Summary: The twentieth century introduced an unprecedented era of propaganda in all its forms, the fallout of new technologies of mass communication. Today, the prevalence of the word "propaganda" in ordinary discourse indicates the social pervasiveness of the phenomenon. The Holocaust in Nazi Germany was the result of a decade of systematic propaganda harnessing and intensifying a centuries-old anti-Semitic legacy. The massacre of over half a million Tutsis in Rwan ...show moreda was instigated by radio propaganda. Support for the 1991 Gulf War, like the Great War of 1914-1918, has been attributed to the deliberate shaping of pubic opinion through false atrocity stories such as alleged incubator baby killings. Advertising and propaganda have long been associated and now the Internet opens entirely new avenues for propaganda.
Communication technologies have always served the interests of those controlling them. And as Jacques Ellul warned in 1980, any new technology enters into an already existing class system, and can be expected to develop in a way favourable to the dominant interests of that system. The merger of AOL and Time-Warner confirms that the future of the Internet will favour corporate interests. But the Internet has also opened up new possibilities for a politically effective counter-culture, as was demonstrated at the Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organization late in 1999.
This books aims to develop a sophisticated understanding of propaganda. It begins with a brief history of early western propaganda, introducing Ancient Greek classical theories of rhetoric and the art of persuasion and tracing developments through Christianity, the rise of the nation-state, World War I, Nazism and Communism. The core of the book, however, examines the ethical implications of various forms of persuasion. It looks at hate propaganda but also insidious elements of more generally acceptable communication such as advertising, public relations, and government information. It examines the case for legal controls and self-imposed restraints in the light of the freedom of expression guarantees provided in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but references are also made to situations in other countries.
Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion examines the art of persuasion but it also hopes to establish a "self-defense" resistance to propaganda. ...show less
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