Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Beginner's
Pocket Guide to
Anon E. Mos

For those who have been and those who are yet to come.

"Authority is power that is explicit and more or less 'voluntarily’ obeyed; manipulation is the 'secret' exercise of power, unknown to those who are influenced. "
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (1956)

" To illuminate the mechanisms of propaganda is to reveal the secret springs of social action, and to expose to the most searching criticisim our prevailing dogmas of sovereignty, of democracy, of honesty, and of the sanctity of individual opinion. "
Harold Dwight Lasswell, Propaganda Technique in the World War (1927)



Larzarsfeld and Merton said that people, in particular Americans, “stand in peculiar dread of the power of propaganda”; they quoted British observer, William Empson, who described people’s reaction as “a curiously girlish attitude toward anyone who might be doing propaganda. ‘Don’t let that man come near. Don’t let him tempt me, because if he does I’m sure to fall.’”(Lazarsfeld and Merton, 1948).

Propaganda according to the Institute for Propaganda Analysis is an “expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups deliberately designed to influence opinions or actions of other individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends.” (Lee and Lee, 1939)

The truth is propaganda is everywhere and in everything. And the sneaky part is that it is not often recognized as propaganda. Propaganda according to its definition would have been around since the beginning of time; selfishness comes naturally to humans and it only makes sense that people

would try to sway other people’s opinion and actions to their advantage, a trait that comes so naturally that it is evident early in childhood. And I believe the only reason propaganda gained fame was because everybody’s eyes were opened to its immense power during the world wars and it had finally been given a name to call and identify it by.

The thing about propaganda is that is gives people spirit, it can give them hope, and it is posed to unite them under whatever stance they take. The age-old story that comes in different versions from different cultures, talks about a stick or a twig that is easily broken when on its own but a bundle of sticks have greater resistance.

There is incredible power in unity. Entire dynasties have fallen because people united against the authority, because people grew tired of being suppressed and propaganda was used to show them the way out (Horkheimer and Adorno, 1944). But sticks placed together are just sticks that happen to be near each other. There is no power or strength in them because they can be picked apart, one by one. The power in the bundle of sticks lies in what binds them, a leader, a common purpose, and a goal (Wirth, 1948). Propaganda brings this power.

What makes propaganda so effective is its psychological prowess. Because it is manipulative, it is extremely cunning and devious. It uses “magic words,” words that the audience identifies with, it uses omnibus, equivocal words, words that mean different things to different people, and it plays on people’s fears, weaknesses, and needs. People have always wanted to fit it to be a part of the group to identify with a belief. No idea or opinion is original, it all came from somewhere, from the past and is shaped by our environment and culture (Lee and Lee, 1939).

This means that no one and no idea is truly unique and each person is influenced by another (Bernays, 1928). For propaganda to work it requires intimate knowledge of the audience, it comes disguised a family, as a friend or as leader and it says this what you need, this is what you have to think; it creates the impression that this is what everyone is doing and therefore what you should be doing or thinking (Mills, 1956). It makes itself the new fad or trend; it uses build-up words, words that build interest and raises enthusiasm, words that are sincere and evoke empathy, and words that endear the audience to the message (Horton and Wohl, 1956). It is on this basis that propaganda takes hold of mass groups of people, because nobody wants to be left out. And propaganda is able to do so because mass opinion is not the gospel truth, it is merely a mass consensus.

I believe that propaganda is very much alive and kicking in the world today, it did not die at the end of those world wars, it merely found a way to dig its

heels in deeper and perform in more subtle ways. Harold Lasswell described propaganda as “sophisticated to the extent of using print,” but this was in 1927 when the trending technology was print. Advertising and public relations has been linked to propaganda and rightly so because they are the exposed arms of propaganda; in the 1930’s advertising was known as “the propaganda menace” (Peters and Simonson, 2004), because back then propaganda was so closely linked to Nazi and Communist beliefs and was a threat to their democracy. Today, propaganda has the wealth of mass media technology at its disposal, anything and everything is exploited including the internet. The propaganda is so subtle that is not often recognized. Lasswell also said, “to illuminate the mechanisms of propaganda is to reveal the secret springs of social action, and to expose to the most searching criticism our prevailing dogmas of sovereignty, of democracy, of honesty, and of the sanctity of individual opinion” (1927). This is the true reality of propaganda.


