Propaganda as a communicable social disease


In a 1946 speech, Citizen Albert Einstein observed: “There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. This separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people.” He then called racism our “worst disease”. His use of comparison has profound sociological insight. Propaganda is intended to have a profound sociological impact. Can it also be treated as a disease?

The idea offered here is that there are only two positions worth entertaining. You are either a critic of the US government or a government propagandist. Nothing happens in the middle. The rationale for this is that if you treat propaganda as a disease that infects its victims, then the victims become carriers of the disease. Without control, the disease is socially transmitted.

Victim is an appropriate term because it emphasizes what the propagandist is trying to do. The objective of the propagandist is to create a naive and pacified population, therefore exploitable, that is to say a population which will accede to the theft of its work as a minimum, in times of peace, and even of its life as a maximum, in war time.

Admittedly, it is a bit of an exaggeration to claim that there is nothing between propagandist and critic. Here’s what happens in between. There is a vast army of people who are unaware that they are the target of state propaganda. Because it is expected of them, and to become model citizens, they unquestionably embrace patriotic teachings about America. The greatest, most indispensable, most exceptional nation, seated, so to speak, on the side of the angels.

Propaganda is akin to religious belief, sharing with religion its faith-based aspect, making, to propagandists, the critical side seem ungodly.

Those who are unaware that they are infected by this propaganda, because they cannot link the disease to its exploitations (inequality of income and wealth, imperialist war), participate in its propagation simply by showing themselves. Ordinary people, through their docile acceptance of state policy, play a role that cannot be considered neutral. It is in this sense that if you are not critical, you are at best a bit of a propagandist.

James Rothenberg of North Chatham writes about US social and foreign policy. Otto Hinckelmann, of Crescent City, California, provided valuable insight into the composition.

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