Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Big Lies

The news is not a neutral phenomenon; it is rather the manufactured production of ideology. ~ The Glasgow University Media Group


There are many ‘Big Lies,’ not least the one that a certain German fellow originated the practice and advocated its use. One big lie is that the establishment parties are deadly foes, another is that government more generally reacts to public opinion than shapes it.

From a 1939 Ministry of Information memo to the Home Office on civilian morale:

It must be realised that large masses of people distrust the radio and a press which they know to be censored. Hence support for the energetic prosecution of war, from those sections of the Labour Movement known to be most opposed to the Government on other matters will have a quite disproportionate effect in raising civilian morale ... It is not too much to say that ... their propaganda value will be actually increased if the speakers attack the Government on other points ...

The people must feel that they are being told the truth. Distrust breeds fear much more than knowledge of reverses. The all important thing for publicity to achieve is the conviction that the worst is known. This can be achieved by the adoption, publication and prosecution of a policy. The people should be told that this is a civilians’ war, or a People’s War, and therefore they are to be taken into the Government’s confidence as never before ... But what is truth? We must adopt a pragmatic definition. It is what is believed to be the truth. A lie that is put across becomes the truth and may, therefore, be justified. The difficulty is to keep up lying ... It is simpler to tell the truth and, if a sufficient emergency arises, to tell one big, thumping lie that will then be believed.

‘The Preservation of Civilian Morale’ September 13th 1939, HO 199/434. Italics in original.

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