Propaganda is everywhere.


Propaganda is used to influence the actions or opinions of people. Any opinion can be manipulated.

Propaganda is a quiet yet deadly weapon, it can crush the will to fight by escalating depression disillusionment and disagreement. Propaganda is one of the most powerful weapons in the world.


Propaganda can control the germination and development of opinion. DO use propaganda to spike the mood of any situation to the extremes. When people are uninterested, propaganda motivates them, and when they are interested, it compels them to act on it.


1.  Name Calling.    Use degrading language to ridicule any opposition, label them in negatively way that will not be questioned.

2.  Glittering Generality.    The use of words that merit; positive words that inspire and evoke empathy and the impression of simpatico.

3.  Transfer.    Project and link the emotion, the symbolism related to an event, person, or item, with what you talk about to create the same emotional reaction.

4.  Testimonial.    You need a spokesperson to endorse your message, someone with authority on the subject, authority gained from knowledge or experience. For a positive outcome, this individual has to be favored by the audience.

5.  Plain Folks.    Position yourself as one of the people, a commoner that is not so different from the audience; you will give the impression that you are speaking for the people.

6.  Card Stacking.    When defending or providing support for your message only address and emphasize the positive parts of it to reinforce your message, ignore and deny anything negative.

7.  Band Wagon.    Use the argument:"everybody is doing it."


Do not limit your message to just words, music and art can be effective too. Beware of "propaganda phobia," DO NOT ever use the term "propaganda," it does not help them like you.

DO NOT threaten your audience's self-image, you will have no success at all in your persuasions.

To change what people think you must look at the whole picture, do not disregard any detail in their lives, you must do research and be knowledgeable on everything about them. Your research affords you intimate knowledge of them and reveals a personal angle with which to use to persuade them to follow you.

It is important that at all times the subject of the propaganda is loved, admired, and favored. There should be sincerity and heart built into the message to build rapport with the audience, so that the audience gets the impression of realness and a sense of sympathy to the subject; speak to the heart of the people. In return, the audience will grant you their loyalty. However your job does not end here, the

audience needs to be convinced fully believe, to act upon this message.

Where to Begin:
STEP 1:  :  Analyze the problem. Examine the audience, the message and the idea: thorough research is the best support.
Know the group leaders and their importance. Know the habits of the group: your success is in educating them to the new ideas, changing cliches, overcoming prejudices. Break it down so that they can understand and identify with it.

STEP 2:  :  Make it effective:This is where the research comes in, make sure your message is coming across in an effective manner, that you are persuading people to follow you.

STEP 3:  :  Make sure that all the group/opinion leaders are on board.
Remember: People’s opinion are rarely their own, they are influenced by their surroundings and demographics.


Provide comfort and calm, a sense of unity for those supporting the message. And for those who are against, do not let them unify, put doubt in their own message.

Cast your message in a favorable light, make the people want to love your message.

Use Omnibus/ambiguous words, their varying meanings will benefit you.

The repetitive use of chosen “magic” words (key terms) forms habit.

Be enthusiastic about your message, especially when you deliver it, make it seem interesting otherwise you will gather no audience because your message will not stand out.

Remember: Public opinion is not the complete truth, it is only what the majority thinks. Don’t forget that you can change this.

Never show your hand, who you really are, use the people they communicate with everyday, the people they trust, so that they are manipulated so personally.

Your role is to advise or command. Your manipulation should be unknown to those you are trying to influence.

The public, the people you are trying to manipulate should not be individuals, just those who change other people's opinions matter. Your manipulation should give the impression to those being manipulated that this is the desire of the majority of them.

Do not speak to people when they are alone, the message will not be effective then. Make sure that the message is delivered when there is a group. Discussions in a group can reinforce the message, especially if the opinion leaders are present.

Convince them and always remind them that your message and idea is strong, good and profitable.

You may use varying forms of deceptions to tell your message, but never get caught in a lie:
Slant any information by selection and emphasis; Boast; Make empty promises; Use flattery; A disguise of righteous is effective; Enthusiasm; Straight-forward lies, and Inventions.

