Propaganda and Democracy

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THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, ISSN: 0495-4548, Vol: 31, Issue: 3, Page: 381-394

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Allen Wood
UPV/EHU Press, Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del PaĆ­s Vasco
Arts and Humanities
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We are surrounded by communication of many kinds whose aim is to persuade rather to convince, to manipulate rather than to reason. Advertising and much public discourse is like this. How should we react to this fact? Perhaps even more importantly: What does this fact mean about modern society? Not all persuasion is regrettable or to be disapproved. Not all persuasion is propaganda. And perhaps not even all propaganda is necessarily bad. This last point was the focus of a controversy between W. E. B. Du Bois, who held that propaganda could be used for good, and Alain Locke, who held that all propaganda corrupts our thinking. My own view is that propaganda can be used for good, but Locke was perfectly right to be worried about it.

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