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Emermouse
04-26-2014, 05:35 AM
I am writing a YA post-apocalyptic story where a group has just taken control of the city, delivering the benefits of running water, electricity, and plentiful food. In addition to this, they've also restarted the schools. The only problem is that this group caused the pandemic which brought about the apocalypse and is trying to keep that little fact under wraps. Basically, the group is a proto-fascist organization of people who believe that they are the most enlightened and that they should be the ones to inherit the earth, so to speak, so naturally, I figure the lessons at the schools are going to be propaganda. The only problem is I'm not sure how to write propaganda. All my ideas are generic "The Strong deserve to survive" stuff, not the kind of stuff that would inspire passion. Can anyone help me out?

For those who have seen the show Jericho, think of it being like that Cheyenne government.

Tazlima
04-26-2014, 06:04 AM
Magicians have a rule.

If you want people to look at something, look at it yourself. If you want people to look at you, look at them.

I suppose the same principle applies to propaganda. People will focus where the media focuses. If your group doesn't want anyone to realize they caused the problem, they have a lot of options.

1) They can start a campaign of "Let's put the past behind us and look to the future."

2) They can pretend to search for the "cause" of the pandemic and find a scapegoat. This one can pull double-duty by making them extra bad if the scapegoat is sympathetic.

3) They can simply not bring up the issue of the pandemic at all. People who have been suffering and who are now enjoying a significantly improved life may not ask questions that could risk a return to the previous situation.

4) They could admit that they're responsible, but act like they feel remorseful and pretend that those feelings of guilt are why they are helping the population now.

Properly done, propaganda will not be recognized as propaganda. When people see the hidden mechanism, the magic trick ceases to be magical. Think of it more as "spinning" the story the way politicians do. If this group is clever, they'll figure out what people want to hear and then tell them that. People who like what they're hearing are less likely to seek out other voices.

JoeHill
04-26-2014, 05:51 PM
Such a government would most likely need a scapegoat to distract people's attention away from their culpability. Judging from my experience in politics, the best scapegoats are those who are already somewhat marginalized in society. People will more easily join in the persecution because it doesn't cost them anything nor is it risky.

Wilde_at_heart
04-26-2014, 07:37 PM
I am writing a YA post-apocalyptic story where a group has just taken control of the city, delivering the benefits of running water, electricity, and plentiful food. In addition to this, they've also restarted the schools. The only problem is that this group caused the pandemic which brought about the apocalypse and is trying to keep that little fact under wraps. Basically, the group is a proto-fascist organization of people who believe that they are the most enlightened and that they should be the ones to inherit the earth, so to speak, so naturally, I figure the lessons at the schools are going to be propaganda. The only problem is I'm not sure how to write propaganda. All my ideas are generic "The Strong deserve to survive" stuff, not the kind of stuff that would inspire passion. Can anyone help me out?

For those who have seen the show Jericho, think of it being like that Cheyenne government.

I suggest reading some books on propaganda and influence - particularly to do with advertising and public relations.

A lot of people (partly thanks to Orwell's 1984) think of 'Propaganda' as heavy-handed slogans and so on, but it's actually quite the opposite.

It's often very subtle and is about cultivating particular attitudes, appealing to selfish desires and so on. Aldous Huxley had a far better grasp on on how that all 'works', imo. Not to say 1984 didn't make some fantastic points on the subject (his bits about controlling history, and the news continuously covering meaningless statistics is spot on), but where Huxley nails it is all the entertaining distractions.

As for 'covering up' something, there are various ways. The first is, not to write about it at all. Present it as boring or uninteresting or 'out of respect for the victims' or something. Then if people do dig into it anyway, have an alternative story to explain what went on that has as much basis in actual fact, along with some misleading but plausible explanations, some of which are easy to 'debunk' and some of which are not. Then have another backup story with a slight resemblance to 'truth' along with a truckload of nonsense (think of the people promoting the idea that for 9-11 the twin towers were a controlled demolition and the planes were just holograms).

As for 'inspiring passion' I'm not sure what you mean, exactly, but the key would be to make it 'fun'. Some people argue organised sports is 'Propaganda' because of all the spectacle involved in championship games, teams, etc. (Hence Czech or Swedish or Californian hockey players for a 'Montreal' or 'Pittsburgh' team). Noam Chomsky is worth reading for that, as are others.

