Stefan Molyneux has a great analogy about human behaviour. He talks about a group of monkeys living in a zoo. A biologist comes to observe the monkeys. He notes that the monkeys do not seem to go far from a small area. He posits all sorts of hypotheses to explain this. Perhaps the monkeys are scared of the unknown. Perhaps they are too sedentary to move around. Perhaps that area holds a special attraction to monkeys.
While thinking of all this, he fails to notice that the monkeys are in a cage.
This analogy extends to human behaviour as well. People make all sorts of inquiries about human history and behaviour, but rarely do they consider the gilded cage that pretty much all humans (except the few who live in isolation) are subject to. This gilded cage is made of fantasy stories, worlds and non-concepts which are indoctrinated to us from childhood and with which we are constantly bombarded. The name of this gilded cage is “propaganda”.
The term propaganda summons images of WW2 posters or television ads selling us a career in the military. But a proper analysis of propaganda must acknowledge that it exists within a context and serves a specific goal. My definition of propaganda is:
Propaganda is a set of methods employed by an organized group in a systematic attempt to persuade a public to accept the views of its leaders, and ensure its participation, through psychological manipulation.
These methods differ depending on the type of organization. By far the biggest producer of propaganda, throughout history and in the present as well, is the state. Modern democratic states have a vast propaganda machine at their disposal, which includes:
* “Parental” brainwashing at a young age. “Parents” become vectors of religio-political propaganda, as well as altruistic, “duty”-based propaganda, when they use their power to brainwash their own children. This is notably the biggest vector for religion- most religious believers become so before teen-age. Due to their inborn gullibility, little children are the most vulnerable category of humans, and the state knows that by enforcing “parental relationships” it is also enforcing the stability of collectivist belief systems. Mental attitudes, values and constructs developed in childhood usually stay with you for your whole life.
* “Parental” and literary narratives aimed at small children, usually to induce submission and fear of “bad” behaviour, and when they get older, to reinforce “parental” conditioning. This is the old fables, the children’s books, and then the children’s cartoon shows.
* The education system. From first grade to college, the education system is financed, regulated and monitored by the state. Children are not taught any information which would lead to questioning collectivism, except when they don’t realize the potential of what they are teaching (comparative religion is a good example of this). Even at a young age, children are already indoctrinated into good religio-political agents.
There is also positive propaganda in the education system. In “American” schools, “school spirit” is enforced in order to condition the individual to feel loyalty to collectives. The “Pledge of Allegiance” is another conditioning mechanism used solely in “American” schools.
* Media narratives for adults. This is a vast topic, encompassing the news, talk shows, drama shows, “documentary” shows, movies and novels. All of these bring their part to an overall framework of collectivist perception by portraying negative, anti-individualist values in emotionally satisfying ways.
There are some obvious examples. Movies usually have strong pro-“parental”, pro-faith, pro-“duty”, anti-corporation and anti-science biases, although they can be individualistic as well (in a very general way). Police shows promote the state’s monopoly police, monopoly laws and monopoly court system. The news are usually nothing but an unquestioning mouthpiece for collectivist narratives of current events. Talk shows are obvious vectors as well, given that they are mostly concerned with interpretations. Environmental documentaries promote Greenie beliefs.