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What Is Propaganda?

While there are no shortage of dictionaries and no shortage of computer  devices with dictionaries, many people still find it hard to get a good grasp of what is the definition of propaganda. Why is that? How is it that a propaganda definition remains so elusive scurrying away from our grasp like a loose bunny in a field.

If people are initially confused, they can only get more confused reading an article on the Daily KO’s by WB Reeves. Though I do not believe it is Mr Reeves intent to muddy the waters of understanding when making an attempt at defining propaganda, a full read of the post comments will give you a headache as the discussion cycles endlessly back and forth over Mr Reeves stubborn demand that because Merriam Webster lists a non-pejorative for the definition of propaganda that every one else in the world has it wrong when they use the term propaganda to refer to something pejorative.

Mr Reeves is a modern day Edward Bernays, the man wrote an entire book “pontificating” on the benefits and wonders of propaganda. Why in the world does the foolhardy population still intuitively recognize some malign intent?

Mr Reeves’ Brilliance

Mr Reeves starts off the article with this gem…

Lots of people are tossing around the word. Apparently with no regard for what it actually means.

Apparently, Mr Reeves doesn’t know either but claims he has the definition for propaganda.

Another quote…

What it all boils down to is that anyone making an argument either for or against something is engaged in an exercise in “propaganda”. The only substantive distinction to be made is between the factual or nonfactual character of such arguments.

Back in the day, we used to call “making an argument for something” simply  “debate” and people who used un-factual arguments “liars”. It was so real easy back then.

As people began to comment on this nonsense with a sense of justified hostility,  Reeves interjects that “we are going to have to rely on a shared sense of meaning. Right now the only place we can go for that is the dictionary.”

Mr Reeves Gets His Comeuppance

He was appropriately slaughtered by this commenter:

No. The place we go for that is our common understanding of what words mean.

Nearly every person on this site and in modern usage uses “propaganda” in a negative or sinister sense. If you choose to use it in a different (positive?) sense you will simply confuse people and fail to get your point across.

People assume that anything you call propaganda has elements of lies, half-truths, and manipulation to it. It is not a synonym for “public relations” in modern usage. By all means, use it as such if you want to start endless pedantic useless arguments with people where you endlessly post links to this diary and the dictionary in a futile attempt to fight the inevitable.

This commenter seems to be able to put things so well that he could define a easy to remember

propaganda definition for kids.

Creating even more confusion is the current trend to call something propaganda simply to discredit it instead of using proper arguments and reasoning. Accusing an opponent of spreading propaganda can cause many to immediately label the argument as false and misleading.

Read more about propaganda definitions and peruse propaganda quotes from classic thinkers slightly more rational than Mr Reeves.

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