AHunter3
04-26-2014, 08:57 PM
One of the most common and sneaky forms of propaganda is to first describe a citizen who is doing what you don't want them doing — questioning the role and behavior of the fascists in charge being a really really common and recurrent example — and then castigating that behavior, casting the citizen you've just described as Example #1 of the kind of people we all need to Watch Out For because they are being Unpatriotic and are trying to undermine our national pride and optimism, and also because they have a Secret Agenda that may not be obvious when you just listen to them questioning the role and behavior of the fascists but which YOU, the average citizen, need to be aware of.


If the propaganda is successful, it makes it difficult-to-impossible to criticize or even raise the question of the behavior of those in charge without being regarded as a social evil and as one whose real purposes are something other than what you say you're doing, so that people are attributing other beliefs and intentions to you and thus coloring everything you say.

blacbird
04-26-2014, 10:17 PM
You might profit by reading an excellent book titled Propaganda by French social critic Jacques Ellul. One of the salient points he makes is that propaganda isn't always made up of lies.

caw

melindamusil
04-26-2014, 11:41 PM
This page (http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/ww2era.htm) has translations of Nazi propaganda. There is a LOT of material on there, so you may want to just scroll down to "visual material" and look at the posters.

Some of the ones I find most striking:
"Hitler Builds"- propaganda celebrating the leader
"The Reich will never be destroyed if you are united and loyal" or "Long live Germany!"- appealing to people's patriotism.
Along with a photograph of a man with a disease- "60,000 Reichsmarks is what this man suffering from a disease will cost the People's Community during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money too." I guess this appeals to people's selfishness.

arcan
04-27-2014, 12:24 AM
you should read "the wave" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave You'l get a lot of infos about propaganda in it.

CWatts
04-27-2014, 01:59 AM
A more recent example of propaganda you can draw on (which I realize will be "historical" to your YA readers - man that makes me feel old) is how things were here in the US in the early days of the Iraq War. Think about all the "irrefutable evidence" presented that Saddam had weapons of mass distraction and the theory that Iraq was involved in 9/11. In particular, think about how dissent was shouted down or people's patriotism questioned - like the backlash against the Dixie Chicks, the absurdity of "freedom fries", etc.

Of course as a liberal I tend to notice more when propaganda comes from conservatives, but both sides do it-- the proverbial bloody shirt comes out in the gun control debate whenever there's one of these horrible mass shootings, for example. And that's the thing too about propaganda - it's not always wrong (factually or morally) depending on the point of view it is promoting, but it does try to manipulate people's emotions into supporting that point of view.

King Neptune
04-27-2014, 02:35 AM
Unfortunately, I have to agree with CWatts. The lead up to the Iraq mistake was typical American style propaganda. It was composed of plausible lies and nothing else. That is an easy type of propaganda to use, because it tries to make an intellectual appeal, rather than the mostly emotional appeal that Hitler used.

The best propaganda it put forth and accepted as fact, regardless of actual fact. Thoise of us who had paid attention to the news in the 1980's knew that the pro-Iraq war paopaganda was a pile of falsehood, but most people hadn't bothered paying attention to what was happening in the Middle East, so they didn't remember Iran-Iraq war, etc.

Another example of propaganda done that way has been the way that the climate panickers have presented "climate change".

Debbie V
04-29-2014, 05:44 AM
I prefer the term spin to propaganda. The term propaganda seems trite in the modern era.

It's not what you say, it's how you frame your message. How can they play into the needs and fears of the people they want to control? That depends on the overall culture in your story.

Think about all of the things that have been done to indoctrinate you into groups: Pledge of Allegiance every morning, sports teams you follow, music, TV shows, religions, political parties. How do we do this today?

Trebor1415
04-29-2014, 09:34 AM
I hate to say it but there is a ton of stuff on propoganda on the web and even more great books on the subject.

Your question seems a little general at this point. I suggest some Googling and general background reading first.

Quickbread
04-29-2014, 04:13 PM
Josip Broz Tito, who formed Yugoslavia from seven separate (formerly antagonistic) countries and ruled it for more than 30 years, might hold some helpful insights for you. As far as dictators go, he was a benevolent one. He gave the people universal housing, education, health care and the like, and society was pretty swell for most people (as long as they didn't speak out against the government).

