The Psychology of Propaganda Atlantic Monthly 1938 (Blog 6 of 8)


   This article by Jean Prevost was very interesting, and much of what the author had to say reminded me of Virginia Woolf’s “Three Guineas”. Both authors take their time discussing and dismantling the idea of propaganda, and how it can be used to build up false narratives. While Virginia Woolf went after fascists, Prevost takes a different track and talks about the Anti-Kipling movement at English schools, and how students were struggling with old ideas of tradition. Perhaps they thought of Kipling’s books as propaganda for British colonialism and wanted to rebel against what they saw as the ‘old guard’ especially after WWI created such a schism between classical and modern ideals. 

I’m not sure what to make of his stance on Americans seeing Uncle Sam as a ‘displeasing figure.’ Perhaps the ones that fought in WW1 and felt they were manipulated? Not sure. 

   He hints at the disgruntlement of the Germans after their treaty and mentions their aggressiveness and bitter rancor. I’m assuming this is part of what lead to Hitler’s rise and the use of propaganda against Jews and militant advertising to prop up the German state. 

On page 677, Prevost says, “Likewise, a regime which does away with free criticism within its country will look for it abroad, seeking at the same time to change it through propaganda.” 

   This seems quite true of the time, as the fascist state of the time, Germany and Italy not only wanted to control their own people with an iron fist and state-run media, but eventually sought to influence and conquer other territories to spread their influence and power. When lies keep building, so too does each dictator want to build on their own carefully constructed image and make their status unquestionable. So, the lies must spread to more places, and these new places and information must be controlled. And with that also comes the control of new people. And on and on it goes until fought against or dismantled by the truth.