Saturday, May 4, 2013

counter propaganda

There have been many instances around the world, and throughout human history, where society polarizes, where one side turns to outright lying, to make their case.  The more successful they are, the more they will impede the flow of real information, so that they can replace it with whatever they want.

How does it even get started though?  Before they get to that point, where they can control information, how do they even get a foothold?

It starts with those who just don't know any better.  The low-information types.  People are so busy dealing with their own lives, there's this huge void of ignorance, waiting to be filled.  You start getting them riled up with false information, and if all goes well, you end up with a substantial subset of the population backing a position based on the lies they've been fed.  People who will suffer as much as anyone, should the process succeed, who just don't know any better.

In the US, we're seeing arguments called out for being propaganda  more and more, because that's exactly what it is.  From Nazi Germany to North Korea, this is how extremists get their power, and no exaggeration here, it is dangerous.

This is what I mean, when I talk about the power of modern communication, information exchange, the internet, and how maybe we need to figure out how to be more pro-active about keeping the American public informed.  Pro-active, and creative - because this is no easy task, to say the least.

I suspect that we now have advantages that we've never had before, that propaganda will be a lot more difficult to spread than it used to be.  and yet, by the same token, it is also easier to spread than it ever used to be.  I've been seeing people shouting nonsense all over the place, and not all of it's even right wing.  I see independents who don't buy into the two-party system, yet buying into a lot of the same lies, because they don't have the time or inclination to stay informed.  They're easy prey for those that know how to weave compelling fallacies based on natural skepticism of authority.

Look at these forces in government now, celebrating their ability to stall progress.  They've retreated to highly defensive gerrymandered positions, where they can more safely wage their war of attrition.  This isn't even a battle between the right and the left anymore.  This won't be good for anyone.  That is, other than those just looking for the opportunity to seize power for themselves.

This is what propaganda is all about.  I don't know how successful they'll really be, but even those on the right need to think hard about how they're aligning themselves.  The way things are going, the GOP is in a lose/lose situation, where either the extremists will take over, or they'll drive the whole party to marginalization.  The latter looking to be a lot more likely, given the modern limits to how far their dishonest tactics can really get them, these days.

I'm starting to wonder if the more sensible among the right might be the only ones who can actually do something about it, before it's too late.  They need to reclaim their party, or eventually, the left will get big enough to do it for them.

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