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On Propaganda


By: David Deschesne, Editor/Publisher

Fort Fairfield Journal, June 6, 2007, p. 2

One of the world’s most successful propagandists was Adolph Hitler.  Hitler’s outlook on race and equality was definitely skewed and easily rebutted, but he was an avid reader and very learned in civics, political science, psychology and oratory.  While he didn’t “write the book” on propaganda, Hitler did understand how people thought, what made them react and how to go about presenting a message that would change the minds of millions and make them do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do.  Untold millions of Jews, Russians, French and others met their deaths at the hands of heavily propagandized German police and military.  In fact, during the Blood Purge of 1934, Hitler was even able to convince members of his own police force to kill some of their brother officers because they either couldn’t be trusted or counted on to tow the party line. 

   Since propaganda has the potential to be so seriously destructive to a society when in the hands of a dangerous, malevolent few, I decided in this issue to teach on it from Hitler’s writings in order to show how our government and mainstream news media today still employ its fundamentals on an otherwise unwitting American population.

   Not all propaganda is necessarily evil, or false.  It’s merely a tool to move the opinions of the masses one way or another.  Once you understand the fundamentals of propaganda, you too will be able to identify it when it is being used.  The following points are from Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which was dictated by him around 10 years before he came into power as the leader of the NAZI party and is one of the best compilations and analysis of propaganda and its implementation I have read so far.


Point 1:  The Masses are “Simpletons”

   Hitler observed that the majority of citizens in a given society are very simple-minded and not geared toward scientific or intellectual thought.

   “The broad mass of a nation does not consist of diplomats, or even professors of political law, or even individuals capable of forming a rational opinion; it consists of plain mortals, wavering and inclined to doubt and uncertainty.”1  “All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to.  Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be.  But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be exerted in this direction.”2

   While some are educated, critical thinkers, the majority of any given population is not trained in science, mathematics, political science, statistics or logic-based reasoning at an advanced level.  Just casually observing the type of television programming that passes for entertainment today illustrates this point boldly.  As for-profit businesses, television studios produce what the majority of the market wants to view because that’s where the money is.  An endless stream of tabloid television programs and mindless sitcoms is fed to the masses on a daily basis.  These are the people Hitler was referring to - non-thinkers.

   It has been the goal of the Fort Fairfield Journal to work the equation backwards in regard to counter-propaganda, by attempting to bring those in society up in intellectual level so propaganda won’t have as much of an effect on them.  This is contrary to Hitler’s thesis on the subject since he continually warns against making the message “too technical” in nature for fear of loosing the audience.

Point 2:  Emotions

   All effective propaganda should be geared toward the emotions of the populace, rather than the intellect.

   “The people in their overwhelming majority are so feminine by nature and attitude that sober reasoning determines their thoughts and actions far less than emotion and feeling.”3

   Governments have understood the emotional nature of a populace’s thinking for eons.  In many cases, events were engineered in order to appeal to the people’s emotions of fear or anger in order to coax their thinking in the direction the government or corporate world wanted.

   Hitler had his Reichstag (capitol building) burned in order to blame it on his political enemies, namely the Jews, and sway public opinion in that direction for political gain.  The British allowed the Lusitania to be torpedoed with hundreds of American passengers on board in order to drum up public sentiment against Germany in World War I and to draw an otherwise pacifist U.S. population into the war in order to help her to win.  Soon after, the U.S. Government allowed the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor in order to again coax a predominately pacifist American public into supporting and fighting a war they had no interest in.

   These tactics were adopted from a German philosopher named Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.  Hegel advanced the thesis of: Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis which translates today into “Problem-Reaction-Solution” (PRS).

   The PRS paradigm is exercised on the public in order to capitalize on their natural fear and enhance it for political gain.  Whenever the U.S. government today wants to gain more support or mileage for a particular program that is unpopular with the public, they drop the buzz-words “Terrorists” or “Al Qaeda” in order to scare the people back into submission.   This tactic can only work, and does work effectively, on a population that uses emotions solely to guide their decision-making process.  Hitler, as well as our government today have become masters at the art of emotion-based propaganda and his “news” media was filled with it, as is ours.

Point 3:  Single Foe Theory

   Hitler understood that to achieve any success one should, on purely psychological grounds, never show the masses two or more opponents4 and that the art of all truly great national leaders at all times consists among other things primarily in not dividing the attention of a people, but in concentrating it upon a single foe.5

   “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous.  In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”6

   The Single Foe theory of psychological warfare propaganda has been used extensively against the American people for the past 100 years.  Today, the single foe is a generic enemy labeled “terrorism.”  We are waging a war on an invisible enemy who is the best enemy the military industrial complex can fabricate - one that can’t be seen.

