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Posts Tagged ‘propaganda

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity”*…

 

elephant-abley (1)

 

For the powerful, the repetition of stock phrases can be a valuable tactic. These phrases serve to fortify rhetorical armour, deflecting all attack. The armour often brings clichés and abstract words together in a metallic professional embrace. Consider this, from an article on the website of the British government: “The Prime Minister emphasised her desire to listen to the views of businesses, to channel their experience and to share with them the government’s vision for a successful Brexit and a country in which growth and opportunity is shared by everyone across the whole of the UK.” Or this, from a speech by the ceo of Exxon Mobil: “Our job is to compete and succeed in any market, regardless of conditions or price. To do this, we must produce and deliver the highest-value products at the lowest possible cost through the most attractive channels in all operating environments.”

To quote neither the Bible nor William Shakespeare: yada yada yada… Listeners can be lulled into smiling submission.

Or they can be roused to a condition of prefabricated outrage…

How prefabricated language helps everybody from politicians to CEOs disguise what they really want to say: “Clichés As a Political Tool.”

* “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.  When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns…to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.” George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language.”

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As we search for meaning, we might recall that today is the anniversary of the day, in 1241, that “most changed history” (per Yale’s Timothy Snyder):

The Mongol warrior Batu Khan [grandson of Genghis Khan] was poised to take Vienna and destroy the Holy Roman Empire. No European force could have kept his armies from reaching the Atlantic. But the death of Ögedei Khan, the second Great Khan of the Mongol empire, forced Batu Khan to return to Mongolia to discuss the succession. Had Ögedei Khan died a few years later, European history as we know it would not have happened…

Batu Khan

Batu Khan on the throne of the Golden Horde  (source)

Written by LW

December 11, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are”*…

 

machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli has a bad reputation. Ever since the 16th century, when manuscript copies of his great work The Prince began to circulate in Europe, his family name has been used to describe a particularly nasty form of politics: calculating, cutthroat and self-interested. There are, to be sure, reasons for this. Machiavelli at one point advises a political leader who has recently annexed a new territory to make sure to eliminate the bloodline of the previous ruler lest they form a conspiracy to unseat him. He also praises the ‘cruelty … well-used’ by the mercenary captain Cesare Borgia in laying the foundations of his rule of the area around Rome. However, Machiavelli did not invent ‘Machiavellian politics’. Nor was his advocacy of force and fraud to acquire and maintain rule the cause of individual leaders using them. What then did Machiavelli do? What did he want to achieve?…

Machiavelli’s  name has become synonymous with egotistic political scheming, yet his work is effectively democratic at heart; Catherine Heldt Zuckert explains: “The people’s Prince.”

[image above: source— also worth a listen on this subject]

* Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

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As we ponder power and presentation, we might send traitorous birthday greetings to Mildred Elizabeth Gillars; she was born on this date in 1900.  After failing to find a career in the theater, vaudeville, or music in New York City, she left the country, ending up in the 1930s in Berlin… where, in 1940, she became announcer for the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG), German State Radio.  She broadcast English-language propaganda throughout World War II, earning (with her colleague Rita Zucca) the nickname “Axis Sally.”  She was captured after the war and convicted of treason by the United States in 1949.

AxisSallyMugshot source

 

Written by LW

November 29, 2018 at 1:01 am

“I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way”*…

 

Michelangelo Caetani’s “Cross Section of Hell,” an illustration of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and part of Cornell University’s P.J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography (“more than 800 maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information”).

An enlargeable version of the Cross Section is here; browse the full collection here.

* Robert Frost

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As we ruminate on repentance, we might note that today is the Feast Day of  Lucifer– more properly, of St. Lucifer of Caligari.  At least, it’s his feast day in Sardinia, where he’s venerated.  Lucifer, who was a 4th century bishop fierce in his opposition to Arianism, is considered by some elsewhere to have been a stalwart (if minor) defender of the orthodoxy; but by more to have been an obnoxious fanatic.

“Lucifer” was in use at the time as a translation of the the Hebrew word, transliterated Hêlêl or Heylel (pron. as HAY-lale), which means “shining one, light-bearer.”  It had been rendered in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally “bringer of dawn,” for the morning star.  The name “Lucifer” was introduced in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, roughly contemporaneously with St. Lucifer.  The conflation of “Lucifer” with “Satan” came later.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

May 20, 2017 at 1:01 am

“All art is propaganda”*…

 

Between 1943 and 1945, with the help of Warner Bros.’ finest animators, the U.S. Army produced a series of 27 propaganda cartoons depicting the calamitous adventures of Private Snafu.

