Archives For manipulative propaganda

Bill Shorten’s poorly aimed verbal sucker punch at Scott Morrison draws from the assumption that those who voted “yes” in the LNP’s gay marriage popularity survey are a bankable vote for Labor. This political maneuvere was a bad call. It betrays a deep overconfidence in the Labor political machine and underestimates the intellectual capacity of the discerning public.

Shorten’s goal was clear. Capitalize on the fearmongering and misrepresentations, which he and Pro-SSM advocates were so keen to employ, instead of engaging in rational, respectful debate.

As a servant of that public, he seems to forget that Labor had originally refused to support the survey, and only backed it after being dragged to the table by discerning voters. His alternative was to arbitrarily make Same-sex marriage law, without Australian voters having any opportunity to debate it.

What Shorten thought would give him the presumed “moral high ground” has made him look petty and desperate. His spiteful attempt to score political points was, as Dennis Shanahan put it, part of a “co-ordinated response  to exploit the Prime Minister’s religious beliefs; seeking to revive divisions of the same-sex marriage debate and bring “the millennials back to Labor.”[1]

Shorten’s “low blow” was a vicious attempt to push the Prime Minister down, in order for Bill Shorten to raise himself up. His not-so-subtle call to arms, in an attempt to stock the emotions of moderates who voted “yes”, fits the clinical description of agitprop (manipulative propaganda).

French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul noted:

‘1. Agitation propaganda unleashes an explosive movement it operates inside a crisis or actually provokes the crisis itself.

2. it’s extremely easy to launch, because it’s based on hatred of a particular enemy.

3. Agitprop succeeds because it designates someone as the source of all misery.

4. Any statement whatever, no matter how stupid, any “tall tale” will be believed once it enters into the passionate current of hatred.

5. Agitprop uses key words of magical import, which are believed without question. [2]

Ambushing Scott Morrison with a loaded question only serves to prove the point. It also shows that Shorten’s verbal sucker punch was motivated by a malicious political attempt to launch a movement of hatred against the Prime Minister in the last week of an election, that Labor are confident they cannot lose.

Shorten’s unfair, on the spot demand that Scott Morrison answer whether he “believes that homosexuals go to hell or not” lead to Morrison’s “declaration” that, “no, he doesn’t believe that homosexuals go to hell”.

Rather than the Prime Minister’s response showing a compromise of his Christian faith, his response proved his strength as a leader. Morrison identified and neutralized a manipulative attempt to undermine the Australian people, and he refused to play political games by pitting the majority Christian community against the minority LGBT community. This was a hard call, but it was the right move.

In refusing to be baited by Bill Shorten, Scott Morrison didn’t dismiss Biblical Christianity, he dismissed Shorten’s slippery attempt to provoke division and hatred within the community through ignorance of Christian theology. In doing so, Morrison showed his political prowess and eligibility to continue to serve as Prime Minster.

Labor’s agitprop aside, theologically speaking there’s also a nuance in Morrison’s response.

Technically, Morrison is right to reject the oversimplistic notion that the sinners are indiscriminately thrown into hell by a tyrannical God. This is the myth Peter Fitzsimmons may believe, but it’s not the God testified to in the Bible, who actively and descively, speaks, and makes Himself known to humanity through His Covenant with Israel and Jesus Christ. Morrison is right to reject the illiterate assumption that unrepentant sinners are recklessly thrown into eternal separation from God. For the most part, the unrepentant sinner goes their willingly.

There is a distinction between sinner and sin; the person and the action. To be transformed into the image of sin, is to willingly engage in a rejection of the image of God.  Though sin is a pervasive reality, sin does not define us unless it becomes something we take pride in, or refuse to turn away from. The consequence being that we are conformed to its dark and corrupt image, rather than God’s, who is the source and fullness of life.

