I have been reading Norman Davies ‘Europe’ trying to get some fresh perspectives on the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48), a war that involved so much of Europe, shaped the nation-state, and many of the boundary lines in Europe spring from that era. A little, or not so little, sidebox on ‘Propaganda’ seemed worth posting here.

Theorists of Propaganda have identified five basic rules:

  1. The rule of simplification: reducing all data to a simple confrontation between ‘Good and Bad’, ‘Friend and Foe’.
  2. The rule of disfiguration: discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies.
  3. The rule of transfusion: manipulating the concensus values of the target audience for one’s own ends.
  4. The rule of unanimity: presenting one’s viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people: drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of star-performers, by social pressure, and by ‘psychological contagion’.
  5. The rule of orchestration: endlessly repeating the same messages in different variations and combinations.

In the political realm very easy to see the guilty parties. (The cynic says are there any innocent of the label?) What about in our realm. The realm of the followers of Jesus? Maybe we need some safeguards…

How about the message of Jesus is not for our success, or for making us great. It is not to be twisted to put us on the ‘good’ side of the line. Maybe if we saw it as aligning us to exist for the benefit of others, and that the only measure that can safely be applied is the difference we make around us?


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