Interesting story on Counterpunch about the new U.S. sponsored propaganda station "Al Hurra". Just one thing (before the Goebbels part)...production values...I realize that in the context of a propaganda station high production value might not be that important but, damn it, I like stations, and music, that have high production values. It makes things so much clearer.
But, this whole Joeseph Goebbels thing is so cliche....
Everywhere you go on the web it seems like people are comparing Bush to Goebbels, Fox new to Goebbels, gerbils to Goebbels. Well maybe not the last.....
Cliches aren't neccesarily that bad except that this one is dead wrong.
People who use the Goebbels analogy rely on a quote which he made which said that if you repeat something enough times people would believe it.
That one quote actually misrepresents how propaganda, especially Goebbels' own speeches, functioned in the Third Reich.
That model actually fits North Korea or Stalinist Russia better.
The Third Reich in its early years was much more subtle than people make it out to be. It concentrated on trying to win people over through engaging them. True, it was a dictatorship which would end in the conclusion we all know it ended in, but it was one which ratcheted things up slowly within that context.
Goebbels in actuality was known as the voice of reason in the Third Reich.
His role, his direct role in his speeches and in his public persona, was to explain the Third Reich to the intelligentsia of the world and to the business interests of the world so that they would be reassured that, whatever ranting and raving Hitler was doing, that Germany was still dependable and hadn't gone over the edge.
And that's how he ran the propaganda beureau.
The base material might have been unacceptable, but Goebbels tried to ease Germany into it by pressing all possible arguments, intellectual, cultural, appeals to workers, appeals to women, which could be made which would appeal to otherwise non-interested or defiant parties and convince them that the Third Reich's philosophy was allright.
It operated on every front.
Initially, even Communists were wooed rather than beaten.
This coexesited in an atmosphere of increasing violence and extremism, but again, if people could be convinced that everything was allright, that what the Nazis were doing was either not what they were actually doing or was something which was justified, if they could be convinced that the Third Reich was fighting for something good, then they could overlook all of that. *1
And it worked.
That was the genius of Goebbels' propaganda, not that he repeated a lie over and over again until people believed it but that he engaged the issues in every way possible in order to argue that what the Third Reich was doing was allrgiht, that a State funded propaganda beureau chose to be with all the issues instead of avoiding them.
That's not what you have today.
If that was what was going on now you'd be having press conference after press conference given by the Whitehouse explaining in whatever torturous logic that they could come up with why, indeed, Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, explaining why there was a connection between Saddam an Al-Qaida, and it would be on every television station.
And they'd be doing it while pushing the United States' 'world historical mission' to liberate the Muslim world from the chains of oppression.
Instead the administration is largely reactive about these things.
Indeed, the central philosophy behind the administration's actions is largely not expressed, while with the Nazis the philosophy was everything.
The administration doesn't discuss what it believes because it knows that if it did that it would lose support immediately.
In my opinion, then, Goebbels' most insidious action was to appeal to the people in power in other countries and in Germany as well in order to convince them of the legitamacy of the Third Reich.
Providing intellectual cover for a gang of thugs and crackpots....
That's a hell of a lot more dangerous than just repeating a lie over and over again and again.
*1 It should be noted that the Nazis made real attempts to conceal their worst crimes until the final stages of the war.