C.S. Lewis stated two things that illuminate this nuance. First, hell is the outer darkness[3], chosen self-annihilation. Secondly, hell is judgement:

‘To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter Hell is to be banished from humanity.[4]

Lewis also pointed out that:

“there are two kinds of people in the end. Those who say to God, “Thy will be done”, and those to whom God in the end says, “thy will be done. All that are in Hell choose it[5]…he has his wish – to live wholly for the self and to make the best of what he finds there. And what he finds there is Hell.[6]

As a side note, when comparing Israel Folau with Scott Morrion, it’s also important to recognize, that there’s a difference in their platforms.

One was an athlete posting on his personal social media account, the other is a sitting Prime Minister, who was ambushed by the media and the Labor opposition leader with a loaded question (logical fallacy).

I think far more than this event shining a light on Morrison (and on a level of consistency, it doesn’t look great), the event reveals a whole lot more about the hostility and preconceived bias, theological illiteracy and prejudice against Christians in the public arena from Labor, and parts of Australia’s MSM. That is what we should be focusing on, not the lack of theological depth in the Prime Minister’s quick reply.

As Shannahan said, ‘it was the only response available’, (The Australian, May 15th)

Hypocritically, Bill Shorten isolated a large section of the Australian Community, all while declaring that Australia “needed a Prime Minister for all people.”

Shorten’s dull and contemptible perception of the Australian public, and the discerning voter, is no match for the much sharper, and more relatable, Scott Morrison. Australian Labor’s co-ordinated attempt at agitprop, along with the division and hatred they tried to incite, not only alienates the 4.87 million (38.4%) who ticked “no” in the Same-Sex marriage popularity survey, it revealed that the opposition leader is willing to divide Australians for personal gain.

Shorten’s theologically illiterate polemic and his deliberate exploitation of Scott Morrison’s Christian faith, proves that Shorten is unfit to serve as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia. To the discerning voter, Christian or otherwise, this is another reason, in a list of reasons to think hard before voting Labor/Green in the upcoming election on Saturday.

As C.S. Lewis put it:

‘In all discussions of Hell we should keep steadily before our eyes the possible damnation, not of our enemies nor our friends, but of ourselves.’[7]


References:

[1] Shanahan, D. Shorten Stoops to new low on leader’s beliefs, The Australian, 15th May 2019

[2] Ellul, J. 1965. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes Vintage Books Ed. (pp.72-74)

[3] Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain (p.130)

[4] Ibid

[5] Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce, (p.75)

[6] Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain, (p.126)

[7] Ibid, (p.132)

(Originally published at The Caldron Pool, Does Bill Shorten’s manipulative attack on Scott Morrison’s faith prove he’s unfit to be Prime Minister? 16th May 2019)

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Bellowing temperatures?

“The sky is falling!”

Karl Marx’s mindless drones are calling.

Climate change is the opiate of the masses,

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Fixing figures, the seas are now rising!

“The sky is falling!”

.

Marxism’s callous drones are calling.

Find the oppressor, he breathes out carbon dioxide

“It must be the straight white man, toxic masculinity”,

“That racist breed, that oppressor deserves no dignity”.

“The sky is falling!”

Environmentalists,

Militant fundamentalists; socialists,

Come brawling

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Build more dams?

Like hell, man!

Keep your cattle away from the forest

We need the disasters, to stay politically relevant.

We need the fear and chaos to keep funding levels permanent.

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

.

Indoctrinate! We want it taught!

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Climate change deniers?

Holocaust triggers,

Fund the Marxist myth, pay the toll and become a believer!

your money is ours to rort!

‘The sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Keep your naïve silence, because we own the science!

Convert, pay a tax or die.

Bellows the Marxist war cry!

“The Sky is falling!”

.

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

You are what we say you are, you will do, think and say

That which you ought:

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Only traitor’s question

The revolution needs soldiers,

We are Gaia’s priests, the new holy rollers.

Fail to Line up, fall in, protest and support the fight

Or our lynch mobs will shoot, and kill on sight.

Fear what we tell you to fear.

