Propaganda works on the assumption that most people yield to the authority of the state and most people yield to the opinions of their fellow subjects. Propaganda does not have to convince everyone or even a majority of everyone. It just has to work on that third that are ready and willing to believe. That group will be enthusiastic enough to convince the third that tends to follow the strong horse, even when in doubt. The third prone to skepticism is then outnumbered and less inclined to speak up.
In the modern age, liberal democracies are not going to have ministries of truth or official propagandists. That was the flaw of various forms of communism. They eliminated the private sphere entirely, so even the official religion of communism could not circulate freely among the people. The commies could not rely on the “right” position to spring forth on its own and circulate among the people, because the mechanisms for birthing it and spreading it were destroyed, along with the rest of the private property.
Joseph de Maistre observed that “false opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.” The best propaganda is therefore struck by the believers in the private realm and circulated by honest people, who have their desire for truth perverted into a vehicle for spreading falsehoods. This story from last fall in the Daily Mail is a great example of how propaganda spreads in a liberal democracy.
The claim, for those uninterested in reading the story, is that women are becoming less faithful in their relationships. The story is based on a book by someone calling herself Wednesday Martin. Her claim, based on her qualitative research into the subject, is that modern women are more adulterous than in the past. For those unfamiliar with Xirl science, that’s a nice way of saying she sat around local coffee shops, talking to hens about their sex lives. There is no data in the book or the story.
Given the demographic of the people featured in the story, this book is a bodice ripper of sorts for the middle-aged white women. The standard model for the romance novel is the dashing stranger with money, they always have money and status, ravishing the heroine, in some exotic location or time period. The new model is to have “real life” women talk about their fantasies. In this case, it is middle-aged hens talking about their steamy affair with Roger from accounting, while her husband was on a business trip.
Of course, a good chunk of females want to believe this stuff. Those romance novels don’t fly off the shelves by accident. The soft-core porn book Fifty Shades of Grey sold 125 million copies and spawned a series of movies. It has been known since the ancients that women fall for the steamy romance, because women like to be flattered. The romance novel allows the reader to think she too could be caught up in a great adventure, the object of the desire, fought over by exciting high status males.
In our age, where the people in charge want women to work in the fields and refuse to have children with white men, promoting the idea of female adultery is useful. It’s not that they want women to be adulterous. It’s that they like the idea to gain currency, because it confirms the themes of feminism. It also anathematizes the sensibilities of normal women who are happy to be wives and mothers. The fact that it sells books and movies is a bonus, as it encourages even more of it from other corners.
Now, the fact is there is no data suggesting women are more adulterous today than at any time in history. In fact, the data we have reveals that women were less adulterous in the past than previously believed. Science can now use DNA to figure out if famous person X was in fact the child of his famous father. It’s one of the unexpected byproducts of ancient DNA studies. Similarly, what’s being revealed by the proliferation of ancestry services is that the number of birth outside of the marriage is quite low.
The natural counter to this observation is that modern birth control is probably obscuring this alleged growth in female infidelity. That argument is from another bit of propaganda used to peddle birth control. In the West, the promotion of birth control was based on the argument that ignorance results in unwanted pregnancy, so the solution is to put this into the children’s school curriculum. The claim is absurd. People have always known how babies are made and how to avoid making them. Look up Silphium, if you’re curious.
Regardless, this story about the alleged rise in female infidelity shows how the privatization of propaganda is vastly more effective than what you see from authoritarian regimes. The people in charge merely have to favor certain information over others and the media bullhorns magnify these preferences. For example, on Amazon you can buy The Unabomber’s Manifesto, but you cannot buy Greg Johnson’s The White Nationalist Manifesto. The people in charge are indifferent to the former, but not the latter.
The volunteer army of box wine aunties that stalks social media looking for blasphemers is another example. You’ll note that the overwhelming majority of left-wing agitators on-line are unattached females looking for attention. The propaganda machine has weaponized unattached females, turning them into enforcers of the orthodoxy. Once again, the heavy lifting is not done at the agency or propaganda. It is done in corporate boardrooms. The Soviets never had such an effective and dedicated army of spies.
This system that rewards the counterfeiters of truth and punishes the skeptics is not something created by design. It is a natural byproduct of liberal democracy. When the only authority is the general will, the fifty percent plus one, controlling public opinion became the point of everything. Once one ideological camp gains an edge, they leverage that by supporting their fellow ideologues and punishing their opponents. It’s why institutions move from a normal status into a deranged one, like we see with the Boy Scouts.
It’s also why the ratio of lies to truth in the public sphere seems to be increasing geometrically. The quantity of truth in the world is always fixed. The math of existence is the denominator of life. The numerator, however, is the falsehoods. Systems like communism and liberal democracy require greater amounts of propaganda in order to survive, so before long the numerator dwarfs the denominator. It’s why we live in a sea of fake news and nonsense studies about human behavior, written by morons.