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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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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.

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Raymonde Monnier

Departing from Mario Turchetti's study on the concept of tyranny and tyrannicide, the author sets out to explore its specific use in the political discourse in the eighteenth century. Originally, as in the works of Plato and Montesquieu, tyranny was used in reference to degenerate forms of government. Tyranny and tyrannicide gained additional significance with its inclusion in the virulent discourse during the radicalization of the French Revolution. Based on the myth of Brutus and other classical sources, anti-tyrannical rhetoric in the form revolutionary literature and propaganda spurted political activism. As the figure of the king became the main obstacle to liberty and the foundation of a new republic, tyranny and tyrannicide became key concepts in the revolutionary movements.

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Ohm Krüger's Travels

A Case Study in the Export of Third-Reich Film Propaganda

Roel Vande Winkel

The Nazi propaganda film Ohm Krüger (Uncle Krüger, 1941) utilized former South African statesman Paul Kruger and his role in the Boer War to promote a virulently anti-British message. By analyzing the international career of Ohm Krüger, this article reassesses the propaganda value traditionally ascribed to the film in an attempt to encourage further research on the exportation of Third-Reich cinema. The parallels between the British invasion and occupation of Boer land, as represented in the film, and the Nazis' invasion and occupation of European countries were so striking that Ohm Krüger was exported almost exclusively to nations allied with Germany while being withheld from occupied territories. The one notable exception was France, which had a long tradition of anti-British sentiment.

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Benoît Glaude

The forms taken up by French comics in the Offenstadt brothers' wartime weeklies echo other representations of the Great War produced behind the front lines, including the music hall, popular imagery and illustrated newspapers. The Offenstadt brothers' picture stories, which staged comic operas starring soldiers and conformed to French propaganda instructions, were a hit with soldiers and civilians (including children), aside from some offended Catholic critics. This essay contextualises their success, focusing on the reception of the comics, particularly those by Louis Forton.

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Rayonnement et propagande culturels français autour de la « panlatinité »

Les échanges entre intellectuels français et hispano-américains au début du vingtième siècle

Amotz Giladi

At the beginning of the twentieth century, numerous Hispano-American writers, who were often also diplomats, arrived in Paris. They established contact with French intellectuals, mainly academics, and participated actively in French intellectual life. The exchanges between these Hispano-American and French intellectuals were based on a common identification with Latinism, a pan-nationalistic ideology developed in Europe and Latin America since the nineteenth century and calling for unification of all “Latin” peoples. Hispano-American elites and intellectuals, looking for a way to federate all Latin-American countries against the power of the United States, and seeking a rapprochement with France for political and cultural reasons, largely supported pan-Latinism. As for their French intellectual partners, eager to reinforce their country's global influence, they conveyed the pan-Latin ideology in the framework of their efforts to promote French cultural presence in Latin America. During the Great War, these cultural and intellectual initiatives concerning pan-Latinism drew the attention of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leading to their integration in the newly created French international propaganda mechanism.

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Liberal Whispers and Propaganda Fears

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

Geoffrey P. Levin

This article examines the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) engagement with Israel regarding the state’s Palestinian-Arab minority. It focuses on the period of military government (1948–1966), when the rights of most Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel were curtailed under military rule. In the mid-1950s, AJC leaders became interested in examining and alleviating the plight of the Arab minority. Rather than publicly confronting Israel, the AJC privately lobbied Israeli officials on the matter and later attempted to educate Israelis about liberalism using ideas more closely associated with its work in America than its human rights advocacy abroad. To understand the AJC’s motives, the article points toward AJC’s domestic civil rights and ‘human relations’ activity, its distinct form of pro-Israel non-Zionism, and its concerns about ‘Arab propaganda’, anti- Semitism, and Jewish-Christian relations in America.

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Shay Hazkani

This article explores themes in the political education and indoctrination of soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1948 War. It argues that the army command attempted to advance the notion that a form of militarism rooted in Judaism was the only way to win the war. Education officers explained to soldiers that 'the Jewish tradition' sanctioned the eradication of the invading armies and indifference to the fate of Palestinians. The article also traces the influence of Abba Kovner's lurid propaganda on the rest of the IDF's education apparatus. Kovner, the education officer of the Givati Brigade, believed that hate propaganda made killing the enemy easier, and his views were shared by many other education officers who saw his work as a road-map for the entire military. Nevertheless, there were some officers who opposed his work out of fear for the consequences that it would have on the future of Israeli society.