Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare.
While the term propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples, propaganda in its original sense is neutral, and may also be construed to refer to uses which are generally held to be relatively benign or innocuous, such as public health recommendations, signs encouraging citizens to participate in a census or election, or messages encouraging persons to report crimes to the police, among others.
Propaganda has been a human activity as far back as reliable recorded evidence exists. TheBehistun Inscription (c. 515 BC) detailing the rise of Darius I to the Persian throne is viewed by most historians as an early example of propaganda. The Arthashastra written by Chanukah (c. 350 - 283 BC), a professor of political science at Takshashila University and a prime minister of the Maurya Empire in ancient India, discusses propaganda in detail, such as how to spread propaganda and how to apply it in warfare. His student Chandragupta Maurya (c. 340 - 293 BC), founder of the Maurya Empire, employed these methods during his rise to power. The writings of Romans such as Livy (c. 59 BC - 17 AD) are considered masterpieces of pro-Roman propaganda. Another example of early propaganda would be the 12th century work The, written by the Dál gCais to portray themselves as legitimate rulers of Ireland. [pic]
“HIC OSCULA PEDIBUS PAPAE FIGUNTUR.” “Kissing the Pope’s feet.” (1545). German peasants respond to a papal bull of Pope Paul III. From a series of woodcuts by Lucas Cranach commissioned by Martin Luther, usually referred to as the Papstspotbilder or Papstspottbilder. Caption reads: “Nicht Bapst: nicht schreck uns mit deim ban, Und sey nicht so zorniger man. Wir thun sonst ein gegen wehre, Und zeigen dirs Bel vedere.” "Don’t frighten us Pope, with your ban, and don’t be such a furious man. Otherwise we shall turn away and show you our rears."
Propaganda during the Reformation:
Main article: Propaganda during the Reformation
Propaganda during the Reformation, helped by the spread of the printing press throughout Europe, and in particular within Germany, caused new ideas, thoughts, and doctrine to be made available to the public in ways that had never been seen before the sixteenth century. The printing press was invented in approximately 1450 and quickly spread to other major cities around Europe; by the time the Reformation was underway in 1517 there were printing centers in over 200 of the major European cities. These centers became the primary producers of both Reformation works by the Protestant Reformers and anti-Reformation works put forth by the Roman Catholics.
19th and 20th centuries:
Trade’s Laws of Imitation (1890) and Gustavo Le Bon's The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1897) was two of the first codifications of propaganda techniques, which influenced many writers afterward, including Sigmund Freud. Hitler's Mein Kamp is heavily influenced by Le Bon's theories. Journalist Walter Lippmann, in Public Opinion (1922) also worked on the subject, as well as the American advertising pioneer and founder of the field of public relations Edward Bernays, a nephew of Freud, who wrote the book Propaganda early in the...