And ignore those who say,

“beware the auctioneers;

The utopian world order

And its globalist engineers.”


©Rod Lampard, 2018

Creating fear about an apocalyptic event such as “global warming” gives those espousing it, the power to monopolise government initiatives, elections and national economies. In short: they coerce the people into surrendering something for absolutely nothing. In this case, the thing surrendered only benefits those demanding the surrendering. The real catastrophe is in the daylight robbery this allows.

Along with fossil fuels, fear powers their personal jets, pads their bank accounts and helps them position puppet politicians into places of power, where those politicians can be used to further “the crusade for the planet”.

Whilst I agree that humans can, and do, have a negative impact on the environment, and that we ALL are ordained by God to be good stewards of what He created – with the rise of electricity and water bills, also comes a rise in the power of those telling us that the “sky is falling”. With so much profit, celebrity and political power involved, something about the environmental scare mongering doesn’t quite add up.

Is it possible that the end goal, of this holy war for the planet, is absolute servitude to an un-elected bureaucratic caste, and its ideological utopia? A utopia open only to those who are always in agreement with the dominating views. History lends to us the catastrophic example that follows blind allegiance to such movements. Man and woman, equated with God, makes the claim to have taken God’s place. As a result, the führer (or un-elected bureaucratic caste) is revered as knowing what’s best for the fatherland. Therefore the people must trust the führer as though he (or they) were God.

Thankfully, the West isn’t quite at this stage of total surrender to totalitarian agendas. By correcting any bias in their assumptions and opinions, or letting scientists, theologians, and politicians, who present an opposing hypothesis speak freely, the opportunity for false prophets to seize total control is removed.

Fact, freedom and reasoned compassion all stand in the way of selfish ambition and the lust for power. Fact and freedom are threats to the paranoia used through manipulative propaganda because it forces dialogue about the issues. In the example of “global warming” such an approach recognises that the science isn’t settled. It recognises the need to examine the issue from differing angles. In short: to observe and then observe some more in order to truly see what is there and what is not there.

As it is with all authentic science, conclusions that rest solely on hypothesis, circumstantial evidence, inference and opinion remain fluid. They are an open question and must remain so. At least until hard facts can be presented. Facts free from questionable models, subjectivism and speculation. Facts that are free from manipulative propaganda and its master, political indoctrination.

Jacques Ellul provides a helpful look into why we must be on our guard against all forms of manipulation. When it comes to any discussion about environmental issues, or activism in general, it’s helpful to filter the information by asking questions of its source and content.

This is important because we have to ask whether or not, what exists (as part of the flood of papers, news reports and organisations that surround us), is an

‘organised myth that is trying to take hold of us and invade every area of our consciousness, stimulating a feeling of exclusiveness [if we conform], and producing a biased attitude’ along with it. (Ellul, 1965:11)

Are we being duped by slippery sales techniques? Sold to us by slipperier salesmen and women?

Without question, what we see today is the mass use of propaganda for dubious causes. For example, manipulative propaganda is used to force total allegiance to LGBT activism, open borders and environmentalism.[1]  It would be difficult to find someone not affected by the psychological warfare and political indoctrination at work behind all three.

The reason being,

‘education methods play an immense role in political indoctrination (Lenin, Mao)…One must utilise the education of the young to condition them to what comes later. The schools and all methods of instruction are transformed under such conditions, with the child integrated into the conformist group in such a way that the individualist is tolerated not by the authorities but by his peers. Religion and the churches are constrained to hold on to their places in the orchestra [of totalitarianism and political indoctrination]’ (Ellul, 1965:13)

In the case of the environmentalism, whether or not “global warming” is the man-made demon many say it is, or whether it is part of a cycle not recorded by human hands, is beside the point.

The more immediate questions are: What is the average citizen being sold? Why are they being sold it? Who is selling it to them? Why are the scientists who present a different point of view, seemingly and immediately silenced with threats, boycotts, and abuse?[2]

It’s also important to understand that propaganda is a drug, once you’re hooked into the system, you’re hooked into the system.

