Facts don’t change minds: a case for the virtues of propaganda

The word ‘propaganda’ comes from the Latin propagare, which simply means ‘to spread’ or ‘propagate’, and finds its origins in the context of furthering Catholic missionary activity. However, its contemporary usage connotes the spreading of an idea or ideology through any means, often of a negative, manipulative nature. Some therefore view the concept of ‘positive propaganda’ as an oxymoron due to the word’s association with manipulation.

As seen in cases such as the Flex commercial, however, propaganda can also bring about a real transformation of a public mindset for the good. Martin Luther King Jr believed in the need for positive propaganda, as did W E B Du Bois, the latter of whom spoke of propaganda’s power in the arts. The intelligent use of words and images is of central importance to these undertakings.

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