BELLOWS: How to have balanced life in a world of propaganda
2 months ago, 10 Oct 18:00
In the long history of the world, humans came to dominate since the last ice age. Remarkably over the past 12,000 years, human beings were the dominant species in all areas of the globe. We achieved such prevailing power because the human mind developed remarkable conscious brain function involved in reason, logic, planning, and social collaboration in ways that our pre-historic ancestors could not.
In the animal kingdom, one can observe insects such as ants working in highly co-ordinated ways to form colonies and survive through cohesion. But in the large species of land mammals, zoologists note that population cohesion breaks down upon a dozen to a few dozen individuals. Humans on the other hand developed the ability to work together with large populations in the thousands in the stone age to tens of thousands on average in the bronze age to hundreds of thousands by the iron age.
What makes humans able to keep thousands of individuals in line and within socially accepted norms in pre-technological eras? Dominant leaders often used propaganda to control human tendencies in social behaviour.
The term propaganda often makes us think of some of the most extreme modern-era examples, including the Nazis in the World War II period convincing their population that a small religious minority was a threat and sub-human such that killing six million Jewish people and six million additional minority groups made sense in their minds due to propaganda. The human brain is not wired for death. We are geared for care, nurture, protection, and support mixed with competition, but not grotesque mass killing.
Additional modern examples also proliferate such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide when close to one million civilians were murdered when the then-government stoked false fears that the minority ethnic group were sub-human with tails, poisonous venom teeth, and subversive. Then today in North Korea whereby the State propaganda machine convinces its citizens that its leader is laughably a super-human deity. The North Korean propaganda keeps the population in line even when mismanagement during food crises kills millions of its citizens.
What exactly is propaganda and how do we know when we see it? Propaganda seeks to stifle independent critical thought by influencing subconscious fears in a population in order to unify societal thinking to cause behavioural similarity. Propaganda endangers a free society based on proved facts and truth. In the 1920s, Lord Ponsonby abhorred propaganda in that it defiles the human soul which is worse than the destruction of the human body.
Not all propaganda happens in the above dramatic ways with mass death of innocent people. We see the dangers of propaganda in the United States with large subsets of its population believing President Donald Trump’s fake news mantra that climate change is not real and thus risking the world with future calamity.
Additionally, in Uganda, extremists whipped up irrational unfounded propaganda fears over the past 15 years that homosexuality is contagious rather than biological, thus causing the exodus of thousands of gay people to flee as refugees around the world.
Then, we ...
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