Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Study Propaganda?

Over many hundreds of years, many nationalities, many cultures, races and creeds, propaganda has been used to excersize a measure of control over the people of the world. Not only have an elite few or "controllers" accessed this technology of communication, but every company nowadays that advertises participates in their own form of propaganda. Propaganda technique and methods of persuasion are used pervasively throughout our modern day society through conversation, media, the internet and schools. It would seem impossible that one could exist outside of this unseen phenomenon and viral spreading of ideas. That being stated, it has become important for one to understand the shape, size and intentions of the propagandas of today so that one may choose which ideas to discard as products or propaganda, and which ideas to further propagate thus taking back control of his own habits and evolving as a person. This work has already been started by scholars throughout history such as Chomsky, Ellul, Nietzsche, Orwell, Camus, Canetti, Jaspers and many undeclared propaganda hackers of the last century. It is the goal of this blog to study and utilize these hacking methods, compilations, and techniques to unravel the web of modern day propaganda in an accurate and systematic maner. We seek to provide a primer by which other projects can be formed to truly free Humanity from the iron grip of some of the worst types of propaganda we see today.

It has been a common view to look at propaganda in only a top-down or vertical sense. For example, one may look at the information coming out of Israel or from the Hamas organization about Gaza as propaganda, or one may see an advertisement, or the nightly news, and deem it as such. What the layman does not think to look at the immerse web of horizontal or sociological propaganda that exists in it's many types, forms, and modalities. There are qualitatively and quantitatively more diverse propaganda techniques that get further polished each day by the hundreds of thousands of organizations and propagandists that exist today.

Why study propaganda? Studying it allows one to see past it in a sense, to the intentions of it's producers. One begins to unravel the rhetoric and slogans of his era and see the true nature of the influencers of the world and society. One begins to take back responsibility and control over his own attitudes, habits, and prejudices. Randal Marlin on page 22 of his book "Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion" proposes a semi-concrete definition of propaganda as such: "The organized attempt through communication to affect belief or action or inculcate attitudes in a large audience in ways that circumvent or suppress an individual's adequately informed, rational, reflective judgment." He goes on to say that the definition does not exclude as propaganda, "those methods of influencing others which anticipate that the propagandees will make use of their own reason and informed judgment to act in some way which the propagandist desires." Propaganda itself is usually used to turn a profit for those propagating the message or idea. To mold public opinion and organize it in such a way as to implant imagery and the formation of ideas in the minds of the people for later use.

Propaganda has been being used since the days of Rhetoric in Plato's Era, but it has grown into something quite different than oratorical rhetoric. Edward L. Bernays in his book entitled "Propaganda: The formation of Mens Attitudes" in 1923 gives us detail and insight as to how his flavor of propaganda has been used in America and Germany over the last century when he says, "There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes." Clearly in Bernays' view of the world, there is the Leader and the Crowd, the Propagandist and the Masses or the (Mass Man). Bernays was the controller of multiple propaganda campaigns for the U.S government and large corporations, affecting major change in the way Americans spend money, think of products, and go about their daily life and habits. He is hailed as the father of the Public Relations Industry and was paid large sums of money from his clients throughout his life. Only through careful study of his technique can one begin to unravel what has happened to the minds and social circles of Americans for the last 80 years. His methods succeded at replacing individual autonomy while turning the Mass into a machine which will react in a quite predictable way to the "pressing of a button." Goebbles, the infamous Minister of Propaganda for Hitler quotes and admires Bernays' work in the field during some of his more famous speeches.

Studying propaganda is the study of the way our minds as a whole are controlled by these "shrewd person" behind the curtain. To understand the form and flow, the patterns and textures of propaganda, one must study the many forms in which it exists currently and has existed in the past. One must draw lines of similarity between events previously experienced by society and todays events, through the lens of propaganda. The curtain must be raised, and the people's minds must be freed from the grips of those behind it if this world is ever to advance beyond this point. Edward Bernays is the type of person who would say and has said the opposite. People like him believe that without the propagandist, the world would fall into chaos and people would not advance humanity as a whole because people are, for the majority, idiots. That being said, there are quite a lot of ignorants and blind followings in the world today. Maybe they do need to be led, but by a real leader, not the Wizard of Oz.

It is in this vein that propaganda hacking finds it's roots, and in this essence that it will evolve. There have been both the Propagandist and the Propaganda Hacker for hundreds of years, but the former never got a proper title. Those who hack the propaganda of today are not people with degrees but people with tools and techniques that they share and discuss in their community. We only seek to understand the systems and methodologies by which our brains are intended to be controlled, and release ourselves from that control. We seek the ability to see as much of the true and vast picture of life as we can, and compile that information into a life free of the mental bars and barriers, and censorship set forth by those who would call themselves our rulers.

This blog is about the very core structures of Propaganda hacking, and is meant to supplement both the history and lessons learned by the major Propagandists as well as the Hackers. This is meant to supply people with a resource and a method within which to contribute and build a clear and concrete method of hacking or breaking down any article of propaganda, from a news article, to a TV show, to the headlines we read on the internet, to every day conversation and rhetoric. We will be using and evolving tools that we have created to perform these tasks and make them available to the common man. We will study and analyze technique throughout the ages of man that have been used and discuss ways to reverse-engineer them. We will build an open standard by which to systematize and automate the analysis of an article of propaganda, using current tools, and past patterns to uncover the intentions behind it's authors, and the effectiveness of it's campaign in our society.

Join our community by subscribing to the blog and give us your thoughts and observations about propaganda hacking. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

4 comments:

  1. I'd be interested to see what your driving force is for this blog. I've seen a lot of political propaganda start to roll into Twitter. It's propaganda but it's a form of social hacking.

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    1. It's been 7 years since this blog... but... my driving force should be pretty clear by now after 7 years of twitter. Mainly I'm trying to build a way for people to think outside of the box when they see something. I want to recognize patterns in propaganda that even propagandists don't have categorized yet. I guess this could now be done with a system like Watson or a publicly trained AI like ImageNet. Maybe I'll have a go at actually creating the proposed system :D

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  2. Mainly my driving force is that I am interested in the topic of propaganda itself. I have read a couple of books on it, both from the side of a propagandist author and an author who I would consider to be a propaganda hacker. I have also seen this, especially with the whole gaza (israel vs. hamas) thing. That being said, I have built tools to monitor a large stream of propaganda in the world, and am starting to come up with ways to categorize it systematically. I want people to know how to do this, and share in my discoveries, so that we can all start to see the intention by propagandists behind their words and suggestions.

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