Propaganda is "the dissemination of ideas and information with the aim of inducing specific attitudes and actions" or the "conscious, methodical and planned use of persuasion techniques to achieve specific objectives aimed at benefiting those who organize the process" . In contrast to propaganda it should be the pure and simple exposition of the facts in their entirety or the description of reality in its entirety.


Propaganda, as an action intended to win the favor of an audience, is an activity as old as man, present in every time, place and social dimension. The term propaganda was born in a religious context when the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century organized, as a counterattack to the spread of Protestantism, a Congregatio de propaganda fide, a department responsible for the propagation of the Catholic faith.

The term was not originally intended to refer to misleading information. The modern meaning of propaganda, on the other hand, dates back to the use made of it starting from the First World War. Propaganda presupposes the use of communication to convey a message, an idea or an ideology: the second half of the nineteenth century therefore arises as a shocking historical period for propaganda and for its use in modern societies, because this is not only the period of the communications revolution, but also of the revolution of the role of the "public" in society, which evolved to the point of the affirmation of totalitarianisms between the two world wars.



In the course of human history, part of the cultural productions and information activities have always also played a "propaganda" function. Usually in history the various societies, characterized by certain economic, social and institutional structures, have needed that the training and information systems do not interfere with these structures; on the contrary, they have been called upon to strengthen them.





Probably one of the best known examples of propaganda: James Montgomery Flagg's Uncle Sam of 1917.
The history of propaganda has its roots in the Paleolithic, where visual symbols were used for precise persuasive purposes, as in the case of masks, war laments and threatening gestures used to scare an enemy.

One of the first written testimonies of a use of propaganda for political purposes is found in the Bible, in the Old Testament, on the occasion of the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians: in the second book of the Kings it is told of when in 701 BC. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, attempted to subdue the Jewish population of Jerusalem using intimidating propaganda.

Propaganda was the De bello Gallico, which served Caesar to increase his reputation in Rome. Virgil's Aeneid, alongside aesthetic purposes, also had "political" ones, that is to say the exaltation of Rome and of the emperor Octavian Augustus.

Paul of Tarsus, then, was one of the most "distinguished" propagandists in religious history.

In the Middle Ages, one of the most famous propaganda is perhaps that carried out by certain circles of European society of the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, in favor of the Crusader cause. It is no coincidence that the key role there was played by the Christian clergy, custodian of the culture and therefore of the information and training system of the time.

In the modern era, counter-reformist and colonialist propaganda were famous; but also Martin Luther's pamphlets were, in part, written with propaganda assumptions.

Partly propaganda were the intentions and significance of the United States Declaration of Independence, a "masterpiece of rational propaganda" aimed at crystallizing American public opinion and justifying the revolution abroad.

Following the extension of the right to vote and technological innovations in the field of communications, the 19th century saw "a steady growth in the role of public opinion, and in the use of propaganda by government elites to influence it."

But also on the opposite side, the writings of Karl Marx contain, in part, propaganda variations of his political philosophy.




Many analysts maintain that the media, in addition to "entertaining and informing", have had the function of "imprinting on individuals values, beliefs and codes of behavior designed to integrate them into the institutional structures of the society they belong to". In the twentieth century this affected both political and economic elites, when they were able to directly control the media.

A typical example of propaganda from a particularly harmful political source is Nazi propaganda: through a skilful use of the media, Hitler had persuaded crowds to slaughter innocent people and led an entire nation into a war that devastated Germany. and half the world producing millions of deaths. Less extreme, but no less harmful cases of propaganda are determined by the emphasis on the motives of political action for the purposes of mere utility of one's own part: Benito Mussolini, for example, argued that "in politics three cents worth of goods and ninety-seven of the drum are enough ".

The utility may consist in the conquest of power or in the enrichment of a few "elected" at the expense of the impoverishment of the masses, made short-sighted by a propaganda made up of broken promises. In this case the leaders, with a wise use of surveys, know what the desires and needs of the people are, promise them to fulfill them, but then in fact take actions to fulfill their own desires, often in antithesis with the wishes of the people , damaging them.

But even when the media were the expression of large economic enterprises, controlled by market-oriented and profit-oriented forces, or of the political power connected to them, the information they provided was affected by the interests of those who finance and control them: in Italy, for example, was the case of the Masonic lodge P2 - its acronym, not surprisingly, was the abbreviation of the name "Propaganda 2" - and its attempts to influence the editorial line of the Corriere della Sera.