One key thing he did to create "brotherhood and unity" was build a sense of common civic pride. He created a new mythology out of the new nation's key triumph: beating back the Nazis in WWII. I think his government made more movies about WWII than Hollywood. And the movies were always about major war heroes or collective groups of ordinary citizens overpowering or outsmarting the Nazis. The goal was to build pride and passion for being Yugoslavian and to downplay historical regional differences. And it worked. For a while.

King Neptune
04-29-2014, 04:17 PM
I prefer the term spin to propaganda. The term propaganda seems trite in the modern era.

It's not what you say, it's how you frame your message. How can they play into the needs and fears of the people they want to control? That depends on the overall culture in your story.

Think about all of the things that have been done to indoctrinate you into groups: Pledge of Allegiance every morning, sports teams you follow, music, TV shows, religions, political parties. How do we do this today?

Most of those items you mentioned are not propaganda, because they are organic parts of a culture, rather than being designed to steer the thoughts of people. But the pledge of allegiance is clumsiest attempt at propaganda that I have ever seen. I realized what it was, and how wrong it was, well before I finished elementary school. The "sports teams you follow, music, TV shows", etc. are attempts to direct the beliefs of people; they are attempts to get people to spend money in certain ways.

That's nothing compared to actual deliberate propaganda.

KarmaPolice
05-06-2014, 11:07 AM
Erm, culture and propaganda can and does mix - while most intelligent people write off the stupid posters on the walls, after being drip-fed biased views in books, TV shows and films end up with pretty much the same result. Just a few thoughts on more 'subtle' forms of propaganda...

A TV show which chronicles the 'last days of the old regime'. The plague is about to hit, and all the 'Old' leaders and their hangers-on are scuttling for safety, leaving the normal people to face their fate. The story's about some 'freedom fighters' who are attempting to alert the world of the coming doom, stop the 'Old's' from jumping ship or to force them to sort it out. This programme is dead popular, due to the fact it's pretty much the only 'new' series out post-collapse, has loads of gunfights, eyecandy etc. The propaganda isn't rammed down their throats, either.

The re-hashing of the nation's 'greatest hour' - just like any Brit politician harking back to Churchill and WWII. Expect old films on the topic to be re-shown, and in your case ones that showed people 'doing the nasty thing not because they wanted to, but because it was the right thing'.

Historical revisionism. Expect figures and events to be re-touched to suit the 'New' regime's ethos - so if they stressed the power of the state, you could have a new book about JFK talking about how he was a 'strong' president because he beefed up military spending and stared down the Soviets. Naturally, the fact he founded the Peace Corps isn't mentioned anymore.

Keeping the trappings of 'tradition'. Highly important. A post-collapse proto-US would usually spend alot of energy keeping some form of Football/Baseball league functioning, retain Old Glory and the forms of government familiar to all. Black-clad troopers in jackboots and public hangings will cause unrest from the normal folk reacting 'it just ain't right', while if they simply subvert the existing structures to meet their needs, people will feel 'safer', that the new government is doing it's best to bring back the good old days.

Bringing back old favorites - like sitcoms, soaps and 'family' comedies. The sole functioning TV station might put stuff like Friends, The Cosby Show, Everyone Loves Raymond etc. on heavy rotation; reminding people of the good old days before the Old screwed it all up, and with any luck, the New will bring back again. Naturally, politically barbed satire won't make it - while they might still show The Simpsons, obsessive fans will note the overtly political ones never seem to make it to air.

TheNighSwan
05-06-2014, 12:19 PM
Try to read about powerful american lobby groups like the NRA or AIPAC, see the kind of method and rethorics they use to influence american politics and american media.

Marjan
05-06-2014, 09:23 PM
A master of propaganda was Edward Bernays. He even renamed modern day propaganda to "public relations", because the term propaganda got a bad rep after the first world war. However it is essentially the same thing and much of the media we consume today consists of it. If you need example of propaganda just look around you. We're swimming in it and hardly even notice it.

Debbie V
05-06-2014, 10:09 PM
A master of propaganda was Edward Bernays. He even renamed modern day propaganda to "public relations", because the term propaganda got a bad rep after the first world war. However it is essentially the same thing and much of the media we consume today consists of it. If you need example of propaganda just look around you. We're swimming in it and hardly even notice it.

