Propaganda is information of a biased or misleading nature, or misinformation, used to promote a cause or point of view. It is usually disseminated by someone seeking to promote a self-interest without regard to the whole, and therefore fits within Niebuhr’s definition of evil. As the means of disseminating information and misinformation have become more complex, the means of spreading propaganda have become more sophisticated. The widespread availability of information does not seem to have ameliorated the effects of propaganda in advanced nations; on the contrary, bias and myopic self-interest within target audiences seem to have made it more widespread. In the United States, for example, the Republican party has become thoroughly adept at the arts of propaganda, employing them in service of ignorance (denial of evolution and climate change, for example) and anti-government sentiment, which works to neutralize government as an agent to guard against the excesses of corporate greed.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda (Seven Stories Press, 2002).
- Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon, 2002).
- David Barsamian and Noam Chomsky, Propaganda and the Public Mind (South End Press, 2001).
- Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies (South End Press, 1999).
- Magedah E. Shabo, Techniques of Propaganda & Persuasion (Prestwick House, 2008).
- Nicholas J. Cull, David Culbert and David Welch, Propaganda and Mass Persuasion: A Historical Encyclopedia 1500 to the Present (ABC-CLIO, 2003).
- Garth S. Jowett and Victoria J. O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion (Sage Publications, 2005).
- Garth S. Jowett and Victoria J. O'Donnell, eds., Readings in Propaganda and Persuasion: New and Classic Essays (Sage Publications, 2005).
- Edward Bernays, Propaganda (Ig Publishing, 2004).
- Randal Marlin, Propaganda & the Ethics of Persuasion (Broadview Press, 2002).
- Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes (Knopf, 1971).