Education = “pre-propaganda” + Culture = base for propaganda
I have been trying to point this out many times in my comments on other blogs – that it looks too strange that somehow all Thai media (newspapers and especially TV) are full of reports, articles, interviews and opinions by “Ajarns”, majority of whom are amazingly are almost of same opinion AND remarkably supportinve of the “official thruths” and the Propaganda line of Establishment. Ajarn is the word used to call academics – however it is much more meaning to it than simply “academic”, it is like a “Supreme authority” with certain degree of worshipfulness (as generally guru / “kru” are in Asia). So, to use “ajarns” to opine on many matters, especially politica – is sort of adding extra weight to the things said. That is why Thai media LOVES using ajarns !
Now, ajarns are not only a powerful tools for PROPAGANDA (or propagandists) – they are actually first of a “propagandees“, or the victims of propaganda – as in that fabled saying “blind leading the blind“. however according to some real experts in Propaganda studies – those whom intellectuals (as ajarns in Thailand) consider uneducated – they are in fact LESS blind and susceptible to Propaganda than those who’re educated.
That is why, I guess all the ajarns, journalists, middle class are less capable of seeing the FACTS about true meaning of Democracy and those whom they consider “ignorant and stupid” (farmers and workers) are actually much more FREE from the influence of Propaganda, however ironic that may seem !
So, here comes the part about “Education”, or especially how PAD and now even government (Anupong also was quoted by Nation at least once using same words) calls it “re-education”, the argument that “if those rural people are re-educated – then they will see the truth”. In other words – they will be more easy to use Propaganda on !
(this is from the Introduction to Ellul’s book written by Konrad Kellen )
” … Modern propaganda cannot work without “education”; he thus reversed the widespread notion that education is the best prophylactic against propaganda. On the contrary, he says, education or what usually goes by that word in the modern world, is the absolute prerequisite for propaganda. In fact, education is largely identical with what Ellul calls “pre-propaganda”– the conditioniong of minds with vast amounts of incoherent information, already dispensed for ulterior purposeds and posing as “facts” and as “education.” Ellul follows through by designating intellectuals as virtually the most vulnerable of all to modern propaganda, for three reasons:
1) they absorb the largest amount of secondhand, unverifiable information;
2) they feel a compelling need to have an opinionon every important question of our time, and thus easily succumb to opinions offered to them by propaganda on all such indigestible pieces of information;
3) they consider themselves capable of “judging for themselves.” The literally need propaganda.
In fact, the need for propaganda on the part of the “propagandee” is one of the most powerful elements of Ellul’s thesis. Cast out of the disintegrating microgroups of the past, such as [extended] family, church, or village, the individual is plunged into mass society and thrown back upon his own inadequate resources, his isolation, his loneliness, his ineffectuality. Propaganda then hands him in veritable abundance what he needs: a raison d’etre, persornal involvement and participationin important events, an outlet and excuse for some of his more doubtful impulses, righteousness–all factitious, to be sure, all more or less spurious; but he drinks it all in and asks for more. Without this intense collaboration by the propagandee the propagandist would be helpless.
“A base is needed — for example, education; a man who cannot read will escape most propaganda, as will a man who is not interested in reading…The vast majority of people, perhaps 90% percent, know how to read, but do not exercise their intelligence beyond this. They attribute authority and eminent value to the printed word, or, conversely, reject it altogether. As these people do not possess enough knowledge to reflect and discern, they believe — or disbelieve — in toto what they read. And as such people, moreover, will select the easiest, not the hardest, reading matter, they are precisely on the level at which the printed word can seize and convince them without opposition. They are perfectly adapted to propaganda...
Let us not say: “If one gave them good things to read… If these people received a better education…” Such an argument has no validity because things just are not that way. Let us not say, either: “This is only the first stage; soon their education will be better; one must begin somewhere.” First of all, it takes a very long time to pass from the first to the second stage… There is more, unfortunately. This first stage has placed man at the disposal of propaganda. Before he can pass to the second stage, he will find himself in a universe of propaganda. He will be already formed, adapted, integrated.…
One can reach a higher level of culture without ceasing to be a propagandee as long as one was a propagandee before acquiring critical faculties, and as long as that culture itself is integrated into a universe of propaganda. Actually, the most obvious result of primary education in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was to make the individual susceptible to superpropaganda …
In fact, what happens and what we see all around us is the claim that propaganda itself is our culture and what the masses ought to learn. Only in and through propaganda have the masses access to political economy, politics, art, or literature. Primary education makes it possible to enter the realm of propaganda, in which people then receive their intellectual and cultural environment… The uncultured man cannot be reached by propaganda.