My point exactly.

We watch folks spin stories on a daily basis as they try to make themselves look good and their opponents look bad. Whether they want our money or our support doesn't matter. Propaganda that appears embedded in the primary culture but sways people to one side within may be the most effective.

rosehips
05-08-2014, 12:45 AM
If you're trying to determine how to do the propaganda specifically in schools, I'd go with memorization for a lot of it. The kids must memorize facts and numbers. There could be poems glorifying the new regime. Maybe even contests for kids to recite the poems, that sort of thing. Any artwork produced would have to be either on some neutral thing that has no bearing on the politics of the new/old regimes, or specifically laudatory of the new regime, critical of the old.

In China they used to have Red Character Dancers, who were young people who danced with red characters of the Chinese language that represented some value of the totalitarian government (keep in mind, in Chinese one character represents a word, unlike in English where we use multiple letters). I don't recall what they were, but something like "Patriotism" would work. You could adapt this for your school, having a dance class where students danced with images representing the values instead.

Did you ever watch the film, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? It's not my favorite, but there is one part where a tutor instructs the boy on the history of "the Jew" and everything "the Jew" has done to ruin things for the Germans. The boy can't understand who this Jew is, and the instructor gets frustrated having to explain that "the Jew" refers to a whole people. I think what's useful there is the reductivist way that the instructor (and the Nazi curriculum developers) refers to an entire, diverse population of people. You see that a lot in textbooks in America. There's a line in the textbook I have to use with the history program I teach, something along the lines of how during the Civil Rights Movement, blacks and whites worked together to change unfair laws. The textbook does not go on to say anything about the lynchings and other violence that took place at the time. For a kid only just exposed to the topic, they get the impression that everyone at the time was made up of two groups: white and black. And both groups amicably agreed that it was time to change some unfair laws. Similarly, the same textbook has a statement regarding Birth of a Nation (if you want an example of film propaganda, last time I checked it streamed on Netflix), which goes something like, "Some people protested the film because it portrayed black people in a negative light." First of all, that's such an understatement that when I read it I snorted tea out of my nose. Secondly, nowhere in the textbook does it address the way that movie heroifies the KKK. I'm not kidding or exaggerating. So again, the textbook does two things: 1) it makes it sound like Birth of a Nation's biggest problem is that it had a negative portrayal of blacks (and the implication is that some people overreacted about it) when in fact it makes them out to be the source of all evil in America, and 2) it omits a rather significant aspect of the movie because including it would immediately let a contemporary reader know how very extreme the movie was, even for its time.

If you want to know more about why American textbooks are like this (and the one I'm referring to is the worst I've ever come across--though others are pretty bad too) you might read James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me. The short and inadequate answer is, we Americans (and we're not alone) don't want to remember just how nasty some of our history really is. But these textbooks do serve a larger purpose, as well. Read Loewen for more on that.

There's also the famous Nazi math problem.

"The construction of a lunatic asylum costs 6 million marks. How many houses at 15,000 marks each could have been built for that amount?"

It's subtle, though we see its implications more clearly than people did at the time, because we know what the Nazis were up to. The point is that spending money to care for "lunatics" takes money away from good Germans who need houses. (Better to just do away with the lunatics, right?) You can find the math problem and other examples of Nazi indoctrination of children here (http://www.johndclare.net/Nazi_Germany3_Youth.htm).

akiwiguy
05-08-2014, 05:09 AM
If you want to know more about why American textbooks are like this (and the one I'm referring to is the worst I've ever come across--though others are pretty bad too) you might read James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me. The short and inadequate answer is, we Americans (and we're not alone) don't want to remember just how nasty some of our history really is. But these textbooks do serve a larger purpose, as well. Read Loewen for more on that.



I recall in my schooling of 60s/70s, the history of the colonisation of New Zealand read basically like, "The Maoris exchanged their land for blankets and muskets."

It was a couple of more decades before I began to discover that, for the large part, the land had in fact been confiscated by way of successive law changes that persisted well into the 1900s. I've since often pondered the extent to which this not insignificant (certainly in terms of current treaty settlements) anomaly was a deliberate attempt to gradually erase inconvenient history forever.

So, rosehips, no you are not alone.