Jacques Ellul on Propaganda – A collection of quotes mostly from his book, Propaganda.
The person who imagined that he could not be the victim of propaganda because he could distinguish truth from falsehood, is extremely susceptible to propaganda, because when propaganda does tell the truth, he is then convinced that it is no longer propaganda: moreover, his self-confidence makes him all the more vulnerable to attacks of which he is unaware.
The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief
Propaganda must not concern itself with what is best in man – the highest goals humanity sets for itself, its noblest and most precious feelings. Propaganda does not aim to elevate man, but to make him serve. It must therefore utilize the most common feelings, the most widespread ideas, the crudest patterns, and in so doing place itself on a very low level with regard to what it wants man to do and to what end. Hate, hunger, and pride make better levers of propaganda than do love or impartiality.
Almost always, it is the conviction that ‘I am right’ or ‘my cause is the cause of justice’ that triggers violence. That is, …the moment propaganda does its work, violence is unleashed. And violence can be reduced by countering this propaganda.
The propagandist must utilize all of the technical means at his disposal – the press, radio, TV, movies, posters, meetings, door-to-door canvassing…There is no propaganda as long as one makes use, in a sporadic fashion and at random, of a newspaper article here, a poster or radio program there.
Propaganda’s content increasingly resembles information. It has even clearly been proved that a violent, excessive, shock-provoking propaganda texts leads ultimately to less conviction and participation. The listeners critical powers decrease if the propaganda message is more rational and less violent.
The orchestration of press, radio and television to create a continuous, lasting and total environment renders the influence of propaganda virtually unnoticed precisely because it creates a constant environment.
The most favorable moment to seize a man and influence him is when he is alone in the mass. It is at this point that propaganda can be most effective.
(Propaganda) proceeds by psychological manipulations, character modifications, by creation of stereotypes useful when the time comes – The two great routes that this sub-propaganda takes are the conditioned reflex and the myth
When there is propaganda, we are no longer able to evaluate certain questions, or even to discuss them.