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THE ART OF PROPAGANDA by Ken Howell

posted 29 May 2018, 16:00 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 29 May 2018, 16:15 ]
A caller to one of the Radio programmes aired on Sunday 29, April 2018 on I 95.5 FM sought to explain the difference between reacting and responding. In fact there is a difference. As we go about our daily lives, we usually respond or react to problems, opportunities and threats, depending on how we perceive the likelihood of them having a negative or positive effect, on our individual or collective interests.

However our behaviour in that regard is always influenced by cultural conditioning. For example, in countries where the population has had a long experience with civil wars and hegemonic wars, or where there is a long history of hegemonic domination, the ways the members of the population respond to the opportunities and threats are dependent on how their individual or collective interests are affected.

In other words, it is well known and accepted, that behaviours can be conditioned. It happens to us every day.

Image result for PROPAGANDAThe use of advertisement to influence our decisions about a particular product, or to cause us to choose one political party over another, or to influence us to take sides in international disputes, are some of the ways in which we are influenced and controlled through the various means of communication.

Dependent on the issues confronting us at the time, we may draw down on our particular cultural grounding, which may determine how we react emotionally, or can determine how we respond, after giving due consideration to the particulars, as to whether the situation required an immediate or well thought out response.

This is true about individuals as well as political parties, in and out of government and also about the leaders of countries who perceive the national interest of their countries to include, their right to dictate to others what their rights and national interests are limited to.

In such circumstances, a reaction or a measured response may come from the individual or country to whom the assertion is made and whose sovereign rights are infringed or, are about to be infringed. There are some concrete examples to which we can point, both on the national and international political stage.

Take the case of the children of the Attorney General, allegedly being in possession of high powered guns, practicing to shoot on a military base under the jurisdiction of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. Then there is the issue of the questionable relationship, allegedly occurring, between the Chief Justice and a convicted fraudster. Another example is the allegations made against the Minister of National Security that he committed fraud in his dealings with an old friend. All of these were presented to us through the print and electronic media.

In each case, we might have reacted with different levels of emotion or might have responded with a level of calm and inquisitiveness, depending on which side of the political divide we stand, or depending on how we rate the medium through which the message is transmitted to us, and how we rate the messenger.

In societies such as ours, where historically, we relied on the transmission of information via “word of mouth” or the “grape vine” so to speak, emotion usually trumps rational thinking at times. That is why racism or the perception of racism seems to colour our political preferences.

And as a result, those who understand the art of propaganda usually attack us from two levels. One which is referred to as “the ground
Image result for advertising say,” or “from the horse’s mouth” and the other through the print and electronic media. When it comes to the international political situation, the international media houses, such as Reuters CNN, MSNBC, MSDN, and the BBC, are usually peddling the same narrative on major international issues, such as on the war in Syria or on the situation in the Korean peninsula, involving North and South Korea and the United States of America. Our media houses, whenever they report international news, they never ever deviate from the international narrative.

Therefore, what passes for a report on the issues of international importance which may impact our national interest are usually void of any analysis or the expression of an opinion one way of the other which can demonstrate that we as a people are capable of giving voice to views which contradict those of the external messenger.

Some might say that “a still tongue keeps a wise head”. But there are those who will also say, that “to sin in silence when they should speak makes cowards of men”. Our problem is that we choose to take our cue from the behaviour or instruction from external sources and not from our independent analysis of the given situation.

Image result for CIA VENEZUELAAlthough it surprised me to hear the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley expressing what appeared to be an independent opinion in response to issues impinging on relations between this country and Venezuela. These were in relation to the deportation of eighty two so-called asylum seekers and an alleged conspiracy to recruit this country into a plan to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela.

It is my view, that we must recognise that there is an international principle involved in these two issues and the Prime Minister must be supported on those issues.

The principle is about non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. What is not bring told to the public, is that there are individuals who are well positioned; in the media; in political parties; in and out of government; in the University and in religious organisations, whose job it to whip up hysteria in this country about alleged atrocities that the Maduro government committed. What we are beginning to see is the ugly hand of the CIA at work. If you notice very closely, you will recognise, a certain religious organisation has taken up centre stage in what could turn out to be a massive mobilisation of religious organisations in protest against the decision of the government and to demand that this country relax its immigration laws to accommodate an influx of Venezuelans.

If they succeed then they are going to call on the government to participate in plans to invade that country. Is it by accident that the Catholic Church has joined in the attack on the Prime Minister? Not at all! The die is already cast. America is about to test the mettle of Dr Keith Rowley. Is he really the Rottweiler that he was made out to be by former Prime Minister, Patrick Manning?

In any case progressive people must take a stand against any plans to invade Venezuela. Let me make it clear, this is not a call to support the PNM. It is a call to defend the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of our neighbour. This is not a time to react with emotion. This is a time when we must be deliberate and measured in our response. We must demonstrate that we know the difference between reacting and responding; that we know how to react and when to respond.
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