Read the extraordinary story (replete with a cameo by Bugs Bunny) and learn how one of the cartoons inadvertently let slip one of the war’s greatest secrets– “Ignorant Armies: Private Snafu Goes to War.”

And watch the Private Snafu films here.

* Upton Sinclair

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As we stand to attention, we might recall that it was on this date in 1947 that Stan Musial tied Ty Cobb’s record for the most five-hit games in a season (four)– and he did it in style, hitting successfully on the first pitches from five different pitchers.

“How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.”
— Vin Scully

 source

Written by LW

September 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Childhood is the sleep of reason”*…

 

Scene of a “crèche”– an industrial day care center– with a productive factory in the background.

The images above and below, originally printed in 1930, reflect the government’s promotion of early-childhood health and well-being in the early years of the Soviet Union. The London School of Economics Library has collected a group of these posters—half brightly-colored, half sepia-toned—in a Flickr set.

In her book about childhood in Russia during the early Soviet period, historian Lisa Kirschenbaum writes that children and childhood were ideologically important to those involved in the Bolshevik Revolution. Children had the potential to grow into ideal communists, and communal early childhood education was seen as a good way of getting all members of the rising generation to hold consistent views. (In the United States, the conservative opposition to attempts to institute government support for day care in the early 1970s often referred, obliquely or explicitly, to the communalism of Soviet child care.)

By 1930, when these images were produced, the government-supported day care (or “crèche”) was doubly politically important, since young mothers were encouraged to work. In these posters, babies that look to be about 6 months old cry “I’m bored at home!” and beg to be taken to the crèche.

L: “I’m bored at home!” R: “I’m happy in the crèche!”

More– from “how to hold a baby” to “preparation of juice from raw fruits”– at the ever-illuminating Rebecca Onion’s “Government Child Care Advice From Early Soviet Propaganda Posters.”

* Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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As we crib up on cribs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1889 that an estimated 3,000 spectators boarded special trains for a secret location, which turned out to be Richburg, a town just south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to attend the Heavyweight Boxing Championship match between defender John L. Sullivan and challenger Jake Kilrain.  The fight began at 10:30 p.m.; early on, it appeared that Sullivan would lose (especially after he vomited during the 44th round). But the champion got his second wind after that, and Kilrain’s manager finally threw in the towel after the 75th round.  The match was the last world title bout fought under the London Prize Ring Rules— and thus, the last bare-knuckle heavyweight title bout.  And it was one of the first American sporting events to receive national press coverage.

John L. Sullivan (L) and Jake Kilrain

 

 

Written by LW

July 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

Maps that make a point…

More amusing maps-as-propaganda at La Boite Verte.

[TotH to EWW’s friend AH]

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As we remember that the map is not the territory, we might send bellicose birthday wishes to Donald Henry Rumsfeld; he was born on this date in 1932.  A successful businessman, Rumsfeld served as U.S. Secretary of Defense twice, first under Gerald Ford, then under George W. Bush.  Early in that latter tour, as the groundwork was being laid for the invasion of Iraq, he remarked:

…there are no “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know… the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

(NATO press conference, June 6, 2002)

Then several months later,

I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.

(CBS Radio interview, November 14, 2002)

Then a few month later still,

We know where they [Iraq’s WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat…

(in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News, March 30, 2003)

Though two years later (November 20, 2005), on a return visit to Stephanopoulos’s show, Rumsfeld suggested,

I didn’t advocate invasion…I wasn’t asked.

Interestingly, it was also on this date (in 1962) that Bob Dylan recoded “Blowin’ in the Wind”

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

 source

Written by LW

July 9, 2012 at 1:01 am

Keep Calm and Carry On…

Readers will recall (from pre-blog days) war posters reissued and (more recently) war posters updated.  Now reader AW alerts us to war posters updated and made available on one’s choice of mug, tee shirt, or refrigerator magnet; e.g.,…

See the full range, created by The Propaganda Remix Project, here.

As we remember that the medium is the message, we might recall that on this date in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in Philadelphia; and the Liberty Bell, rung.

Bell, cracked

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