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Interview

Propaganda’s Role in Liberal Democratic Societies

Jason Stanley and John B. Min

Stanley and Min discuss how propaganda works in liberal democratic societies. Stanley observes that the inability to address the crisis of liberal democracies can be partially explained by contemporary political philosophy’s penchant for idealized theorizing about norms of justice over transitions from injustice to justice. Whereas ancient and modern political philosophers took seriously propaganda and demagoguery of the elites and populists, contemporary political philosophers have tended to theorize about the idealized structures of justice. This leads to a lack of theoretical constructs and explanatory tools by which we can theorize about real-life political problems, such as mass incarceration. Starting with this premise, Stanley provides an explanation of how propaganda works and the mechanisms that enable propaganda. Stanley further theorizes the pernicious effects that elitism, populism, authoritarianism, and “post-truth” have on democratic politics.

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A Concept in Application

How the Scientific Reflex Came to be Employed against Nazi Propaganda

Margarete Vöhringer

The article analyzes Sergej Chakhotin’s transfer of the concept of reflex from Russian physiology to German propaganda. Chakhotin had been working at Ivan Pavlov’s laboratory in St. Petersburg in the 1910s. The experiences he had there with reflex conditioning, the boom of psychotechnics, and the application of psychological practices for aesthetic purposes were his basis for the invention of a socialist propaganda program against the Nazi regime. It is shown how the concept of reflex changed as it meandered through different disciplines.

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“Huns” and Other “Barbarians”

A Movie Ban and the Dilemmas of 1920s German Propaganda against French Colonial Troops

Julia Roos

In the early 1920s, Germany orchestrated an international propaganda campaign against colonial French troops stationed in the Rhineland that used the racist epithet “black horror on the Rhine,” and focused on claims of widespread sexual violence against innocent Rhenish maidens by African French soldiers, in order to discredit the Versailles Treaty. I argue that black horror propaganda fused elements of Allied propaganda—especially images of the barbaric “Hun”—with Germany's own wartime propaganda against colonial Allied troops. I use the significant film against colonial soldiers, Die schwarze Schmach (The Black Shame, 1921), to highlight the tensions and pitfalls of the German propagandistic strategy. As the debates over the film illustrate, black horror propaganda often had the effect of reminding audiences of German war crimes rather than diverting attention away from them. The ultimate ban of Die schwarze Schmach demonstrates the complex political nature of the 1920s backlash against atrocity propaganda.

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Transnational Cultural Propaganda

French Cultural Policies in Britain during the Second World War

Charlotte Faucher

The Second World War challenged the well-established circulation of cultural practices between France and Britain. But it also gave individuals, communities, states, and aspiring governments opportunities to invent new forms of international cultural promotion that straddled the national boundaries that the war had disrupted. Although London became the capital city of the main external Resistance movement Free France, the latter struggled to establish its cultural agenda in Britain, owing, on the one hand, to the British Council’s control over French cultural policies and, on the other hand, to the activities of anti-Gaullist Resistance fighters based in London who ascribed different purposes to French arts. While the British Council and a few French individuals worked towards prolonging French cultural policies that had been in place since the interwar period, Free French promoted rather conservative and traditional images of France so as to reclaim French culture in the name of the Resistance.

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Education, Entertainment, and Indoctrination

Educational Film in Interwar China

Kaiyi Li

cultivate national identity and to teach domestic affairs. The main elements of the contents of these educational films were education, recreation, and political propaganda. Scholars have studied the role of educational film in cultivating national

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Liberal Whispers and Propaganda Fears

The American Jewish Committee and Israel’s Palestinian Minority, 1948–1966

Geoffrey P. Levin

-Gurion, the first reason for raising the issue was the AJC’s interest “in human rights for everyone and therefore also the human rights of Arab minorities in Israel.” Engel then noted a second reason—that “Arab propaganda is making a great point of the

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Gauging the Propagandist's Talents

William Le Queux's Dubious Place in Literary History: Part One

A. Michael Matin

the war effort the country's most accomplished and influential writers. The event had been arranged and was presided over by Charles Masterman, who had been appointed by Prime Minister Asquith to lead the fledgling British propaganda campaign

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“Till I Have Done All That I Can”

An Auxiliary Nurse’s Memories of World War I

Michelle Moravec

compiler” and the capturing of “the memory of the cultural moment in which they were made.” 27 A complex interaction between Clarke’s memorializing and her repurposing of commercial souvenirs, propaganda, and press coverage makes interpreting them a

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Gauging the Propagandist's Talents

William Le Queux's Dubious Place in Literary History: Part Two

A. Michael Matin

without governmental authorisation, for which he expected to be prosecuted and imprisoned) he claims that, insofar as he had been recruited to write propaganda about Anglo-German relations, it had actually been by German officials. He recounts how four

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Femininity (Con)scripted

Female Images in Soviet Wartime Poster Propaganda, 1941–1945

Susan Corbesero

During the Second World War, legions of Soviet women behind the lines participated in war-time production in both industry and agriculture. Soviet propaganda, despite the overwhelming numbers, contributions and sacrifices of women, graphically portrayed them in ways that both re-established the pre-war patriarchal gender relations of the Stalinist era and circumscribed women’s wartime experiences. This article examines how, during the initial and la er years of the conflict, and in the important and under- studied source of Soviet poster propaganda, the symbolic configuration and recon- figuration of femininity and the female image was transmitted through shifting official policies and attitudes on the role of women. While early posters portrayed women’s wartime participation as atypical, temporary and unwomanly, propaganda by the end of the war featured hyper-feminised representations of women while the Soviet state moved to reassert political controls and institutionalise conservative gender policies to serve the needs of war and reconstruction.