Also, one of the most effective propaganda methods in Asia was to establish “teachers” to teach reading and indoctrinate people at the same time. The prestige of the intellectual — “marked with God’s finger” — allowed political assertions to appear as Truth, while the prestige of the printed word one learned to decipher confirmed the validity of what the teachers said. These facts leave no doubt that the development of primary education is a fundamental condition for the organization of propaganda, even though such a conclusion may run counter to many prejudices, best expressed by Paul Rivet’s pointed but completely unrealistic words: “A person who cannot read a newspaper is not free.”
This need of a certain cultural level to make people susceptible to propaganda is best understood if one looks at one of propaganda’s most important devices, the manipulation of symbols. The more an individual participates in the society in which he lives, the more he will cling to stereotyped symbols expressing collective notions about the past and the future of his group. The more stereotypes in a culture, the easier it is to form public opinion, and the more an individual participates in that culture, the more susceptible he becomes to the manipulation of these symbols. … it is only normal that the most educated people (intellectuals) are the first to be reached by such propaganda… All this runs counter to pat notions that only the public swallows propaganda. Naturally, the educated man does not believe in propaganda; he shrugs and is convinced that propaganda has no effect on him. This is, in fact, one of his great weaknesses, and propagandists are well aware that in order to reach someone, one must first convince him that propaganda is ineffectual and not very clever. Because he is convinced of his own superiority, the intellectual is much more vulnerable than anybody else to this maneuver… “
well, that explains it pretty well, doesn’t it ? it is very logical to “educate” the “stupid” rurals and to “help them see the truth” ! 🙂
Regarding Culture – I think KhiKwai blog has already nicely exposed this “Culture” myth !
“Generally speaking, political institutions are less about culture than they are about power. To be sure, the repertoire of values, rituals, and leadership styles that give every country’s political life its unique, distinctive flavor is the product of the country’s history, having characteristically evolved over a long period of time. But culture does not make social or political hierarchies. Hierarchy makes culture. And so it wasn’t Thai culture that prominent foreign observers have criticized lately. It is the distribution of power upon which the status quo is based – as well as perhaps the ways in which such power has historically been used – that have come under increased scrutiny. Of course, to acknowledge that would require writers like Thanong, Vasit, and Surakiart to respond to analyses they don’t want the Thai people to read based on the merits – something they are neither intellectually equipped nor legally empowered to do. And so they stick to the opium pipe, attacking the windmills threatening kwahm bpen thai with about the same eloquence, creativity, and dim wit of a modern-day Sancho Panza.“
“It’s “Western” democracy versus “Thai” culture. In contemporary political discourse, after all, ”culture” is just about the only word whose international currency rivals democracy’s. To be sure, culture commands more respect than the “dictatorship” and “oppression” it is frequently invoked to mask. Whatever the outcome of this fight will be — the ultimate outcome is not in doubt, but it could go either way in the short run — framing the debate in these terms is counterproductive for everyone, on both sides of this fight, who loves the country, its people, and its institutions. Advocates of democracy are much too quick to defer to the brown-nosed apologists of the current regime on the true content of Thai culture. And the defenders of Thailand’s cultural heritage — those for whom cultural discourse is more than just a rhetorical strategy to legitimize an elite’s privileged access to political power — often betray a rather cartoonish view of both the “culture” they seek to defend as well as the alien cultures whose encroachments they so stalwartly oppose. The key misunderstanding that plagues well-intentioned people on both sides of this pointless debate is that no “culture” is really specific enough to mandate a single regime type, a single form of government, or a single configuration of institutions. This, incidentally, is true of “Thai culture” as much as it is true of the miscellany of cultures crassly lumped together under the all-encompassing “Western” label. And, in the specific case, it is a gross oversimplification — in plain language, a lie — to say that restrictions on anyone’s ability to discuss basic political issues are any more ideally suited to Thailand’s cultural values than they would be to those of any country in the West.
Also lost in this idiotic juxtaposition of “Thai culture” and “Western democracy” is that, far from being incompatible, cultures (Thai or otherwise) need dissidents to survive. The practices, traditions, values, beliefs, and institutions typically associated with culture can only hope to endure through the kind of constant renewal which requires of a society the courage to come to terms with its history and the willingness to engage in discussions however unpleasant or divisive… it’s only under the most stultifying of censorship regimes that slobbering retards like Thanong Khantong are paid to write opinion columns in major national publications… ” .
it is a long and interesting post, worht reading it with all the comments, which include some additional facts.