Power speaks its own language: Contemporary social media propaganda focuses on denigration of standard perceptions of reality

Click here for previous posts about propaganda >

A previous post is entitled:

Power speaks its own language: Can historiography (generally, the writing of history featuring standard language usage) teach us anything of value with regard to extreme violence?

As a follow-up to the post, I refer to a Dec. 18, 2018 New Yorker article entitled: “Why the Russian Influence Campaign Remains So Hard to Understand.”

An excerpt reads:

Russian propaganda is a direct descendant of totalitarian Soviet propaganda. Far from promoting a single guiding ideology, this kind of propaganda robs you of your bearings. The regime gains a monopoly on reality, and can make any claim whatsoever.


How Propaganda Works (2015)

The article refers to a book entitled: How Propaganda Works (2015).

A blurb reads:

Summary/Review: Our democracy today is fraught with political campaigns, lobbyists, liberal media, and Fox News commentators, all using language to influence the way we think and reason about public issues. Even so, many of us believe that propaganda and manipulation aren’t problems for us – not in the way they were for the totalitarian societies of the mid-twentieth century. In How Propaganda Works, Jason Stanley demonstrates that more attention needs to be paid. He examines how propaganda operates subtly, how it undermines democracy – particularly the ideals of democratic deliberation and equality – and how it has damaged democracies of the past.


An Oct. 18, 2019 Daily Hampshire Gazette article is entitled: “Guest column Andrea Ayvazian: Lying and its unrelenting damage.”

An excerpt reads:

Bok’s words burrowed deep inside me — her book about lying is one of the seminal books that shaped my thinking as a 20-something. One line from her conclusion made a particularly strong impression on me: “Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to regain. They can thrive only on a foundation of respect for veracity.”

I clung to the Bok book through my many moves as a young adult, packing and unpacking it as I relocated from state to state and apartment to apartment. But somewhere along the way I lost the book. This week I went to the library and took the Bok book off the shelf.

There was everything I remembered — the chapter headings, the quotes from Augustine, Aquinas, Kant, Bonhoeffer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Freud, the discussions of white lies, excuses, lies in a crisis, lying to liars, lying to enemies, lies to protect peers and clients, lies for the public good and lies to the sick and dying.

When I first read the Bok book in 1979, I was not a stranger to the idea of political deception because I had been in college during the Vietnam War. The web of lies that entangled so many elected officials during that war and eventually brought down a president were familiar to me, and part of my coming of age as an activist.

But Bok’s book stirred something new inside me. Her words and examples page after page made me realize the deeply corrosive nature of lying and lies. Like the drip, drip, drip of acid on metal, lying eats away at trust, confidence, faith and resilience between and among individuals, families, communities, and even an entire country.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *