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Fascist Propaganda Principles
and the Bush Administration


By Chuck Almdale

The Crisis Papers

August 29, 2006


Introduction: Fascism is in the news again: Islamo-fascist, Judeo-fascist, Christo-fascist, crypto-fascist, neo-fascist. Everyone knows fascism was terrible, therefore the word creates a strong emotional reaction in the listener, but few still understand what fascism was, is, or why some recent name-callers are themselves fascists. As unsupported name-calling is no more than naked propaganda, analyzing propaganda itself is the best place to start, and who better to start with than a past master of the form, Adolf Hitler himself.



THE 9 PRINCIPLES OF FASCIST PROPAGANDA


1. The Big Lie - Always choose the big lie over the small; the masses will believe it more readily.

2. Focus Use only one or at most two selling points.

3. Repeat Use them over and over until even your enemies know them by heart.

4. Blame - Never waver, acknowledge no doubt, always blame - never credit - the other side.

5. Provoke - First attract attention, then appeal to emotions.

6. Crisis - Shades of gray don't work: The issues must be black and white: love/hate, good/evil, life/death.

7. Emotional Symbols - Good slogans have no literal meaning, only a strong emotional appeal.

8. Pander - Ignore intellectuals and reasonable arguments; target the unthinking masses with powerful emotional pitches.

9. No Limits Ignore all moral limits when you believe stakes are high.


In the eighteen months since I happened upon these principles -- extracted and interpolated from Hitler's "Mein Kampf," written while he was in prison in 1925 -- every significant Republican statement I have heard or read uses one, two, three or all of them. The longer the statement, the greater the number of principles used. These principles are not printed on the first page of the Republican Party's campaign playbook. Nonetheless, Karl Rove, campaign Kommandant, and Frank Luntz, chief propagandist of the GOP, know them all implicitly and use them to great effect.

Copy these principles and keep them at hand. These principles will help you dissect their statements and learn exactly which emotional buttons they are pushing. Understanding their tactics of emotional manipulation is the first step towards comprehending how sinister these people are and toward defending yourself against their ubiquitous attacks.


WHY ARE THESE PROPAGANDA PRINCIPLES FASCIST?

These nine principles were Hitler's personal recipe for propaganda success.

It's easy to see why so many Americans have bought into the repetitive, unwavering, anti-intellectual, blunt emotional message, as well as the blatant lies, provocations and fear-mongering during seven years since Bush appeared on the national scene, despite the ever-mounting evidence of the numerous, costly and dangerous failures and machinations of the Bush administration.

Bushspeak is propaganda: pure, simple, powerful, unremitting and, unfortunately for America, very successful. Pre-fascist Germany was one of the most literate, philosophical, cultured, and intellectual nations on the planet, yet these principles worked there with stunning success, sparking the greatest social catastrophe to date in human history.

Here are some excerpts from "Mein Kampf," followed by examples of how Republicans have used these 9 principles of propaganda in recent years. You will undoubtedly think of many more examples.


1. The Big Lie. Always choose the big lie over the small; the masses will believe it more readily.  This principle is based upon the following assumptions:

"All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to." - Chap 6 - Ibid. - Par 25

"The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. Ibid. - Par 29

"…the rabid, impudent bias and persistence with which [the big] lie was expressed took into account the emotional, always extreme, attitude of the great masses and for this reason was believed. Ibid. - Par 46

Now compare the previous with the following:  "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you have to concentrate on." (G.W. Bush 2001 Washington D.C. Gridiron Dinner 3/31/01).

Because everyone tells small lies, they  more easily recognize them. Most people are too afraid to tell big lies, so we are less apt to doubt them. This makes us psychologically unequipped to cope with our leaders' enormous lies. We swallow lies that cause wars, destroy lives, ruin nations, alienate the world and run up trillions in debt, yet choke on minor peccadilloes. "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." (Matthew 23:24).

