CHAPTER XV
THE LIMITATION ON PROPAGANDA

With the prevalent belief in the effectiveness of "paper bullets" during the World War; with the almost-certain increase in their use since the War; with the ever-increasing mechanical facilities for their spread; with the advancing knowledge of the psychology of appeal; with the closer association of this knowledge with "big money"; with the multiplying "interests" determined to reach the public; with "the tremendous forces of propaganda now common property"; with the widespread conviction that individuals, associations, and governments have the right, indeed the duty, to mold public opinion as far as they can -- with these conditions prevailing, what of the future? Shall we arrive at complete dominance of the popular mind by a few amazingly competent combinations of determination, subtlety, and money? May we expect a new and a more enslaving kind of serfdom for the common man? In short, is man merely a sponge; and is a sponge merely the holes in it?

There are two sides to this question, the side of the propagandists, and the side of the recipients. We might take space to show that propagandists have their own limitations; that they are often ignorant, frequently stupid, regularly shortsighted; that they lack money, are deficient in determination and often in skill, and that they have other weaknesses. Our main interest in this chapter, however, is with the recipients. Supposing that the propagandists have no defects of any kind, what defenses do the recipients have that help to limit the amount of propaganda among men?

It would seem that there are many features of man and society which help to curb the powers of the propagandists. Two groups of these features suggest themselves -- the artificial

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