The Plays of Propaganda: Enter Joseph Goebbels

June 22, 2017

There’s the F word. There’s the N word. Now there’s the G word.

As in Goebells. Joseph Goebells, Adolph Hitler’s loyal minister of propaganda whose storytelling prowess helped galvanize and empower The Third Reich and its brutal reign.

His name was shouted last week by a pro-Trump activist during a modern re-do of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in New York City’s Central Park. Just as Caesar — an actor bearing unmistakable likeness to the president — was assassinated, Jack Posobiec stood and yelled, half to the crowd, half into his outstretched smartphone, “Goebells would approve! Goebells would approve!”

His disgust was in response to another tragedy at another park, this one in Alexandria, VA, where days earlier, baseball-practicing GOP lawmakers were picked off by a deranged shooter and Bernie Sanders supporter. ‘The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands!’ Posobiec shouted. His stunt was timed to the wails of another activist, Laura Loomer, who took to the stage and beseeched the audience, “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is violence against Donald Trump!”

Three strategies of influence stood out by the disruptive duo: The Peacock, to briefly demand attention, the Equate, to invoke Goebbels and thus power-up the protesters’ stunt, and the Preempt, to take the upper hand on fuming liberals whom, they presumed, were taking glee in the play and its interpretation.

Whether it’s Megan Kelly’s ill-spun interview of Alex Jones, a baseball field shooting, or senate hearing, we are now enrolled in a realtime drama on the clashes and consequences of hate speech and propaganda. And Joseph Goebbels, arguably the modern father of it, is one cunning practitioner to study. After all, it’s time to ask and understand what is real and what is fake. What is motive and who’s motives are being exercised? And how are they doing it?

It will be painful, but slowly Americans are coming to understand the nature of our divisions and to rightly focus our dismay onto the strategies that have fueled the industries of influence and ruined the natural resource we know as the 4th Estate — the free press. Yes, the bias of a commercialized media is one very prominent cause of the division, but as we study it, as we improve our media literacy, we will surely come to realize that what has corrupted and destabilized this precious institution is the epidemic and unfettered use of influence strategies by politicos, CEO, NGOs and terrorists alike.

Screenshot 2017-06-28 23.27.33Indeed, Goebells would approve. We have jumped the crevass that divides sensible promotion and positioning from outlandish ad-hominem and de-positioing. And because he represents a time in history when the public’s permission was so profoundly given and then gravely abused, he will be held up as a symbol of what can and is going wrong.

Some might hoist up less benign figures, like the late Edward L. Bernays, whose clever campaigns saved everything from cigarettes for women to velvet fabrics. But Bernays’ wasn’t responsible for genocide and, to his credit, he acknowledged the truth of his manipulative strategies. Goebells was necessarily more covert

The G word is here. The P word, too. Through the notorious Joseph Goebbels we’ll come to understand how propaganda — whether white, gray or black — poisons a people and, by extension, its moderated applications in advertising, public relations, public information, strategic communications, information operations and other functions of legalized influence.

Post by Alan Kelly