The Cult of the Leader: A Manifesto for More Authentic Business

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Literally translated from the Latin gerundive as "things that must be disseminated", in some cultures the term is neutral or even positive, while in others the term has acquired a strong negative connotation. The connotations of the term "propaganda" can also vary over time. In English, propaganda was originally a neutral term for the dissemination of information in favor of any given cause. During the 20th century, however, the term acquired a thoroughly negative meaning in western countries, representing the intentional dissemination of often false, but certainly "compelling" claims to support or justify political actions or ideologies.

According to Harold Lasswell , the term began to fall out of favor due to growing public suspicion of propaganda in the wake of its use during World War I by the Creel Committee in the United States and the Ministry of Information in Britain: Writing in , Lasswell observed, "In democratic countries the official propaganda bureau was looked upon with genuine alarm, for fear that it might be suborned to party and personal ends. The outcry in the United States against Mr. Creel's famous Bureau of Public Information or 'Inflammation' helped to din into the public mind the fact that propaganda existed.


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The public's discovery of propaganda has led to a great of lamentation over it. Propaganda has become an epithet of contempt and hate, and the propagandists have sought protective coloration in such names as 'public relations council,' 'specialist in public education,' 'public relations adviser.

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Bernays said The term is essentially contested and some have argued for a neutral definition, [22] arguing that ethics depend on intent and context, [23] while others define it as necessarily unethical and negative. Identifying propaganda has always been a problem. Richard Alan Nelson provides a definition of the term: "Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological , political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages which may or may not be factual via mass and direct media channels.

White propaganda openly discloses its source and intent. Grey propaganda has an ambiguous or non-disclosed source or intent. Black propaganda purports to be published by the enemy or some organization besides its actual origins [28] compare with black operation , a type of clandestine operation in which the identity of the sponsoring government is hidden.

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In scale, these different types of propaganda can also be defined by the potential of true and correct information to compete with the propaganda. For example, opposition to white propaganda is often readily found and may slightly discredit the propaganda source. Opposition to grey propaganda, when revealed often by an inside source , may create some level of public outcry.

Opposition to black propaganda is often unavailable and may be dangerous to reveal, because public cognizance of black propaganda tactics and sources would undermine or backfire the very campaign the black propagandist supported. The propagandist seeks to change the way people understand an issue or situation for the purpose of changing their actions and expectations in ways that are desirable to the interest group. Propaganda, in this sense, serves as a corollary to censorship in which the same purpose is achieved, not by filling people's minds with approved information, but by preventing people from being confronted with opposing points of view.

What sets propaganda apart from other forms of advocacy is the willingness of the propagandist to change people's understanding through deception and confusion rather than persuasion and understanding. The leaders of an organization know the information to be one sided or untrue, but this may not be true for the rank and file members who help to disseminate the propaganda. Propaganda was often used to influence opinions and beliefs on religious issues, particularly during the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches. More in line with the religious roots of the term, propaganda is also used widely in the debates about new religious movements NRMs , both by people who defend them and by people who oppose them.

The latter pejoratively call these NRMs cults. Anti-cult activists and Christian countercult activists accuse the leaders of what they consider cults of using propaganda extensively to recruit followers and keep them. Some social scientists, such as the late Jeffrey Hadden, and CESNUR affiliated scholars accuse ex-members of "cults" and the anti-cult movement of making these unusual religious movements look bad without sufficient reasons.

Post—World War II usage of the word "propaganda" more typically refers to political or nationalist uses of these techniques or to the promotion of a set of ideas. Propaganda is a powerful weapon in war; it is used to dehumanize and create hatred toward a supposed enemy, either internal or external, by creating a false image in the mind of soldiers and citizens. This can be done by using derogatory or racist terms e.

Most propaganda efforts in wartime require the home population to feel the enemy has inflicted an injustice, which may be fictitious or may be based on facts e. The home population must also believe that the cause of their nation in the war is just. In NATO doctrine, propaganda is defined as "Any information, ideas, doctrines, or special appeals disseminated to influence the opinion, emotions, attitudes, or behaviour of any specified group in order to benefit the sponsor either directly or indirectly.

Propaganda is also one of the methods used in psychological warfare , which may also involve false flag operations in which the identity of the operatives is depicted as those of an enemy nation e. The term propaganda may also refer to false information meant to reinforce the mindsets of people who already believe as the propagandist wishes e. The propaganda posters were used, because radios and TVs were not very common at that time. Since these doubts are unpleasant see cognitive dissonance , people will be eager to have them extinguished, and are therefore receptive to the reassurances of those in power.

For this reason propaganda is often addressed to people who are already sympathetic to the agenda or views being presented. This process of reinforcement uses an individual's predisposition to self-select "agreeable" information sources as a mechanism for maintaining control over populations. Propaganda may be administered in insidious ways. For instance, disparaging disinformation about the history of certain groups or foreign countries may be encouraged or tolerated in the educational system.