Propaganda ‘is not a stimulus that disappears quickly; it consists in successive impulses…it is a continuous action…at no point does it fail to subject its recipient to its influence. As soon as one effect wears off, it is followed by a new shock.’ (Ellul, 1965:18)[3]

In order to keep people surrendering something for absolutely nothing, like a lab-rat those people need to be hit again with a ‘new shock’. Once this wears off, a ‘new shock’ has to be given. This is done so as to keep people surrendering something to those authorities and officials, who are free to demand it, but who give nothing back in exchange for it.

This helps to explain the dehumanising language used largely by the Left in the socio-political arena. Logical fallacies are easier to believe because they contain an element of truth within them. As long as it’s enough to hook someone into taking a side, the percentage of truth doesn’t matter.

The antidote to propaganda is dialogue, for ‘propaganda ceases where simple dialogue begins’ (Ellul, 1965:6). Through dialogue we can sift truth from untruth. By thinking for ourselves we can navigate lies and call them out. In seeking dialogue with the issues, and not believing every manufactured-for-effect sound-byte from the 6 o’clock news, or by trusting every meme shared to social media, we can sift fact from fiction; opinion and inference; and challenge what is sold to us.

We can move beyond the propaganda, understanding that not all that glitters is gold; and that unless people question what it is that the auctioneers are selling, we come to the subject with the head of a fool, only to find ourselves walking away with two.[4]


Notes & References:

[1] I acknowledge that this is also used by the opposing sides. I am reluctant to say that the opposing sides do this in the same dishonest way or to the same damaging degree.

[2] Quite a few examples of this exist. It’s universal knowledge and therefore I have no real reason to weigh down this point by padding it with example after example, in order to prove my point.

[3] See footnote 1

[4] Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venus.

Ellul, J. 1965. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes Vintage Books

© Rod Lampard, 2018. Photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash

We’re walking through Nathaniel & Hans’ Bluedorn‘s 2009 book, ‘The Fallacy Detective‘ for Homeschool at the moment. The Bluedorns do an excellent job of distinguishing  between the various logical fallacies, discussing how they work on and off the page. I’ve even learnt a few things I didn’t know, and gained clarity on a few of the more nuanced fallacies like ad hominem, straw man and equivocation.

The Bluedorns provide an easy to read text. Placing at the end of each chapter well written quizzes with some humour mixed in, they effectively teach a complex subject to their reader.

‘The Fallacy Detective’ was a recommendation from one of our American homeschooling friends and I can see why they were so excited about using it as a resource for lessons in logic and communication. I haven’t finished using this text, but once I am we will be revisiting it and beginning a walk-through of Nathaniel and Hans’ next book, ‘The Thinking Toolbox‘.

In the final chapter of ‘The Fallacy Detective’ the authors hone in on propaganda. The introduction to this section differentiates between propaganda and manipulative propaganda.

Some key points are made, such as,

‘Propaganda is any strategy for spreading our beliefs or ideas…Propaganda is not always bad. There isn’t anything wrong with spreading our ideas and encouraging people to buy our product – as long as we do it honestly’ (p.188).

The definition given for manipulative propaganda is,

‘when someone plays with our emotions in a way designed to make us agree with them without thinking through the matter carefully’ (p.189)

I had a problem with these definitions because they didn’t go deep enough. For instance, someone could easily use this to (falsely) justify the accusation that preaching is propaganda, or worse manipulative propaganda. So when teaching through this part, I added a qualifier. Throwing in the fact that there is a distinction between propaganda and preaching.  Granted the two are sometimes blurred by questionable sermons, poor theology, and stale dogma.

This is sometimes seen in the Charismatic movement, where the emphasis can be more on transaction and performance. By that I mean “naming and claiming something”, “having the [quote] right anointing [unquote], “feeling God’s presence in the band if it played well, and if it didn’t play to standard? Well, God somehow didn’t show up”.

