Propaganda and History
Propaganda is a term that causes unease in many people. But just what is it? Making a persuasive argument? Telling lies? WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY defines it in the following ways:
The origin of the word comes from third definition specifically from the New Latin Sacra Congregti d Prpagand Fid, or Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith which was established 1622 to convert, or propagate, the faith.
- The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.
- Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause: wartime propaganda.
- Propaganda Roman Catholic Church. A division of the Roman Curia that has authority in the matter of preaching the gospel, of establishing the Church in non-Christian countries, and of administering Church missions in territories where there is no properly organized hierarchy.
THE OXFORD COMPANION TO AMERICAN HISTORY's definition is less benign. Propaganda is defined as "the deliberate attempt by the few to influence the beliefs and actions of the many through the manipulation of ideas, facts, and lies."
Modern advertising and marketing practices have made the practice of propaganda more effective. Whether the arguments of propaganda are evaluated by history as true or false or their results good or ill, making an argument through words an images has a long history especially when the cause to be sold is war.