Forums > Social Discussion > Does the end justify the means? Can propaganda be justified?

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PyrolificBRONZE Member
Returning to a unique state of Equilibrium
3,289 posts
Location: Adelaide, South Australia


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The Pentagon plans to launch a $US300 million operation to place pro-American messages in foreign media and on items such as T-shirts and bumper stickers without disclosing the US Government as the source, USA Today said on Wednesday.

Run by psychological warfare experts at the US Special Operations Command, the media campaign is aimed at countering terrorist ideology and swaying foreign audiences to support US policies, one of the military in charge of the program told the daily.

Im wondering how people feel about this? I see this as another indicator that much of the behaviour of all world powers these days (or in my awareness / paranoia) seems to be Machiavelian.

Surely unethical / immoral behaviour is what the western world is denouncing terrorists for (not their political views, just their methods)?

Help! My personality got stuck in this signature machine and I cant get it out!

dreamSILVER Member
currently mending
493 posts
Location: Bristol, New Zealand

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A government has the right, in my view, to promote its message in the same way that any other organization is able to. I see bumper stickers all the time that do not cite a source of funding, but instead merely proclaim a message.

Absolutely. Advertising, especially that which is aimed at children is just as repugnant as government propaganda. Though I get the feeling thats not what you meant.

A few years back, Initiative media, the worlds largest advertising firm sent a questionaire out to parents asking about their childrens nagging. Parents filled out the form believing it to be psychological research (which it was...). The corporation neglected to inform the parents their answers were being used to market advertisments to allow children to nag their parents more efficiently. Parents subsequent complaints that they had been mislead as the questionaire never mentioned the intent of the survey fell on deaf ears. When interviewed by filmmaker Joel Bakan, Lucy Hughes, vice president of Initiative said "You can manipulate consumers into wanting, and therefore buying, your products. It's a game." and that 'its easier to get consumers while they're young and defenceless, once they're hooked they'll stay with you for life.'

Its always nice to know that the people who control the global media care about our well being rather than simply being the profit hungry monsters they're sometimes made out to be.

Do I want to know who's responsible for publishing this stuff... hell yeah. Would the SWIFT veterans campaign against Kerry have caused such a stir if it had a banner across the bottom saying that it had been covertly funded by the Republican party? And would you expect a measure of impartiality from a climatologist who had his research financed by Esso/Exxon or a Lung specialist financed by Altria )formerly Phillip Morris)?

All information is necessarily subjective. However if you know the source, and do some tracking work, you can come to a more informed decision as to the likelyhood of the information's reliability and bias

Sorry for the rant... Home for xmas and bored stiff

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.


6,650 posts

See - again it depends WHAT we propagate...

The association that currenty is connected to USofA's is'n necessarily good and would greatly improve if that money would be spent on social security, schooling and funding the needy...

But maybe someone of the present government wants to get in the sticker-business... who knows? shrug

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

4 posts

$300 Million? I'm more curious as to how that money is being distributed, and how I can get share, than in the ethics of propaganda. tongue2

I bet you anything that the lowest bidder isn't being sought in this case. It's probably someone's friend who runs a t-shirt business or someone who is receiving kickbacks from the people he offers contracts to.

Going back to the question, can propaganda be justified?
Well, let me reply with another question... does Might make Right?

History teaches us that Might CAN make Right. Not absolutely, but it definitely can have strong influence.

That said, the fact that propaganda works means that it can be justifiable.

I am fascinated by things that affect our conscious decisions, propaganda included. There have been studies that have shown that people can actually be aware that something is propaganda and yet still be influenced in the direction the propagandist wants them to go.

Do I like propaganda? No. I think it is unethical. However, if two sides are fighting it out and one utilizes propaganda and the other doesn't, one has a weapon that the other doesn't.

MynciBRONZE Member
Macaque of all trades
8,738 posts
Location: wombling free..., United Kingdom

Surely this is advertising more than propoganda?

Positive messages in media being paid for? sounds like advertising just the brands bigger I associate propoganda with Lies therefore if what is being advised is the truth then there is no issue.

before WW1 propoganda didn't have a bad name. it was just called - information

propoganda is essentially what we get on our news channels every day. A corporation who owns the news telilng us information to sway our opinions on the subject. - Fox news.... Nuff said.

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.


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