Thus giving the congregation and spectator the guilty feeling that they somehow failed to impress God and are abandoned for not having done so. Jesus had a stinging rebuke for those in the temple, who confused preaching with manipulating others. Knowing the difference between preaching and propaganda, especially manipulative propaganda falls in line with that rebuke.

‘And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.’ (Matthew 21:1, ESV)

There’s a big difference between preaching and manipulating someone in order to get something. Preaching is about proclamation, invitation, empower faith seeking understanding and learning together in humility.

I take my own understanding of preaching, from Jesus and Paul, who together, teach us that preaching, in sum, is about saying “I give this to you, in order to benefit you” (paraphrased). It’s far removed from the sales room floor of crony capitalism, the soap box of Marxists, the auctioneer’s gavel and the manipulative propagandist who, hiding behind all of these platforms, has his and her ultimate aim as being, “what can I take from you to benefit me”. At the heart of this we hear caveat emptor – let the buyer beware; Jesus and Paul telling us to be careful about what is being sold to us, who is doing the selling, and why they are selling it.

Even without the distinction between preaching and propaganda, the final chapter of ‘The Fallacy Detective’ holds itself together. The differentiation between propaganda and manipulative propaganda is followed by a clear description of, why, how, when and where propaganda is used. This includes, among others, car salesmen, lawyers right up to celebrities, artists and politicians.

Again, not all propaganda is bad, but propaganda shouldn’t be accepted without question; my take on this is that caveat emptor becomes: beware the auctioneers.

This differentiation between propaganda and manipulative propaganda gives the authors the opportunity to prepare the reader for the discussion ahead. Every time they use the word propaganda, they mean manipulative propaganda. By only using the word propaganda, the authors ingeniously force the reader to make their own differentiation between the two.

The information video I’m posting below on Marxist manipulative propaganda, circa 1957 illustrates this differentiation and the definitions presented by Nathaniel & Hans’ Bluedorn. There’s some real insight into manipulative propaganda. For instance the video explains how most Marxists/Communists play the information warfare game. Adding to this, is the small presence of American manipulative propaganda, which pops up from time to time, clearly designed to push the Communists back by using their own strategies against them.

For most hardcore Marxists there is no truth, but that which is filtered through the lens of Karl Marx. As the script writers for the video accurately describe:

“America is the major obstacle that stands between the grave-digger [Communist] and its intended victim. Here is target number one for the Reds and who’s in the bulls-eye. You are being in the bulls-eye. It’s important to know something about the enemy’s weapons and how to spoil their aim. That aim is nothing less than world conquest, and subversion by every possible means, is the cheap method used.The keyword is conflict.
Outside of the red countries themselves conflict must be promoted everywhere. Every dissatisfaction must grow into a resentment. Every resentment must become an argument. Every argument must grow into a fight. Every fight must blossom into a riot. Every riot must expand into a war. Every war must end in devastation.Where, there, in the ruins, communism finds its chance. For the Communists there must never be a compromise. Never a settlement of disputes, only conflict.”

If, as the video concludes, the only ‘effective defence against [manipulative] propaganda is the truth’, then the way forward for the aggressor, in any information war, is to attack the truth. The truth is watered down in order to get people to second guess it; smothering the truth in lies, half-truths, and the displacement of absolute truth. On this level truth means that at any stop light, red can be made to mean “go” by any individual who so desires, and no one is liable for the consequences.

This is why one of Roger Scruton’s more tongue in cheek comments in his 1994 work Modern Philosophy carries so much weight:

‘A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.’  (pp.5-6)

Worth noting is the date this video was made. With the benefit of hindsight, the information presented shows that those who came before us, were not as ignorant as we are about the dangers posed by Communism and all forms of manipulative propaganda.


References:

Bluedorn, N. & H., 2009 The Fallacy Detective Christian Logic

Scruton, R. 1994 Modern Philosophy Bloomsbury Publishing

Image design: Rod Lampard Photo: Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash