David and I both passed our annual physical. “Except for your joints, you are both in good shape, for your ages,” he declared. I never know exactly what for your ages means, but we’ve heard it a lot lately.
I finally finished the very long and complex, but very readable book, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, by Frederick Starr. I highly recommend it, if you are curious about this area of the world and enjoy reading history.
Basically, it comes down to this…when people eschew rational thinking (i.e., mathematics and science) in favor of an orthodoxy or ideology, society falls apart.
As much as we might desire it, we don’t live in a black and white world and anyone believes a superman is going to “fix” everything is deluded at best.
“Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (…) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (…) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. (…) The broad masses of the people are made [of] persons who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.”
As to the methods to be employed:
“Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (…) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”