved in propaganda was not exaggerated, and the interest then aroused expanded and shaped itself into the purpose to carry on some further studies. I mentioned this to Professor E. A. Ross whose enthusiasm was instantly tapped. The results of my study during the intervening years are now before the reader.

What I have attempted to do may best be presented by means of a picture. Imagine a man who, first from mere curiosity and then from feverish absorption, goes regularly down to a wide and swift stream behind his house, wades out amidst the treacherous currents and spends hours of every day collecting samples of whatever the stream brings him, especially its flotsam and jetsam -- soggy papers, rusty misshapen cans, rags and tatters of garments, decaying flowers and vegetables, broken boxes, and we know not what besides. He garners with the enthusiasm of a sportsman, lugs his treasures ashore, and there in a quiet cove spends much time in careful examination and sorting until he has satisfied himself as to the source, nature, volume and dangers of this refuse.

The stream is the unmeasured flood of publicity in modern society. I am the collector. The flotsam and jetsam are propaganda. I have tried to satisfy myself as to the chief sources . . .

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