Propaganda As Understood By An American – “Propaganda’s casualties”

Propaganda As Understood By An American – “Propaganda’s casualties”

By Cara MariAnna – ICH, October, 2023

Our psychological and social disintegration.

Like many American kids I was raised, in part, on Saturday morning cartoons, and one of the programs my siblings and I routinely watched was “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” It was no accident that the two dastardly and, not to be missed, bumbling antagonists were Russian-like spies, with Russian-like accents and Russian-like names—Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. However amusing the show might have been, I was being taught, as was every child watching, to perceive Russians as evil and, at the same time, also incompetent and no match for their American counterparts—even if those counterparts were a flying squirrel and a bipedal moose.

Every U.S. citizen currently alive has grown up immersed in anti–Russian propaganda. It has long pervaded American culture from film and television to novels and comic books, including public schools, mainstream media, and the news we watch and read.

The consequences of propaganda are as dangerous as they are destructive. These are not solely political or social: They are at the most profound level psychological, resulting in a state of alienation in which a person becomes estranged from her own mind, thoughts, and feeling, and, ultimately from other people as well. The ultimate divide-and-conquer tactic, propaganda divides us from our authentic selves, as well as from each other, leaving us hollowed out, less substantially present in our own lives and, less able to act on our behalf.

The psychological impacts of propaganda cannot be overstated and must be considered more carefully if we are to understand how it works and, never to be missed, recognize our susceptibility to it. Propaganda undermines our understanding of the world as it actually is: It simplifies the world and prevents us from understanding its full complexity, by turning complex situations and dynamics into mere caricatures. In that way, propaganda makes us vulnerable to policies, foreign and domestic, that are contrary to our best interests. It impairs our ability to think for ourselves, compromises our intellectual freedom, and, not least, propaganda damages our relationships with each other—all this as it erodes our very democracy.

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