This book aims to develop a sophisticated understanding of propaganda. It begins with a brief history of early Western propaganda, including Ancient Greek classical theories of rhetoric and the art of persuasion, and traces its development through the Christian era, the rise of the nation-state, World War I, Nazism, and Communism. The core of the book examines the ethical implications of various forms of persuasion, not only hate propaganda but also insidious elements of more generally acceptable communication such as advertising, public relations, and government information, setting these in the context of freedom of expression.Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion examines the art of persuasion but it also hopes to establish a "self-defense" resistance to propaganda. As Jacques Ellul warned in 1980, any new technology enters into an already existing class system and can be expected to develop in a way favourable to the dominant interests of that system. The merger of AOL and Time-Warner confirms the likelihood of corporate interests dominating the future of the Internet, but the Internet has also opened up new possibilities for a politically effective counter-culture, as was demonstrated at the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in late 1999 and numerous similar gatherings since.
Randal Marlin is an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Carleton University. He has explored philosophical questions relating to propaganda since the 1970s, teaching a course, "Truth and Propaganda," cross-listed with Journalism and Mass Communication. He has also published a book, a collection of essays, and numerous academic and popular articles relating to the topic. He has served for many years on the executive of the Civil Liberties Association, National Capital Region, currently as president.
"Marlin is erudite, sensitive to nuance, and sensible."
"...so terrifyingly relevant to the troubled world of today... excellent book... so measured, so wide-ranging...."
"Marlin's reflections have been well marinated, coming as they do, he tells us, from three decades of studying 'the day-to-day manifestations of opinion, in newspapers, radio and the university workplace.... A valuable section on polls and statistics is required reading for anyone interested in how public opinion is formulated...."
"Concerted efforts to ‘direct the thought of the world' have become a dominant feature of modern life, notably in the more free societies, where direct coercion is less feasible. This study is a welcome contribution to increasing public awareness and understanding of these critical matters. It approaches them with historical depth and insightful commentary, also raising and investigating hard questions of propriety and limits that should be the focus of intense concern."
"A Carleton U. philosophy prof has written a book you should read. It is eminently readable, well written, packed with fascinating information. And it deals with a then, now and future phenomenon that affects us all."
"[Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion] should be required reading for professors and graduate students in persuasive communication."
"This book covers a lot of ground, and is a good introduction to the areas addressed in its various chapters. It will be a good text for an introductory course on mass communication, and more selectively useful as a resource for courses on politics and communication."
"...an analysis of propaganda that is not only a piece of good classical scholarship, but a fascinating historical study.... An interesting theme is the human capacity to be swayed by illusion, especially when this simplifies the complexity of a society increasingly shaped by technology.... The book deserves to be widely read for the breadth and depth of its insights."
"...gripping reading...well-written and well thought out too. It's a real feast."