How Propaganda (Actually) Works
In the early years of DeSmog’s research into environmental propaganda, I thought of industry PR campaigns like “junk science,” “clean coal,” and “ethical oil” as misinformation strategies designed to dupe the public about the real issues. Although there is obvious truth to that view, I now understand that propaganda is far more complex and problematic than lying about the facts. Certainly propaganda is designed to look like facts that are true and right, but not in a way we might think. What’s more, the consequences are far worse than most people consuming and even producing it realize.
Much of my new understanding comes from conversations with Jason Stanley, an American philosopher and professor at Yale University and author of an important new book How Propaganda Works. . . .
The propaganda problem goes way beyond terrorism, impacting the entire world around us. Consider the harm being done to the planet by those who deny climate change is a reality or label Canadian oil as “ethical” and coal from West Virginia as “clean” to justify its aggressive expansion and government subsidies. . . .
In a democracy where propaganda is common, you have a state that appears to be a liberal democracy, its citizens believe it is a liberal democracy (they have free speech) but the appearance of liberal democracy masks an illiberal, undemocratic reality. . . .Read more