Here are a few recent lies that people still believe: Iraq attacked us; our economy is healthy; we desperately need ANWAR oil; Venezuela is our enemy; Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and we found them; Saddam was in league with Osama bin Laden and al Qaida, Saddam's sons fed people into wood chippers; Bush's "war on terror" has made us safer; we desperately need tax relief; God loves us and hates them; John Kerry lied about his Vietnam service; liberals hate Jesus and are damned; "They" hate us for our freedoms; there is no civil war in Iraq.


2. Focus.Use only one or at most two selling points.

"When there is a change, it must not alter the content of what the propaganda is driving at, but in the end must always say the same thing." (Mein Kampf - Par 53).

Bush has the same one or two responses to all questions and his responses are often completely unrelated to the question.  Even when initially relevant, they immediately morph back to that week's official talking points. By prohibiting follow-up questions, Bush easily avoids having to concoct pertinent and truthful answers.


3. Repeat. Use the selling points over and over until even your enemies know them by heart.

"Propaganda must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over." (Ibid. - Par 50).

Bush is always "on message", as was noted as early as the 2000 primary campaign.  Other voices, Administration, GOP and corporate media, echo the points. Karl Rove well earns his pay with his thorough organization of this deluge of toxic propaganda.


4. Blame. Never waver, acknowledge no doubt, always blame - never credit - the other side.

"…unloads every bit of blame on his adversary." Ibid. - Par 42

"…made no half statements that might have given rise too doubts." Ibid-Par 45

The Iraq war was right, still is, always will be. Everyone else is wrong.  We'll go it alone if need be because we're right. We stick to our "core" values, never flip-flop (aka integrate new information into previous decisions). Bush is "morality" and "family values" personified. Bush still claims to believe invading Iraq was a good idea: [paraphrase] "Would you rather have Saddam still there, threatening us with the WMD's he had the potential to build  Huh, wudja, huh"?


5. Provoke. First attract attention, then appeal to emotions.

"The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses." Ibid. - Par 27

"But the masses are slow moving, and they always require a certain time before they are ready even to notice a thing, and only after the simplest ideas are repeated thousands of times will the masses finally remember them." Ibid. - Par 52

Now consider the following: Loud, repetitive unrelenting emotional appeals; aborted fetuses; dead soldiers; insane enemies who hate our freedoms; nuclear clouds; liberals want to kill Christmas.


6. Crisis. Shades of gray don't work: issues must be love/hate, good/evil, life/death.

"It does not have multiple shadings; it has a positive and a negative; love or hate, right or wrong, truth or lie never half this way and half that way, never partially, or that kind of thing." Ibid. - Par 44

"At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have fundamentally different views on national security. Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview - and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview…... it does make them wrong - deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong. Karl Rove 1/20/06

Essence of Republican National Committee points: Conservative Godliness vs. sinful liberality; national survival vs. armies of insane suicidal bombers; us vs. "them"; life or death struggle; good vs. evil; God's Saved vs. Satan's hordes; "You are either with us or against us." GWB]}


7. Emotional Symbols. Good slogans have no literal meaning, only a strong emotional appeal.

"…a slogan must be presented from different angles, but the end of all remarks must always and immutably be the slogan itself." Mein Kampf - Par 53

"Ignorance is strength.  Freedom is slavery.  War is peace." (George Orwell - 1984)

The most effective slogans have no real meaning whatsoever, only a strong and immediate emotional impact. Phrases such as "stay the course," "cut and run," "support the troops," "family values," "compassionate conservatism" or "pro-life" have the desired emotional impact, yet no certain meaning.

Bush's most successful therefore most meaningless slogan is "War on Terror." When 9/11 occurred, the initial phrases were "war on terrorists" and "war on terrorism", but those were quickly replaced by the now omnipresent "war on terror." Terrorists can be hunted down; terrorism can be combated; terror itself is an emotion, existing only within the human heart, and can never be extinguished. Terror begets terror. By declaring "war on terror", we have created a self-sustaining and perpetual war on ourselves. This perpetual state of terror, the mind-set that creates a "fog of war" and short-circuits our ability to act rationally, is exactly what the Republicans yearned for and exactly what they have achieved. Everyone, of any political persuasion, who uses this phrase, knowingly or unknowingly, is an infected carrier spreading the disease of fascist propaganda.