Make sure that they believe that they are serving a just cause, that victory is certain and that their loyalty to you will be advantageous to them.

Exploit whatever victory you achieve, to fortify your message and in down times, remind them of your victories to pacify their doubts.

Recruiting will always benefit you.


When you have to tell the truth DO editorialize, mingle truth and half-truth with omission, throw in some commentary and evaluation, sprinkle a little truth into your propaganda and you've told the truth (according to you).

Nothing kills your credibility faster than getting caught in a lie.


Always focus on the goal, do not get distracted.

Never reveal that you are a propagandist.

Propaganda is generally known to go hand-in-hand with deceit, DO NOT get caught in a lie.

Always be aware of the public opinion, of what people think about you.

If the people turn against you in the end, know that it is because you would have taught them how

to do so.

Beware: there will be many others trying to accomplish the same goals as you. There is confusion in the world already because of conflicting propaganda.

Beware of the media, it can be used to your advantage and it can be your downfall. The media says so much already, they are so competitive and exaggerate that they trivialize issues and even cancel each other out. The media is not trusted, do not rely solely on the media to disperse your message.

Beware of CRITICISM: You will surely crumble under it, especially if your idea is morally wrong. Confidence must always be kept even in the light of defeat; the unity of all minds is very important.

Keep a close eye on those who are loyal, watch their attitudes and behaviors at all times so that they never lose faith.


Propaganda maybe used for good or for evil, obviously as is evident from its role in shaping history. Because of its manipulative characteristic, propaganda is said go hand in hand with deceit (Horkheimer and Adorno, 1944). But propaganda can be used for good- I believe this. Sometimes what the majority of people think is right may not be what is best for them and sometimes someone has to rise to the occasion to change their minds. To change public opinion requires changing clich├ęs, changing prejudice (Bernays, 1928), and any random individual on a soapbox will not suffice. This is not unlike trying to feed vegetables to a child, they will not want it because it is not attractive nor is it sweet but they need it for their health. So parents avail ploys like “the airplane spoon,” or disguising the vegetable- pills, vegetable/fruit juice, etc, or even employ a punishment and/or reward system, all to compel the child to do what is best for its health. The child may not like it now, but the child will be grateful for it in the future. Sometimes the end justifies the means.

In my eyes, propaganda is like a flourishing gold mine, it holds so much promise. Yes, today propaganda is used in a more subtle manner but it still exists; the media tells us what to think, what to say, how to act- they control us. It could even be argued that the news is not really the news, that what we are made to believe, as the gospel truth is editorialized information, the truth is sprinkled with omissions and half-truths, commentaries and opinions.

The Nazis and the Communists were able to use propaganda; it was especially effective in their news, to sway people in ways that have drastically changed history, in horrific ways during the world wars. I am not saying that I support them, I am merely commenting on the power they had over their people that they gained through propaganda. Had the Nazis made the right moves they would have succeeded in annihilating a complete race, all with the help of propaganda. Propaganda today does not need violence; instead, it has mass media that is more powerful weapon that makes persuasion easier. My point is that propaganda has so much potential today, it can be used for good or for evil, but this latent

power is out and anybody can harness it for anything, even something as trivial as salad dressings (Bernays, 1928).

So in the end we should be questioning if what we are getting is really the truth. How do we know that the monopoly of authority, the “small circles of men” who run the major news outlets, Viacom and Time Warner, for example, are not making the decisions on what we should know, on what should be important to us? How do we know whether our entire lives are based on propaganda? How would we know if someone is using propaganda to manipulate us? How would we know what to look for? What are the signs?

The Seven ABC’s of Propaganda Analysis, provide a some guiding rules to determine what is or is not propaganda (Lee and Lee, 1939):
1.  Asertain.    Figure out what the conflict in the situation is.
2.  Behold.    How do you feel about this conflict? What is your immediate reaction to it?
3.  Concern.    Stay current with the news and the conflicts around you.
4.  Doubt.    Don’t believe that your thoughts are your very own,

everything influences the way we think.
5.  Evaluate.    Ask why we think and act the way we do.
6.  Find the facts.    Before you decide anything make sure you have all the facts.
6.  Guard.    Look out for confusing words, words that may trap you, words with cryptic meanings.

Good luck to you!

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