Confronted by the highly unstable global context in which he must operate, the sophisticated propaganda analyst employing present-day behavioral theory tends to formulate his problem as including at least 11 sets of factors. He asks:
(1) To what ends (Le., to bring about what distributions of values), in (2) the present and expected states of the world social system and of (3) each of its subsystems (nations, lesser territorial groups, interest groups, etc.) with which the propagandist is concerned should (4) the propagandist or some agent of his distribute (5) what symbols through (6) what channels (media, such as press, radio, film, face-to-face contact, mass demonstrations, religious or cultural organizations, etc.) (7) to whom (e.g., elites, opinion leaders, middle classes, masses, customers, friends, opponents, neutrals), and (8) how can the effects of the propaganda be measured (i.e., how can one measure the value reallocations attributable to the propaganda as distinct from other causes)? In the present state of social science, this intricate question can of course be answered with only a moderate degree of confidence. Once the propaganda campaign has begun, the propagandist, and also his opponents or counter propagandists, will encounter at least three additional sets of factors: With respect to (9) what alternative value allocations and (10) by what means (e.g., counterpropaganda, censorship, coercion, or economic pressure) can the propaganda be neutralized or controlled, and. (11) how can effects of such countermeasures be measured? These 11 sets of factors will now be discussed.
Ends (values). When the problem is simply to acquire money for oneself or one’s group(s) by inducing others to buy a safe and useful commodity, the starting of ends is easy. When the commodity is of doubtful value or positively Injurious (e.g., a dangerous drug or a weapon), the problem grows complicated. Where the problem is to convert multitudes to a new religion or a new social system, it may be extremely hard to specify just what redistributions are desired among large numbers of different sorts of persons, with respect to a large cluster of values such as prestige, income, “ease of soul,” military security, etc. Yet the propagandist can hardly proceed rationally unless he can tell at least himself what reallocations of these and many other values he is trying to bring about and what applecarts he is therefore willing to upset.
Changes in the world social system. Each act of propaganda-whether of commission or omission–is very likely to have effects of some sort in at least several parts of the global system. Furthermore, that system itself is inexorably evolving because of such factors as population growth, the invention and diffusion of new cultural sets and technologies, and the consequent emergence of new centers of cultural, military, and economic power. Social evolution, nowadays often very rapid, may decrease the feasibility of many sorts of propaganda-especially of the more simplistic, parochial, and particularistic varieties and increase the feasibility of the more sophisticated, scientifically formulated, and universalistic. In general, the currents of social change, over the past four thousand years or so, appear to have been drifting, in step with the rising world population and rising educational levels, from smaller to larger social units. Concomitantly, the currents of cultural change apparently have been drifting from less rationality and scientism toward more, . and from primary territorial-group loyalty and interest-group loyalty toward primary loyalty to world social unity. Is the propagandist, for the sake of his short-run’ or long-run ends, to swim with or against these mainstreams of history? If against, at what cost? If far ahead of his time, again at what cost?
Subsystems of the world system. In the past, there were many times and places when the propagandist could effectively ignore world-system requirements’ and employ such particularist symbols as “My country (or my family, tribe, race, religion, or business), right or wrong.” In the present and future states of the world system, this self-centered type of propaganda may be suicidal. Yet strident particularisms persist. The prudent propagandist has therefore to decide what mix or reconciliation of world-system and subsystem symbolism will best serve his purposes in particular places at given points in time. With the spread of high-capability weapons, the eventual choice, even in the relatively near future, may be between universalist coexistence and particularist nonexistence.
The choice may be easy to state in theory, but it is hard to make in practice, in view of the wide variety of particularist subsystems in the world and their frequent incompatibility both with one another and with the requirements of a world bystem.
Present-day social science, still much entangled in nationalistic and other small-scale preoccupations, is unclear as to details ofthe value consequences ofpromoting, in the present and proximate states of the world social system, adherence to any given set of positions; yet in every utterance the practicing propagandist is explicitly or implicitly making such value choices
Use of agents. The use of innocent-looking agents or “front” organizations while the propagandist himself remains behind the.•scenes can maximize his prospects in two principal ways: (1)The agent(s) may seem to the audience to be much more credible or acceptable than the propagandist himself or the group(s)for which the latter speaks. Especially in areas “here the propagandist is not very familiar with the language and customs, or where cultural, racial, religious, or nationalist attitudes would deny him a favorable hearing, the use of agents is inescapable. Some four-fifths of the employees of the United States Information Agency abroad, for example, are non-Americans; and Soviet propaganda abroad relies heavily on local communists as well as on personnel of the Soviet missions. (2) If a given propaganda stratagem fails in a pretest (a “trial balloon”) or in execution, the agent can, if necessary, be dismissed or even deliberately “scapegoated” while the principal behind the scenes attempts a new approach
Since modern propaganda in its sophisticated forms requires. so high a level of rationality and of familiarity with public affairs and behavioral sciences, the planning of major campaigns probably can best be entrusted to qualified intellectuals whose backgrounds include both knowledge of social science and “hard-nosed” experience with public affairs. However, such personalities may be viewed askance by many reactors. Hence it is important to select “front men” and “contact clients” with whom the intended audience is likely to feel rapport.