8. Pander. Ignore intellectuals and reasonable arguments; target the unthinking masses with powerful emotional pitches.

"It must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses." Mein Kampf - Par 20

"the more exclusively it takes into consideration the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be. And this is the best proof of the soundness or unsoundness of a propaganda campaign." Ibid. - Par 26

"…limited to a few points, devised exclusively for the  masses, carried on with indefatigable persistence." Ibid. - Par 56

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." -- H.L. Mencken, 1920.

This was Hitler's most persistent point. Karl Rove's acolytes have adhered to it admirably. Bush's folksy, common, "guy you'd have a beer with" charm fits this principle hand-in-glove. Whether or not Bush actually is the blithering idiot he appears to be, his anti-intellectual, "gut-reaction" persona has vast appeal to many, no matter how disastrously dangerous his actions.

And don't forget about: "Latte-drinking, sushi-eating, eggheads"; "God-hating intellectuals"; "God is in the White House"; "They" are all evil-doers; "Moral Values" guide our every move.


9. No Limits. Ignore all moral limits when you believe stakes are high.

"At first the claims of the propaganda were so impudent that people thought it insane; later, it got on people's nerves; and in the end, it was believed." Mein Kampf - Par 56

"…that this…weapon can succeed only if it is applied on a tremendous scale, but that success amply covers all costs." Ibid. - Par 57

That you are perceived as willing to do anything to advance your cause is sufficient emotional proof to the masses of the righteousness of your cause. Some examples are: We kill them by the hundreds of thousands because they force us to, we depend on false information because we're on the brink of annihilation; we lie to you because it's in your best interest; we spy on you to protect you; we jail you indefinitely to keep you free; we kill you to save you.

If people become aware that these time-tested principles of propaganda - the same used so successfully by the Nazis - are being used on them, can they steel their minds and hearts against this insidious menace? I don't know. But we'd better start finding out before we complete our slide into some new and unique form of American-brand fascism.


AN AMERICAN BRAND OF FASCISM?

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." - G.W. Bush, 12/18/02 (Sort of reminds one of Bush's recent: "I am the Decider.")

"I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." -- Quoted by Bob Woodward in "Bush at War"

But this is not "the American way." As Theodore Roosevelt said: "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote "It Can't Happen Here". In this novel, he gave an imaginative description of a Christian Fascist takeover of America. These days, it seems frighteningly prescient. I highly recommend the book.

When people hear the word "fascism," they mistakenly think back seventy years to the Fascist systems of Germany and Italy. Brown and black shirts. Stiff armed salutes, perpetual repetitions of "Mein Fuehrer!", swastikas, goose-stepping storm troopers. Every nation, if it became Fascist, will express it in its own unique fashion. We may never have a "Kristallnacht". No torchlight parades in the stadium. No "pounding of the blood". No "master race." No death camps filled with Jews and Gypsies. We will have our own expression, our own style, our own methods. Because our situation today differs significantly from those in Germany and Italy between the world wars, it is more accurate to use the term Neo-Fascism in order to highlight the fact that we are in a new and perhaps more perilous time.


<b >FOLLOW THE DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS

Webster's Dictionary gives the following characteristics for fascism:  A system of government characterized by: rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of all opposition (unions, other-especially leftist-parties, minorities, etc.), private ownership of the means of production under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism and racism, glorification of war.

Our current Republican Neo-Fascist US government and economy now contains all of these elements, but none of the elements are exactly like they were 70 years ago.  Here are a few of the symptoms. Again, I am sure you can list many more.

