(Continued from Part 1)
More on the Propaganda Techniques Employed by the Nazis
- Glittering Generalities, which Yourman characterizes as “the use of “virtue words” to appeal to emotions of love, generosity and brotherhood. This phenomenon extends to references to German traditions dating back to the Middle Ages, especially the word “volk,” pronounced “folk.” German farmers were seduced to back the Third Reich with constant associations with “Blut und Boden,” (Blood and Soil) and bound by oaths of “Bauer honor” to tie them to the land and prevent them from changing their occupation or residence. The Nazis needed every sector of their economy dominated and running smoothly if they were going to win the upcoming war.
Every country has its own benevolent myths regarding their own folks but the Nazis milked them dry. The Americans did something similar after the war. The myths of the “self-made man,” the “hardy frontiersman” and other old saws were elevated to such heights of nincompoopery that they gave rise to a full-blown axiomatic truth called “American Exeptionalism,” a truth just as true as “Manifest Destiny” and The Tooth Fairy.
Americans Are So Special They Have Carte Blanche
It maintains that Americans are qualitatively different from the rest of the people in the world and therefore can write their own rules and apply them to everybody. Written down in black and white, this is patently silly, but right-thinking Americans take it as holy writ. And one American administration after another interprets it as a license to wreak havoc anywhere they fancy.
- Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. The pseudo-deification of Chancellor Hitler is an outstanding example of this device. Nazi propagandists sought to establish him as a quasi-divinity and to transfer to him the religious feelings of the German people; then to transfer from him the “divine” sanction to the policies, practices, beliefs, and hatreds which he espouses.
The concepts of patriotism and terrorism work in similar ways. They become “trigger words” to be transferred to any cause the power elite want to promote. The former authorizes shipping young Americans to die in far-off places with funny names; the latter is a useful wild card for use at home (immigrant bans) and abroad (the invasion/subversion/devastation of any country possessing scarce natural resources.)
- The Testimonial makes us accept anything from a patent medicine or a cigarette to a program of national policy. From the fact that “the Fuehrer knows the goal and knows the direction,” it follows that his is the supreme testimonial. Hitler is the arbiter of everything. No specialist knows better than he does, no recommendation can be better than his. He can deny even the authority of science. Only the conclusions of “German science” as approved by the Fuehrer may be accepted. When the conclusions of science do not accord with his wishes, as in genetics, a new science has to be invented; its prestige then has to be established by his testimonial.’
It’s the same with the arts. Only that art which is approved by the Fuehrer and his subordinates as German art may be accepted by the German people.He also decrees how men and women shall live their lives. The kind of life which has the Fuehrer’s approval is that which is surrendered to the state. In this Hitler is the arbiter; his approval is the supreme testimonial.
- Plain Folks is used by politicians, labor leaders, businessmen, and even by ministers and educators to win our confidence by appearing to be people like ourselves, “just plain folks among the neighbors.” As for Hitler, at the same time he was canonized as a demigod an attempt was made to transform him into a “man of the people.” This plain-folks ploy has become increasingly popular since Hitler’s time. Who could be more man of the people than the current American President… “current” that is if he’s still in office by the time you read this.
- Card Stacking is a device in which the propagandist employs all the arts of deception to win our support for himself, his group, nation, race, policy, practice, belief, or ideal. He stacks the cards against the truth, using underemphasis and overemphasis to dodge or evade facts. Thus a regime has the freedom to give publicity to falsehoods. Hitler approves such duplicity in Mein Kampf when he writes: “Propaganda does not have to seek objectively for the truth so far as it favors an opponent . .. but exclusively has to serve our interests.” This sounds eerily familiar today. In a superb ideological double back flip its prime practitioner actually gave it a name: “fake news.”
- The Band Wagon makes us follow the crowd, to accept the propagandist’s program en masse. The technique can be used to further any agenda, no matter how vile. People in a well-ordered country love rallying behind a leader, just as they love a parade. One of the great unifying principles adopted by the National Socialists is that of hate. Among the passages deleted from the English version of Mein Kampf, Hitler has written: “Hate is more lasting than dislike, and the thrusting power for the mightiest upheavals on this earth has at all times come less from scientific recognition than from a fanaticism that fills the souls of the masses and in a forward-driving hysteria” (vorwaertsiagenden hysterie).”
In accordance with this principle Jews, communists, liberals, and democrats became objects of hatred and scapegoats that could be made to suffer for the supposed distress the caused in German society. Unity is further encouraged by patriotic demonstrations. Typical in these are gigantic crowds of people, massed ranks of uniformed troops, bands playing patriotic and martial airs, voices declaiming from a hundred mechanical mouths, ecstatic marchers carrying flickering torches, their resinous smoke blending into the darkness, flags and swastikas everywhere.
Excellent Propaganda Won’t Do It Alone
Yourman adds a caveat to his list of propaganda techniques that worked for the Nazis.
“We must guard against assuming that German Fascism or any other variety of fascism arises from propaganda alone. German Fascism came into being not primarily because of Hitler’s masterful skill as a propagandist but because conditions of unemployment, impoverishment, despair, anger, and resentment were such in Germany that any person or group offering salvation in terms sufficiently appealing could have influenced profoundly the political and economic decisions of the German people. Hitler was sufficiently appealing. With the financial support of certain individuals and the intrigues and incompetencies of men like von Papen and Hindenburg, fascism becomes a reality.
“The Germans, traditionally nationalistic and arrogantly proud, were defeated, humiliated, crippled, and degraded by World War I. Nazi ideology first made them racially superior, the Nazi politics and force proved their right as a world power and revealed again their interrupted “destiny.” It was a combination of economic breakdown, governmental weakness, frustrated morale, and propaganda which made pre-Nazi Germany ready for fascism. A similar combination could bring fascism elsewhere. Propaganda has no meaning and hence no effectiveness except in terms of life conditions of people-their needs, fears, hatreds, loves, aspirations, prejudices, and traditions. These affect propaganda as much as propaganda affects people.”
How is your country doing lately for incompetent leaders and for attending the “needs, fears, hatreds, loves, aspirations, prejudices, and traditions of its citizens?” Be prepared.
Go to: What America Learned from the Germans, Part 1
P.S. I just ran across this article in The Atlantic last night. I want to put a link to it here, as it’s germane to our ongoing discussion of American values. I always thought that white supremacy was an aberrance that was rejected by all mentally healthy Americans. The truth is quite different. It turns out that the Germans also learned something from the Americans.
Read more rant in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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