Friday, February 18, 2005

Goebbels is topical

A gentleman sitting by me at the Beanery referred me to a reference that's quite topical: Goebbels on Propaganda in 1931. In a world in which the Republican payola scandal (don't like the news? change it) and Rupert Murdoch's empire continue to grow, it pays to reread the master of mass movement fear-based propaganda: Goebbels.

Here Goebels is introducing a new magazine (Will and Way) that is to be a communication forum and messaging source for party activists. Will and Way was a key part of Goebbel's overall propaganda (messaging) strategy. The "Will" is the program, the "Way" is the propaganda channel.

I think of Will and Way as a cross between a community forum, a blog, and a newsletter. Here are excerpts from his introduction with my emphases (I deleted the irritating drivel that is typical of Nazi writing):
It is the task of National Socialist theory to construct a program that can hold its own in the daily political struggle. We have worked on this program since the start of the movement. Its basics are laid out in the 25 points [the party's official program, adopted in 1920]. The 25 points provide the foundation of all of National Socialist practice.

... It will not be the goal of this magazine to spread and deepen National Socialist theory and practice... Rather, our goal is to show practitioners the methods they can use to gradually gain power by winning the souls of the people.

... each of these methods requires a political group to win the sympathies of the broad masses, if it wishes over the long run to maintain is power. But the sympathy of the people does not come of itself; it must be won.

The means of gaining that support is propaganda. The task of propaganda is not to discover a theory or to develop a program, but rather to translate that theory and program into the language of the people, to make them comprehensible to the broad masses of the people. The goal of propaganda is to make what the theorists have discovered clear to the broad masses.

... No other political movement as understood the art of propaganda as well as the National Socialists. From its beginnings, it has put heart and soul into propaganda. What distinguishes it from all other political parties is the ability to see into the soul of the people and to speak the language of the man in the street. It uses all the means of modern technology. Leaflets, handbills, posters, mass demonstrations, the press, stage, film and radio — these are all tools of our propaganda. Whether or not they serve or harm the people depends on the use to which they are put.

In the long run, propaganda will reach the broad masses of the people only if at every stage it is uniform. Nothing confuses the people more than lack of clarity or aimlessness. The goal is not to present the common man with as many varied and contradictory theories as possible. The essence of propaganda is not in variety, but rather the forcefulness and persistence with which one selects ideas from the larger pool and hammers them into the masses using the most varied methods.

Therefore, we named this magazine "Will and Way." The will of the National Socialist movement is laid out in its program. The way changes every day...

... Today, we have a tight network of National Socialist propaganda throughout the country...National Socialist propaganda serves to educate the people. Its task is not only to win them for the tasks of today, but to assist in the transformation of the character of the broad masses. We are convinced that a new politics in Germany is possible only after a complete transformation of our national character, after an entirely new national way of thinking.

... Our goal in these pages is to bring will and way together in an unified synthesis of practical techniques. We are not writing for the general public, but rather for those active in daily politics throughout the country. It is a forum for discussion firmly tied to the party. Each who has something to say has the right and duty to speak. We will here exchange experiences, make proposals, criticize mistakes and suggest improvements.

These pages should over the course of time become a resource that political fighters will need for their daily battles. They should receive teaching, education and strength. They will receive the power to bring our ideas to Germany, and learn the ways and means to put a good theory into effective practice...

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