   By keeping the minds of the Americans focused on a single foe, our government distracts our attention away from all of the shenanigans it is doing to us while we are busy worrying about the “terrorists.”  Hitler used the same tactics in getting his population worried about the Jews “corrupting” the race and “taking over the world” - even though he offered no evidence - while he instituted his own reign of terror.

    Our news media plays right along with this program by willingly reporting stories favorable to the government’s agenda - while at times appearing to be critical.  The reason for this is that most of the major news networks are either directly or indirectly owned by companies who provide products or services to the military and government.  Advancing the government’s agenda can only bring them increased profits through war escalation or troop surges.  But, they have done well to keep the American people’s minds focused on one single foe - the evil Muslim “terrorists.”

Point 4:  Form and Function

   Hitler compared the form and function of effective propaganda to a poster advertising an art exhibit.  The poster need not show the entire exhibit, it merely needs to draw the reader’s attention to the exhibit and convince him it is a worthy use of his time to attend.

   “The content of propaganda is not science any more than the object represented in a poster is art.  The art of the poster lies in the designer’s ability to attract the attention of a crowd by form and color.  A poster advertising an art exhibit must direct the attention of the public to the art being exhibited; the better it succeeds in this, the greater is the art of the poster itself.”7

   Today’s propaganda uses the poster form of expression in the news media.  Our society has been trained to accept government propaganda by the clever use of sound bites and one-line thoughts which either may or may not be entirely correct.  Some examples are: “Guns Kill People” and “Everyone Should Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes.”

   The poster-art concept of propaganda was unwittingly practiced by many in the music industry in the post-9/11 world with songs about flag waving patriotism and “getting even” with the evil “terrorists.”

Point 5:  Repetition

   The key to any effective propaganda campaign is repetition.

   “The purpose of propaganda is not to provide interesting distraction for blasé young gentlemen, but to convince, and what I mean is to convince the masses.  But the masses are slow moving, and they always require a certain time before they are ready to even notice a thing, and only after the simplest ideas are repeated a thousand times will the masses finally remember.”8

    The government with its willing accomplices in the military-industrial complex-controlled mainstream media continually parrots the same message over and over again in order to get the general public repeating it and believing it.  Advertising and marketing programs also work the same way.  There is one very popular brand of speaker being sold that really isn’t all that great, but because they have told the people enough times how great it is, they can sell an otherwise mediocre speaker system for thousands of dollars.

Point 6:  The Bigger the Lie

   Hitler understood that the bigger a lie is, the more apt people are to believe it.

   “...the magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposefully evil, and that, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a little one...”9

  The 9/11 event is a classic example of the people believing a lie at all costs.  There is more evidence, for example, to prove controlled demolitions were used on the WTC towers 1 and 2 than there is to support the jet fuel/pancake collapse theory, but the majority of Americans continue to believe the less credible story because the government and news media continually repeat it as if it were fact.  When scientific evidence does come out to contradict the “official” story the people have been so heavily propagandized to label it “conspiracy theory” that they rarely ever convert their thinking to anything other than the original story.

Point 7:  Simple Images

   “The picture in all its forms up to the film has greater possibilities (than a written essay).  Here a man needs to use his brains even less; it suffices to look, or at most to read extremely brief texts, and thus many will more readily accept a pictorial representation than read an article of any length.”10

   As a gifted orator, Hitler also used the spoken word, in addition to brief picture images to sway the public - the same tactic is used by our government and television news media today to keep the people scared of a common, perceived, enemy.

   To summarize, propaganda must be simple, not scientific in nature, it must appeal to the emotions and be constantly repeated in the form of sound bites and one-liners.  The people must always be kept scared and taught their leaders are there to save them and nothing of a scientific or technical nature can ever be allowed to enter the discussion, or else the propaganda will unravel under the bane of independent, critical, logic-based thinking.


1.  Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler, Ralph Manheim translation ©1971 Houghton Mifflin Co., paperback edition p. 183

2. ibid, p. 180;  3. ibid, p. 183;  4. ibid, p. 117;

5. ibid, p. 118;  6. ibid, p. 180  ; 7. ibid, p. 179; 8. ibid, p. 185;  9. ibid, p. 231;  10. ibid, p. 470