Since few people actually double-check what they learn at school, such disinformation will be repeated by journalists as well as parents, thus reinforcing the idea that the disinformation item is really a "well-known fact", even though no one repeating the myth is able to point to an authoritative source. The disinformation is then recycled in the media and in the educational system, without the need for direct governmental intervention on the media.

Such permeating propaganda may be used for political goals: by giving citizens a false impression of the quality or policies of their country, they may be incited to reject certain proposals or certain remarks or ignore the experience of others. In the Soviet Union during the Second World War, the propaganda designed to encourage civilians was controlled by Stalin, who insisted on a heavy-handed style that educated audiences easily saw was inauthentic. On the other hand, the unofficial rumours about German atrocities were well founded and convincing.

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That would not do for a national hero so starting in the s all new visual portraits of Stalin were retouched to erase his Georgian facial characteristics and make him a more generalized Soviet hero. Only his eyes and famous mustache remained unaltered. Zhores Medvedev and Roy Medvedev say his "majestic new image was devised appropriately to depict the leader of all times and of all peoples.

Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits any propaganda for war as well as any advocacy of national or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence by law. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

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The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. Propaganda shares techniques with advertising and public relations , each of which can be thought of as propaganda that promotes a commercial product or shapes the perception of an organization, person, or brand.

Journalistic theory generally holds that news items should be objective, giving the reader an accurate background and analysis of the subject at hand. On the other hand, advertisements evolved from the traditional commercial advertisements to include also a new type in the form of paid articles or broadcasts disguised as news.

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These generally present an issue in a very subjective and often misleading light, primarily meant to persuade rather than inform. Normally they use only subtle propaganda techniques and not the more obvious ones used in traditional commercial advertisements. If the reader believes that a paid advertisement is in fact a news item, the message the advertiser is trying to communicate will be more easily "believed" or "internalized". Such advertisements are considered obvious examples of "covert" propaganda because they take on the appearance of objective information rather than the appearance of propaganda, which is misleading.

Federal law specifically mandates that any advertisement appearing in the format of a news item must state that the item is in fact a paid advertisement.


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  5. Propaganda has become more common in political contexts, in particular to refer to certain efforts sponsored by governments, political groups, but also often covert interests. In the early 20th century, propaganda was exemplified in the form of party slogans. Propaganda also has much in common with public information campaigns by governments, which are intended to encourage or discourage certain forms of behavior such as wearing seat belts, not smoking, not littering and so forth.

    Again, the emphasis is more political in propaganda. Propaganda can take the form of leaflets , posters, TV and radio broadcasts and can also extend to any other medium. In the case of the United States, there is also an important legal imposed by law distinction between advertising a type of overt propaganda and what the Government Accountability Office GAO , an arm of the United States Congress, refers to as "covert propaganda". Roderick Hindery argues [42] that propaganda exists on the political left, and right, and in mainstream centrist parties. Hindery further argues that debates about most social issues can be productively revisited in the context of asking "what is or is not propaganda?

    He argues that threats to destroy are often as socially disruptive as physical devastation itself. Dr Emma Louise Briant shows how this included expansion and integration of the apparatus cross-government and details attempts to coordinate the forms of propaganda for foreign and domestic audiences, with new efforts in strategic communication.

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    The Smith-Mundt Act, as amended, provided that "the Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall make available to the Archivist of the United States, for domestic distribution, motion pictures, films, videotapes, and other material 12 years after the initial dissemination of the material abroad Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure.

    Common media for transmitting propaganda messages include news reports, government reports, historical revision, junk science , books, leaflets, movies , radio, television, and posters. Some propaganda campaigns follow a strategic transmission pattern to indoctrinate the target group. This may begin with a simple transmission, such as a leaflet or advertisement dropped from a plane or an advertisement.

    Generally these messages will contain directions on how to obtain more information, via a web site, hot line, radio program, etc. The strategy intends to initiate the individual from information recipient to information seeker through reinforcement, and then from information seeker to opinion leader through indoctrination. A number of techniques based in social psychological research are used to generate propaganda.

    Many of these same techniques can be found under logical fallacies , since propagandists use arguments that, while sometimes convincing, are not necessarily valid. Some time has been spent analyzing the means by which the propaganda messages are transmitted. That work is important but it is clear that information dissemination strategies become propaganda strategies only when coupled with propagandistic messages.

    Identifying these messages is a necessary prerequisite to study the methods by which those messages are spread. Propaganda can also be turned on its makers. For example postage stamps have frequently been tools for government advertising, such as North Korea 's extensive issues. A British program to parody these, and other Nazi-inspired stamps, involved air dropping them into Germany on letters containing anti-Nazi literature.

    The field of social psychology includes the study of persuasion. Social psychologists can be sociologists or psychologists. The field includes many theories and approaches to understanding persuasion. For example, communication theory points out that people can be persuaded by the communicator's credibility, expertise, trustworthiness, and attractiveness. The elaboration likelihood model as well as heuristic models of persuasion suggest that a number of factors e.

    Nobel Prize—winning psychologist Herbert A.

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