Propaganda happens when certain information is transmitted with the aim of influencing the receiver’s behavior or opinion. A person or organization will often take a piece of information and add just a little bit of “spin” to it so that it’s more likely to gain sympathy or cause outrage among a group of people.
Most propaganda comes in the form of posters that usually have illustrations which are somewhat similar to political cartoons, often exaggerated to provoke the desired reaction. Articles written in papers were also common as they would stir people up and inspire them to take up the cause. Speeches on radio and television, or live, can be important tools of propaganda. Even music can be used to propagate certain propaganda. Some songs are specially written to invoke intense emotion in people so they would be compelled to join in on a movement.
During the Revolutionary War, propaganda had a noticeable impact on the public. The Boston Massacre is one of the best examples of “rebel propaganda” of the time. What actually occurred in Boston was that both rebels and British soldiers fired weapons but the rebels spread propaganda that the soldiers had lined people up and murdered them.
During World War I, thousands of pro-war posters were designed. The posters were designed to get young men to join the army. World War II propaganda aimed at dehumanizing the Germans and the Japanese so that the public would feel better about going to war.
During the Cold War, both the US and Soviet Union used propaganda in the form of television and radio. The propaganda attacked capitalism and communism. The CIA even made George Orwell’s Animal Farm into an animated film to show people how communism was wrong.
The Vietnam War inspired both pro-war as well as anti-war propaganda; the US distributed 36 million leaflets produced in 1969 with the goal of reassuring South Vietnam and condemning North Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Iraq War was started largely on the basis of pro-war propaganda informing the American public that Saddam Hussein was a dictator who had control of nuclear weapons. The US distributed leaflets and articles as well as other sources to support this. Once the new Iraqi government was established, the government began putting out pro-US posters and leaflets.
Propaganda is a powerful tool which is used to serve many purposes. Some people feel safe with the installation of a surveillance camera. In the case of Nazi Germany, the supremacy of the Aryan race inspired many young men to go to war.