Opposition and social control Project Management Help

Once propaganda produces any effects it tends to evoke opposition. Opponents may try to offset it directly or to invoke community sanctions to bring it under control. Therefore, the propagandist has to estimate his. opponents’ values and the steps opponents most probably will take. In different sorts of policies along the continuum from the democrat.ic to the authoritarian, a variety of social controls over propaganda may be found.

By definition, a healthily functioning democracy is a polity in which opposition to propaganda is habitually expreseed primarily through peaceful counterpropaganda. It is assumed that a variety of propagandists will compete vigorously in “the marketplace of ideas,” and it is hoped that the ideas best for the society will find the most takers in the long run. Prerequisites for such an outcome presumably include high levels of education, self-control, and civic spirit among the participants, and large amounts of freely available information, disinterestedly gathered and disseminated by relatively autonomous, uncensored newsgathering agencies.

In self-protection against secret or “unfair” propaganda by “hidden persuaders,” modem democracies sometimes require registration or even licensing of some sorts of propagandists by public authorities, and “plain labelling” of propaganda output. In the United States, for instance, periodicals using the second-class mails are required to publish frequent statements of their ownership, circulation, and other data. Likewise, all propaganda agents of foreign principals must file registration forms with the U.S. Department of Justice, where the interested public may inspect the data submitted about the agents”: and principals’ identities, activities, and finances. Such agents are also required to place on each piece of printed matter they circulate a 1-1>e1 identifying the principal. This principle of “disclosure,” which appears so useful with respect to foreign agents, is not applied, however, to all domestic propagandists, although similar principles are applied to the registration of securities prospectuses and of certain types ,of political campaign advertisements and contributions. Many nations require similar “plain labelling” of securities prospectuses and paid political advertising, whether foreign or domestic in origin. In many countries, claims made in propaganda (including advertising) about the contents or characteristics of foods and drugs are also subject to registration and labelling .

Other efforts made in democracies to provide public control over propaganda include laws concerning libel and . slander; laws giving political candidates and legislators exceptional privileges and immunities in the field of free speech; and laws or customs requiring equal space or time in public media for all major contenders in political campaigns. In some cases there may be a legally guaranteed “right of reply,” sometimes at the propagandist’s expense, for any group or individual held to be seriously injured or exposed to injury by his propaganda.

Obviously, however, opponents’ reactions to propaganda need not be limited to disclosure or counterpropaganda. All manner of economic or physical inducements or punishments may be tried, even in democracies; and this is much more the case in relatively authoritarian polities. In the extreme case, the authoritarian regime aims to monopolize for itself all opportunities in propaganda and will stop at nothing to prevent any kind of counterpropaganda. How long and thoroughly such a policy can be implemented depends, among other things, on the amount of force the regime can muster, the thoroughness of its internal intelligence and policing activities, and, perhaps .most important of all, the level and distribution of secular higher Aeducationin the social system of which the regime is the polity.

The effects of steps taken to neutralize or suppress propaganda can, of course, be measured by the same methods as the effects of the propaganda, and such measurement is subject to the same caveats .

Posted on November 27, 2015 in Propaganda

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