What is propaganda?

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Propaganda is ‘a message designed to influence – aimed at persuading a group or individual to behave or think in certain ways’.

For the first time war in the 20th century could be ‘total war’ - a war where whole populations were affected by conflict and mobilised for action.

Propaganda targeted at civilian populations therefore became an important weapon in winning wars.

Wartime propaganda attempted to make people adjust to abnormal conditions and to adapt their priorities and moral standards to accommodate the needs of war.

Governments believed that if they controlled or guided the public’s access to information they could also ensure that popular opinion supported the war.

The point at which a message stops being simple ‘information’ and becomes ‘propaganda’ depends on your point of view. As Walter Lippmann, an American journalist and political commentator said -

'We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always propaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace.'

She Helps her Boy to Save Ships. (RNM)
She Helps her Boy to Save Ships. (RNM)

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