posted by Ken Taylor
Today's show is about the topic of propaganda. Our guest will be Orville Schell, Dean of the Berkeley School of Journalism. The episode will focus on the nature of propaganda, on what precisely is wrong with it, on the difference between the production and dissemination of propaganda in democratic and totalitarian societies and on what we can do to combat it.
Some people naively associate propaganda with totalitarian regimes. Certainly, the Nazis, the Soviet and Chinese communists, and brutal dictators like Saddam Hussein have made heavy and sometimes brilliantly effective use of propaganda. But totalitarians may not need to be true masters of propaganda, since they often merely bludgeon people into at least apparent belief and acquiescence. It's in supposedly democratic societies with capitalist economies, where political consent and economic demand are manufactured, to use Lippmann's apt phrase, that propaganda has been elevated to truly high and insidious art form. Indeed, it seems to me that largely through propagandistic manipulation of the means of public communication and representation, the concentrated, self-serving powers that own so much of our politics and so much of our economy have succeeded in thoroughly debasing our public discourse.