There is the common mistaken belief that propaganda is a political tool only used during wartime, but it is in daily use by governments, political parties, social interest groups, marketing, and professional organizations.
The most influential expert in propaganda in the 20th century was Edward Bernays who was also instrumental in renaming it to Public Relations. The irony of this Jewish writer’s works being admired by the Nazis and, the negative connotations of the term propaganda post war, were reasons enough.
The six basic tools of propaganda are easy enough to find online, but I thought it might be fun to compare these techniques with what has been happening with various factions in the atheist community for the past few years.
Name calling or demonization. A group you wish to attack is demonized by using non flattering names.
In war time we used “The Hun” (WWII) or “Geeks” (VIetnam), and in our own community terms such as “Slymepitter”, “chillgirl”, “madfem”, “MRA”, and “baboon”
Used to appeal to deep seated beliefs without evidence by using slogans or even logos. These serve to form cohesion since we all want to show we belong to a group with others who share our beliefs and a logo or slogan shows our commitment.
“We are atheists plus!”
“Hypocrisy, destruction, and random stupidity from the baboon squad.”
The technique of taking an emotional support of something already dear to us and transferring the feeling to something else we want to support. e.g. An appeal to our feelings of injustice due to racial bigotry could be transferred to blindly support a group.
eg. Atheist plus
Atheists plus we care about social justice,
Atheists plus we support womens’ rights,
Atheists plus we protest racism,
Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.”
Find a leader who is willing to support your cause and have them support it openly.
e.g. For marketing any sports figure will do.
Richard Carrier, PZ Myers
Thunderf00t, Abbie Smith
Where the a non famous speaker espouses a position giving the impression they are like you and me.
In marketing anyone supposedly off the street talking about any product.
In our own community I suppose the plain folk talk happens at atheist meetups.
Never give your opponent the principle of charity. Always be careful to always show their side in the best possible light while distorting the position of their opponent as to show them in the worst possible light.
All sides have been guilty of this one.
I can’t state that propganda tactics are being used consciously by anyone but I can say that whenever tribalism takes place these techniques naturally fall out.