As we see the end of another political season, we all thank God that the end of this wave of propaganda is almost here.  But it made me think - why are billions of dollars spent each political season trying to make us come to decisions that in so many cases are against our own self interests??  As one of innumerable examples, the governor of Ohio Kasich is asking us to vote for him in part on his platform on education, yet he has reduced funding to public education by over one half of billion dollars.  His move clearly forces all of us to pay more for our children's tuition and for every student's tuition in the form of increased property taxes.

When you think about it, the answer is easy.  And it comes down to what is the truly oldest profession in the world - the propagandist!  Think about it.  Propagandists routinely con us into making decisions that end up losing us money and power and transferring it to them!  For most men, that is much more exciting and addictive than paying for an hour (or less, depending on the guy!) of sex.  What did Gordon Gekko say in the movie "Wall Street" when he told the story of how he manipulated the price of real estate and then sold it at enormous profit?  He said "this is better than sex."  What did Dick Cheney say when he forced us taxpayers to pay over $1 trillion dollars for a bogus war in Iraq that badly damaged all of us in the pocketbook and led to tens of thousands of Americans dying or being badly injured but greatly benefitted his friends in the arms and oil/gas industry? And what did Kasich say when he approved widespread fracking while removing any chance that the people whose well water was being poisoned could even appeal and at the same time removing the incentives for clean energy so our children may have a world to live on in 25 years??  Alright, these last two are bad examples because most people doubt that Cheney ever has had sex and Kasich is too busy screwing 99% of Ohioans to have time for actual sex!

But - seriously - let's take a look at how propagandists work.  God knows it is in our interests to do so!  Let's think of in its simplest form - the con man.  This is the person who can sell "personalized copper engravings of Abraham Lincoln" for $19.99 which turns out to be a new copper penny.  Or the person who says he is “committed to promoting democracy”and then does everything in his power to prevent people who might vote against him to vote.  Let’s try and condense this to the 10 key ways propaganda is done.

The ten commandments of propaganda

At the core of propaganda is the con.  There are three key features: 1) the person doing the propaganda is hiding a truth and 2) the con will benefit the person doing the propaganda and 3) our accepting the con will be to our detriment.  The truth being hidden will always be something that if heard unvarnished would lead us to never go along with the person doing the propaganda.  No one would say yes to "would you like to buy a penny for $19.99".  Also, none of us would go along with "would you be willing to give up over $1 trillion in your taxpayer’s money to benefit my cronies in the oil and gas and war industry".  Yet this stuff happens all the time.  Let's examine how it works.

The first commandment of propagandaRepeat the lie as much as possible.  Okay, this is obvious but still so important.  Our brains seem to be hard-wired to make sense of the world as simply and quickly as possible.  One way we often do this is to be more likely to accept something as true if we hear it enough times.  The lie just needs to be fabricated from thin air and repeated countless times.  A good example today is “voter fraud”which Republicans recently defined as someone voting more than once in two different states.  This makes as much sense as paying $19.99 for a copper penny but by repeating it ad nauseam they use it to suppress voters who would vote against them.

The second commandment of propagandaKill the messenger.  Perhaps this should have gone first.  President Obama’s attack on whistleblowers is the obvious example.  Killing or discrediting the messenger is absolutely essential for propaganda to work and may be the defining trait of the Obama administration since he has filed criminal charges against more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined.

The third commandment of propagandaAccuse someone else of doing the bad deed.  Okay, maybe this should be number 1.  A great example was Ronald Reagan who oversaw the widespread killing by USA funded death squads of Central and South America whose main purpose was to thwart any democratic movement in the region.  All this to allow US businesses such as United Fruit to profit with no restrictions.  And, while doing this, he said that the US was fighting for democracy in Central America by combating the Evil Empire of the USSR. 

The fourth commandment of propagandaChoose the words carefully to hide the truth.  How about the words the "Patriot Act"?  Can you imagine the reaction of the initial US Patriots if they were told that an act would use that name to take away the Bill of Rights for American citizens so that any American could be killed without due process simply by the word of a US President or that all our correspondences will be retained by the US government!  "Job creators" is another good example of this tactic to promote tracking and oil pipelines.  Ohio has a classic example in Kasich where Ohio is ranked 46th in the USA for new job creation by the US Department of Labor yet he repeatedly indicates that fracking and transferring millions of taxpayer dollars to his secret and private "Jobs Ohio" program creates new jobs for common people.  Obviously, if he indicated that new jobs and wages for the middle and lower class are actually going down then he would lose support so the use of this diversionary term “job creators”is essential.

The fifth commandment of propagandaConvince the person they desperately need something they really do not need.  This great diversionary tactic is the basis of the advertisement agencies and is a great way to keep people from focusing on what really matters to their life, like if their planet will be able to sustain human life 25 years from now.  With Christmas around the corner, we will see this tool in action soon with long lines at stores for the latest and useless gadget or toy many will be convinced they both need and deserve.

The sixth commandment of propagandaConceal anything that might show the truth.  Here the US military sets the gold-standard.  This is why the American public is not allowed to see the caskets of American soldiers who die in foreign wars.  This is also why independent journalists have not been allowed to film any of the many US wars since Vietnam. 

The seventh commandment of propagandaLink the lie with an obvious truth.  This comes out of the CIA and NSA playbook who say that a lie is best served like a sandwich between two truths.  They will say that it is important to fight terrorism (obvious truth) then they link this to a policy that will certainly increase terrorism, such as drone attacks on innocent civilians or supporting dictators that will much increase the risk that the majority of the population will want to fight back.

The eighth commandment of propagandaDeny, deny, deny - then add righteous indignation.  This takes some practice.  Most people are not born good liars.  It helps a lot to be arrogant, self-centered, greedy, and non-thinking.  But practice does make perfect.  But deny, deny, deny is simply not good enough - one must add a strong dose of righteous indignation.  A good recent example is the Israeli government saying that they are not an occupying force in the Gaza strip, where they control every aspect of everyone’s life.

The ninth commandment of propagandaControl the discussion.  This key tool is why con artists often work in pairs or teams.  In the USA, the uni-dimensional mass media plays the key role of controlling the discussion by making sure the core truths are never discussed.

The tenth commandment of propagandaGive a seemingly valid yet false explanation.  I saved the most obvious rule to last.  This used to be called BS much more often than it is today.  Those who were alive during the Reagan years will remember that the large scale military and nuclear buildup at the expense of social programs by Reagan was done to “protect Americans from the Russian military which is much stronger than our own”and that we were “losing the arms race!” 

In sum, propaganda is pretty simple –wrap a lie around multiple layers of concealment and attack anyone who dares question the con.  Perhaps because it is so simple it is so pervasive despite being in the long run so damaging to our self interests.  However, by recognizing these rules, one can not only see through them but figure out ways to effectively counter-propaganda.  Global climate change due to the man made oil/gas/coal burning reminds us that the stakes are very high especially for anyone who is less than 40years old!