Propaganda can present facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, or use loaded messages to produce emotional rather than rational responses to the information presented. The use of propaganda is harmful to the free and natural formation of personal and public opinion and the damage is then reflected on the person himself and on society.

The success of propaganda requires effective censorship of the facts exposed, otherwise it would be easily dismantled. The presence of a situation of censorship is a heavy indication of an ongoing propaganda. Propaganda has the ability to enhance and make dreams, thoughts, desires more important than the reality of the facts, often making use of symbols in order to induce people to make the propaganda objective coincide with the symbols used, even when sometimes in reality there is no connection between them. On the opposite front, counter-propaganda is identified as an activity aimed at detecting and countering the propaganda actions carried out by hostile actors and includes initiatives aimed at neutralizing or mitigating the effects of opposing propaganda or at exploiting it to one's advantage.




Propaganda, in "historically relevant" activities, has manifested itself in relation to different areas and therefore in different types, often intertwined. Religious propaganda is only one of the most historically defined and widespread forms of propaganda, connected with proselytism.

Cultural propaganda, and in particular literary propaganda, is among the most important, since propaganda is essentially a "communicative" fact. This type of propaganda is therefore often intertwined with religious or even more with political propaganda. In this case the political purpose is added to the purely aesthetic-artistic one, to an obviously variable extent.

Historically, the question of economic propaganda appears to be more delicate, especially in the forms it took from the end of the nineteenth century. According to some scholars, advertising is a kind of economic propaganda, while according to others it presupposes a benefit also for those who receive the persuasive process, which should distinguish it from real propaganda, in which the benefit for the recipient can only be created accidentally.

Public relations seem to fall more clearly among the branches of propaganda: they are a modern evolutionary form of it, they specifically concern the relationship between a large organization and the modern public; they can also be considered more simply "a nicer way" of calling propaganda. Propagandists try to change the way people understand an issue or situation, in order to change their actions or expectations, in a way that is desired by the interest group. In this sense, propaganda serves as a corollary to censorship, in which the same purpose is achieved, not through false information, but by preventing the knowledge of true information.

What makes propaganda different from other forms of control is the propagandist's willingness to change people's orientation, through deceit and confusion, rather than through persuasion and understanding. In an even narrower sense, propaganda refers only to false information that is intended to reassure people who already believe in it. The assumption is that if people believe something false, they will be constantly assailed by doubts. Since these doubts are unpleasant, people are eager to extinguish them, and therefore receptive to the assurances of those in power. For this reason, propaganda is often aimed at those who already sympathize with power.

The so-called fake news are based on the use of communication methods belonging to propaganda techniques, therefore able to persuade the recipients of the message. Logic flaws can also be found in many of these techniques, as propagandists use arguments that, while sometimes convincing, are not necessarily valid.

Time has been spent analyzing the means by which propaganda messages are conveyed, and this work is important, but it is clear that information dissemination strategies only become propaganda strategies when coupled with propaganda messages. Identifying these messages is a necessary prerequisite for studying the methods by which they are disseminated.



Among the 4 marketing mix levers, the communication lever is of particular importance which, moreover, is the most creative lever and which aims to strengthen customer positioning and stimulate new demand flows. Among the possible marketing communications there is also propaganda. It flanked by the dynamics of advertising, direct marketing, sponsorship, public relations and sales promotions, causes companies to orientate an effective communication technique, in order to increase sales. In fact, the technique of cross communication is increasingly widespread, which involves a mixed form of interventions at the level of marketing communication. In the context of this communication, by propaganda, we mean the intent to associate the name of the company with phenomena of custom or news considered positive, this in order to create, in the perception of the customer, an association between event and reality. company, thereby strengthening its positioning.




Over the course of history propaganda has assumed an important role especially with the progress of the massification of society. In fact, for reasons already simply of a "physical" nature, where the number of individuals forming a community increases, the greater the difficulties become, or if you like, the needs of the communicative factor in the construction of social, political, economic relationships, etc. . This activity, while historically always maintaining the same basic structure, from the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has assumed forms and dimensions never seen before, in the often correlated spheres of politics, economics, culture and above all information.










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The history of the heretic
The history of the heretic

The heretic is a priest of truth and freedom, in its various manifestations, on which not only democracy but also progress is founded. Without freedom of thought, information and criticism, in a logic of constructive confrontation, democracy in science dies and a dangerous single thought asserts itself which not only does not lead to progress and does not guarantee public interest, but risks being functional to unspeakable private interests.

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