Propaganda from Aristotle to the Present Day
Propaganda began to be studied on a theoretical level after World War I.
The successful campaigns of that era in influencing the masses and the new insights into mass psychology laid the foundation for the belief in the possibility of achieving almost total control over people through the use of propaganda. After World War II, propaganda’s golden age came to a close the realization dawned that it would be very hard to create anything new in people by using propaganda. Instead they would have to draw on earlier notions and habits in influencing people, using arguments aimed at the emotions and based on sociocultural background. Arguments could be rational, but their influence had to be emotional. The technologies employed by propagandists were largely already in existence by the beginning of World War II. They were enhanced and adapted during the latter half of the 20th century, but the principles did not change. They did not have to change, for whatever theoretical innovations there have been have not required new technologies. Thus, even though the 20th century was an era of rapid development in propaganda theory, the ways that people could be influenced essentially remained the same. The main goal continues to be to divert people’s attention from rational arguments, to channel their thinking into the emotional drainage area, thus creating behavior amenable to the propagandist’s purposes.