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Propaganda, power & persuasion

12 September 2013 Jim Harrison,

Last week we were invited to a private view of the show, Propaganda: Power & Persuasion at the British Library.

According to John Pliger, quoted in the show, propaganda has been lost from our current vocabulary. That's not to say it doesn't exist anymore but that it now has a new name. Pilger argues that it's now called PR, and operates at a far more insidious level than anything ever published by the very public Ministry of Information.

Whatever you call it, propaganda is very definitely the propagation of ideas to influence thinking and behaviour. In some ways it's very akin to what branding does - creating powerful brand ideas loaded with relevance to influence hearts and minds. Potato Pete could be "digging for victory" or just the friendly face of a global crisp brand.

We now live in a time when everyone can propagate their ideas - the post-broadcast age has put power and persuasion at everyone's fingertips.

The question is not what is propaganda, as Jacques Driencort claims, "everything is propaganda". The question is what we choose to pay attention to.

Ollie Winser


Photographs of posters at the exhibition by Joshua Leigh

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