Although the concept of political propaganda fell into disuse in the last decades of the 20th century, its use and effects are still valid today. There isis alluded to through other terms such as persuasion and advertisingbecause of the predominance of the image and media of today's society.
Political propaganda is a type of communication that is part of contemporary social and political systems. His study is carried out from various disciplines. The term has had many definitions throughout history. To understand the concept of political propaganda, we must use three basic criteria:
- Content: the content of propaganda must be political, directly or indirectly. The message may sound superficially non-politicized, but an in-depth analysis reveals its political association.
- Control of messages: an important aspect is that the transmitter controls the message at 100%. Both in the production phase and in the dissemination phase.
- Goal : the purpose of the message is to promote the interests and ideas of the issuer, as well as the intention to generate responses among the recipients according to certain predetermined objectives.
We will deal here with some of the techniques that are used to make political propaganda. The categories we will present below are neither exhaustive nor exclusive. Some techniques can therefore be found in several categories at the same time.
These techniques use labeling as the main resource. It is about using emotionally or conceptually charged terms to associate the message with positive or negative aspects, as the case may be. There are several ways to apply the labeling technique:
- Using negative labels : condemn an idea by putting a negative label, even if there are no arguments to support it. For example, the use of the "axis of evil" label to designate another group of people who do not share the same ideas.
- Asymmetrical definition: take advantage of the ambiguity of certain words so that they evoke in the receivers a message different from what is really happening. Say for example that the goal of war is "peace". Peace is not the same for a sovereign as for an ordinary citizen.
- Resonant generalization: use of impressive sentences and vague, with little background but with a great emotional charge. For example, candidate X represents a "big change" for the country.
These strategies usethe association as the main resource. Its effects result from the fact that the recipients associate the characteristics of one concept (positive or negative) with another, which is initially neutral for the public. Among them we can find:
- Juxtaposition : association of independent ideas by placing them side by side. It is not necessary to establish an explicit relationship between them. For example, this message, "Leader X is authoritarian, Leader Y plays golf on Thursday with Leader X". The goal here is to attribute the authoritarian or simply negative qualities of leader X to leader Y, because they share activities together.
- Virtuous words : use in the message some words that generate feelings or positive emotions from the audience. We can thus associate the positivity of these words with the message or the sender who uses them. For example, the use in a speech of the words "freedom", "security", "truth", etc.
- Ordinary people it is about using the daily images of individuals, their ways, customs and language. A feeling of belonging is thus felt by a large part of the public. For example, the use of photographs of young couples of the middle class in advertising matches.
The main method of these techniques is to rely on the authority of the source.The arguments of the message can thus be left out. The idea will be validated thanks to the issuer or the person who corroborates the idea. Some examples of this type of techniques are:
- Building meaning through secret sources to rely on sources whose identity or provenance is not revealed. Which we speak in generic terms. To quote them as experts therefore allows to assert the message, without it being possible to verify the veracity of the latter because of its "anonymity". For example, a message such as "close and well-informed sources claim that Party X is illegally funded …"
- Wise men can not be wrong : rely on people with high prestige to paraphrase one of their ideas corroborating the political propaganda message. For example, "as X said … and if X said, no one can underestimate him." This is known as an authority argument.
- To condemn the origin to discredit an idea without referring to the arguments that support it, disqualifying only the source from which it comes. For example, treat a liar leader to break his message. This is known as the ad hominem argument in philosophical circles.
We have just mentioned and explain three types of tactics of political propaganda widely used today. There are, however, many others. It would be illusory to think that we can not be influenced by them. In order that heIt is necessary to know their characteristics in order to confront them and to act against the persuasion of the political powers.