This is a brief and necessarily incomplete survey of a vast topic; a survey that highlights the basic elements and provides you with some key sources. At base, it is ideas that determine the behaviour of societies – behaviours that assist or harm the society. Those ideas may arise internally, or they may be injected into the body politic from an external source. Ideas can form sytemised ideologies, converge and become recombinant, and become self replicating. In this way ideas and ideological frameworks can operate in a manner analogous to viruses, parasites or other pathogens. In extreme cases these can take control of the command system of the organism and cause it to self destruct. Examples are given in your materials. There is significant scholarship in this area but a very good overview from an organisational perspective is provided by Kopp.

In that context, we should leave the last word to the master of propaganda himself, Hermann Goering – Hitler’s Reich-Marshall and chief minister of propaganda.  At the Nurenberg Trials after World War II he reputedly said:

“Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine its policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliamentary system or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifist for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

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