Friday, June 21, 2024

The Power of Propaganda

by Ivan Anthony A. Adaro | December 4, 2021

Propaganda — information used to persuade the public to accept a particular political cause or point of view, often biased and deceptive in nature – is one of the most powerful weapons in war. Over the years, propaganda has stirred so many political wars and social discord in various ways. It feeds on the emotions of people and specializes in creating misleading beliefs by brainwashing the minds of leaders and citizens alike. Such a statement is enough to prove that propaganda has the power to manipulate the minds of people into choosing idealism over truth. No one is an exception to this. Anyone who has a psyche can be a potential prey for propaganda.

As a democratic country, the Philippine government heavily relies on the decisions of the public, especially when it comes to choosing the leaders that will represent the face of the country. With the rise of political campaigns for the Philippine national elections, the use of propaganda to woo voters has relatively risen as well. For instance, the rampant online spreading of false information about the background and personal profiles of different aspirants has led to many social disruptions and wars online. However, such events like this are not new. History has already defined these tools and warned us about them.

Many lives have been destroyed because of propaganda, and up to this day, some of those events remain to be a daunting memory that haunts many people in today’s society.

Who would’ve ever imagined that a single poster with a statement, “Behind the enemy powers: the Jew.”, etched on it would be the reason why the world’s most well-known and meticulously documented genocide in history came to be? Dating back to the 1940s, the Holocaust will always remain to be one of the most brutal cases of mass murder in history. The Holocaust was the extermination of more than six million European Jews and other ethnic minorities by the Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler, the infamous dictator of Nazi Germany, in an attempt to wipe out all Jews and all those whom the Nazis deem as “racially unclean.” The genocidal act spanned over 35 European countries throughout World War II, specifically those that are conquered by the Nazis. 

But how was it possible? Surely, the Nazis and Hitler couldn’t have done it by themselves, so what helped them succeed in carrying out their plans?

The answer is simple – propaganda. Hitler, through the genius of Joseph Göebbels, his propaganda minister, effectively used propaganda to win the loyalty and support of millions of Germans by making them believe that the Jews are evil spawns of the enemy through posters, radio broadcasts, public speeches, and sophisticated advertising techniques. Some Nazi propaganda even utilized positive images and visuals to praise the government’s leaders, protruding a glowing vision of a “national community” and captivating the interest of many Germans.

After gaining the trust of the majority and in power through his oratorical prowess, Hitler created the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda to shape German public opinion and behavior. He transformed Germany into a totalitarian one-party state with himself as a dictator and the National Socialist German Workers Party, famously known as the Nazi Party, as the sole ruling party. Hitler ruled everything within the government and abolished liberalism and democracy, leaving the public with no other choice but to embrace the ideals and doctrines of Naziism.

Nazi propaganda played a vital role in advancing Hitler’s plan to persecute all Jews and all those who refuse to submit to the Nazis, ultimately causing the destruction of European Jews and other minorities, and even homosexuals and clergymen. The recurring deceit of the Nazis to the public about the dirty nature of being Jewish incited hatred and stimulated a surge of indifference apathy towards their fate. Because of this, it became easier for Hitler to materialize his plans of dominating Europe and cleansing it racially, and at the same time, deceive the public into believing that these actions were for a noble cause. Thus, why Hitler managed to achieve such an infamous feat.

What can be learned from those events is that propaganda is indeed a very powerful weapon, and what makes it even more dangerous is that it has the power to possibly trick the brain and manipulate emotions to distort the truth. Especially now that we are living in a digital age where stories and information are surrounding us from every direction, it is nearly impossible to avoid being influenced by media devices and platforms. 

In a world where lies can easily stand out from the truth, it is important that we should not believe and share everything that we see on the internet in a blink of an eye. Rather, we should always aim to seek the truth and understand that lies and blind belief can cause chaos.


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