1. One-Party Dictatorship. Although many disagreed, in 2004 Ralph Nader argued at every opportunity that the Democratic and Republican parties are now two sides of the same coin, controlled by the same people, with no significant difference between them. The same people - by and large - fund both parties. As "Deep Throat' said (remember Watergate?), "Follow The Money". But….the GOP now controls the White House, House of Representatives, the Senate, about 75% of state governors and state legislative bodies; our Supreme Court, the final law of our land, has an increasingly strong conservative bias. The Neo-Fascists' control is not yet absolute, but close.  With Tom DeLay's "little black book" of political donors, bribery and corruption became openly institutionalized and freely practiced.


2. Suppression of Opposition. Our freedoms are rapidly vanishing. Almost daily we learn of some new governmental domestic spying operation. Nothing is sacred anymore save our governmentally mandated responsibility to hate and fear the enemies the Neo-fascists appoint for us. The Bush Administration couldn't even be bothered to request warrants for domestic wiretaps when only four out of over 5,200 applications more than 99.9%% - were approved, such approval available by phone within a few hours, with backup documentation to follow. This is a clear violation of the Constitution.

Union power has been in significant retreat for decades. While unions contribute significant money to Democrats, their membership often votes GOP despite the fact that they thereby cut their own economic throats. Our airwaves ­ notably Fox "News", Clear Channel radio and Sinclair Broadcasting - are filled with hate, libel and jingoism. Hate and war-mongering has even invaded our Sunday religious services, as churches eager for free, no-need-to-account-for-this,, money for "faith based initiatives" pander to the  Republican line.

The Republicans worked hard for over 40 years to make the word "liberal" inspire the same knee-jerk, irrational and emotional fear and loathing that "Commie" did in the early 1950's. On Jan. 10, 2005, an editorial by Neo-Fascist David Horowitz appeared in the Los Angeles Times which virtually branded all liberals as traitors that should be arrested and tried. "Whatever the outcome of the [Attorney Lynne E.] Stewart trial, the larger trial of the left a trial that will one day pronounce a verdict on its loyalties and its integrity will go on." There is no Liberal Party, so its membership cannot be hauled off to hard labor camps. The right wing has skillfully stripped "Liberal" of its original meaning. Now it means whatever disgusting, hateful, satanic thing the Neo-Fascists want it to mean. It could mean you.


3. Government & Industry Control. We have this situation right now, but the nexus of power is different from that in Nazi Germany, where government control of industry was the rule. In the USA, it's reversed, with the industrial magnates running the government to their own liking; not the other way around. In 1960, shortly before leaving office, President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex. That particular mutual relationship is now far more solidified. But now the energy and media companies have consolidated from many thousands into a very few companies. They deliver money and voters to the GOP and the government gives back to them whatever they ask for, whenever they ask for it.


4. Nationalism & Racism. Our belligerent nationalism is so obvious that only the ethically blind cannot see it. Our racism is more subtle, unless of course you happen to be black; then it's obvious as well.  We have demonized Muslims, beginning with Bush's Freudian slip "crusade". Many Americans now believe that all Muslims want to murder us all. Meanwhile Muslim-looking people such as Sikhs from India have been murdered here. Even Jews aren't safe because, as Jerry Falwell, self-described Christian, stated, "God doesn't hear the prayers of Jews."


5. Glorification of War. As did Germany and Italy in the 1930's, we glorify war. Soldiers are lionized (while benefits and medical care are slashed.) People cry "Support our Troops!", yet such support consists of yellow ribbons on car bumpers, shopping, and watching them die in pointless conflicts. To support our soldiers, we must support whatever the government says. Otherwise we're "anti-American." The great mass of Americans as were the Germans and Italians under fascism - have been propagandized to believe: we can do no wrong, war is justified, we have overwhelmingly superior military strength, and God is on our side. One dead American, is worth fifty dead of anyone else (approximately the current ratio in Iraq).


IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE?

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become victims of the darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas

If you're read this far, you will not be surprised to learn that it not only can happen here, but that the job is almost complete. Act now, before it's too late. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32


Click here  for different yet complementary views on fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt and Milton Mayer.


Chuck Almdale describes himself as a writer, retired accountant, a lifelong student of psychology, religion, politics and natural history, and strongly repelled by fascism in all its forms.<-i
 

 

Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances